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Reflections on political engagement in Singapore: Challenges and considerations

Letter: Teo Kueh Liang writes that Singaporeans, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, face political participation hurdles due to career fears, high living costs, and desire for privacy.

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by Teo Kueh Liang

I refer to The Independent’s SG Politics, “Pritam Singh: Political participation requires Singaporeans to step up” ( 14 Nov).

It is glad to learn that as a parliamentarian opposition leader, Pritam Singh’s forceful urging for political participation will have meaningful impacts.

Generally, most Singaporeans, especially the Snowflake Generation (Millennials) and some Strawberry Generation (Gen Z and Alpha) are reluctant to participate in politics and have the following considerable worries and valid considerations:

1) Lack of political maturity, which has been displayed in our political arena for at least five decades: these shortcomings are in terms of political understanding, political discourse and political tolerance or inclusiveness.

Hence, if any “conflicts” or great differences in political ideology, political vision, political perspective, opinions and aspirations exist among politicians and various political parties, it is quite natural.

In due course, freedom of speech or expression in whatever manner (which should be rational and substantiated with fact) should be actively encouraged, entrenched or enforced by our government.

2) Most people worry and fear that one’s career prospects or business will be hindered if they actively participate in politics especially getting involved in any of the opposition camps.

3) Individuals are generally struggling to make a living and survive in the fiercely competitive industrial and commercial society, wherein the costs of living are relatively high. In this instance, how could one find extra energy or have leisure and elegance to engage in politics?

4) It is often not easy for individuals to make balanced arrangements between family and career, not to mention sacrificing precious time and energy to participate in politics.

5) It is pretty common, logical, and understandable that most individuals prefer to keep their private lives in secrecy and refrain from exposing them under the limelight. Thus, getting involved in politics is definitely not their first/ideal choice.

6) Any politicians (including those potential ones) should have a sufficient grasp and preparation of the political vision, concepts and policies of governing the country. Besides, they must be psychologically prepared and learn to weather or accept criticisms and suggestions from within the political circles and the outside world, whether they are rational or irrational, reasonable or unreasonable, genuine or malicious.

Most importantly, the respective politicians should make their discreet political judgment or decision at the end of the day based on his/her own analysis and experience.

7) Last but not least, any individuals who wish to participate in politics must be prepared to make some money commitment, particularly participating in the general election, unless you are the picked candidate of the ruling party camp.

In short, anyone who wishes to take part in our political arena should prudently weigh in all the pros and cons prior jumping into it.

The letter does not represent the publication’s views.

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