Future of Singapore depends on Our Young People

I have been in politics for coming to ~1.5 years. A very short time. I have so much to learn, and from so many different people: reporters, activists, politicians and veterans, friends (do not ever believe that Singaporeans are apolitical; you get them started on policies and you will not get your chance to say anything) and our younger Singaporeans.

Honestly, I do not know where this road will lead to. I just know what I am doing is giving me meaning to live, and there are many people whom I have met, who are doing this so that tomorrow can be better for many other people. Amongst these people are many members of our younger generation who are standing up and fighting for their beliefs. They do not get a penny for doing this.

Think about the homeless (“There are no homeless in Singapore, just Happy Campers”; http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=243022663629&ref=ts).

Think about Vui Kong (“We believe in 2nd Chances”; visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/We-Believe-In-Second-Chances/121781017872484?ref=ts).

Think about YOG critics (one of the most interesting argument I heard from a young volunteer is why should volunteers not get better food for public service rendered, just like how our leaders demand for million dollar salaries to serve the people).

I am gravitated to the young people. There is hope. Give more credits to our young people than what some of us think. They are quick to point out your flaws and see beyond your facade – knowing whether you are “genuine” or worth your salt.

Singapore is definitely not ready for leapfrogging in terms of political freedom now. Our people and our institutions may not be ready. There is much work to be done. It has to start now with the young Singaporeans. As a voter, I am convinced we need change, to realize the vision of an inclusive society, a transparent and an accountable government.

Deep in my heart, the young people gives me the reason to do this.  After more than 1 year, this is the main reason I am doing this. That is why I am working towards building a platform for our young people to be involved in politics.

– This platform should allow young people who can step forward to join any political parties, and offer yourself as a candidate not for money or power but for the pure desire of wanting to make contributions to ordinary people.

– This platform ensures that politics is not just meant for those in power and the incumbents.

– This platform would require office holders to be questioned, and challenged by anyone, including ordinary citizen, to hold them accountable.

– This platform would require the office holders to change from an approach of “I say you do” to “let us discuss and let us do together”.

– This platform would allow our young phoenix to rise from the ashes, without fear or prejudice, when the calling comes for them to serve.

It was the last generation of Singaporeans who have laid the foundation in place for the success of my generation. I believe I should contribute and do whatever I can, in my limited capacity, to ensure that a platform is there for the next group of future leaders to stand up, and for Singaporeans to truly have their voices heard, and casting their votes purely based on their agreements or disagreements with policies.

We need our young leaders to stand up. I know they are amongst us. Do not be made to believe that you need the experience and you need to be earning million of dollars before you can take part in politics. The first batch of Singapore leaders comprises of union leaders, teachers and postmen. Few of them have any experience in politics and running the country. And they have laid important foundations to grow a successful Singapore. We need another group of trailblazers – willing to listen, constantly working on the ground, and prepared to make a difference to the people of Singapore.

The world has changed. Singapore has changed. Our young people are more educated, well read and discerning. None of the leaders now may be around in leadership position 15-20 years from now. The younger generation is all we have. What must we do to allow their voices and ideas to be heard? Young people need greater political freedom, freedom of developing their potentials and expressing their thinking.

I hope you would help spread this message of change. To tell young Singaporeans why this is important. It is about you. We depend on you.  You and your peers will change and will lead Singapore.  You will chart the destiny of this nation and our people.  Together your voices and our voices must start to bring change so that the power will sit with you when the time comes for your generation to lead the country.

For the young people of Singapore,

Your voices today are for our future.

Your one voice will change our future.

Your one vote will decide our future.

Because you are our future.

Posted in Young Singaporeans | 1 Comment

Their Fears & My Fear

While i can understand why there is a growing opposing voice in the internet that is gathering momentum and the ruling party is worried about it, I believe the best way is to win these young people over through engagements and discussions. There is a need for greater ‘space’ to be given to the young people of Singapore. The convenient option of
letting the system run would no longer work. There will be more friction ahead, as netizens take on government for their policies and spending.

Government feedback and interactions with its people must move from the online space into physical space, where there are face-to-face meetings and discussions. We have to agree that online space is not the best means for critics to take on the government. But this is the only available form now for those who do not agree with the government.

There must be town hall style discussions, where Ministers, MPs and politicians of political parties can debate, interact and take on public views, and explain their positions on issues. These sessions can be recorded and aired on TV or internet. There can be live TV debates between politicians of the ruling party and other parties to allow alternative views to be presented. These options are always available.

The young Singaporeans today needs to be engaged. They look at the facts and make up their own minds. Their respects have to be earned by actions, and not through fears.

The current fear of this government is whether they would lose more seats in the coming General Election (GE). All activities by the current government seems to be revolved around GE: cooling off day, managing the YOG critics and National Day Rally speech. One of their specified fears would be how to ensure that younger voters do not vote against them. I certainly have one recommendation: stop using ways to suppress the voices of the young people, engaged by opening up avenues for 2-way interactions, and the use of “fear tactics” would not work on this group of people.

For me, my fear is a weakening US economy and a growing possibility of a double dip recession. The challenges for Singapore in the next few years are still not clearly debated in the parliament and discussed with the people of Singapore.  My fear is what will happen to the economy if we have another round of economic downturn. We could be sandwiched by negative GDP growth and high commodities’ costs. What will happen to the ordinary people in the street – specifically those who are already finding it hard to make ends meet? What will happen to our property prices?

Chinese citizens have been advised to buy gold for fear of weakening US dollars. Tony Robbins (http://emini-watch.com/recession-or-depression-tony-robbins-warning/1110/) has just warned about another round of stock price correction in Wall Street. How would that affect our GIC and Temasek investments?

My fear is that our young people should be speaking up more. The above pointers I have highlighted are brought up by people I know who are in their 20s & 30s. The last thing we need is to suppress their thoughts and mute their voices. My fear is that the growing opposing voice is unhealthy for nation building. We need to move to live TV debates and town hall meetings. Give the younger generation the space, I believe we will have a stronger Singapore, because we are prepared to discuss our fears openly face-to-face, and to think of better policies and ideas that can make Singapore a better place.

Afternote: MHA has clarified that “ST report gave the impression that Mr Abdul Malik Mohammed Ghazali was arrested by the police for making anti-Youth Olympic Games (YOG) remarks. This is completely wrong. He was arrested for posting public comments that could incite violence and lead to public disorder and a breach of peace, such as his call to burn a government minister.” on 4 Sep 2010 (http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/Story/STIStory_574614.html). I wished this clarification would have been made earlier. With this, I have made some changes to this article. I like to thank those who have given me their comments.

Posted in Young Singaporeans | 9 Comments