still remember our bitter disappointment in moscow in 2015 (opposition very almost lost everything), when we moped over dinner in a cosy little restaurant that served better food than we felt capable of enjoying that night. also, the euphoria in the newsroom in 2011 (first opposition grc ever!), after which i quoted on facebook atticus finch's "courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. it's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. you rarely win, but sometimes you do." can also recall 2006 - my very first vote - when aljunied was soooooo close and yet so far... had felt less strongly about the polls back then, though i was already clear who i was rooting for and why. i see myself as a swing voter - not fully aligned with any party - so it's interesting to note that how 14 years on, my two key reasons (fairness and voice) remain the same - is it that i'm consistent, or has there been no political progress?
whatever the case, am really glad to be part of amazing aljunied and its amazing people who gave them their very first chance at a grc almost a decade ago and have stuck by them till now regardless of whatever upgrading or neighbourhood development benefits we might have forgone for our choice. am also glad to have been a part of helping to shape our nation into something closer to what we collectively hope for it to be. in the end, it's not about wanting to replace the ruling party; rather, it's really a yearning for a fairer, kinder society, with opportunity for other voices to be heard, even if not taken on eventually.
naturally, there are those who are unhappy with the outcome and believe we are headed for catastrophe. but logically speaking, singapore will not collapse with a mere four seats more granted to an elected opposition (the ruling party still holds a whopping 83 out of 93 seats!); if anything, the results should in fact further strengthen the legitimacy of the ruling party in the eyes of our international counterparts, given that we now have a more credible opposition representation. besides, if singapore were really to be headed for destruction by the mere loss of just three minister-level people, what would this say about the competence of our ruling party for all these decades??
i want to add that these three outgoing people entered politics only in 2006 (lam pin min), amrin amin (2011) and ng chee meng (2015). (excluded newbie raymond lye for whom the 2020 ge is his first foray.) under the umbrella of the ruling party, in such a short span of 14, 9 and five years respectively, one can become a senior minister of state in two ministries (lam), senior parliamentary secretary also in two ministries (amrin), and minister in pmo and sec-gen of ntuc (ng). but what of those who choose to serve in the opposition, e.g. low thia khiang (who started out in 1988), sylvia lim (2006), pritam singh (2011)? from the outset, you know you'll never get any promotions to places or roles of the kind of power the ruling party ministers wield, thereby depriving you of the opportunity to accumulate a list of state-level achievements to tell voters of how competent and hence indispensable you are. and every five years, you have to fight a repeat battle to win back your constituency. frankly, why would anyone even want to devote their lives to this, if not for an inner conviction and belief in the values that the opposition or their party stands for? not saying that lam, amrin and ng aren't good, but they're the unfortunate collateral damage that is the result of the grc system that the ruling party put in place. and not saying that jamus, tingru, raeesah and louis are necessarily so great, but it's also about giving a chance to the values they and their party stand for.
my last point for tonight is this. i remember ever so acutely the hong kong/western colleagues/friends who say so derogatorily that singaporeans have no right to comment on their cities'/countries' protests or political scene because we aren't even a democracy to begin with. i have this to say to them: sure, we may be in no way ideal, but as our elections have shown, we do at least have an electorate with the power to exercise its choice - even within a limited system with a less than balanced playing field - and which can choose to exalt its ruling leaders as praise for good work done or to take them down a peg to spur introspection and change. and this is surely better than the brand of "democracy" some others tout, that involves setting fire to those who disagree with them, assaulting people or damaging their properties, and having western-trained asian journalists summarily censoring opposing views for their unsuspecting audiences just because those views aren't aligned with their ideologies. so, whatever you choose to believe, we're still better than you.
that said, it's certainly not all sunshine and roses here. there's still a long way to go; setbacks are bound to come in time and even the best intentions on both sides of the political spectrum may be thwarted. but for now, at least, there's hope.