Political high comes to a low in Presidential Election

1 Sep

The political game caught on like wild fire amongst many young Singaporeans during the General Election, but seemed to have died down in the recent Presidential Election

Throngs of young people turned up at political rallies such as this during the campaigning period of the General Election. Photo Credits: The Online Citizen

A few days before Singaporeans head to the polls to vote for their President, Ms Stephanie Tan logged onto Facebook, expecting to find out what was being said about the candidates on the social networking site.

Much to her surprise, there was little talk about the Presidential Election (PE) save for a few comments and repost of news stories.

This was a far cry from the General Election (GE) when her Facebook and Twitter feed was inundated with self-penned articles, discussions, status updates and links to political websites, said the 22-year-old auditor.

Ms Tan also noted that the topic of electing our next president was rarely brought up during conversations with her friends.

“Everyone was talking about politics during the GE but this time round, things seem quieter. At times, it didn’t even feel like we were having an election,” she added.

Singapore elected its seventh president last Saturday in a nail biting race. Dr Tony Tan emerged victorious by a razor-thin margin of 0.4 per cent. Runner-up Dr Tan Cheng Bok trailed Dr Tony Tan by a mere 7,269 votes.

The unprecedented race saw four candidates vying for the keys to the Istana. In the only other contested election in 1993, there were only two contenders.

Fresh from the May elections, which roused the political consciousness of many Singaporeans, one could expect the political high from the GE to spill over to the PE.

Many whom this writer spoke to, however, noted that the PE was not as warmly received especially amongst the younger voters.

“The disinterest could perhaps be due to the fact that the President do not affect our everyday life as much as the government does. We were after-all electing our Members of Parliament for our constituency in the GE,” said Mr Lee Wenkai, 24.

The banker said that he gauges the prevailing mood of the PE and its hype amongst his peers base on social media such as his Facebook feed and in his conversations with his friends.

Mr Lee was however quick to point out that though there was lesser hustle and bustle on social media in this PE, it did not mean that youths were apathetic.

The comparatively limited role of the President coupled with the fact that there were lesser candidates to scrutinize could have attributed to the dearth of postings online, he noted.

“People were still concerned with the matter, and from what I observed, they still bothered to find out about the candidates. But it was quieter this time round probably because there’s less to discuss about in the first place,” he said.

While the lack of talk online might serve as an indicator of the popularity of the PE among younger voters, it does not give a holistic picture, as there were some who still turned to mainstream media for news.

Ms Tiffany Tham, 22, kept abreast with the election news by reading The Straits Times everyday.

The final-year communication studies student said that she prefers reading the papers to online commentaries because “there is more structure in a traditional news story”.

“Editors help readers sift the wheat from the chaff. Even though I know that there are many sources out there, I do not have the luxury of time to assess for myself which bloggers are better than the others,” she said.

Ms Tham agreed with Mr Lee’s view that lesser talk online does not translate to indifference.

Whether or not there was hype built around the PE, what is of most significance is that these young voters make a discerning choice, she added.

“Ultimately, it is about making a rational, informed decision and choosing the one whom they feel would rise to the President’s role,” she said.


Singaporeans’ hopes for the new President

Five young Singaporeans share their expectations of the President-elect, Dr Tony Tan, as he officially begins his six year term today.

Joel Haw, 30, Senior Technical Service Officer

“My hope is that he would be a people’s president – one who would go out and meet regular Singaporeans, talk to them and find out their concerns and if necessary, feedback these concerns to the government.”

Goh Yiling, 23, Management Trainee

“I hope he would hear the voices of the people and safeguard their interest while working together with the government to sustain the nation’s economy.”

Jonathan Goh, 22, Undergraduate

“To be an international representation of dignity and good stewardship, so that the reputation of Singapore can be enhanced – to use his considerable soft power to benefit Singapore overseas and at home through charity. And to be a head of state that we can be proud of.”

Jamie Lui, 27, Civil Servant

“To advance causes which are in the best interest of Singaporeans and for him to have the foresight to make decisions that will bring the country forward.”

Phang Xiao Feng, 25, Undergraduate

“I wish for him to have genuine care for Singaporeans and to support causes that would benefit and help the less privileged.”


11 Responses to “Political high comes to a low in Presidential Election”

  1. Jeremy Wagstaff September 1, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Not bad, and you’ve collected some good vox pop. I’m not sure I agree with you about comparing the two elections–I think you’d have been better off comparing it with previous PEs. But it’s a fair point, so long as you can gather enough evidence.

    Your English isn’t bad, but there are some grammatical errors in there. So be sure to try to iron those out over time.


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