It’s your responsibility to vote wisely.
What should residents do before voting? How should they decide which candidate to endorse, or not to endorse any at all?
I remember being completely apathetic to politics during the General Elections 2011. Anything vaguely political in the news was irritating to me and I quickly skipped any and every update of GE2011.
My perspective then was that the government should do its job regardless of which political party held power. Why bother the citizens with your politicking and mudslinging? We’re much too busy earning a living to care about bitchy catfights.
It was without much fanfare that I made my decision half an hour (with Google’s help) before going down to the voting booth (voting in Singapore is mandatory for those eligible to vote).
Could I have made more effort to understand the candidates better? Will a better understanding of politics affect my future? Possibly yes, especially when these years have shown that the ruling party isn’t as dominant as it used to be.
Before you vote, these are some really basic things you should try to do.
1. Know the names of the candidates in your ward and the parties they run under
With more parties being formed, knowing PAP, WP and SDP isn’t enough anymore.
It would be really stupid to vote for the wrong party because you thought a candidate was with another one.
2. Google each one of these candidates
Don’t believe everything you read on mainstream media, or alternative media either. Try to do your own background check of their track record, previous speeches and accomplishments.
LinkedIn profiles and citations from credible sources, including international media, helps in knowing each candidate better.
Don’t worry, no one expects you to hire a PI to check if they’re cheating.
3. Hear their plans for the residents
Do you really need another covered walkway? Do you prefer a more vibrant neighborhood?
Vote for the needs you prefer, and think about whether the candidate will deliver on his/her promises. Track records you Googled in point 2 will help.
4. Are these candidates easily approachable should you need help?
Not everyone is comfortable with emails, Facebook messages or phone calls.
Some need reassurance via face-to-face interactions on complicated issues that can only be explained in person.
Your MP and his team should ensure your needs are adequately explained to government agencies with your details included in the MP letter.
5. Do these candidates come with a support network?
Running a town council isn’t easy and any MP who tries to do it by himself will fail.
The people he puts on his team to serve residents are just as important, because they need to be able to bond well with residents to hear their true needs.
6. How much time do these candidates spend with residents?
For me, a good candidate takes time to really sit down with various groups of residents, even neighborhood businesses serving residents, and collectively thrash out issues together.
Door-to-door visits, while appreciated, may not elicit enough honest feedback from residents who are more interested in going back to whatever they were doing before being interrupted.
Walkabouts are pretty for media photo-ops, but not everyone the candidate meets is a resident willing to share their concerns with more than 5 other people watching them closely.
It may sound like quite a bit of work, but choosing a lousy candidate leads to your time being wasted getting your needs adequately addressed till the next election.
So choose wisely.