It all begins with political apathy

Guest essay by Loh Peiying

I am 20 and I cannot vote.

To be honest, I was never really bothered with politics. I had a father who was very political but that was as far as it went. He would always nag at me for being so apathetic. Like everyone my age, there are more fun things I could do with my life. I can watch Glee, spend hours painting my nails or queue for a cup of bubble tea from KOI. I lead a comfortable life, I have a spot in the university… what more could I ask for. Why should I even care?


At my age, few care about politics. Exams are stressful enough. But now I’m tweeting and sharing political news almost 24/7 like nobody’s business. Some of my friends think I am crazy.

What sparked off this interest in politics? Nothing much really. Perhaps it was boredom during lectures at University. I made a radical decision to ‘like’ The Online Citizen on Facebook which has been updating me daily with alternative news. All this information merely compounded what I already knew from my father.

The more I read, the more concerned I became. I do not know where even to begin with what is wrong. So instead of making a list of reasons, I shall share my personal experiences instead.

Recently I saw an advertisement for a three-room flat near my place. It was going for over S$400,000. That scared me. The amount set off alarms in my head. I went to ask my father for more details. He told me he had bought our current five room flat in 1983 for S$123,000, but today’s market value for it is approximately $650,000. That’s just insane. I know life is not meant to be a bed of roses, I know I would have to work hard, but these prices seem insurmountable. Moreover, I believe the prices will continue to climb if nothing effective is done to solve the rising costs of living. Does that mean that to have my own place, I have to live an eternity of debt? What about kids? Do I even dare consider raising any?

What about others who are less fortunate than I am? What are they going to do?

I have some friends who aren’t as lucky as me. They did fairly well for their A Levels or their GPAs but it was not enough to make the cut for our local universities. I understand that the system is based on merit and that is fair and justified. What I cannot stomach is the number of foreign students studying in our local universities, on our money. What gives our government the confidence that these people will stay and ‘integrate’?

While I was doing a stint as a relief teacher, an elderly cleaning lady came up to me and complained that students were pouring paint into the sinks and clogging up the plumbing. She implored me in Chinese, “Please tell your students not to do this anymore. We lead a very hard life you know. Each month I only earn $500, it is tough enough already.”

What? $500? She is so much older than me and my salary then was more than twice hers. Her work is so much more taxing and how is $ 500 enough to survive?

There is this old lady near my block. She is always hunched, pushing a trolley and picking up cardboard boxes. Once I saw her fighting viciously with another old man for a cardboard box. Is this our so-called modern and First World society? I am sure she’s not the only one in Singapore living like this.

Why are there people like her living on the streets, while our ministers earn so much? What justifies this gulf of disparity and why aren’t they doing anything? This makes me so angry. How can we just stand by and watch – and not do anything?

Being paid so much, there should be accountability. Is there?

I have become disillusioned with the ruling elite in the ways that they trample on our rights as citizens and cut our vocal cords on politics. There is something very morally wrong with the way we are governed.

Why this election

Whoever said, “do not underestimate the power of the social media” seriously was not joking. Ask any young person and he will tell you that Facebook is his death knell. We surf the internet for hours when we should be studying. Yet at the same time, social media has allowed me to hear the opposition’s voice where it has been hushed in the Straits Times.

I would probably still be living in ignorance if not for Facebook.

Things in Singapore already seem pretty bad but to make things worse, the new People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates take it on to a whole new level of scary. If candidates like Tin Pei Ling are going into parliament, we ought to be very worried. She has failed to show the critical depth that is needed to handle national issues. When I showed a friend Tin Pei Ling’s introductory video, he commented that she sounds like a brainwashed robot.

The recent reports circulating on the internet involving Lui Tuck Yew also raised some eyebrows. How can someone like him lead the people? Members of Parliament (MP) are here to serve the people, not the other way around. Also, PAP’s Desmond Choo mentioned on the news that “progress” to him was to make a resident in Hougang hesitate voting for the Worker’s Party. What is up with that? Is defeating the opposition his main goal? Can this be an indication of the type of mentality that runs within the ruling elite?

In contrast, the opposition holds so much more appeal for me. For one, they are not pretentious. Their sincerity is apparent in their videos. They know what it is like to be an average Singaporean, they have got credibility, and last but not the least, they are sacrificing so much for us. The Workers’ Party’s First World Parliament proposal and manifesto is very impressive. Also, Nicole Seah has really moved me and many youths with her ability to speak up for my generation. We are all fans, buzzing with admiration.

Building up to the election, the blunders made by the PAP are bigger and the challenges we face as a nation are larger. Sometimes it feels like there is no space to breath. This cannot keep up. It cannot go on.


I’m not here to represent all of the youth in Singapore, and I am not much different from them.

Being a History Major, I have learned that young people are a catalyst for change. Many of my friends are already frustrated with the system. We are saying, “Enough is enough”.

The opposition needs help. The odds are stacked heavily against them. The PAP always emphasize the need to vote wisely and to beware of a ‘freak result’. But as Mr. Brown sings, “bookies confirm don’t play because we already know who’s the winner.”

Some of my friends actually believe that I’m going to get called up by the ISD or have my face printed all over the papers. Such ridiculous thoughts really make me laugh, but at the same time, it gives me an inkling of the fear and apathy that exists.

As V from the movie V for Vendetta says, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” The first step is to get alternative voices into parliament as checking mechanisms and to ensure accountability. There are good candidates in the opposition who can represent people like me and be this alternative voice. I want democracy but democracy is nothing without options.

So if I cannot vote, I will do the next best alternative. Volunteer.

Right before I submitted the volunteer form to the Workers’ Party, I was actually watching Martyn See’s compilation of the IMF incident with Chee Soon Juan and his sister, Chee Siok Chin. The police were trying so desperately to stop Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin from demonstrating.  They surrounded the two and linked arms, entrapping them with human barricades so they could not walk. I cried a little because I was so embarrassed by the huge spectacle the government made. But I also cried because I felt helpless.

I chose to help the Workers’ Party because I believe in their cause. Although I personally disapprove of their silence on the issue of gay rights, I think they are still our best bet.

When the Workers’ Party called for volunteers on Facebook, I hesitated. I opened and closed the link at least 5 to 6 times before actually filling it out for submission.  I was scared like everyone else my age yet it is so silly because I know that there is nothing to be afraid of. I don’t want to live in fear anymore. This is my country and I’m merely exercising my rights as a citizen.

I love Singapore and I want to make it better. A lot better.

140 Responses to “It all begins with political apathy”

  1. 1 Faps 28 April 2011 at 12:10

    Lovely essay! Tell me there are more young people like you.

  2. 3 Poker Player 28 April 2011 at 12:15

    All the best!

    About your remark:

    “I chose to help the Workers’ Party because I believe in their cause. Although I personally disapprove of their silence on the issue of gay rights, I think they are still our best bet.”

    let me say something about the SDP.

    Some people are uncomfortable with the SDP because the SDP makes them feel like bystanders seeing a gang beat up a lone man. Some rationalize. Some blame the victim. Those truly honest with themselves will have the same reaction you and maybe a little shame.

    What’s more: SDP keeps provoking the same situation to make us look more deeply into our mirror. In short, SDP shames us – and we deserve to be shamed.

    SDP may never win – but that is not its role. When a gay man and an ex-ISA detainee had to choose a party, who did they choose? They are our conscience.

    And I hope for our sakes (and contrary to a very silly remark by fellow party member) CSJ never changes.

    • 4 People First Always 28 April 2011 at 21:39

      I beg to differ.. No matter what Dr.Chee had done, it was the past. Now, he is different..better I would say..If you have time. please visit his video/website. I bet no Pappies would dare to debate him as he alwasy spot on current issue. I’m Malay and I would rather have him represent me rather than having MP who is yesman..

  3. 5 Wilfred K 28 April 2011 at 12:29

    Fantastic courage!

    I salute you and your desire to contribute positively to the proper building of our nations.

    The new media has indeed opened up the eyes of our young generation. For too long we have been force-fed with propaganda, threats and fears. While I am still not sure how much has change since last election (voices on grounds are always loud and through for credible oppositions but never actually made it to the voting stations). I sincerely hope things will be different this time.

    I believe a good government, even the best one (as they like to stake claim as), needs to be checked and balanced. They should never (no one should) be able to just pass policies and policies without a proper thought and debate (not those staged-debates we have been getting).

    The ruling party is now flooded with incompetent ministers and policy makers who’s only aim is to booster their own pay. I have always wondered how can these people sleep at night? With their conscience totally shut? Knowing that our streets are no longer safe and ground rules (e.g. traffic) openly flaunted?

    Why are there not enough hands in our Police Force? General opinion is that the pay is not high enough to attract people to take up the roles of enforcing officers. Why can’t we raise their pay better so that they keep up our deteriorating system rather than pay our ministers more and more for doing the same job? I for one am definitely against paying TPL a single cent to stomp her feet!

  4. 6 nick lim 28 April 2011 at 12:34

    Ms Loh,

    I feel so reinvigorated by your essay.
    Many changes currently occurring around the world are spearheaded by youths like yourself. I live in the West and I have witnessed on TV the revolutions which happened in Egypt and Tunisa, and now in Libya, Yemen and Syria.
    Soon, Singapore will witness its own revolution, albeit a peaceful one.

  5. 7 Poker Player 28 April 2011 at 12:39

    “The recent reports circulating on the internet involving Lui Tuck Yew also raised some eyebrows. How can someone like him lead the people? Members of Parliament (MP) are here to serve the people, not the other way around. ”

    To those of you wondering what this is about, try googling this:

    “Dont worry, it didnt leave a sour note with me nor a poor impression of you.”

    Question: if you ask 10 Singaporeans whether they found it startling that an ELECTED official would say something like this, how many would answer yes?

    To my own surprise, it took me quite a while to realize why it should startle me – I should move out of the country for a while – I’m like a frog and Singapore is slowly boiling me alive.

  6. 8 Singaporeans For Change 28 April 2011 at 12:42

    Hi Pei Ying,

    You’ve taken the first step to remove the shackles of fear. Congratulations!

    Singaporeans, for all our shortcomings, have a sense of fair play and social justice despite our government. That’s what makes Singapore great.

    Change is on the way. It is high-time we see a multi-party parliament. It won’t be perfect but at least the opposition would have earned it by simply having the courage to get in there and let all Singaporeans walk with our heads held up high. The next parliament in five years will be even better.


  7. 9 georgia tong 28 April 2011 at 13:04

    Well said Loh Peiying. Please help to get your friends in your age group to be politically conscious. Only then we can look forward to a better future as your generation is our future.

  8. 10 Toni Chow 28 April 2011 at 13:18

    Wish I was 20 again.. My fire and passion had drown out over the years…

    “When the Workers’ Party called for volunteers on Facebook, I hesitated. I opened and closed the link at least 5 to 6 times before actually filling it out for submission. I was scared like everyone else my age yet it is so silly because I know that th…ere is nothing to be afraid of.”

    My excuse is not fear. It is simply sheer laziness, selfishness and apathy. If I volunteer I will have less time for my yoga… Sighs. Perhaps time to do something.

  9. 11 bioanarchism 28 April 2011 at 13:20

    Forwarded this link to my acquaintances and friends. This is viral-worthy material.

  10. 12 Lord Jim 28 April 2011 at 13:21

    How many of us actually own our HDB flat, I certainly don,t, at least not until 2030. This is provided that I am still able to service the loan until then.

    Should I fall sick or become unemployed for an extended period between now and 2030, I am in serious danger of losing, not so much just an asset, but the very roof over my head.

    I want Singaporean and their future generations to be able to own a roof over their head at a price they can truly afford, much more than this frivolous idea of asset enhancement espoused by the Mah Bow Tan.

  11. 13 LinYu 28 April 2011 at 13:26

    Dear Ms Loh,
    I’m glad you did what you have deemed right and yes, you are right. To begin with, fear is for real. When I first got to vote, my mother-in-law warned us not to vote for the opposition as we were working in a statuary board and that our choice is traceable. I brushes her off and went off to the polling station. Being my first time I when thru the procedure and realise that our voting slip had a serial number that is traceable to the “attendance sheet” that was ticked off.

    Fear overcame me. We are indeed traceable if whoever holds the attendance sheet and the voting slip. I made a choice I have regreted for life. I spoiled my vote as I could not make myself vote for the incumbent party. After the poll, I went home thinking and regretting. If I cannot do what is deemed right for myself and for my country I ought to be ashamed of myself.

    Today, I have never bated my eyelid whenever I go to the poll knowing what I did is for the best of my country Singapore and my fellow Singaporean, be it for the incumbent or the opposition.

  12. 14 Henry 28 April 2011 at 13:37

    Bravo. Keep it up.

  13. 15 Allergo 28 April 2011 at 13:45

    Ur dad should be proud of you 🙂

  14. 17 Lee Sze Yong 28 April 2011 at 13:47

    Well-written. I just got my own taste of political apathy this morning, after I told some friends that I will be going to an election rally tonight.

    They took a double-take on the word “Rally” before realising what I meant. They then said, why you so “Boliao” (nothing better to do). One even commented on why there was a contest in her place, and said it was such a hassle to vote.

    How to reach out to these kind of people? Also, like what Nicole Seah mentioned earlier, how do we reach out to the elderly who may not be on social media? The road is tough, and every little bit counts.

    Talk to your friends, your colleagues, your parents, your relatives. Don’t be condescending; Listen to them, ask them about their views on the elections. Hopefully your can encourage them to at least think about the election process…

  15. 18 Xmen 28 April 2011 at 13:49

    Young lady, I wish you a great future.

  16. 19 Stephan Xue 28 April 2011 at 13:53

    Reading your essay, my faith in Singapore’s Youth has been restored. I fear that with sanitization of our education system, young Singaporeans have become apathetic and is non-opinionated. Not good, Nicole Seah and you have clearly demonstrated that our youth does not only have fire in their belly but also convicted opinions as well.

  17. 20 Au-Chen Toshan 28 April 2011 at 13:54

    good for you, peiying!

    I think you are doing the absolutely smart thing.

    10 years from now, when the majority of your peers finally think and act on Singapore politics like you do today, you will find that you are merely an early adopter.

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident – Schopenhauer

  18. 21 hex 28 April 2011 at 14:05

    Well said. As a college student, it is very easy to see where this apathy stems, and it comes from the easy access to comfort we have. Infrastructure, facilities, services, they’re adequately present, even though each may have its drawbacks.

    I’ve a friend who sums up youth political apathy aptly. I asked him, “Do you not care about the direction which your country is headed?” To which he replied “Why bother? As long as tomorrow is there, it will be fine. I might vote for the opposition for fun, and seriously it won’t make a difference.”

    We are a country filled with people who think that they don’t make differences. While I’m hopeful that eventually Singapore will move along in a way that will balance growth equitably and ethically, even until then, like you said, there are many avenues of social liberalism which the public, political apathy or not, will take even longer to adjust to, such as homosexuality, proper drug awareness beyond scare tactics, etc etc.

  19. 22 P.S 28 April 2011 at 14:14

    I understand what you mean..I am 27 this year and my so called political awakening was also when I realised that there is really a huge income gap between the rich and poor..and it seems to be getting from bad to worse.
    whenever I see an old lady or man struggling on the streets to make ends meet,I feel my heart break..
    I also decided to volunteer for WP because I no longer want to sit ard waiting for things to happen.
    let us work together for a better that our children can call this Our Home.

  20. 23 Desmond 28 April 2011 at 14:19

    What you say is very true, “young people are a catalyst for change”, for the sake of Singapore’s and your future. I really hope that the young will do what my generation is afraid to do (more due to self censorship and fear mongering than actual facts), make the PAP accountable for everything that they are paid for.

  21. 24 hc 28 April 2011 at 14:28

    you are right. i’m 1 or 2 years older than you. it’s so difficult to find people with similar sentiments regarding the state of our country. many of them are apathetic because they have not really tasted reality. the hard truth: is a slap on your face once you get to it.

    about the ISD. i think it’s absurd that we, are living in the 21st century, where majority have basic education, access to technology and yet live in constant fear of being singled out if we speak our minds.

    i live a life where one can say.. “hey you’re fortunate!” living on a private property, you go to a private school to earn a degree. well i only got here today because of my parents hard work.
    they themselves being post-war babies haven’t got the chance to go to the university. i feel that it is only my responsibility as a child to pay back my parents twice as much what they have given me. by going to school, i’m actually depleting their retirement funds.
    in fact we’re lucky to just get on by with the financial setbacks we had over the years.

    sometimes i think about how i can give them a future that they can live comfortably…
    then on the other hand, we all know how high the cost of living is these days. after graduating one can expect to earn an average of $2500 for a starting pay. Take into consideration transportation… eating at the canteen/hawker center for lunch 5-days a week. buying necessities.
    HOW am i going to provide for my parents and save up for a future when i want to start a family?

    one word: BLEAK. even if i carry on smiling and tell myself the day will be taken care of. don’t worry. but i can’t help it.

  22. 25 Gard 28 April 2011 at 14:30

    Dear Ms Loh

    There’s a reason you are not allowed to vote when you are 20. You are not yet mature to make informed decisions, according to the government.

    (Read “Why voting age in Singapore is 21”

    That Tin Pei Ling’s decision to join the incumbent reveals more maturity and shrewdness on her part than the younger Nicole Seah. Ms Tin chose the pragmatic assurance of being able to walk hand-in-hand with the senior minister as an elected MP versus Ms Seah’s wild hope at getting elected. If you want a practical MP who can actually have a say in parliament, who would you have voted for?

    A sign of maturity is also to consider the source of the information and weigh its credibility. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing something because the information is what we want to believe in, not because the information is true. Internet reports on Lui Tuck Yew? on Dr Vincent W.? Pause and think about who is behind the information.

    Another sign of maturity is to accept the illusion of control. Not everything in life can be controlled or changed the way we wished to, more so at the government level with its extensive bureacracy and players. Sometimes, in trying to change, we risk going overboard or change for the sake of changing. As a History Major, I’m sure you have read plenty of stories on such.

    Your 5-rm cage, assumed bought at the end of 1983, has risen in value over time, at 6.61% per annum compounded. Incidentally, that is also the compounded annual growth rate for Singapore’s real GDP between 1983 and 2010. Your father has made the right choice in supporting the right monarchy, because the way democracy has been designed in Singapore, democracy is about supporting the right monarch. The wrong monarchy can have disastrous result.

    (Read “SM Goh is openly admitting that the GRC system…”

    Your youthful ungratefulness is regretable. Fortunately, the monarchy has a way to temper and deal with it by the time you and your children can vote.

    (Read “20,000 new citizens needed every year”

    • 26 peiying 28 April 2011 at 19:56

      Hi Gard,

      I would like to disagree with you.

      First of all, I do not believe that age is a mark of maturity. I think most of us can agree on this. Look at Paris Hilton for example. She is 30 yet many of us would acknowledge the fact that she has not set her priorities straight.

      Secondly, Tin Pei Ling’s choice of going with the incumbent for this elections is indeed a pragmatic move. However, I beg for you to look at what Nicole Seah has done. She has picked the path of most resistance, where she faces possible lawsuits from the government, media scrutiny and so on. We all know that no matter how committed she is, it will still be very difficult for her and her team to win over Marine Parade GRC. Please ask yourself this: Why is she working on the opposition’s side and not the PAP’s – when she can gain so much more on their side of the fence?

      Thirdly on the issue of credibility. While indeed internet sources may not be as ‘credible’ as the Straits Times or ‘official’ documents made by the government – I kindly ask you to remind yourself that governments all over the world are never as forth-coming as you think they are. As for Lui Tuck Yew’s case, the fact that there are not one, but TWO, reports on him says a lot. As for the Vincent Wijeysingha issue – I do not understand what you are trying to say because the issue was not so much about honesty, but dirty tactics by focusing on the wrong things. (i.e., someone’s sexual preference rather than national issues)

      Fourthly, while yes a lot of things are out of our control – there is no harm in striving to be better for the country. We are not asking for a revolution like the French’s where we cut throats and point fingers at each other. We are merely moving with changing tides and making the best decision possible for Singapore’s current socio-economic situation.

      On your next point – you are right. It would seem that the prices of the houses have risen according to GDP. But I want to refer you to Mr. Au’s article (I think it is Papsicles 2 or 3) on housing.

      Also, yes, at that point of time, my father has picked the right monarchy and yes, the wrong monarchy can have disastrous results. But when the monarchy has failed to deliver, do you still support it? I think this by far has the worst results – or so history has taught me.

      Last but not the least, before you call me ungrateful. I wish to let you know that I am grateful for what the PAP has done for Singapore in our early years of independence. I do not object the fact that they have done a wonderful job with this country. But similarly in Qing China – the first few emperors were great, but moving on up till Ci Xi where the leadership has turned foul – do you still close your eyes and put faith in them and just hope for the best?

      • 27 Chia Kok Hua 29 April 2011 at 15:05


        What good does GDP growth serve when only a small group of privileged elites are enriched while the masses see their wages stagnate? If the median wage had grown in tandem with GDP and housing prices, I bet you would not see the widespread unhappiness today. Please remember that pursuing GDP growth is only a means to an end – which is to improve ALL citizen’s lives.


    • 28 dZus 29 April 2011 at 01:30

      Shame on you Mr Troll. Go play your baiting game somewhere else.

      How do I know you’re just trolling instead of engaging in serious discussion? Even a PAP supporter will not liken the government to a monarchy.

      Go back under the bridge you crawl out from

      • 29 yawningbread 29 April 2011 at 10:19

        I was the one who first made the comparison. The original point seems to be lost from re-use of the word “monarchy”. I have not said that the government sees itself as a monarchy, although others may wish to say so and substantiate their point. I said some voters are unable to grasp the concept of a republic.

        I had said that many Singaporeans see our political system and government as a form of monarchy, and see themselves as subjects rather than citizens. This accounts for the behaviour of a section of voters. However many grievances they have about being treated poorly by policies, they view their only recourse as that of complaining or petitioning. The notion of using their vote against the PAP is unthinkable, because to them, to vote against PAP is indistinguishable from an act of sedition/treachery/disloyalty against the state. To them, government is not a product of the people; it is a given fact in this world, not different from how people in kingdoms see their monarchs as a given, and not for the people to change.

    • 30 drmchsr0 29 April 2011 at 12:15


      To rebut your points:

      RE: Voting Age

      I consider it ironic that I’m forced to trust 18 year olds with the task of defending Singapore (something I don’t even trust myself or anyone else to do, regardless of age). Or apprehending criminals. Or putting out fires. In fact, there are people who proclaim that 21 is a bit too early to make mature decisions. The Jews certainly thought of it that way.

      RE: Tin Pei Ling

      Maturity and shrewdness are extremely subjective. One could say Ms. Tin made the right decision simply because she chose the safe route, but I can counter that by saying that by taking the safe route, she isn’t all that shrewd, merely deciding on the pragmatic options. As for political standing, I prefer to represent myself, rather than let an MP do so.

      Re: Maturity, Control and Information

      To consider the source, bias and credibility of any piece of information is not a sign of maturity, but a rather dry and boring process. To internalize said process is again, not a sign of maturity, but a matter of critical thinking. Credibility is built on trust, and how much value you place in the source.

      Do keep in mind that in Singapore, there is no credible source of information and we are forced to use some creative critical thinking to mine out the truth.

      To accept the illusion of control is, again, not a sign of maturity, but a matter of trust AND faith. To blindly accept it is sheer folly and immaturity. To keep faith with it while making critiques of it is a sign of maturity.

      RE: Who’s right for Singapore

      Personally, I feel that the right thing for Singapore is a squadron of B2 Bombers dropping the heaviest payloads they can carry, but then again, who is to say that that is right for Singapore? We know what is wrong, and we profess to know what is right, but do we all really know what is right for Singapore?

  23. 31 28 April 2011 at 14:38

    its very encouraging to read and know that apathy is slowly fading amongst our youth. the points you highlighted are so true. we need accountability and we need change… NOW. before its too late.

  24. 32 ben 28 April 2011 at 14:39

    Same sentiments.
    What is making me stop in my tracks in make any radical decisions, is the fact that I’m being forewarned of the implications that might complicate things for me as I’m still serving my National Service. From what I’ve seen, it seems that the army is working for the government in power, but not as a people’s army. Is there any justification to these fears of mine?

  25. 33 meow 28 April 2011 at 14:41

    Hi Peiying~
    I have just read your article via a link from my Twitter feed =)
    I am a tad older than you are and honestly speaking, I’m proud to be able to vote. I come from a similar family background like you and faced those problems as well (housing, education and now employment).

    While I was pretty much politically apathetic in the past, I feel the inception of social media has brought about positive changes to the political environment – it encourages a lot more participation and it bridges the communication gaps between the party and the people. I can now share what I found online with my dad for discussion and I am able to make judgments on my own better.

    Thank you so much for writing your thoughts out. I hope that more youths (coming from similar demographics) could perceive in this manner and make this country a better one.

  26. 34 miss_nina 28 April 2011 at 14:44

    I am so overwhelmed by this very honest article. Majulah Singapura if there are more youngsters like you. Amen.

  27. 35 Raymond Tay 28 April 2011 at 14:45


    Thank you for your post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entry and am myself a Singaporean too. Like you, i’ve also believed that it is time for actions.

    The government should play a moral and exemplary role in our society but it does look like its no longer the case. This government has simply grown complacent to his power and his people.

    It is time. It is now.

  28. 36 Alvin 28 April 2011 at 14:45

    You have my utmost respect.
    I’m older, and I will be voting. Based on my encounters on twitter with the younger crowd, I’ve been led to despair about their political apathy. To be misinformed is a crime by the ones telling you the untruths. But to be uninformed, or choosing to remain so in the face of the wealth of information, that to me is the greater crime.
    Thank you for your efforts, I shall be retweeting this.

  29. 37 Kelly 28 April 2011 at 14:46

    Did you realise Tin pei ling is just like you, havn’t seen enough of the world.. Yet she join the political group.. Well youngsters should start to show more interest in politics, yes definitely. But pls don get involved like Tin pei lin.. You guys simply have not seen enough yet.. PAP’s not perfect.. But that Chee & his sis are really crazy people.. I can’t bare to think of what would have happened to have my country ruled by crazy people like that.. Do a search on the things they’ve done n said.. They sounded down right childish..

    • 38 peiying 28 April 2011 at 21:47

      Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for your advice.

      Chee and his sister are not crazy people. Unfortunately, that is how the mainstream media has portrayed them.

  30. 39 Yoan San 28 April 2011 at 14:47

    This is the above-mentioned Martyn See video.

  31. 40 Aishah 28 April 2011 at 14:48

    i enjoy this read a lot!

  32. 41 another concerned youth 28 April 2011 at 15:05

    I am in my twenties and I have been helping out the opposition. I am heartened by your writing yet also mad at my cowardly self for putting off writing a piece like that. To be honest, the thought of being hauled up by the ISD or being punished in other ways for my political inclinations strikes some fear into my heart. With everything I say, post or do now, I struggle between self-preservation and doing what I feel is right for my country. Your piece couldn’t be more timely – it is a great bolster to my conviction when it was waning. Thank you Peiying for stepping up to the plate.

    To all out there who are fearful of any political backlash for associating with/supporting the opposition, do so smartly, lawfully and with a clean heart. I think no one can fault you for that. No one should anyway.

    Another concerned youth

  33. 42 Anonymous 28 April 2011 at 15:17

    Well done my fellow Singaporean!
    You have put in words what we common people feel but the elite PAP government will never admit or fix.
    Good luck and best wishes

  34. 43 anon 28 April 2011 at 15:25

    You can certainly do something about it. Explain it to all the old folks you know why they should be voting for the opposition, any opposition.

  35. 44 Patrick Ng 28 April 2011 at 15:39

    Great, honest, heartfelt thots PY. Your youth is an asset, never a liability. You ARE voting with your efforts. 加油!

  36. 45 Anonymous 28 April 2011 at 15:39

    Applause !!!!

  37. 46 Ann Leng 28 April 2011 at 16:00

    Kudos to your essay 🙂

  38. 47 cy 28 April 2011 at 16:05

    thumbs up for u 🙂

  39. 48 Joachim 28 April 2011 at 16:09

    Hello Peiying, very well written and neatly summed up. Shows the maturity of youths and is indeed a stark contrast to the common misconception that Singaporean youths are apathetic. Kudos to you 🙂

  40. 49 Pi 28 April 2011 at 16:27

    Let me vouch for you, as a fellow young person. My friend is terrified when I mention some political figures’ names in public. a la Voldemort! So you need not feel like you’re the only one. But i believe we will collectively wake up if we see the Opposition making headway. Concrete proof that yes, we can make a difference. =) cheers

  41. 50 tomato 28 April 2011 at 16:29

    good for you. go with your heart. worker party needs volunteer like you!

  42. 51 Zorge Zhang 28 April 2011 at 16:31

    Hi Peiying,

    Your letter is very down to earth. It is heartening to know a young Singaporean like you displaying such passion in politics.

    Keep it up!


  43. 52 Tommy Le Baker 28 April 2011 at 16:42

    To all my sisters and brothers (in the nation where I grew up): Rock the vote and feel the power of owning thy nation in your own individual way. You own every single tree that paves your streets from Woodlands to Orchard Rd! From Sengkang to Orchard Rd, From Nee Soon to Orchard Rd, From Bedok to Orchard Rd, From Bukit Batok to Orchard Rd, from Chao Chu Kang to Orchard Rd, From all the HEARTLANDS to Orchard Rd. Flood the vote and own thy glamour of the your glittering street. Help the ruling party hop on a sampan and locate the cause of the flood.

  44. 53 Worker Party Supporter in Moulmein-Kallang GRC 28 April 2011 at 17:02

    Well written . There is nothing wrong in voting for the opposition if it means “more good years” for us. Even the PAP were in the opposition end of the British government. Looking at the YouTube videos of the speech and the applause they received on Nomination Day, it appears like the opposition do have a chance this election to make a difference.

  45. 54 Tiffany Chow 28 April 2011 at 17:13

    Thank you for this essay. I, like you, have become more aware about Singapore’s political landscape all through social media and the issues brought up, have made me start to think that maybe I shouldn’t remain apathetic to Singapore’s government and policies.

    I do have a point of contention though: the foreign students in local universities.

    I am a foreign student in an Australian university and I pay almost double the school fees than the local students. I do not claim to know the number of foreign students in local universities nor do I know how much taxpayers’ money is going into funding their education but I do not think the amount of foreign students in Singapore is the problem. Foreign students are a great way for locals to meet and get to know other cultures and I think having Singapore as an Asian education hub is a way to boost our economy and strive for educational excellence.

    Whatever the reasons for foreign students, I believe that the government should instead increase the number of universities, which I perceive they are doing so in the near future. Hong Kong with 7 million people has about 8 public universities. The amount of students Singapore’s universities can take is too small compared to the number of students who are eligible for university every year.

    Another thing is placing more emphasis and giving more subsidies to those in private institutes offering degree courses. The number of such institutions in Singapore is quite substantial but no one really thinks about them or when they do so, think of them as a lower class education compared to local public universities. I don’t believe this to be true.

    What I’m trying to get at here is that, yes, it is very competitive to get into local public universities but the problem does not lie in foreign students but the way entrance to universities has become so competitive and the lack of alternative education routes. Of course the government should have a cap on the number of foreign students they take in but at the moment I don’t see this as a problem unlike our service industry.

    • 55 peiying 28 April 2011 at 22:03

      Thanks for the feedback.

      I’m not contending the presence of foreigners in our universities. I believe they improve the standards of our Universities and adds culture and vibrancy as well.

      However, I’m contending how certain courses have a high proportion of foreign students, many of which are based on government funded scholarships or private firms scholarships (but many of these are somehow linked to the government too).

      Here is an article from Temasek Review on it.

      Also, I personally don’t think its a good idea to have too many universities. Maybe a slow build up would be nice. We don’t want dilute the substance of our universities as well by putting as many people into them as we can.

      I also don’t think foreign students are making it more difficult for locals to get into Universities. I think its difficult because more and more people want to go in. But it would be nice to impose a smaller quota for foreigners, and give priority to local students.

      • 56 Vincent 1 May 2011 at 03:13


        This was an extremely thought-provoking and well-written piece, and I thank you for writing it once again. I do agree with your article for most part, but like Tiffany and Jeanne, I have some queries regarding your response to Tiffany above.

        You have acknowledged that a dilution of “the substance of our universities” might occur in the case of opening up more universities in Singapore, and also that the presence of foreigners improve the standards of our Universities, adds culture and vibrancy”. However, you proceed on suggesting a smaller quota for foreigners and to give “priority” to local students.

        My main query here would be if this priority should be given even if it results in less-qualified students being admitted into the school? Like how Jeanne has mentioned below, most international students (I’ll refrain from using foreign students, since there since to be some sort of stigmatisation attached to it) do come here highly qualified, sometimes more so than the local students. As such, wouldn’t your suggested policy of giving “priority” to local students who might be less qualified allow for the dilution of the substance of our universities as well?

        This priority-giving strangely reminds me of: and!

        Furthermore, the article you provided is about an international student here on a private scholarship with no bond. He is fulfilling his MOE student loan by working in a Singapore-based company. Regardless of location, the Singaporeans posted there and the company do pay income taxes back to the Singaporean government.

        I really enjoyed your article a lot, and I hope that you wouldn’t take too much offense on my feedback.

      • 57 peiying 1 May 2011 at 19:33

        Hi Vincent,

        No, I do not think students who are less qualified should be allowed to go into the University.

        Firstly, there already is a quota for international students in our local universities. As Jeanne has mentioned, this is about 25% of the 3000 vacancies. That would mean 750 international students.

        My point about the foreign students is this. The cap should be lowered. I personally think that 25% cap for international students is way too much. That is 1/4 of our spaces here.

        Secondly, I am protesting the idea of opening up more universities to just simply address the issue of lack of university spaces. It is not a long-term viable solution. We do not want an entire generation of degree holders but with that degree not amounting to anything.

        Also, I do not think it is fair that you compare giving priority to Singaporean students too the Bumi Putera because that is different. That is not giving a level playing field to all citizens in that country and giving preferences based on race.

        Last but not the least – I understand the concern that you are raising. I have thought about this. Could allowing more local, supposedly less qualified students into universities dilute its substance?

        I think perhaps if the NUS office of admissions would alter its screening process. Of course, I am no genius and I can’t offer a fool-proof method. But maybe instead of taking students in blindly based on grades, admission criteria could also be based on interviews, or writing a short essay for all candidates. Only those who achieved straight As should be allowed immediate entry.

        Why do I suggest this? I would use my faculty (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences FASS) as an example. Many students who come from science education backgrounds apply to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. They may or may not have art education backgrounds. However, if as long as they have good A level results, they are allowed into the faculty.

        While many of them may indeed be qualified to pursue an B.A. degree, there will be a handful who are good at their science subjects, but not so good at the arts. Yet they are allowed into FASS. And if you draw comparison of them to a student who did averagely at A Levels, but comes from an Arts background, perhaps that arts student could be more deserving of that university spot.

        I do not believe that grades are an absolute indication of one’s capabilities and intelligence. A Levels is a one-off exam and very often, even the brightest of students may fall short of their normal abilities.

        Hence, if you allow a more rigorous university admission process, perhaps we could prevent a dilution of quality of our universities, even if we lowered the cap for international students.

        Does that answer your question? I’ve put quite some thought into this!

    • 58 Jeanne 28 April 2011 at 23:19

      Having worked in NUS’s admissions office for a while, I can safely say there is a cap for admitting foreign students (for undergraduate courses, that is). It’s about 25% of 3000-ish seats, and they also have a quota for each country that applies. PRCs and Indian students get a bigger share while if anyone applies from the European countries or America, they have a near zero chance of getting in.

      They also have a very small chance of receiving financial aid compared to Singaporeans and PRs. Most of them rely very heavily on the chance to receive scholarships – nearly all of which requires a 6 year bond – and even those are sparsely given. I saw a good deal of international students turn down NUS’s offers because they simply couldn’t afford it, and an even greater deal of students who got straight A’s but because of the quota, got rejected. It’s a very competitive environment for the international students, so I don’t think they’re ‘stealing’ anything from Singaporeans. Their criteria for admissions is completely separate from Singaporeans.

      To be frank, the international students that do enroll contribute more to the economy because they are either paying the full tuition amount or are bonded to Singapore for a period of time. That’s why you see NUS demolishing and renovating every few months – they have the money and means to do so.

      Of course, after I read the whole Yale-NUS debacle where they’re allowing 50% or more of their students to be foreigners, I wasn’t particularly happy with that. Then again, the college isn’t under NUS’s full control and doesn’t fall under the Office of Admissions, so I suppose they have the power to do whatever they want.

      • 59 Fox 29 April 2011 at 02:14

        I have some doubts about the assertion that financial aid is more readily available to Singaporeans than to foreigners at the undergraduate level.

        According to MOE in 2006 (see, for every one local undergraduate on scholarship, you have TWO foreign undergraduates on scholarship.

      • 60 twasher 29 April 2011 at 02:22

        The question is whether the foreigners who get scholarships are really better than the Singaporeans who do not. Friends in NUS often tell me that Singaporeans tend to make up the majority of the top performers in NUS, yet many of these people had to pay their own way through NUS, sometimes with loans or part-time jobs, while foreigners on full scholarships did not academically outperform them. Maybe this is not true, and I hope it isn’t. Telling us that the foreigners get straight As from high school doesn’t say much since we don’t know how that matches up with As from the Singapore school system.

      • 61 Val 29 April 2011 at 03:16


        Do you think bonding foreign students to Singapore for three years in exchange for subsidising their school fees is a good policy? They’re taking both 25% of our local university places AND both public funds and jobs in the local industry.

        All foreign students who have never received a tuition grant before are eligible for one. With tuition fees at $12,000 to $16,000 SGD for international students (after grant), that’s half the standard tuition fees in the UK and Australia, for a world-class education.

        Unless there’s been a mistake to my knowledge of the tuition grant above, please enlighten me on why you believe foreigners continue to turn down education at NUS, because I still can’t see how they would suffer this problem, when our country’s one of the few in the world that still offer tuition grants.

      • 62 Jeanne 29 April 2011 at 11:19

        @Fox – The reason why the percentage of international scholars are so high is precisely why they are studying in Singapore. They’ve received the necessary funds to study overseas, so why not? It’s the same concept for Singaporeans studying overseas – they either can afford to pay the full tuition or have received a scholarship to go. The percentage of international students are skewed in favour of scholars, no matter which country you’re in.

        I can only speak from my experience in NUS for the types of scholarships that were offered, and there is only one type of scholarship available for selective countries, and 80% of them are partnered with industry or independent organizations. NUS-funded scholarships are available to Singaporeans only. This also doesn’t include the scholars’ own country, where a good deal of PRCs get scholarships from their own country to study in Singapore.

        @Val – $12,000 to $16,000 is still a large amount to pay, and that is still reason to turn down offers, especially when there is no scholarship. I find that 25% is a reasonable amount to let in international students to diversify both the college and the workplace – a homogeneous culture makes for a static and xenophobic one.

        I definitely agree with you on TFL being sponsored to international students – there shouldn’t be one, and should only be given to Singaporeans and PRs. It’s a main point of contention for me as well. There should be an effort made in sourcing foreign talent, but the present government has invested far too much into it.

  46. 63 Roy 28 April 2011 at 17:25

    Wow, I think I’m in love.

  47. 64 ShadowFox 28 April 2011 at 17:45

    Good. Your first step in enlightenment is political awareness, aware of things around you.

    Your next step, is way deeper into the rabbit hole.

    Please study how money works, how it is used to cloud mankind’s eyes.

    Read up oligarchs, bilderbergs, council of foreign relations, freemasons, trilateral commission.

    Do not get stuck too deeply into just politics alone. You can’t do much except vote, and even then, your vote is no guarantee to be effective.

    You need to empower yourself, on how the entire world works.

    Then you will realize how it trickles down to why your political situation is the way it is.

    Your next step in enlightenment is to realize you’re a slave, never free, just programmed to think you are.

    Don’t forget to read up and other news source that are alternative to mainstream.

    Not even your opposition parties are worth the long term attention span in the grand scale of things.

    • 65 Dissatisfied Citizen 1 May 2011 at 01:26

      A pessimistic view of things ShadowFox, but one that is so true that I am compelled to agree with.

      Essentially, this was the very point Karl Marx was pointing out, there is a class struggle where the burgeous (capitalist class) oppresses the proletariats (working class). We will always be oppressed by the rulers of the party, no matter who they are.

      I am by no means promoting communism, except that I am borrowing some of their criticisms. It matters not, who is in charge, human beings are flawed by nature, we have no perfect being. We will always be unhappy no matter what policies are in place. Therefore your analogy that we are ‘slaves’ is disturbingly true, not just in Singapore but around the world.

  48. 66 boman 28 April 2011 at 17:45

    To All Political Parties:

    Regarding political rallies, can I suggest announcing on your FB, website etc. the list of speakers (in order) for that particular rally? Also for our Muslim friends, I know there are call to prayers at about 7.07pm and 8.14pm respectively if I’m not wrong. So to get maximum Muslim listeners at your rallies, it would make sense to have your Malay speakers speak around 9pm?

  49. 67 Nicole Sings 28 April 2011 at 17:45

    Dear Ms Loh
    One of the themes of your essay concerns the issue of “Freedom and the role of the Individual”

    May I quote you some of humanity’s greatest minds on this subject:

    “A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.”
    — Bertrand de Jouvenal

    “The Romans used to say that courage is not the only virtue.
    But it’s the only one that makes the other virtues possible.”
    — Benjamin Netanyahu to Brian Lamb on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Sept. 21, 2001

    “One man with courage makes a majority.”
    — Andrew Jackson, 1832

    “I am only one, but I am one.
    I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
    And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
    What I can do, I should do.
    And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.”
    — Edward Everett Hale

    “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”
    — Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

    The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
    — Frederick Douglass

    “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
    — Plato

    “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
    — Edward Abbey

    “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given;
    freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.”
    — James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

    “In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security.
    They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all
    — security, comfort, and freedom.
    When … the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.”
    — Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

    “In 1776, 1950, or now, there’s never been a golden age of liberty, and there never will be.
    People who value freedom will always have to defend it from those who claim the right to wield power over others. …
    And, in today’s world, that means more than a musket by the door.
    It means being an active citizen.”
    — David Boaz

    There are many other such thoughts & ideas from Generals, Politicians, Poets, Philosophers etc.


  50. 68 Visa 28 April 2011 at 17:47

    Beautifully said. I’m 21 this year, and I cannot vote either, and I have tried to play my part by speaking up and sharing ideas as much as possible. We are the people that we’ve been waiting for.

  51. 69 YiLin 28 April 2011 at 17:56

    Being afraid to speak out about the ruling elite, isn’t that saying something about democracy in Singapore..

  52. 70 Derek 28 April 2011 at 18:16

    You brought a tear to my eye.

  53. 71 Kevin Goh 28 April 2011 at 18:21

    Frankly in my personal opinion, I’m not against paying Ministers top dollar…Hold it, don’t throw stones yet, let me finish..(I’m not a PAP lackey, juz another perspective)..U think I’m not frustrated against the GST hike, the ridiculous housing prices, COE’s, & the planting of ERP gantries like they are planting trees. But lets look from another perspective.
    Not too long ago there was this NKF saga ending with it’s CEO T.T.Durai being booted out of NKF in shame.
    Everyone gets angry with the wages he was paid and the way he jetted, not forgetting his arrogance. And where did those money came from…..donors of course!! It was natural to get upset.
    Back in the early days before TT Durai came into the scene, donations were “begged” on the streets by volunteers. The amount collected was just mediocre. Until he came in and he came up with unconventional ideas to raise funds especially the NKF nights and the Free Clinic bus that convince people to donate a fix amount of only $6 via GIRO on a monthly basis, I donated thru this scheme too do do a few hundred thousand people. Afterall $6 iwas only a small sum individually speaking. He has many other fund raising ideas too. You have no doubt that this is a man of creativity, initiatives & he make things work. As NKFs coffers grew so was his head & ego. Like they say power corrupts power. Many kidney patients benefited from from his gung ho fund raising initiatives. Fast forward today, NKF is dipping deep into it’s past reserves to fund it’s present expenditures. Soon, if no new funds are raised, existing and new patients waiting for subsidised dialysis will suffer.
    Sure there are good hearted CEOs that’s willing to work hard & not be paid or paid less, but competency is another issue all together. Hence, my 2 cents worth of observation though may not buy you a “golden tap” But in life, sometime you can’t have the cake & eat it.

    • 72 lobo76 29 April 2011 at 16:59

      a good enough analogy which also captures the ‘life cycle’ of PAP. Originally, they were great (innovative ways to get donations), then they started to be complacent (gold taps). So just as we got rid of Durai, now is the time to get rid of PAP.

  54. 73 donttakeitliterally 28 April 2011 at 18:32

    A touching and genuine post =) It somewhat reminds me of myself when I was younger. I am from Indonesia, a country that was led by an authoritarian regime for 32 years before a new era of democracy began. It is now still a poor and screwed up country with one of the highest numbers of corruptions. But nobody can deny that the democratic climate there has improved a lot.

    1996: An opposition party was formed by a group of students. Critical to the government policies and corrupt practices, they were often terrorized, their members made disappeared.

    1997: They were framed for an incident concerning another party. They were also called subversive and accused for promoting communism. The young souls were tried, and they became political prisoners.

    (I wrote a letter to a local media protesting the injustice. It got published and I got scolded by my parents. With a group of friends, I also sent a letter to the national radio, asking for explanation for the ridiculous accusation. It was aired.)

    1998: Led by university students, major demonstrations were held everywhere, asking the reigning president to step down. A riot broke out on my last day of O Level exam. But on that day, a history was also made, for after 32 years, the corrupt government was finally overthrown by the power of the masses.

    This will not, and SHOULD NOT, happen in Singapore. (Really, drastic changes and revolution are never a solution for anything.) But I believe in the power of the masses. And from what I see, more and more Singaporeans are aware and care for what’s happening around them. More and more people try to fight for their rights. More and more people are not satisfied for quick fixes, they seek for long term solutions. I see that Singapore has hope =)

  55. 74 xtrocious 28 April 2011 at 18:38

    Kudos to Loh peiying…

    Changes do start with the younger generation…

    Ignore/mock us at your own peril, oh ruling party…

    Nothing can be worse than pretending to “understand and represent” us with a crony/phoney like TPL…

  56. 75 Lenscrazed 28 April 2011 at 18:47

    Thank you for taking this bold step forward, towards making Singapore a better place for all. It is a baby step, but every step is one towards strength and real progress. Thank you for being a good example to your peers that there is no need for fear. I lived most of my life in fear as well, but no longer. I urge all Singaporeans to understand their rights, and exercise their rights intelligently.

  57. 76 Patricia 28 April 2011 at 19:00

    Hi there,

    Though you are not voting this elections, I encourage you to read this article:

    It is an unbiased article, calling for youths to be informed about the effects of this elections and why there are so many flaws in some of the campaigns by the political parties.

    I hope that the article will provide great insights to you and your readers.

    • 77 Econerd 28 April 2011 at 23:06

      Patricia, the article cited is not unbiased. But I really applaud the two bloggers for stating their views and starting a discussion that is much needed in our country.

      I hope there are more youths like you out there.

  58. 78 G. 28 April 2011 at 19:36

    Wonderful commentary! I’m a couple of years older than you and will be voting this year.

    The truth is that many youths, even those studying in universities, do not care. In part, because of our society which has placed grades and $$$ above everything else. In the past, that was necessary in order to rise out of poverty. Today, it just leads to youths who aren’t concerned with matters of the state because they think it doesn’t concern them; we’re comfortable since we’re not slogging their asses off just to pay off loans or make a living.

    This is where I believe social media comes in to raise awareness.

    This year, change may not happen. BUT I believe it’s a start.


  59. 79 peiying 28 April 2011 at 19:38

    Thank you all for your positive feedback (: I feel very humbled and grateful for them.

    I do not think I said anything new. Most of it are already issues mentioned by many others before.

    I went on a walkabout at Moulmein-Kallang last night. My first time volunteering. I had a lot of fun and the people there were really nice and enthusiastic. It was a real eye-opener.

    On another note, they really have it tough. They do not have as much manpower as the PAP. They really sweat it out and work hard. All for us Singaporeans.

    So if any of you feel as strongly about this as I do, please volunteer! Be it for WP,SDP,RP,NSP or SPP!

  60. 80 Gg 28 April 2011 at 20:05

    Did u compare your dads salary and starting grad salary? Shd not look at the flat value but affordability ratio. Notwithstanding I agree with u their pay check of 15k a month too fat. imagine most of them have full time jobs how do they give you their full attention

    • 81 Loh Kwek Leong 29 April 2011 at 15:07

      I’m Pei Ying’s dad. I would have preferred to stay out of the argument but since it was asked, I like to let you all know the details – the cost of my flat and my salary.

      I bought my flat (a HDB 5 room masionnette) in 1983. I was 28 years old then. I left school when I was 16 so all I have to show for educational qualifications is just a “O” level paper. I was single when I bought my flat. I applied for it using my parents’ names to make up a family unit. The exact cost of my flat was $122,600. I took a 25 year loan, the maximum loan period allowed that time. My monthly installment was about $650. In total, I know I paid almost $200,000 for my flat. My salary in 1983 was about $1000 but over the years, I got promoted twice and my income at it’s highest, was about $4,500 a month.

      I don’t know exactly how much is my flat worth now but I guess it’s about $650,000. I make this estimate based on the price of a 4 room flat in my block which was sold a few months ago for $520,000.

      Is public housing still affordable as Mah Bow Tan has claimed? You do the maths. I know it was definitely affordable during my time. I paid for my flat without having to use a cent of cash and all of it from my CPF funds. My wife whom I only met after I bought my flat did not contribute to paying anything. When I reached 55 two years back, I had about $250,000 in my CPF funds.

      I should be terribly delighted that my flat is now worth more than 5 times what I paid for it. But I’m not. Even if it’s worth a million, it means nothing to me because this is the only property I have. I can’t cash in. The only way I can is to sell everything and migrate. But I don’t want to leave Singapore so selling is not an option. I worry for Pei Ying and her sister. My older daughter said to me the other day that it’s only fair that she and her sister (Pei Ying) should have higher expectations (in terms of housing) than me for the simple reason they are both graduates while I’m not. Well, I have to say I can’t disagree with that.

      My late parents never own a house. They live in a rental flat all their lives until I bought my house. My father who came from China didn’t have much of an education. I did, albeit only up to ‘O” levels. So I did better than my father. I think the PAP deserves a lot of credit for this. But will my daughters who have far better educational qualifications going to do better than me (in terms of housing)? Honestly, I don’t think so. It’s going to be hard for them. Very hard.

      “Affordable” isn’t what it used to be.

  61. 82 anon. 28 April 2011 at 20:40

    i have a friend whom i’ve known for quite a while. i remembered talking about politics in school while studying for our ‘O’ levels exams. and her thoughts about the politics left a deep impression to me.

    “i will support PAP no matter what happens. i will never support the opposition parties because they did nothing to Singapore.”

    i felt so disappointed with her because apparently she chose the party that she felt that is “right” based on history, emotions and not from the situations. and just when i thought that every young people is to be like her, i saw your entry. and that makes me really glad.

    even though like you i’m not eligible for voting, i do believe that elections are there for the citizens to vote for the right leaders that will represent them. i am not anti-PAP and neither am i pro-opposition party. i only believe in the one i think is right. and i hope that more youngsters will be like you to stand for whatever they think is their choice.

    good job!(:

  62. 85 Debi 28 April 2011 at 22:51

    I am 19 and I’ve just been called up by the Workers’ Party to volunteer as a polling agent. Yes, my friends think I am crazy too. They do not understand what’s my fascination with politics and the General Elections this year. This year has been a year of political awakening for me. While waiting for my admission to a local university, I took up a parrt-time job that requires me to travel to town. Every morning and every evening. the train is packed liek sarnines. Not with locals. But mixed with so many other foreigners I get confused if this is truly Singapore I’m living in. Gradually, I began to read and hear things that I would never have been bothered before. I live a very comfortable lifestyle (condo,credit card,good education) all thanks to my parents. I’m what a Singaporean would call an ‘elite’. But I know there’s something terribly wrong with this country. If we are indeed a first world country, why do I still see so many poor edlderly taking up odd jobs such as cleaning the tables after me? I never fail to feel shameful and sorry for them as they are so much older and experienced than me yet they have to clean up after me.

    Since I can’t vote, I’m going to do my best to help my friends get their own political awakening and also do my part in helping the opposition party.

  63. 86 Robin Goh 28 April 2011 at 22:54

    Dear Peiying,

    If you are Singapore’s future, then Singapore has one.


  64. 87 This is Anfield 29 April 2011 at 00:17

    A remarkable first step to political awakening.

    However, the truth of the matter is that (ironically) those senior citizens (uncles and aunties) ekeing out a living at the food courts are the mainstay of the ruling party.

    Just like the Koppites who occupy the Kop End at Anfield, you have a sizeable group of people who have known only one political party all their life, and will support no other, no matter how bad the management is or how badly the team plays.

    For real change to happen, you can only wait for them to leave the scene.

  65. 88 Proud Dad 29 April 2011 at 00:58

    I see another Nicole Seah in the making. I hope that when my daughter grows up, she will have the same political apathy and maturity. I’m very sure your Dad must be very proud of you…

  66. 89 Metadragon 29 April 2011 at 01:01

    Everyone reading this, please take the time (only 7+ mins) to watch this and share it with everyone. It’s based in Canada, but the principles are absolutely relevant to us.

    TED Talks: The antidote to apathy by Dave Meslin

  67. 90 Angry One 29 April 2011 at 01:34


    Are you being sarcastic or for real? Wow you’re a piece of work. If your views are honest, it’s people like you who make people rise up and throw out the PAP. You think S’poreans need the PAP? There are plenty of well-meaning, talented people willing to take over and do a much better job.

  68. 91 Wong Li Jie 29 April 2011 at 03:27

    Dear Loh Peiying, I turn 25 this year, but I cannot vote, for I am not a Singapore citizen. Unlike the many who will have a say in this great nation’s future in the upcoming elections, SPRs and other foreigners like me who call this island state home, or home away from home can only hope that those who cast their votes do so judiciously. My family has called this place home for over 10 years now, and this is where I received the most of my education.

    Like you, I have been apathetic about politics most of my life. I however did not have parents who instilled political values into my life. Despite watching my dad spend hours on news of the election, it was your post that piqued my interest in this year’s GE. Kudos to good writing from your heart.

    To those who are feeling apathetic, or in the words of someone on TV, “sian” of hearing about the GE everyday, I would like to share with you the following poem by Jonathan Reed. First you read it through, then you read it in reverse.

    I am part of a lost generation
    and I refuse to believe that
    I can change the world
    I realize this may be a shock but
    “Happiness comes from within.”
    is a lie, and
    “Money will make me happy.”
    So in 30 years I will tell my children
    they are not the most important thing in my life
    My employer will know that
    I have my priorities straight because
    is more important than
    I tell you this
    Once upon a time
    Families stayed together
    but this will not be true in my era
    This is a quick fix society
    Experts tell me
    30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
    I do not concede that
    I will live in a country of my own making
    In the future
    Environmental destruction will be the norm
    No longer can it be said that
    My peers and I care about this earth
    It will be evident that
    My generation is apathetic and lethargic
    It is foolish to presume that
    There is hope.

    And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.


  69. 92 drmchsr0 29 April 2011 at 09:31

    (Don’t mind the picture, I am a little… deranged. Also I’d like to be remembered as a hamster online.)

    Ms Loh,

    I am a youth/young adult like you too, but I view the whole situation somewhat differently.

    Unlike most people, I am, what one would say, antipathic about the whole situation. I despise the people, not because they scream for change, but they are doing so without showing the change themselves. Our leaders have shown themselves to be accepting of the underhanded methods I’d thought were confined to the United States, and the online community have decided to play that way too. (Okay, maybe not some of the new candidates. For instance, I think Janil might actually be sincere about serving the people, as are some of the candidates contesting AMK GRC.)

    However, the exceptions, rare as they are, only goes to show one thing: They justify the norm, which is the dirty politics, the less-than-ideal words, the biased media (for BOTH sides), and worse still, I feel painfully left out because I don’t subscribe to either viewpoint. It’s already bad enough that I don’t even feel patriotic because I don’t believe in nationalism and all that junk to begin with.

    If the people wanted change, why didn’t they push for it in the preceeding years? They should have written letters to Parliament, to Reach, hell, they should have juped at every opportunity to check the government. Remember the revision of the Penal Code that lead to the legalization of rape in marriage? Where were these jackals and hyenas when it was up for checking? Why did they act like Chee Soon Juan when Odex decide to extort money, instead of playing the harder route of education and debate? Why are they busy stalking Nicole Seah when they should be grilling her or volunteering with the NSP? And what is with the biased reporting of the alternative news sources that makes the Straits Times an angel when it comes to reporting?

    These things make me question the online community and their intentions. In fact, I daresay all they want to do is to satiate their own short-sighted goals rather than looking at the big picture. It’s not about cheaper housing, incomes, GINI coefficients and all that. It’s about laying down the foundations to the future. And everyone has ignored the foundations and are applying… plasters.

    I foresee Singapore going down the path of political and economic destruction precisely because of these two extremes clashing with each other. Opposition adn incumbent HAVE to work together to forge a better Singapore for all, but the two camps would rather massacre each other rather than seek compromise.

    I leave you with a quote by Fredrich Nietzsche.

    And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

    (The other thing is about having fun while you do stuff, I think. There’s no fun in what we do anymore, and that’s even worse.)

    • 93 Ivy 30 April 2011 at 22:53

      I’m a Gen Y, just like you. While I’m disappointed to see that our forefathers have allowed an unfair political system like the GRC to slip through back in the early 90s, amongst various things, I think we need to be more sympathetic towards their past inaction.

      Our forefathers did not have the same political freedoms that we enjoy now. Without the internet, they did not have the means to organize themselves or to seek out alternative opinions. Don’t forget that our media is controlled, even today.

      To show you deep their fear runs, here is just one example of the type of oppression our forefathers were subjected to:

      With that said, I agree that a duopoly is not an ideal system for Singapore but I do believe that we need some opposition in the parliament to create a more transparent and accountable governement. If you read the opposition parties’ manifestos, you will see that they are, in fact, not all in agreement. So it is more likely that we will see a multi-party gov’t rather than a black and white, two-party system.

      Now I ask you: if you that Singapore is walking down the path of economic and political destruction, why don’t you do something about it? Because being a critic is not very much different from being like our apathetic, fearful forefathers.

      • 94 drmchsr0 4 May 2011 at 17:56

        The fact that no one wants to actually do this on a regular basis is reason enough for me to do so. Being a critic, bad as it may seem, is still an important job. It forces people to tighten up AND fulfills the need for checks and balances. The results? A better thing for everyone, should they actually listen, that is.

        I’ve been thinking about joining the Reform Party after the elections are done and dusted with, to be honest. I do not fear anyone or anything, but I am concerned that it might hinder certain aspects of my life (those not related to work or political fear, I can assure you! The government can hardly touch a man for his political convictions, after all.) should I go down that path. And it would seem that they could sure use all the help they can get.

        Re: Media control. Yes, yes, the media is controlled. By one man. His name is Rupert Murdoch, and his pull on the mainstream media can even be felt here. I daresay he’ll be pleased at how tight Singapore Press Holdings is run. And The New Paper would please him immensely.

  70. 95 Donna 29 April 2011 at 10:04

    hey young lady u almost made me cry reading this piece of article. With Nichol seah i hope more n more young adults like u will come forward n shape our country. This is ur country n it will be ur future. U are our next lords of this country. Do not let anyone tell u that u have to shut up n listen to them. Do not let anyone take ur position away. This is ur birthright. I hope 5 years later you will be the one standing on the stage telling us to vote for u. because I will.

  71. 96 Jason 29 April 2011 at 11:02

    Thank you for so succintly summing up the thoughts that cycle through the minds of some many politically awakened Singaporean who will be voting for the first time. Your view and concerns are very much shared by the millions of people out there and do not despair when times are hard for you are not alone. I applaud your bravery and initiative to take a leap forward for our emerging country are many out there like you who would like to play a part in building this bright nation. Let’s all do our part to make this a better Singapore for every. A lot is at stake for the impoverished and poor this GE and we have to take the responsibility to take care of them – let’s never forget that their contributions are just as important as ours.

  72. 97 gigaforce 29 April 2011 at 11:34

    Fantastic article, another potential Nicholas Seah on the way.

  73. 98 S 29 April 2011 at 12:10

    Hi Peiying,

    I liked your write up about the political situation in singapore. However, I would like you to consider this; have you ever participated or partake in the discussion of actual events in running the state?

    Firstly, please do note that PAP actually has a history of success that helped shape our nation. While all opposition has; WP, NSP etc are promises. Would you entrust the running of the country to them just based on what they promise?

    With that aside I would also like to mention that being a democratic nation, there would always be two extremes on the financial scene. There will always be the rich and the poor. It is unavoidable.


    • 99 drmchsr0 29 April 2011 at 14:50

      Most of us would LOVE to have some experience in running the country. It would help a lot, but all we need to do is to see the effects of the policies to know something has gone horribly wrong.

      I see the PAP as no different from a board of directors. A corporate entity would make the same decisions regarding the profitability of the company. And when you see Singapore in that light, a lot of the miracles seem to be no more than just shrewd decision-making.

      You could replace the PAP with any corporation’s board of directors and you’d most likely get the same result.

      Past success is no indicator of future success, but it’s a handy yardstick to use.

      And in any case, didn’t Chiam and Low prove themselves running their constituencies, despite being hampered at all sides, while still making their TC funds grow? I say if they can do that, it’s time to give them a chance.

      The rich and the poor will always be with us, and it isn’t limited to democratic nations. China has one hell of a GINI coefficient, and they don’t practice democracy at all. Whereas in some democratic countries, there’s very little difference between the rich and the poor.

      In any case, there should be a concerted effort from all walks of life to tackle this problem. From the government to the man in the street, we ALL have a part to play in helping the poor get on their feet.

    • 100 Peiying 29 April 2011 at 14:59

      Hi S,

      No. I have not had any experience in discussing or partaking in how the country is run. However, I do watch excerpts from Parliament on YouTube or Channel 5 parliamentary news. With closer inspection, the opposition do bring up good points in parliament but as usual, they are outnumbered.

      I would also like to refer you to the incident between 2 PAP members, Vivian B and Lily Neo.–-a-rare-pap-breed/

      Also, I know the PAP has done a good job in building up this nation. However, leading up to the last 10-20 years, they have made blunders and their mindsets have been changing. The results of inadequate policies are beginning to surface now. One example is the overemphasis on pragmatism for economic purposes that has sidelined the Chinese educated/Malay educated population that had no chance of going to an English medium school.

      Of course the opposition have no legitimate experience in power. Were they even given much opportunities? I think you have to consider that as well. We cannot dismiss their credibility simply because they have no experience in parliament.

      I think many opposition parties now would dare to say they’re not trying to outseat the PAP and that is not what I meant as well. I think we should vote for opposition because PAP’s monopoly in parliament should be broken to provide more room for checks and balances, as well as accountability.

      I’m not pushing for a communist world where every gets paid the same. Inevitably, indeed in any society there will be rich-poor divides. What I am concerned with is the extent of disparity between the rich and the poor. Also, this is an issue of morality. We cannot simply say inequality is inevitable, sweep it under the carpet and not do anything.

      • 101 S 29 April 2011 at 22:49

        Hi Peiying,

        Let me share a little about myself. I’m also a student pursuing my studies in a local institution. I would say our age differ by little. Being under the “voting age” the general elections did not have any impact on my life; nor was I a fan of politics.

        However, recently a chain of viral notes spread by friends caught my attention on facebook. The Singapore Government was being juxtaposed with “maid agencies”.

        Some found it amusing, others found it funny, and many “LOL’s” were shared. It was just for humor, who knows? The author might be trying to add spice to the GE; but to me it seems preposterous that one could even consider the governing of a first-world country as straight-forward a profession to what “Maria” was paid for. It was also pretty ironic that the writer compared the government to maids when her obvious distaste to foreign workers blazed the entire note.

        But I am getting beside the point. You mentioned that the Chinese/Malay educated had no chance of going to an English medium school. Do you realize how hard it is for people in most of SEA to even maintain an education up to tertiary level? Also the reason why Singapore has an “English medium” education rivaling those of the first-world nations such as Britain or USA? PAP.

        The opposition parties have the best interest of Singapore in their hearts who could doubt that? But you know, just voting for the opposition based on the mentality to break PAP’s monopoly in parliament would no doubt be unwise. Furthermore, do you believe opposition parties are fully prepared to govern Singapore?

        As it stands, I do not know what the situation will be like in 5 years time. But currently, PAP stands strong as the crème of the crop in Singapore politics.

        Best regards,

    • 102 M 30 April 2011 at 00:34

      Dear S,
      I think you were misconceived when you compared the PAP’s track record to that of the opposition. They had never been in power. How could they have any track record to show? In any event, the opposition does not claim that they want to run the country. Pray find out the functions of parliamentarians who are only backbenchers in a Westminster system before you made such a comparison.

      With all due respect, I find your tone condescending. Knowing full well that Peiying is only 20 years old, how could she have participated in discussions in actual events of running the State? Indeed, very few Singaporeans would have that privilege. Dare I say that your goodself would not have that?

      • 103 peiying 30 April 2011 at 03:40

        Hi S,

        No doubt. We have a first world education because of the PAP. That is a fact that is difficult to dispute. However, what I meant to say that is quite often, the PAP has implemented very ‘pragmatic’ policies in the larger interest of the nation and has unfortunately, forgotten to consider the long-term repercussions of these policies. After the Goh Report in 1979, quite suddenly, the government made English the official language medium in schools when before they were pushing people into Chinese and Malay based schools. These people have been sidelined and not a lot has been done to help push them back at the top of society. My mother herself ‘suffers’ from this and the range of jobs she can work for is very limited due to her lack of repertoire with English. Is that fair?

        Moreover, since you have mentioned that you do not really follow political news – I urge you too. I’m not suggesting we vote for the opposition simply because we need to break PAP’s monopoly. First of all, the monopoly itself is an anomaly throughout the world and it isn’t a good thing. Especially when the new leadership seems to be falling short. Secondly, while not all opposition parties are reliable, Worker’s Party for one has brought very good viable suggestions and credentials to the table. We have to consider that as well. If the people believe that the WP is in a better position to do the job – why not?

        And as I have already mentioned, the opposition is not trying to take over governance completely. They are merely trying to be checking mechanisms in parliament to make PAP accountable for where-ever they have sidetracked and did not own up to. One classic example is how Vivian Balakrishnan has way overshot the budget given to him for the YOG Olympics.

        Last but not the least, of course the PAP stands at the creme of the crop. It has socially engineered this country and find ways to keep itself in power without giving much room for opposition. The creation of a GRC system can strongly argued to be a political move. It is not fair to compare the PAP to the opposition on terms of experience and legitimacy.

  74. 105 yawningbread 29 April 2011 at 13:55

    There was a comment submitted which contained some discussion about data, but it was spoiled through inclusion of this sentence: “You are a smooth talker like your boss MBT”

    However good the rest of your comment, the moment it descends to this level, it will be moderated out.

  75. 106 G 29 April 2011 at 14:34

    Hi Peiying,

    Your piece was written well, and I understand the points you are trying to make.

    However in regards to the elderly trying to make a living in Singapore and the financial inequality here – I would like to ask if you have ever visited cities such as New York, London, Jakarta or even Delhi? Have you seen the homeless lining the streets begging for change? Have you been on the New York subway and seen how grimy it is? Or considered how many people are jobless and fighting for a job in London? Most have to work the streets or wait in bars just to pay off their education.

    I have many Singaporean friends who are talented university graduates, who tried to move away and seek a better future elsewhere – only to come back because the cost of living was even higher and they could not get proper jobs. They did not have benefits as well, making it even harder to save.

    I write not to dispute your points – I agree with you that we all can and should try to make Singapore an even better place. However, I would like you to also consider in detail what the PAP has actually done for the country.

    But otherwise, I believe political discourse is very healthy for our nation, and I do respect your effort to try and make a difference.

    • 107 twasher 30 April 2011 at 01:20

      Anecdotes are not data. The World Bank’s emigration report has 15% of Singaporeans with tertiary education emigrating. Clearly, plenty of Singaporeans are finding that they can have better lives elsewhere.

  76. 108 Mark Hoo 29 April 2011 at 15:01

    Love the essay Peiying.

    There’s both political and economic components to your piece: it seems most of your complaints are economic in nature, and the solutions you are seeking are political in nature – working in the finance industry I’d like to address some of the key points you bring up about house prices and wages.

    An increase in apartment price from SG123,000 to SG650,000 looks “insane”, but it’s actually probably under-performing relative to other things you could have invested in.

    If you had invested SG123,000 in an S&P500 indexed fund in 1983 (or the equivalent) that portfolio would be worth around SG 2 million today. Of course you would not have a house to live in in that time – but even so, rental (at a rental return of 4% after maintenance deductions) of an equivalent property over that period would only set you back SG300,000 to SG400,000. Owning the apartment may have increased your father’s wealth by around SG500,000, but investing in stocks over those years would have increased his wealth by 1.5 million.

    I’m just putting out the idea that owning property should not be seen as an “investment” – it’s merely another expense of living, as an alternative to renting. Sure the price would go up over time, but so does the price of everything anyway.

    As for low wages and general income disparity: it’s primarily due to the ineffective unions that exist in Singapore. When even the union chief has “sold out” and is opposed to minimum wage laws you know something is wrong. Of course there is endless debate to these things, but I’m pretty convinced of the fact that corporations will do whatever they can in their power to lower costs and increase revenues: and in a scenario where large corporations negotiate wages with individuals in the market, they always win due to their superior power. Unions are the only way workers can band together and collectively negotiate a fair wage with the employer, on equal terms.

    Powerful unions exist in Australia and some European countries and the wages are a lot more egalitarian. I earned almost the same effective wage at the supermarket cash register ($30 per hour) on weekends as my full time finance analyst job with a global multinational company. So I workerd both jobs. Entry level employees get the same number of days leave (32 per year) as managers and directors. I can guarantee you our toilet cleaners are earning a much fairer wage: so is this the path you want Singapore to follow? There are costs to such a socialized society – but that’s too much to go into here. I’m actually not sure if Singapore can accept such a society, for cultural reasons, but change can happen over time.

    If the economy was “fixed” as you describe, would you be happy with the current political situation?

    • 109 D 30 April 2011 at 18:10

      Hi Mark,

      Incidentally I am also a number person. Your assumption on Pei Ying’s family investing the $123K in S&P index from 1983 would have yielded $2million today is a good one. However, the bigger question is how long would it take for the family to arrive at $123k in the first place in 1983? Not everyone is savvy in finance. My own parents did not make it pass primary 3 education.

      Property owning is definitely not investment if you have only 1. That is why I cannot agree with the asset enhancement policy. The only truth in any asset (stocks, bonds, property) enhancement is the greater fool theory. There needs to be a sucker to take over the asset from you on the other end at a higher price. For property, it is usually our next generation that becomes the sucker. I do not think anyone would like to see their next generation holding the shorter end of the stick.

      In my own case, I wonder if we had paid a price too high for the past few decades of economic growth? I remember hearing a Taiwanese commenting on National Radio that Singaporeans are so “POOR” that we have nothing but $ left.

      Lastly, I would like to leave some numbers for pondering. Dr V posted that it takes us 2-3years to accumulate the $60Billion that the opposition wants to squander away but it took us within a year to replenish what we took from the reserves. Without proper communication, numbers can be very misleading. As the saying goes: There are numbers and there are lies.

  77. 110 z 29 April 2011 at 17:33

    While I agree with the article, it is also a reflection of the mentality of the youth of today.
    We are so quick to point out what we want… alternative voices… but we cannot tell how it can be done.
    I have lived overseas and it is when you truely appreciate home. We discredit the ministers for what they have said during the election, but forget what they have done. Are we now saying that we vote in the opposition because we prefer what they say?
    Do the younger generation, in their internet savy ways know what the outside world is looking at? That a change in government will affect how the outside world decides how they will trade with us.
    Are we concerned about how a downturn in economy will then affect our stability and indirectly our future.
    Or will just continue to voice out and vote for simply “what we want”

    • 111 M 30 April 2011 at 23:07

      Dear Z,
      Come on, get real. How could there be a change of government in this GE? The opposition parties would have done well to win a GRC. Second, the Government does not have all the solutions. What did they do to ramp up our economy over the last few years? They built the IR, of course, and they brought in lots of foreigners. I can think of those ‘solutions’ too, even though I don’t claim to be a world class politician. Third, while young people may lack experience, they are not stupid. I teach in the NUS. Most of them are intelligent and well aware of what’s happening around them. Fourth, why do you only compare us with countries that have not done as well as us economically? Since ours is a First World Government and a First World economy, shouldn’t we be compared to the first world countries? In fact, our Ministers and senior civil servants are paid much, much more than first world salaries. Why should we deserve less/

  78. 112 Sophie Koh 29 April 2011 at 17:43

    Dear Peiying,

    I admire your empathy and the fire in you to make a stand.

    I think you have managed to name what I could not put a finger on all this time while my disconcert and distaste has been growing: there’s something morally wrong with the way we are being governed.

    Thank you for stirring the fire within me too.

  79. 113 Alvin 29 April 2011 at 18:48

    During GCT’s regime, I was a die-hard PAP supporter because I believed him as a people’e leader. When GTC retired as PM, I started to loss faith in PAP. Today, I have zero faith in PAP.
    Young lady, you have my full respect and encouragement. All the best to you and Workers Party.

  80. 114 29 April 2011 at 21:01

    This is one of the best if not the best essay i have ever ever read in my life. May good days lay ahead. SDP,SPP,SDA,WP,RP,NSP HUAT AH!

  81. 115 Sharon 29 April 2011 at 21:56

    Hi Peiying, you chose to step away from apathy. I chose to remain apathetic and I think apathy is your term for “supporting the PAP”.

    You criticise the PAP and join up with the opposition because you’ve lost faith in how this country is operated and function on a daily basis. If you’d travelled to other countries, you would praise and confide in the government. We have a steady growth of GDP, racial harmony, ISD act to keep our country safe and more foreigners to generate more jobs. Our press is heavily censored to protect our society and to keep chaos from breaking out. Just look at Europe where riots and demonstrations break out when people are allowed to have their say.

    In the West, many governments or their people are getting more fascistic. Britain has more incidents of foreigner bashing and America has its Homeland Security Act. So please do not use Western countries as a model for democracy.

    The salary for the elderly may be low but in other countries, higher salaries and better welfare for the unemployed leads to a large financial burden on the country’s resources. You even get unemployed people who receive enough to buy a car or make a downpayment for their condominium.

    I think it was Lee Kuan Yew or someone else who said that every person should learn to support themselves and not depend on the government. Too bad many old people don’t have the guts to carry on working for the sake of Singapore or for themselves. My parents are really old but still working full-time. My sister was really ill but she took her medications and turned up to work every day.

    • 116 Fox 30 April 2011 at 03:12

      Hi Sharon,

      I suggest that you go to HK/Taipei/Seoul/Perth – all nearby spots – and experience the life there where the media is not censored. There are no riots and demonstrations. People enjoy standards of living comparable to ours and crime is low.

      Look at Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc. They had press censorship and a draconian system of repression, no? So what happened?

    • 117 peiying 30 April 2011 at 03:22

      Hi Sharon,

      I think the arguments you have made here are false dichotomies, of which the government has often repeated in their rhetoric for their political legitimacy.

      Firstly, I did not say that apathy equates to supporting the PAP. I’m merely explaining my political awakening that led me to volunteer for the opposition.

      Secondly, I did not say that I joined the opposition simply because I lost faith in the PAP. My decision to help was a mixture of both a loss of faith and seeing a possible future in the opposition.

      Moreover, as a matter of fact – I love to travel. But every time I return back to Singapore I always tell myself it is good to be home.

      However, as I said, you have presented a false dichotomy. Meaning you are saying without the ISD and without censorship, our country will fall to the other extreme of utter anarchy and chaos. Why does it have to be an either or? Why can’t we have the best of both worlds? It is possible.

      I also wish to highlight to you that yes, while European countries may demonstrate often, I doubt they ‘riot’ often. That is what the government wants us to think. I assure you if European nations constantly broke out into riots, the European Union would not be the stronghold that it is today.

      I also did not compare Singapore to another Western country. I made no comparisons and am arguing within the context of Singapore. In any case, the myth that “what works in the west would not work in our Asian society” is a myth. Look at Korea, Japan and Taiwan. They are all Asian societies very much like ours and they practice liberal democracy without suffering social instability.

      I’m not pushing for our government to be a welfare state. Yes, welfare state does have certain repercussions on the economy in terms of draining reserves and increasing the budget deficit of the country. However, I think we can all agree that more should be done to help the needy? Perhaps opening up a few more soup kitchens, giving them more money everyday instead of a minimal 2-3 dollars? The examples you have cited are pension systems and that is not what the opposition is pushing for.

      Last but not the least, on this point I really really have to disagree with you.

      You said, “Too bad many old people don’t have the guts to carry on working for the sake of Singapore or for themselves.”

      How do you expect elderly in their 60s-80s, many of which are already in ill health and weak, to work? Are they supposed to work until they draw their very last breath and fall dead? Moreover, I do not think that the issue is on whether or not they are willing to find work, but whether they can find work in the first place. How can you say that they ‘don’t have the guts to carry on working’ when they spend days and nights, picking empty cans and cardboard boxes for a living?

      I urge you to walk on the other side of the town and take a look for yourself the type of poverty that a group of people in this country is suffering from.

    • 118 Derek 30 April 2011 at 12:47

      Dear Sharon,

      Could you help me answer the following?

      1) What has President Nathan done or what does he do to deserve $4.5 million a year?

      2) Why is the upgrading of an HDB estate subject to which party runs the place? Shouldn’t the HDB be an independent body and make decisions based on, say, the estate’s age?

      3) The government acted quickly to discourage Singaporeans from going to the two casinos by disallowing any form of promotion aimed at heartlanders and by halting the free shuttle bus services.

      But during the World Cup season, the Singapore Pools freely extended its operating hours from 6.30 pm to 10 pm with the consequence that long queues still formed till the last minute.

      If the government is truly concerned about Singaporeans sinking deeper and deeper into gambling, why the double standards? Is one form of gambling more justifiable than the other?

      4) I’m not convinced that our ministers should be paid such obscene salaries. If they can’t do the job with less (much much less), then they clearly have no business to lead the country, much less to serve the people.

  82. 119 TF 29 April 2011 at 22:49

    Keep up the good work:

    Currently, from my point of view, Foreigners are classify as 1st/’2nd class citizen;
    But as a Singaporean, we are third class citizen instead;

    If this goes on, i guess we will become 4th class!

    just my five cent worth 🙂

  83. 120 Anonymous 30 April 2011 at 01:05

    Hi peiying,

    I like how you answered all the negative reponses with so much aplomb and dignity. Well done .

  84. 121 Nelson Chan 30 April 2011 at 15:58

    To Sharon:
    Caught in between? Fear for the unknown?

    Life is always full of difficult choices. Mostly it is a choice between stability(comfort zone) or taking a chance. How many times in life when we have this moment whereby we feel unrest and wanted something different. 2 small voices will go on a debate in our mind.

    1st voice : Im sick of what is happening day to day(Rountine), i want a breakthrough,i want some changes.

    2nd voice: Dont be rash, you have enough now, why risk losing all you have for more, you may not even get it.

    You will be stuck at no mans’ land, frustrated and having to make a choice. Normally 2nd voice will triumph.

    Which ever voice you follow, must alway live with that, otherwise, you gonna feel worse off.

    Whenever the 2 voices shout out, you can always ask yourself some questions.

    1 : Are you seriously happy now?

    2: Yes or No, Are you able to live with whichever decision?

    3: Whichever choice, are you ready to follow up with some actions now, or back to square 1?

    To my knowledge, if sea explorers simply choose stability and follows old sailing routes, new land might never be found. If Wright Brothers never follow up on their dream and idea, men will never fly. The list can go on and on.

    It takes great courage to venture into the unknown, but you never know what lie beyond if you stay put. No doubt, you will feel safer by following proven and tested route. But that’s also about how far you will go. And how safe is safe? How proven is proven? How tested is tested? Tested and proven system has failed before in history due to human errors, nature and genuine mistakes. Back to sailing, tested and proven searoutes, dont gurantee that your fleet wont be caught in a storm, met with pirates or went on the wrong course due to a drunk captain, some complacent navigators?

    For me, i will rather take a leap of faith and test the unknown.Stop going on like a broken record on how tested and proven u MIW are. Past does not equates the future.New political ideas,system came up along human history. Before Democracy, there is the long standing Monarchy. Look at the world now,how many countires are run like a Monarchy now? So much for the tested and proven theroy. Things does change. Like they say, never try, never know. ^^

    No 1 can be sure what might follow after changes. But for good or bad, i will live with it.

    To Peiying : Jiayou. I too hestiate volunteering for WP polling agent at 1st, though not out of fear but work commitment. After reading your post, i filled up the form. Work interest can be delayed for 1 day. Whereas, the chance when i can help is only that day.

    • 122 peiying 1 May 2011 at 00:56

      Hi Nelson,

      I’m glad you have decided to volunteer!

      I have been trying my best too but I am having my exams now and what I can contribute has been rather limited.

      However, I do believe I can put a day or two of studying off to contribute. After all, opportunities for change like this only comes once in every 5 years!! We must seize it!

  85. 123 Opppartyftw 30 April 2011 at 16:10

    Hi Peiying. You’re such an inspiration to young Singaporeans like me. I’m 21 this year, unfortunately, I’m unable to vote, yet I’m following this GE ever so closely.

    May you be the next Nicole Seah in Singapore GE 2016! Haha. 😀

    • 124 peiying 1 May 2011 at 00:53


      Thanks for the investment of faith in me (:

      I wish to highlight to everyone here and everyone reading this that I am really still an average Singaporean.

      I was lucky to be given an opportunity to voice my opinion here and the response I got was really unprecedented!

      However, the real inspirational figures are the candidates who are running for elections, and the whole team of volunteers from all walks of life who are supporting them. They are the ones who truly deserve the respect. Many of them have been volunteering for years. I am nothing compared to them (:

  86. 125 laydiee_hannah 30 April 2011 at 23:20

    Hi Peiying, I am a young voter who is very inspired by you. Being in awe of your mentality and non-ignorance of the reality, I feel quite small for not being able to muster enough courage to volunteer like you do. Not that I fear voting for the opposition, as I know I am standing by my political views. BUt to really be there against all odds is not easy, hence my helplessness. I really hope that Singapore can churn out more people like you, and hope that you give a thought in being a potential candidate. You will do good, god bless. CHeers!

  87. 126 mixdude 1 May 2011 at 00:04

    well. I just believe that I’m also on the same boat as just that I am 22 but i think we shared the same concern…

  88. 127 james 1 May 2011 at 00:20

    Thank you Peiying 🙂 You’re an inspiration to many of us, as youths, and to hear your name being mentioned (I read this before) truly empowered many to be the change and be the voice.

  89. 128 mypeaceofheaven 1 May 2011 at 02:02

    Hey Peiying,

    Awesome writing and people like you are the hope of our future. You will go far!
    You just inched my balance of percentage in favour to the opposition, not because of emotions, but because of your clear explanations and inspiring writing.

    Thank you!

  90. 129 rach 1 May 2011 at 03:16

    Hi peiying,

    Great essay.

    Just a piece of my mind:
    To me I’ve heard of the famous opposition leaders( mr chiam n mr low) since I was young from my parents.I’ve been looking at the rallies of WP,NSP,SPP and of course PAP. I realised: we do hv capable n competent opposition candidates which are denied the chance to serve and show s’poreans that they are too capable to do as well as the PAP MPs.I’m not pro-PAP or pro-opposition. I just feel that maybe s’poreans shld giv the opposition a chance to prove themselves whether or not they are up to our expectations.

    PAP’s menifesto is great, but are we going to hv the priviledge of the Goh Keng Swee n current era of PAP to be with us till the end of time and to keep us safe from all storms n tsunamis that will hit us in due course by our PAP ministers now, to help us tide the storm? This batch of PAP ministers can’t possibly stay w us forever isn’t it? Moreover different generations hv different needs, one hard way to rule the country may not be the best way to win the hearts of the young generation of the 20th century. New ideas and perceptions hv to make their way to parliament from both the oppositions and PAP members to ensure the survival of singapore. Opposition can too be productive and not counter-productive isn’t it?

  91. 130 Anonymous 1 May 2011 at 06:13

    i cannot believe that at such young age, you have the insight of what is happening, ppl. at my generation are living in fear and ignorance… i sometime feel like slapping them to wake them up.

    i enjoy youe pic here and really hope everyone will be able to read it and realise how narrow they can be.

    good work! i support it!

  92. 131 Meiling 1 May 2011 at 06:20

    To Sharon: you sounds really misguided and I hope that you open your eyes to saw the truth. But you reminds me of some people I knew who are rich and who could care less if they get to enjoy life.

    My parents are long-term PAP supporter and turn up at their rallies and took part in many of their activity. They voted for over 30 years and persuades many of their friends and relatives to stick for the PAP.

    Then my mother fall seriously ill and almost can’t pay up her full hospital bills. I is working overseas and she didn’t tell me anything. She still refuses to tell me the full detail but I hear she went to see the MP so many time and they didn’t even care. My parents had to pawn off their jewellery and also borrow from our relatives.

    Now she curse the PAP and wishes they would die off quickly. She says it is a shame they will stick around like leech. My brother doesn’t feel the same and things are now more difficult at home because he accuse all of us as traitors. He thinks our reckless behaviour can be fix by a propaganda class. No matter what you throw at him, it like talking to a brick wall. My mother feel very angry but since she the one who brought him up like this, so she will bear with his insults and try to make him see the light.

    The PAP needs to be dethroned because it’s killing this country and its citizens. I can only pray to God that the opposition will gain enough ground in this election. I’m very busy at home and at work, so I won’t be able to attend any of the rallies. But I know enough about the opposition contesting in my ward, to be confident they will do their job.

    Sorry for poor English in many of the setences, I am too tired today and spent a long time fixing many of my typos in this post.

  93. 132 Evariste 1 May 2011 at 09:17

    I remember this post
    from years ago

    at 16 I was disappointed
    but now I am driven to action

  94. 133 Li 1 May 2011 at 22:02

    Well written article! 🙂

    Though in the midst of my university exams, I took a bold step to sign up as a volunteer for the WP just like the writer. A couple of my relatives and friends expressed concern that my scholarship might be revoked if it was found out that I was helping the opposition. This made me ponder a little more, because it shows the deep-seated mindset in the people, and the stronghold, or should I say stranglehold, the ruling party has exerted for decades. But Singaporeans should be made to feel such (needless) fear no longer, because things are and should change, and for the better, and it’s only by speaking up and doing what one thinks is right for the country, that true progress can happen.

  95. 134 boh tong 1 May 2011 at 22:12

    U really impressed me with the things u have written in your blog. I am old and had gone thru many elections. I think the PAP especially the first generation of leaders like MM Lee,Goh Keng Swee and others had done a lot for S’poreans. They were ever willing to sacrifice their lives for us. The threat from the British colonists and later the communists were real but they fought for our independence.
    When I was a kid we did not have taps in our hut,no electricity and proper toilets etc. It was the PAP who got what we have now eg. clean HDB flats with running water, a safe environment to live in etc…
    However, things have changed. Like u correctly pointed out about the cost of flats and the number of years one would take to pay his housing loan etc.
    The present PAP leaders are more materialistic, each earning millions and were served by the people (look at the preparation the people have to do whenever a minister or leader was to visit the estate)and not the other way round….I could go on and on..
    I know whom I will vote on 7 May and I hope all Singaporeans will vote without any fear.
    Thank you.

  96. 135 HY 1 May 2011 at 23:40

    That the government = the ruling party = armed forces = statutory boards = ministries = worker’s unions = government-linked companies = the rice bowl providers of all civil servants, and the list goes on. The ruling party has been extremely successful at that. Ask any smarter than average person on the streets and he would not have a ready answer how to tell these apart. Ask any less educated, older people and they would think it’s all supposed to be one integrated body anyway.

    This is so successful that accountability has become history! Since the lines are blurred and they are “believed” to be “one”, there’s no way to detect if funds or other resources meant for the entire population are used only for the benefit of just the ruling party, or worse, resources have already been used openly throughout the years in so-called upgrading projects for constituencies that has higher support for the ruling party.

    This is so successful that public resources are used to fund scholarships to bright kids who would eventually, decades later, most likely become MPs for the ruling party.

    This is so successful that retired high-ranking officers in the armed forces would almost be sure the parliament can be their eventual retirement village. And this is done without requiring votes or mandate from the people. Backdoors are simply opened for these people by the way of the only group representation voting system in the world!

    This is so successful that the group can always take care of themselves to justify having the highest paid government running one of the world’s smallest countries!

    This is so successful that these politicians can always retire and find immediate and equally high-paying jobs in one of the government-linked companies!

    I must have been blind if these “lines” ever existed. Someone tell me.

  97. 136 zz 3 May 2011 at 07:12

    how can we choose the pap jokers contesting our area? No more lee boon yang and lily neo. Bendemeer ftw!

    Great great piece of writing tho.

  98. 137 Robeben 5 May 2011 at 00:05

    Flabbergasted when I read most of pro-opposition comments.

    They seem to expect a perfect ruler, a perfect party. They want everything in their way, their own needs filled – be it their reach for a new flat, help on their pre-schooling kids, more money for the ultra poors, more help to be given for challenging kids, a divider in front of their house to prevent illegal parking, more buses in their vicinity, etc.

    Are they not honest to admit their admired opposition candidates won’t be perfect either? Why expect perfection on incumbents?

    A good government is not just focused on one individual needs, or one single interest group’s needs. It’s about bigger picture than that sort of things.

    Can one not say your life & your whole family lives have not been improved over past 50 years? Just how many of you have not experienced upgrading of flat (yours or your parents’), or upgrading job(s) over the years, and greater possessions?

    Will you not consider all the international achievements and admirations in the eyes of the world – and just focus on some micro issues?

    Why go about trying to tear down a system you and your families have benefited largely (though with have some issues complaints)?

    People around us must be scratching their heads what on earth are Singaporeans doing – when they wish they could have such a state of governing system in their countries?

  99. 138 Luke 6 May 2011 at 01:23


    Voting for another choice is not tearing down the system.
    If there is no check and balance then why do we need to have auditors to check accounts?

    If really system is that good then may I ask will 10 opposition MP destroy Singapore? If our system is that fragile then something is seriously wrong with our system that is all the more we need to change it don’t you agree?

    I know you wan stability , want peace… but when shit happen in the future who do you blame? Then may I suggest you look into the mirror for the answer.

    It is important to have backup and checks for current government. N i believe competition will be good for them too.
    History also has proven absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  100. 139 investing 17 April 2012 at 04:40

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I have really loved surfing around your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  101. 140 A fellow Singaporean 27 April 2012 at 14:56

    Kudos to Peiying!

    For a 20 year old young lady, I applaud what you have written.

    Not only have you voiced what our fellow countrymen are going through, you have also reflected heart and compassion for the less fortunate.

    Thank you for this insightful and heartwarming article!

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