On Singapore Elections and the Spirit of Competition.

Gift from Lance before I came to Loughborough. Hope I earned the right to finally wear it now.

Firstly I would like to state that I do not support any particular political party. I’m just a Singaporean living and studying overseas, wanting the best and trying my best for the country. I originally decided not to comment on the elections back home, but looking at all the news and postings coming through, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

I won’t comment on any particular policy, party, candidate or manifesto, I believe there are more than enough political blogs and personal Facebook notes floating around that does so already.

I will also not pretend that I know exactly what’s best for Singapore for the next 5 years, I’m not that bright and I’ve been away for almost 3 years already. Every time I visit home I see just how much the country has changed and progressed without me.

You see I’ve always believed that there’s something special about Singapore, something about the place and the people that I grew up with. And even though we may be a small and young country, we’ve come a long way and there are just so many things to be proud of isn’t it?

I always get a sense of pride when I see my name next to the words Singapore at competition start lists (wasn’t representing Singapore then, but they put your country of origin next to your name sometimes), knowing that even though I’m not even that good at my sport, at least when I stand at the starting line people can see a glimpse of the spirit that got us here, that we’re not afraid of a little hard work, that we will never give up and that we will always keep trying.

So when I watched the news and rallies, along with reading all the online post and comments about the elections, I can’t help but feel a little wanting.

Why has our political debate about nation building turned so many times into petty bickering and personal smear campaigns?

What really disappoints me is that this extends out not just to the political figures and parties, but the electorate themselves as well, judging by the online comments and postings.

What happened to the simple value of respect?

(Video below not allowed to be embedded, so hit the link to watch it on YouTube.)

Or restecp as Ali G puts it.

Now a bit of playful banter and cheerful teasing is fine by all means, but please, not the poisonous spit that I see being spewed upon each other now on a daily basis. Though I must make clear that I absolutely do believe that candidates have to be screened, questioned and scrutinised carefully and maturely by the public about their intentions and background (nobody wants some shaddy character to lead our country to ruins). But making attacks on someone’s personal photos of a cheerful youthhood and personal consumption choice, are you friggin kidding me?

Having experienced the western political system first hand (going through the last general election over here and amazingly able to participate in it being a Commonwealth Citizen) and seeing how politics here is a pretty dirty game as well (but at the very least everyone had a sense of mutual respect in a certain sense), I began thinking to myself that perhaps we could have a system even better than this, beyond first world maybe.

Why not work towards a system that is based on the values of respect and the spirit of competition?

One that acknowledges that even though there may be differences in personal or political ideologies, it is ok because it is natural and at the same time we want the same thing, just maybe have a different idea of how to reach it.

One where instead of trying to put one another down in order to get ahead, we are graceful enough to genuinely wish our competitors the very best, because we know when they are strong, we are challenged to get stronger.

And the very best part of this is that no matter who wins, we are all playing for the same team.

The stakes are high, yes, but it doesn’t mean we should put aside our dignity for it.

You are my adversary, but you are not my enemy.

For your resistance gives me strength.

Your will gives me courage.

Your spirit ennobles me.

And though I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you.

Instead, I will honour you.

For without you, I am a lesser man.

So please my dear friends, I know many of you love the country just as much and would not hesitate to bleed a little blood just to keep our flags red and flying (as quoted from my Loughborough senior Jeremy Gan). I know this because I’ve been with you, learning and playing in our classrooms through our schooling years, walking and proning in our muddy fields through our army days, running and jumping in our schools and stadiums now that we are finally representing our country.  Together we can make this a better place than before we started living in it.

Come on Singapore, no matter what happens after Saturday, let me see us at the best that we can be.

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