OPINION: I have never felt more Singaporean

In the United Kingom, they are debating their electoral system, arguing about whether “first past the post” is democratic, whether they should change and move towards something more in line with democratic principles.

There is currently a referendum, so that the people can decide. It’s not going particularly well for the Liberal Democrats as the country seems set to reject proposals to change the system, but at least they were debating it.

In Singapore, the way we vote today will determine whether we will even have a chance to have such debates on not only the fairness of our election process, but on all national policies in general.

Whether Bills that will affect our daily lives will be scrutinised and considered with our input, or whether they will just be bulldozed through without us having a say in the direction of our own country.

I don’t know what the result will be (and it’s killing me). I don’t know what May 8 will bring. I don’t know what the next 5 years will look like.

But I do know this: in this short 9-day period, I have never felt more Singaporean.

Since I started following, covering and getting excited by the General Elections 2011, I have come to realise that this is really my home. My country.

I have realised this not just in an abstract, idealistic way; I have felt it too.

Being present at the rallies through the heat, the humidity, the rain, the crowd, the noise, the anything and everything, I have – stronger than ever before – felt Singaporean.

I looked around me and saw my fellow Singaporeans, listening and cheering, hungry for change, hungry for a voice.

I saw Singaporeans, so long described as soulless, apathetic or robotic, light up and come alive at the rallies.

When I was at the Workers’ Party rally I watched families spreading picnic cloths on the ground, saw them chit-chatting and laughing and hugging each other, saw them lean forward to hear every single word of every single speech, saw their smiles and the fire lit within them.

I saw all this hope, all this diversity that was united by the fact that we are all Singaporean.

When I stood amongst my fellow Singaporeans snapping photographs as they cheered and roared their approval for change, I felt a love for my people and my country that I have never felt before.

I am 23 years old this year. I am young. I am just one person. But today, I have a voice, and a stake in this country. This my country, my home. I will not live in fear, and I will not be treated like an economic digit any longer.

When I vote today I vote not out of hatred, or resentment. I have anger, but I will not vote out of anger.

Instead, I choose to vote out of love. Love for my people and for my country. Love for my family, my friends and my home. Because today, I feel more Singaporean than I have ever felt. And with this vote, I will be responsible for our next 5 years.

I will be responsible for whether my friends who are facing hard times, or are/were homeless, will be able to get the focused, sustained support that they need to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, instead of being thrown a handout and expected to get themselves out of all their problems in just 3 – 6 months.

I will be responsible for whether the old aunties and uncles bent double every day cleaning tables or collecting cardboard can finally get some respite.

I will be responsible for whether families will have their lives derailed or their loved ones bankrupted just because of one hospitalisation.

I will be responsible for whether anyone is detained without trial for conspiracies unproven, or bankrupted by defamation suits.

You will be responsible too. Remember that.