What I Learned from Singapore's General Elections 2015 (Part One)

Singapore's General Elections 2015 have concluded. Staying up with a group of friends to watch the proceedings was a novel experience. 

Observing my friends' responses and listening to their thoughts, I did the same for the presenters and journalists at the Channel NewsAsia studio, the telecasted candidates and their supporters at the various gathering points, as well as various posts on social media.

Having had very little past interest in the political arena, I cannot say that I understood all of the references that were made. However, I am familiar with what I witnessed in the recent weeks and months, and I have learned a number of things from these situations and events. In this post, I will discuss just one of them:

The Silent Majority is affected by The Vocal Minority and vice versa

On the internet, we need only go to an article of Singapore (sometimes of our neighbours as well) - almost any article - and read its comments to find that vocal commenters have decided to bash a politician, political party, or its supporters. The comments are often irrelevant to the article, seemingly serving only as an expression of the commenter's built-up frustration.

After a while, it gets very tiresome. Commenters like these show little inclination towards respecting or accepting the differences in the views and opinions of others, and even less interest in proper discussion and mature debate. Any attempts at disagreement inevitably lead to name-calling and callous dismissals of the alternative views.

Most people will, after some time, decide that it is not worth their time or energy to engage such narrowminded-ness, and move on with their lives, leaving these commenters with a false sense of victory that emboldens them to become more and more sarcastic and irreverent.

This is a sad reality in today's highly-connected technology-driven world, and, no doubt, if this post were ever to come to the attention of these so-called keyboard warriors, there will be a constant barrage of angry tirades against the offense that this post supposedly created.

What this vocal minority has unwittingly done is to alienate their cause from those who seek to know more about it. When genuine questions are met with casual dismissal and offensive replies, it heightens emotions, and makes fruitful view-exchanges nearly impossible.

The silent majority, who shun such pointless exchanges, are likely to have views from both sides. In terms of this political event, they hold the middle ground, and many of them may lean towards one political party, but are willing to listen to the views of another.

When they witness the vitriol and anger of one side's supporters and experience this negativity directed at them when they ask questions or express their views, they, unsurprisingly, feel pushed away and gravitate towards a side's supporters that are more welcoming (or at least not as dismissive) and willing to have a discussion.

At the conclusion of the elections, there is, once again, name-calling and condescending remarks about how those who voted the ruling party in had better not complain in the future. The vocal supporters of the opposition parties, now stung from their perceived loss, have once again demonstrated how much they hurt their own cause through their regrettably toxic behaviour. 

Instead of taking it at a loss, would it not be better to take it as motivation to work even harder, as some candidates of the opposition parties have?

Instead of blaming external factors, would it not be more profitable to take personal responsibility and grow from the experience?

Instead of a 'us vs. them' mentality, would it not benefit the very Singaporeans that the opposition supporters profess to champion for if co-operation, open dialogue, and engagement of both sides occur?

Imagine how much more our nation can achieve for both its prosperity and its people if we all come to a place of working together, building together, and helping one another.

I am reminded of Mark the Evangelist who wrote "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

One People, One Nation, One Singapore.

Sky Over Hougang