SINGAPORE - Expressing a wish that Singaporean voters remain "rational and wise," Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Friday said that the electorate have, in past general elections, shown that they can choose when and how to calibrate between showing approval and unhappiness.
For Singapore to continue to succeed, Singaporeans must vote for the party that they believe is best able to govern, he said: "They should not treat elections like circuses, auctions, beauty contests, or tikam tikam (Malay for select randomly)."
"On the evidence of past general elections, Singaporean voters are astute in their collective vote, choosing when and how to calibrate between showing approval and unhappiness. May they remain rational and wise," he said at a conference themed "Singapore at 50: What Lies Ahead".
Another condition for Singapore's continued success is that those who can best run the office must step forward to run for office, and Singaporeans must be prepared to support them, said Mr Goh in a speech on effective democratic governance in the modern world.
"The rest of us must be prepared to support them, because they represent our best hope for collective success. If they go down, Singapore goes down along with every one of us," said Mr Goh.
He added that these candidates must see political leadership as a noble calling, and people should also view it as a worthwhile profession.
For these reasons, the answer to whether Singapore can maintain its current virtuous cycle of good governance lies in each and every Singaporean, he said: "In our hands, rest the power and responsibility to make a positive difference, some to lead and others to support."
"The responsibility of democracy producing good governance lies with the citizens and the political parties which contest to govern them."
Mr Goh noted that changing and ever-rising expectations of the citizenry, and the impact of technology and social media, mean that politicians will face increasing challenges in "running for office and running the office".
These two trends were also addressed by former British prime minister John Major, who also spoke at the conference session on modern challenges of democratic governance.
The conference is co-organised by the Institute of Policy Studies and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and held at the Shangri-La Hotel.