Democracy is about diversity, not division

In March, we saw the best in Singaporeans when founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew died.

Was that momentary?

The jeering from opposition supporters towards People's Action Party (PAP) politicians at Raffles Institution on Nomination Day was an unfortunate step back into the past ("Ng Eng Hen unfazed by jeers"; yesterday). 

But first, let us not assume all opposition supporters behave in this manner. Second, let us not even assume the supporters who jeered usually behave in this manner. So why the sudden loss of self-control?

While we often say that respect is earned and not demanded, it does not mean that one can be excused or pardoned into thinking you can show disrespect.

Democracy gives everyone a stake in the country, to encourage and accept diversity in opinion; it is never about dividing a nation.

At the end of the day, it reflects on our upbringing and civility. 

This is about manners.

Malaysia recently ended its Bersih rally peacefully, despite a huge turnout ("After the protests, Malaysia celebrates"; Tuesday).

It makes one wonder if Singapore is capable of such peaceful rallies, especially with political supporters who jeer.

But there were also examples of supporters of the PAP and the Workers' Party taking a photo together and having friendly cheering competitions.

Democracy gives everyone a stake in the country, to encourage and accept diversity in opinion; it is never about dividing a nation.

If any party causes a divide among us Singaporeans, at the end of the day, no matter which party wins, Singapore loses.

All supporters and candidates should show us constructive politics and their ability to unite a nation.

Peh Xin Yi (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'Democracy is about diversity, not division'. Print Edition | Subscribe