Reserved Presidential Elections: The Challenges And The Opportunities..

Mdm Halimah is now the President of Singapore. Elected on a technicality for the only one candidate meeting the set requirements for this year’s RPE. The Government has urged the people to move on and acknowledged the bitterness over elements leading up to the RPE. There are still lingering sentiments of unhappiness from the people. But overtime all this will die down as the reality of life in our sunny Island catches up.

Below are a summary of issues for our reflections in moving forward.

1. Race

– Race was upfront and personal in this RPE. It was ugly at times but overall it was a good exercise for everyone to see the raw issues in public space. It is not as bad as we pictured.

– Singapore has indeed grown up somewhat and from the spectrum of views and commentaries from all segments of society, we can see that it gave a fair variety, capturing feelings and thoughts representatives of quite a good number of us, Singaporeans.

– The letting off steam period will soon pass and we will pick up the pieces so to speak and honestly we came off not as bad as we might have. A testimony of our collective growth and vigour. We differ strongly on views and adamantly stood our grounds but at the end of the day we all have to move on. The bruises are part and parcel of growing up as a nation.

– Much can therefore be picked up and learned to continue the engagement from where this RPE have left us to reach the needed rapprochement across the stereotypes and divide. We should all see this as a welcome process of our maturing society.

– I may be against the RPE but I do see the benefits that this truly unexpected move the Government took for reasons that is best left for now, as all sentiments have been expressed.

– The Government has a vital role to address the soreness of the RPE but it has the vantage view of where we are truly at by taking a pretty back seat so far to its credit. But the next move it makes will be the game-changer. It can choose to ignore or capture the moment to offer us a fresh new deal which Singaporean clearly are keen to learn about.

2. Politics

– Putting aside the unfortunate vitriols of all kinds, there has been many more reasoned and intellectually worthy discourses from netizens. Several online forums platform do provide critical and constructive analysis offering good sound bases for further political explorations.

– Citizen’s has shown genuine concerns on processes and changes to our constitution. The Government should consider the people’s desire for engagement in politics and have their questions answered, instead of sticking to rigid clinical executions ignoring the people.

– This RPE stood right in the middle of the 5-year term of parliament and should have an impact in the next election. Depending on which way the Government again choose to lead, the opportunity for widening the political space is there for the taking.

– Singapore politics clearly has so much room for improvement and the Government should cease the day and begin the process of political reform.

3. Democracy

– This word has too often been taken for granted and it is high time that society and citizens learn more about what democracy is about. The Government for reasons it chooses to keep to itself adopts a very measured and slow progress in teaching democracy to us. Now is the right time for the Government to embrace the spirit of strengthening our democracy.

– For this, the Government can begin to reduce its excessive control on the media and public spaces for political discourse. It should not be overly sensitive and show more confidence which it actually has, as not all political discourse including opposition’s views are automatically detrimental to the Government.

– In fact, it will benefit the Government by allowing more diverse ideas and plurality of political viewpoints. It has enough buffer to take a robust political engagement than it realises. However, it has to restrain its army of online supporters which often time discredit the Government more than any short term good it does. The online troops adopts a shallow approach in engaging netizens that contributes little in content and substance but focuses on sarcasm, emotions and fears. It is hampering our citizen’s political growth and education.

4. Singaporean Identity

– The Government has thrown race into the political machine that it has carefully avoided in the past. It has open up a can of worms but on the flip-side it actually forced a nationwide wakeup. It now has the golden chance to reconfigure the race discourse as it chooses to. It should do so together with the people.

– The stakes are high but it is worth taking as the benefits truly outweighs its downside. This is about the Singaporean identity project that now requires a deeper soul searching exploration.

– There has been many opinions about race but most are stale uninspiring tales of the political past. However there has been thought provoking but reasoned views calling for a relook at our ethnic divide.

– Race realities are more fluid and the struggles over the definition of race for the RPE should suffice to tell us reform is a must, as indeed society has moved on and policies on race may be past its dues.

– We are more united and race blind in form than we view from the emotional lenses of ourselves. It is an exciting window to be opened by the Government to offer us a review of what our multi-racialism today is truly all about.

Finally, we can see the less savoury, somewhat polarised race divide that this RPE has caused. The Government by its decision for the RPE has calculated and has said clearly that it is prepared to take the risk. It must now listen to the voices of the people expressed in frustration not out of any hate, but an emotional pouring of love for this nation that we truly care about. The Government is truly poised to take the higher road and address this divide with the grace of leadership foresight or chooses to do otherwise. The nation awaits to see what it does.


Source: Damanhuri Bin Abas

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