Winners and losers this GE

Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong (centre) ducks as his bus travels under a bridge while on route to thank supporters after the general election on Sept 12, 2015.
Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong (centre) ducks as his bus travels under a bridge while on route to thank supporters after the general election on Sept 12, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Congratulations to the People's Action Party for winning 69.9 per cent of the vote.

That the party helped ensure that opponents were not disqualified on technical grounds makes it an even more worthy winner.

But there are many other winners in this election, too.

Congratulations to all opposition parties which fielded candidates, thus contributing to a democratic electoral process by offering voters a choice.

Congratulations to all candidates, their long-suffering families and their dedicated activists who have sacrificed a huge part of their personal lives to make this election a well-contested one.

Voters traversed Singapore in the past week to listen to different political parties at their rallies, so that they could make an informed choice.

Other voters who remained true to their respective party of choice must be congratulated, too, for their conviction and loyalty, remaining firm in their views. The multitude of opinions can only benefit the democratic process.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to The Straits Times and some of the other media for their concerted efforts to give all parties as fair a coverage as possible, and for giving voters platforms to voice their thoughts. That contributed to voters having more information and viewpoints for consideration.

We are, therefore, all winners in General Election 2015, having benefited from a much more transparent electoral process.

But there were losers too: Civility was lost. Elections should be a contest, not a dogfight.

In their dogged push to win, some candidates and supporters of all parties lost their heads and resorted to questionable tactics, realising too late that in trying to demolish respect for their opponents, they lost the respect of voters for themselves instead.

Some of us also lost what we said we wanted in a democratic society: the ability to listen to others who have different opinions.

Many of us became angry with friends and family members who had different views. But what was most worrying was the loss of unity among Singaporeans.

Elections are divisive by nature because of the different points of view on offer. But the degeneration into below-the-belt attacks turned healthy arguments into hate for fellow Singaporeans.

Now that the election is over, I hope we can put away our cudgels and our different coloured T-shirts, and wear "I love SG" shirts instead.

Better yet, keep the latter always on, even as we put another party-affiliated coloured shirt over it during elections.

Agnes Sng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Winners and losers this GE'. Print Edition | Subscribe