Photographer: Ailin Liefeld for Freunde von Freunden
Today is 7 May, Polling Day.
A few of you wanted to know more about how the elections and politics in Singapore. It's hard to sum it up and my own feelings about the subject are still developing, so it's probably going to sound on the jumbled side.
The ruling party in Singapore, in power since independence in 1965, has had an extraordinarily successful run - primarily because under its dominance it took Singapore from a developing country, a former colonial outpost with no natural resources except for its geographical local as an advantage, into a developed country in a span of 40 years.
I admire greatly the work of our founding fathers, but I've always believed that past results are no guarantee of future performance, and I've always hoped for more credible Opposition parties to step to the plate and deliver the alternative voices and check on power we need.
And this year, the Opposition delivered an extraordinarily well-qualified crop of candidates (there are still jokers, but we have come a long way, trust me). All but five seats in the Parliament are being contested (uncontested seats automatically return to the incumbent, in a situation we call a walkover) - and for the first time in a long time, we are truly measuring what Singaporeans want (in the last election, there were seven walkovers).
I believe self-awareness is one of the hardest things to achieve in a person, and the same goes for any organisation or collective power. I do not believe that a party with such dominant power will be able effectively govern and correct its own flaws and mistakes and I believe the time has come for a change where credible alternative representatives should be elected, and the fat from the ruling party trimmed. And I can point to several performance lapses in the last five years since the last election that supports my point, but I shall not bore the non-resident readers. This post here by a local blogger might help, if you are interested.
We've finally reached a point where some of us have a real chance at making a difference with our vote, because the Opposition party has given itself a kick in the pants to really give Singaporeans genuine choice, and I appreciate that deeply.
We are riding on a momentum we might not see again. Will Singapore see change, and change for the better? I'm almost afraid to hope. We're a pragmatic lot that doesn't thrive on change, and the superiority of the ruling power is deeply engrained in us, me included. Overnight change, revolution, that's not our style.
But the important thing is that choice has finally come to us, perhaps even too soon for many of us to contemplate and make a truly considered decision (so many of us are politically immature). But I feel privileged to be able to mark this moment, and to know what hope and possibility looks like. It's a reminder not to settle for less.
Picture from freunde von freunden