Singapore’s Golden Jubilee night ended on a celebratory note, with what seemed like everyone in high spirits.
The crowd was out in full force, and the hype that had been building up to that moment due to the year-long campaign aptly named “SG50” (and some say over-used) boiled over that night as Singaporeans from all walks of life came together and united as one, many with arms around one another and singing the crowd favourites such as Kit Chan’s “Home”.
Even as we recover from our hangovers and memories of the massive crowd, spectacular fireworks and fantastic Black Knights aerial display replay in our heads, we must now cast our eyes towards the future, and the coming General Elections.
Ever since prime minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong announced that he has convened the Election Boundaries Review Committee in July this year, rumours were abound that the General Elections would be held in September, right after the much hyped about National Day and before the high and sense of gratitude and patriotism towards the ruling People’s Action Party fades.
Others have said that a year-end election in late November or December is more likely, citing PM Lee’s assurance that the ruling party would give ample time for everyone to prepare for the elections after the electoral boundary changes were revealed.
Regardless of when the actual General Elections will be held, preparations for the campaign are likely to kick in sooner, rather than later, given that National Day is now over. While political parties stake their claims on the various constituencies, it is now timely for us to start thinking about what has happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen, so that when the time comes for us to choose, we will choose wisely and not, in the words of our late founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), “live and repent” for our decision.
What has happened: The Good
So many things have happened, but a year in review of 2015 so far would include SG50, the National Day Parade, SEA Games, as well as the loss of Mr LKY. The nation’s birthday is not just a chance for Singapore to celebrate its achievements, but it also gives the Government a chance to assert itself on not just on the world stage, but more importantly, in the eyes of the voters. In this aspect, it has done so resoundingly well, as response towards SG50 has been overwhelmingly positive, and national pride in being a Singaporean is at an all-time high.
Another major event so far was the SEA Games. With the Games being played on the home ground, there was much at stake for us to ensure that everything went smoothly. We also had to unleash our inner “kiasu”-ness (Singlish for “scared to lose”) and ensure that we performed well, with an initial target of, you guessed it, 50 gold medals to commemorate our nation’s birthday, and celebrate everything 50. Through sheer hardwork and talent, our nation’s young athletes fought a good fight and exceeded expectations, earning themselves a grand total of 84 gold medals.
What’s more, when the public address system crackled and died halfway through playing the national anthem during one of the medal ceremonies held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, our pride shone through when we continued singing, louder than ever, until the end of the anthem. This is a clear sign of how proud we are to be Singaporeans.
Finally, the death of Mr LKY in March this year was a heartbreaking moment for all Singaporeans and foreigners alike, as the late Mr Lee was highly respected and well-liked on the global stage, for his vision, tenacity and intellect.
It was also a chance for the Government to highlight our achievements, and to showcase the man behind it all. Nationalistic pride mounted in the week-long wake as Singaporeans from all walks of life gathered as one to mourn the loss of the man, culminating in a massive outpouring of grief during his wake, with thousands queuing, in typical Singaporean style, to pay their last respects to the man many regarded as having “made” Singapore.
What has happened: The Bad
While there is a long list of good news that have made headlines this year, there was no lack of bad news that have caused everyone to sigh and despair. Most prominently, the seemingly never-ending reports of train breakdowns were a cause of concern from everyone. The handling of these breakdowns, which had, truthfully, improved over time, was still not enough for Singaporeans, who had high expectations of the service to justify for what we felt was a “rising cost for transport”.
Another case that made international news was the suing of 16 year-old Amos Yee for his Youtube video “Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead”. He was arrested and charged for intentionally “wounding the religious feelings of Christians”, and also separately for uploading an image of Lee and Margaret Thatcher engaged in a sexual act.
Yet another instance is an on-going case involving Roy Ngerng, who has been sued for defaming prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. These cases are widely seen as moves by the Government to stifle freedom of speech.
What is going to happen
As campaign drives for the upcoming General Elections begin to kick in, many of these issues, and more, will be brought up as election topics. Much will be said about the actions and decisions of both the Government and the Opposition over the past few years. It is easy to get caught up with the hype that surrounds the election fever, and easier still to point fingers at someone when something goes wrong (bad news takes the cake any day), but what is important is that we keep in mind the merits of each case, as well as the circumstances that surround them.
Photo Credit: Sheng Long Lua