It is unfortunate that a lot of time in the campaigns from both the PAP and the opposition has been about why we should not vote for their opponents because they have various character flaws that make them unsuitable to be MPs. Three examples stand out for me.
First, AHPETC, which had been sickeningly dominating this campaign. The PAP has been repeating it ad nauseum, using it to cast aspersions on the character of the WP candidates. Guys, get over it already. Move on. Super sian already you know…
Second, Mr Lawrence Wong turning archaeologist and dredging up ancient history on Dr Chee Soon Juan. In some television show on nomination day, Mr Lawrence Wong said this about Dr Chee Soon Juan: “I remembered what happened in 1996, because I was just starting work in the civil service. Dr Chee made a written and oral representation to a select committee in parliament and eventually the committee found out that the data presented was false and he was charged for lying, for misleading the public and also found later to be in contempt of parliament.”
Dude. 1996 leh. I thought we, as a society, have moved towards believing that people can change for the better? The irony is that Mr Lawrence Wong was some GOH at a Yellow Ribbon Project event. So does he or does he not believe that people can change for the better? Or was he being hypocritical when he attended the event? Or is he being hypocritical when he said those things about Dr Chee Soon Juan?
Third, and I think this is the worst example of speaking ill of your opponent in this campaign so far, comes from the opposition candidate Mr Cheo Chai Chen.
Being a mother is a weakness? Hello… which world are you from? I loved the response given by Ng Eng Hen on his Facebook Page:
“As a medical house-officer, I did four months of Obs and Gynae where I delivered babies and tended to recuperating mothers. I know physically what they have to go through, just after delivery. So just before Nomination Day, I spoke to Tin Pei Ling, and said that since she was still in confinement period, she ought to do less house to house and market visits – her residents would understand. Looking at the #GE2015 coverage, Pei Ling is obviously not taking my advice! I should have known better. Mothers are strong, very strong when motivated. I remember my wife taking the bus on the second day after delivery to finish some experiments in the lab, when we were doing post-graduate studies in New York. My own mother, did many odd jobs and toiled into the night to make ends meet and raise six kids. They say that even a lion is afraid of a smaller animal protecting her cubs. Those who dare to challenge mothers – beware!”
Mothers will do anything they believe is in the best interest of their child. Including being a very driven MP. If I were in Macpherson, I would definitely vote for Tin Pei Ling.
Instead of such disgusting behaviour, I hope to see both sides show mutual (if grudging) respect towards each other. It can be done. There have been examples already. Three come to mind.
First, the gentlemanly contest between Mr Yee Jenn Jong and Mr Charles Chong in the last GE.
The two candidates fought hard in the last GE. Eventually Mr Charles Chong won by a slim margin of just 388 votes. Notwithstanding the hard fight, they two kept up a gentlemanly and affable relationship. They invited each other to their respective grassroots events. Mr Chong even went as far as inviting Mr Yee to “split duties” with him in attending street parties in the ward. The dampener on this rare show of gentlemanly behaviour in politics is that Joo Chiat SMC got brought into Marine Parade GRC and Mr Charles Chong abruptly moved to campaign in Punggol East SMC.
The second is when the SingFirst Party ran into DPM Tharman during their walkabout in Jurong. It might have been an awkward or tense moment. Instead, DPM Tharman, with his usual charm, greeted the SingFirst team with smiles and handshakes, spoke to them, and even took a photo with the SingFirst team. He even gave the SingFirst team tips about where to find cheap food in the area!
The final example, is one which I think is most touching. It is that of Mr Sitoh Yih Pin and Mr Chiam See Tong.
Mr Sitoh first contested in Potong Pasir in 2001, then 2006, before winning in 2011. Notwithstanding the tough fight between the two men, Mr Sitoh has openly said that he has huge respect for Mr Chiam See Tong. Mr Sitoh will always say hi to Mr Chiam if they meet at coffeeshops in Potong Pasir. Knowing that Mr Chiam likes peanut pancakes, Mr Sitoh even went to buy some and shared it with Mr Chiam when Mr Chiam attended some event that Mr Sitoh was at too. Knowing the history between the two, there is something extremely heartwarming about this photo showing that incident.
These three examples show us that it is possible for political opponents to have mutual respect for one another. We may not necessarily agree with all the policy suggestions that they have (honestly, some of the policies recommendations are quite harebrained…), but let’s not assume that those who disagree with us have fundamentally different values, that they are motivated by bad faith, and are perhaps bad people. I believe that most of the candidates in this GE genuinely want to serve the people. I hope that we see more gentlemanly contest of ideas in the last few days of campaigning this GE.
See also: Less fear, more hope, please…