A pragmatic S'porean voice at the ballot box

On last Wednesday's commentary ("Liberal reflections on loss and acceptance in GE2015"), the questions we need to answer are: Has Singapore retreated in its democratic values when the majority of its people chose the PAP to govern, thus preventing opposition parties from growing in our political landscape?

In our new political reality, will diversity and pluralism be compromised by the dominance of one political party?

It is important to know that true democracy means that people get the freedom to choose their leaders based on the election candidates' competency and values.

In a democratic environment, political parties should have access to the required information, so as to offer criticism of the ruling party (or even other opposition parties) and its policies, and provide alternatives to the people, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to make an informed choice during an election.

When such a system is in place, concerns over a reduction in democracy due to having one strong political party in a country is minimised.

It is clear that in our election rallies, the democratic process is functioning without hindrance. 

On the other hand, it is not democratic to demand a strong opposition voice in Parliament, especially if the people did not vote for it.

We should also not be worried that there has been a retreat in democratic values when the majority of people voted strongly for a single party. 

The election result did not reflect a devaluing of democratic values in our nation; instead, it reflected that opposition parties in Singapore have not been able to convince people of their competency and values as compared with the ruling party.

It only reflected that Singaporeans are pragmatic, and that most do not vote for diversity and plurality in Parliament for its own sake to support an "ideal democracy", but a democracy that can safeguard our nation's future.

The election just reflected that in our democratic environment, we voted for a strong ruling party that has worked very hard for us for the past 50 years.

The opposition parties need to prove their competence and show that their values work for our young, small, vulnerable nation, if they want to swing the votes in their favour.

Thus, it would be very right to say that our democratic system has given us a monolithic government, governed by an entrenched elite aristocracy.

Jervin Lim Teng Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2015, with the headline 'A pragmatic S'porean voice at the ballot box'. Print Edition | Subscribe