Yes, I enjoyed a day of free rides on the buses and MRT with my family on National Day (but we still spent a bomb on dining and shopping). It’s a clear sign that the more mobile you are, the more likely you are to spend your money. The wheels of commerce will get stuck without reliable and affordable transport and communications. The more you can entice people to get out of their homes, the more you can entice them to spend. If you provide free transport to polling stations, it’s likely that voter turnout will be much higher too.
Anyway, the euphoria of SG50 has subsided. Some people are already looking at the SG50 logo with boredom if not disdain. But the excitement is far from over. We’re entering a new season. It’s neither wabbit season nor duck season. It’s election season and it remains to be seen who is going to get shot in the end. Dr Ng Eng Hen declared in his usual “dignified” manner to our press which has a reputation of being ranked 153 in press freedom:
“This is a radical change — in other words, whereas previously we only announced the whole slate of candidates on Nomination Day, we’re telling you who’s going to stand well before Nomination Day, whatever day that comes,” he said, adding that the change was made based on feedback from residents.
“We feel that for the PAP, this is a better way of doing it and I think the residents will prefer that approach.”
Dr Ng said the ruling party has tried to keep the tempo of election announcements down in the last week to allow Singaporeans to enjoy the Jubilee weekend. “But now that’s over, we are in election season,” he said.
Radical? Announcing the candidates early is a radical change? Kids, do be reminded that when you use the word “radical” in an exam, it doesn’t mean that you do something earlier than normal. The word “radical” literally means “root”. A radical change is a fundamental, far-reaching and thorough change. An example of what could be described as a radical change would be the abolishment of the GRC system. What about putting estate management back into hands of the HDB and making our MPs more proactive parliamentarians and lawmakers than estate managers? That sounds more radical to me. But in the meantime, radical means announcing the candidates a little earlier and giving them a bigger head start in the process of showing residents what is store for them.
For the benefit of students who may have marks deducted for poor usage, let’s take a look at another word Dr Ng used in his interview with the media:
He said he is “very happy” with how some of these retirement announcements have come through in the last week, as they were more deliberate and dignified.
I believe that Dr Ng was referring to the “fanfare” associated with the announcement of the retirement of ex-ministers like Mr Mah Bow Tan. Of course, we didn’t see this sort of “fanfare” in the case of Mr Inderjit Singh who announced his plans to step down on Facebook, but is it less dignified to be praised by netizens for your courage and conviction? Is it not more dignified to have your speeches and other essays from the past being shared and admired by the masses? Isn’t that a clear sign of being closer to residents? If Mr Inderjit Singh had waited for the official media to announce his retirement, they would probably just mention it in one line and it will be a line over which he has absolutely no control. Who knows what they will include or omit? Those of us who’re into social media know that we can do without this sort of “dignity”.
In the latter half of August, we can expect an exciting election season with plenty of “dignified” announcements and some not-so-dignified revelations – the result of investigative journalism by netizens. Of course, there will also be plenty of verbal sparring with some unintentionally humourous results. The main focus of my blog will be the unintentionally humourous bits. The season is open.
© Chan Joon Yee