For the first time in many years, I can say I am proud to be a Singaporean. Not just happy to be a beneficiary of GDP growth, but actually proud to be witnessing this exciting political awakening in Singapore, and this spontaneous outpouring of passion and nationalism around GE2011. True, the nationalism at times sounded somewhat xenophobic, but I don't believe the true emotions behind all that bluster about foreigners truly stems from xenophobism.
Specifically, I am so pleased to see
a] the relatively "clean" campaigns that all the parties have been running. True, the ruling party has had more than a moderate excess of campaign advantages on their side, but I think this has been relatively 'muted' (or not as effective) during these elections. Certainly there has been a minimum of personal attacks launched;
b] the PAP come to terms with the heart behind the cold rationality of their otherwise effective policies. True, this has been more forced upon them by the strong opposition showing than spontaneous development from with the party, but it is better this than not at all. I just hope that this is a true indication of changes within the party logic so that we will see a more wholesome PAP in the future;
c] the ability of the opposition to attract better qualified people into their fold. Particularly surprised and impressed by the ability of the SDP to re-engineer itself away from the self-destructive unnecessarily combative antics of their leader.
d] the emergence of a true-blue Singapore folk hero from the ranks of the opposition parties, such as Mr Chiam See Tong. He has so much love and respect from us all, and he will be so much missed when he finally retires. The sad reality is that he has run out of time, but this should not detract from his immense achievements on behalf of all Singaporeans;
e] the increasing confirmation and acceptability of Mr Low Thia Khiang, also Ms Sylvia Lim as clear definitive opposition voices on behalf of us all. He is another hero in the making, but not yet;
f] the public participation of professionals such as Assoc Professor Tambyah on the opposition platform. There had always been constraints for professionals within gov and quasi-gov institutions to be seen publicly consorting with the opposition, so Assoc Professor Tambyah's very visible participation in opposition politics is a significant milestone and very much welcomed. I truly hope that MoH will not be reactive and start to clip his wings. That would be a a monumental mistake, I think. Certainly the public will watch and pass judgement on such vindictiveness.
g] the emergence of online The Temasek Review and The Online Citizen as alternative voices for the mainstream media. Thank you guys. Please soldier on and do not give up.
h] and most heartwarming of all was the demonstration that the pledge taking can be such a stirring and emotional event as seen at the opposition rallies. Thank you so much to the opposition parties for making use of the pledge in that way (yes, they were making use of it, but thanks anyway). For too long, pledge taking had come across as formal, dead and uninspiring. Almost as if we were being punished.
So it is truly a watershed event, this GE2011. Congratulations Singapore. I am so proud, whatever the outcome.