A New Era for Myanmar

With 77.1% of the votes from the recent election, it seems that the people of Myanmar have chosen their next leaders.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) behind Ms Aung San Suu Kyi seems to have won the right to form the next government, assuming that all goes according to plan.

This is a promising step forward for the country, after languishing behind its ASEAN neighbours for so long. Her people are certainly pleased at this.

Having had the pleasure of speaking with some of them in Singapore, I sense their excitement at this new development, even as I hear assurances that their country is safe despite its less-than-stellar reputation. 

The Burmese that I met here are a welcoming people, and they are proud of their country, just not of the current governing body. A very common theme in our interactions revolves around how blessed we (Singapore) are as a nation to have a capable, efficient government. I have heard repeated variations of "if only we had your government" from them.

It makes me wonder what they can be if their government is a strong one, skilled at international relations and financial management, the way ours is. With their vast wealth of natural resources, they can easily become one of the most prosperous ASEAN nations. 

All we have to do now is wait and see. And perhaps make an investment or two there. Their rising prosperity will definitely impact ours.

Myanmar, may you rise from the doldrums and take your place on the world stage. Your people have spoken. They are ready.

   Picture from Wikipedia


Picture from Wikipedia

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