Don't harp on old issues

The impending election rallies should not touch on old scores and wounds to gain political capital.

The town council and People's Association (PA) fiascos have already been extensively debated in Parliament ("Town councils set to be major election issue"; Tuesday).

Voters can get tired of the same old record playing over and over, and harping on these issues can only result in endless filibustering.

For example, if the PAP reiterates that the PA lapses are within control, the Workers' Party would probably defend its turf with counterarguments as to how and why the PA lapses are identical to its own town council lapses.

Then, the PAP will defend itself in its next rally, and so will the WP. The rallies could end up becoming nothing more than boxing matches that can become personal.

We must avoid that.

What voters want to hear is how parties have made the lives of their constituents better, what they have achieved in the past and their key performance indicators for another five years if they are elected.

An election rally is not about who runs which town councils and how they do it; nor is it about the PA. It is about the people of Singapore and their problems.

A political rally speech is not a lecture, trying to point out other facts or teach the audience something new, in response to what has been said in Parliament.

If political parties piggyback on the mistakes of other candidates, this may be seen as mere bad-mouthing.

It is easy to make grand claims on the opponents' weakness, but we should avoid citing the same incident or issue over and over.

Over the years, Singapore's political system has matured gradually in moving away from the hostile and potentially slanderous landscape of the 1980s. This is the result of Singapore's open and fair system, with the responsible exercising of freedom of speech during rallies. We should keep it this way and not abuse it.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Don't harp on old issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe