Ah, elections. Since the ’06 round, Singaporeans have come to expect a fresh new level of (online) entertainment not unlike the WWE before they outed themselves as an elaborately choreographed act. With the “bak chor mee” clip and the PM’s “Mai Hum” BEP mashup (both courtesy of Mr Brown) still fresh in our heads, local netizens are eagerly looking forward – and lapping up – fresh new content that pokes fun at an otherwise unpokeable government body (Facebook accounts notwithstanding).
And the candidates have delivered – whether they like it or not. From the SDP’s Danny the Democracy Bear and Chee Soon Juan’s comical yet deadpan Hokkien delivery of his party’s manifesto, to the Kate Spade toting TinPei Ling versus the media-savvy “I’m a heartlander KNN(B)CCB” Nicole Seah, to the endless demotivational Photoshopping of our beloved leaders, not to mention the ever seasonal pop song remixes busting rhymes about the plight of the man on the street, the Singapore Internet community does not disappoint.
There is a serious side to this flurry of political comedy, however. The incumbent government continuously warns of “freak results” and “rocking the foundations“, as though the strength of the social media buzz has grown into a force they are struggling to comprehend (and scrambling to salvage). The competition, too, has been fighting to disentangle the Web as readily available information threatens the credibility of their candidates. Just as one minister pleads with the voting public to overlook the one career mistake for the 27 years he put in to the country’s development, netizens are digging up ugly brawls taking place as late as last year to end any chances of opposition parties’ seeking redemption.
It is certainly a new world measuring 40km by 20km we are experiencing, where technology is turning the tables on everyone, incumbent, opposition and voters alike. And yet we are still uncertain. We are witnessing, for the first time, a truly nervous ruling party who doesn’t know what to make of a country that has found the power to talk back. We are hearing, maybe not for the first time, an opposition that has confessed to not being prepared to take on the reigns of governance should they end up winning. And despite the voices of dissent happily singing about rising costs of living, alien takeovers and cheek-to-cheek experiences (the bottom cheeks, not the ones on top) in peak hour trains, the majority of us – the voting public – are feeling the pressure of a freedom that only promises an unpredictable future no matter who we’re going to vote for.
A large proportion of us will be thinking of whether our lift landings will stay clean, if the neighborhood shopping mall will still be built, if the cash-laden love letters will continue to be sent. Then there are the ones that see things from a more macro point of view; where is our tax money going, how do we compete for jobs in an internationalised job market, how are we going to feed our kids in the face of rising inflation and locked wages, who can really speak for us. The questions come fast and furious, and their answers are as varied as the campaign methods of each party, each candidate, each supporter. The one heartening thing to be derived from this barrage of aggressive internal and external Q&A? There doesn’t seem to be anyone in this country that doesn’t care.
There isn’t very much time, but you can still stay informed. Don’t just rely on the papers or mainstream media for your scope of the General Elections. Take the cue from what you hear and find more background info on the Web. Read party manifestos, check candidate CVs, note down candidates’ past activities, Google their names, laugh at the way they talk, listen out for their conviction to you, the people, and judge them all, because this is probably the only time you can judge a person without being accused of judging.
Then vote. More importantly, vote honestly. The nation needs to know where it stands.