Sunday, 1 April 2012

My Dilemma: Should the young enter politics?

There has been uproars over the MP's words recently, be it ministerial salary, public transport or even HDB upgrading. Their comments have sparked dissent and complaints in the cyber community, and it seems that with each topic discussed and each word spoken, things just gets more complicated.

I remembered some time back, before the 2011 GE, PAP said that they had difficulty in getting highly educated youths to serve the nation as MPs, because they can get a better pay in the private sector. But I personally felt that things are not that simple, and the reason is far more personal.

During the 2011 GE, I had thought of entering politics because I was appalled with the situation in Singapore, and I wanted to change it, even if it's impossible. I told my father about it, and the 1st thing that he said is: "Are you willing to lose your dignity and your family?"

I wasn't shocked at his words. You see, my history wasn't "clean". My grades were bad, I played truant countless times during secondary school, I stole money from my classmates, and I got a 15-month probation for shoplifting(I completed my probation successfully). My father was a gangster in his early days and had gone to prison 5-6 times. If I insist on entering politics, this is what would happen: I would definitely be rejected by PAP even if I wanted to join them, so my only option is to join the opposition or start my own party. But by doing so, I would become an enemy of PAP, and my "dirty linen" would be dug out and aired in public. I would be shamed along with my family.

If this is the price to pay for entering politics, then it's too big for me. I don't mind being shamed; I have endured it for a long time and a bit more won't kill me. But I can't possibly let my family go through the same torture when they haven't done anything wrong. I'm sure many people, not just youths, think that way. The emotional pressure is not something that a normal person can bear.

Another reason of concern is recognition. My classmate was a member of the Young PAP, but he left after a short while. I asked for the reason, and he said : " i'm just an ITE student. Do you think PAP will listen to my views when they only want Bachelors, Masters and PHDs with 1st class Honors?"

To sum it up, elitism, emotional pressure and a "Bochup" attitude are preventing youths from entering politics. I was once passionate about my country and wanted to make a change, but with all these walls in front of me, I do not have the strength nor the courage to go further. I became disillusioned. Now, I want nothing more than to get out of this country asap.

So here's my question to all: Is politics only reserved for the elite? Just because you are not academically inclined, or you have a bad record, you are barred from serving your country and improving the lives of your fellow comrades?


  1. Wow, from a 19 year old. You sounds matured. When I am at your age, I kept playing diablo2. Rushing and leveling. Hahaha! Those were the days, life is easy and fun~~~

    however, I do agree that joining politics is a 'clean' job for people with clean background. It does provide an advantage. But a clean and good background doesn't mean a good future, Captain Edward John Smith, famously known as the Captain of Titanic, was known to be a “safe captain” and because of that, he is the “Millionaires' Captain” because England's upper class were usually the ones who requested he be in command of the ships they sailed on. (Thanks Wiki!)

    Another guy I can name off that has clean background, but have hellish future is Hitler.

    Hmm... what did I proof? Clean background ppl can make mistake and be a hell of an asshole.
    Does not so clean background has a shot in politics? Do read Nelson Mandela. A hero of his time.

    I do agree, elitism is a barrier. But should it be a fullstop for you to stop helping the country? Extraordinary people over come all barriers, all limitations, bring down walls and set a new standards. There are plenty of examples out there, no need me to give any right?

    Besides, helping the country doesnt mean joining politics. There are other ways.

    Find your passion and help the world through your passion, do not join the inferior complexity of Singaporeans. Mahahahah!

  2. Hi, actually entering politics doesn't need to be elite,
    I am 19 years old now Polytechnic student, a PAP Youth Wing member. You does not need good grade de to join politics, my grade sux btw...

    My English F9 in Secondary school, only the O level i got c6.
    My grade are normal average, i speak singlish a language where those uncle in white don't understand.

    my father garbage truck driver,but that deosnt means you cannot help. Being in politics, in my opinion deosnt means must be MP, you can do back-end stuff and advocate causes and continually pester those uncle in white in submitting your cause

    for me, i am still trying my very best to garner support within party after the hong lim park poly fare "wear white for poly fare"

    There's many parties in Singapore, The People Action Party, The Workers Party, The Singapore Democratic Party and so on, choose the one that suit you well as any one of them contribute to Singapore and help Singaporeans. Remember the key thing is not about whether should youth enter politics, the key thing is How should a youth help the public when he/she enter politics.

    in my opinion, as long as you got heart to serve now, who the hell cares about what your past record, remember we the youth are fighting for the future with a kind and open heart, not living in the darkness past. We must unlearn the past thinking in order to learn new stuff.

    By the way, you are already helping Singapore by sharing your opinion online =) so keep it up, friend!

    1. I like the part "the key thing is not about whether should youth enter politics, the key thing is How should a youth help the public when he/she enter politics." I'm a avid fan of Japanese manga, and the main character in a certain manga once spoke:"It's not the type of power you have, but how you use it, that makes the difference." What this sentence means is that everyone, no matter how "weak" they are, have the opportunity to shine if they use their "powers" right.

      Also good to hear that you are doing your best for Singapore. Rock on my friend!

  3. Good article. Unfortunately my dear, this is the way things are in local politics. I just wanted to add something else though. The reason why the PAP is struggling with getting more educated people to join politics is because more of these people are uninterested in towing the party line or partaking in the little games that the ruling party indulge in to hang onto power. They see association with the PAP as undesirable and want nothing to do with them at all. To further compound the miserable situation of the ruling party's definition of talent, they have such a narrow talent pool to choose from that they stubbornly refuse to look beyond their own enclaves and social spheres to look for leaders. That is why they have resorted to choosing people like Tin Pei Ling, because they are unable to find better qualified and incredibly eloquent politicians anymore. Those days are over. They only look for scholars to be leaders, rejecting hidden jewels among the common Singaporean person who did not attend elite or branded schools. Someone once mentioned that if people like Sir Winston Churchill or Malcolm X had studied in Singapore, they would have been rejected and thrown out of society because they weren't graduates in the way the PAP would expect them to be. Yet look at who they became? Great men with historical legacies yet to be matched up to.

  4. I was jailed in detention barracks for 5 days during my national service, i grew up in a low income family and my secondary school results were horrid because i had to work part time in macdonalds to feed myself. The YPAP called me names and there are so many enemies from both the PAP and Opposition camps hurling personal attacks. All these didnt stop me from serving the nation by joining politics. If you truly have the interests of the country, just do it. I am no less fearful of failure than anyone, but i rather give my best shot and fail, than to regret not trying. Till today, ive never looked back. Im proud to have played a part in Sg’s Change. All the best!

    Alex Tan Zhixiang

    1. That's why I don't like PAP. They look down on other people and make fun of them just because they don't have a good family or good grades. My ITE friend was much more knowledgeable, much more matured and had much more foresight than me (we called him 'The second Lee Kwan Yew' in class), yet he still suffered in YPAP. He could not get his views heard no matter how hard he tried, and who knows what they did to him in there.

      Pardon my impudence (you sound much older than me), but I would like to give you an advice. Stop reading the 'personal attack' news that are published in the newspapers and online. They are nothing but poison that will only corrupt our minds. Focus on news that highlight Gov initiatives (e.g. The new cash award that's given to students with good morals) or comments made by MPs and Ministers to address issues (e.g. ministerial pay) , and see what's good and what can be improved in there. This helps you to stay neutral and focus on issues that impacts the lives of Singaporeans.

      Yours Sincerely,

      Lee Yi Yun (That's my real name. I like to use 'Mimi' as an alias when I'm online)

    2. A good leader cannot be bias, when you say you don't like PAP already shows that you are bias. A bias person if become a leader will turn things upside down.

      Ok, there many some policies that government impliment many people do not like or find that there is no logic to it or some may find that oh well.. it only benifit those who are rich etc.. but is it really the case?? Think carefully. Yes some policies may inevitable benifit the rich more but that doesn't mean government is not helping the poor. Many things are even beyong government control like inflation. You know why there is inflation in the 1st place?? There is a lot more that we do not understand what government is thinking but actually deep inside they are trying their best to protect country and also make friends with other countries, handle very complicated case like hit and run Ionescu. You think government don't want to faster settle the case and put him to justice?? It's not so simple as that when it comes to dealing with other countries. Singapore also do not want to go war with other countries right?

      So you see, I am not saying PAP is perfect but what I want to say is very often people keep complaining but when think back actually things are actually not that bad afterall. Ok Transport system recently has so many problem with So many MRT breakdrown recently?? Blame on government?? What can government do?? Is it really government fault?? This kind of complicated issue very difficult to say whose fault it is. Ok I say so many things about PAP, that doesn't mean opposition parties are no good.

      Opposition parties can sometimes air different views from PAP and this opens up discussion and may even being out better for singapore, but if not careful may even being down Singapore. This same goes to PAP if not careful may also being down singapore. That is why being a leader is not easy. A stong urge to serve is not enough, Singapore need intellegent leader with passion to serve. Without intellegent but have passion, it's not good enough cannot cannot be leader, if not things maybe disastrous as I had explained below.

      It all depends on what you think of each individual parties and believes. But never to have the word dislike as a bias mindset. You may believe other parties are doing good for singapore, than you go join and make a difference. In fact be it PAP or any other opposition party, our main aim is to make singapore a better place and for singapore prosperty to do that each and everyone must work together be it PAP or opposition parties. So when a party got this mindset of dislike ... that's it, things will never keep going due to mindset already being there for being bias. Remember all of us work towards common goal which is for better singapore.

      You say your ITE friend is very knowledgable and no matter how hard he tried the views is not heard right?? Ok, the hard truth is that no matter how well run a organisation is, there will always be rotten apple. So inside PAP there will always be rotten apple. This applies not only PAP but also opposition parties and even everywhere in big organisaion. So probarly he sway met those rotten apple and they just want to act infront of their bigger bosses to show that they are good and in power where infact they are just nothing but just a bunch of bootlickers. Well it happens everywhere. So yes your friend make a right choice to leave but that doesn't mean to hate or dislike. Like I said to you, you could also tell your friend that way to prove one worth education is one way but not only the way, maybe he could write on blog positing or even youtube to make himself known, and if he is really that good, the video clip or blog posting or whatsoever method he use people will slowly reconise it and who knows maybe he could even be YPAP leader and over throw those rotten apple in the community. Or maybe he may end up being Young opposition leader and make a difference to the community.

  5. I would tell the author here, get at least a degree as a basic/min requirement. It is good to see/have politicians in our parliament with flying colour grades, but that doesn’t mean that they will make a perfect parliament.

    If anyone really want to become a politician to serve the people of his/her country. You really have to be prepared, ready to solve the problems that your people going to throw to you, serve with your heart not by just using your mouth, not getting corrupted after you manage to get into the parliament by just putting money & your throne before your people.

    To me, I would rather an average joe just with a degree to become my MP, provided he/she must work hard, really putting heart & everything to serve his/her people. Better than getting scholars/elites who are selfish, arrogant & etc that just cares about money & throne than his/her people.

    Don’t look down yourself for your qualification & sad past. All these can be change. Even people rumored that a Taoist god named xuan tian shang di used to be a butcher, he worked hard to cultivate himself to became a god. Since we all know that he used to be a butcher, but how smart a butcher can be, will he able to be as smart as PHD people or who? But yet he managed to become a god where everybody has to pray & respect him.

    Even if you now join PAP, years later if they are beaten down by the opposition parties, you still can hop to the other parties continue staying in power as a politician :)

    If you are allow to become a politician and able to step into the parliament. Which party would you join, what are your plans and style?

    To me, I will be joining PAP, because they have great resources that allow me to execute things. I will be like Mr Ong Teng Cheong, which dare to debate with the PAP, even though I’m part of them. As long what I believe where wrong, where can be improve in & etc I will voice out.

    If I were to be a MP, I will fix my house/life first with my salary for a few months, when everything settles. I will be donating 10k from my 15k salary to the poor, I will held a meet and greet session at the end of every month sat and sun. Ordering buffet to the people that attend the event, around 8pm, I will put up powerpower presentation to them on regarding the plans that the gov going to make in their area. After that around 9pm, I will talk to them one by one personally in a room regarding their problems in life; see where I can help them if possible.

    If I were to be free, I will go around for checking/sightseeing like LTK attending residents funeral & etc.

    As long your English, Maths, capability & etc got some standard. I don't see the reason why anyone can't become a MP.

    1. Talk is cheap. That's what I believe in.

      If I were to become a politician, I will spend the 1st few months to settle my family's financial matters (just like you), then allocate 2/3 of my income to a fund, where it will be used to improve the community (setting up social enterprises to create jobs for unemployed people, helping needy families while they wait for Gov assistance).

      Instead of holding the meet-and-greet session once per week, I would like to hold it every Monday-Wednesday, 7-9pm, and use Thursday-Friday to sort out the requests.

      As for my Grassroots Members, I want them to be more than just office clerks. I will hold meetings with them, and they will talk about what they feel is needed to make the ward a better place for residents. As Grassroots members make more contact with the residents, they will know the needs of the residents better than the MP.

      If possible, I will also hold mega meetings on Saturdays, where all the residents are invited, and they will suggest ideas and raise objections to any plans that they feel is flawed.

      That's my basic plan for now. But like I said, talk is cheap, so I have to get into Parliament 1st. But that will definitely be an uphill task for me, since I have no plans to get a degree.

    2. Sorry it should be "If I were an MP". Guess I'm too tired after reading the comments on the Facebook page :p

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  7. Steve Chia Kiah Hong (Chinese: 谢镜丰; born 3 November 1970) is a politician from Singapore. He is the former Secretary-General and current Treasurer of the opposition National Solidarity Party (NSP). He served as a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from 2001 to 2006, during which time the NSP was part of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA).

    In 1985, at the age of 15, Chia was sentenced to two years' probation by a juvenile court following an incident where he and group of other boys broke into a school and committed vandalism. In his book Called to Serve, Chia notes that the incident left him determined to turn his life around. He went on to graduate from Nanyang Junior College in 1988.

    During his national service, Chia became an officer in the Singapore Armed Forces despite the discovery of an inborn heart defect late in his officer cadet training which resulted in him being put on light duties for the final two months of the course. His commanders were nevertheless impressed by his performance and wrote in to appeal for him to be commissioned as an officer. The appeal was approved, and he became the only person to have graduated from the Officer Cadet Course without taking the senior term Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and Standard Obstacle Course.[1]

    Chia then became a student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he read Psychology and Philosophy. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994. He was active in student politics during his time at NUS, and was elected the President of the National University of Singapore Students' Union (NUSSU) in 1993.

    Even he could do it, so can we :D

  8. You have some truths. But how will you trying to convience people that you are indeed good in 1st place where you have so many bad past?? Very hard..

    Maybe there need to do some twitting on selection of people and cannot please everyone also.

    It's like a committed stealing in the past, and want to join politics. What will selection of people think?? and what will public think?? It is no brainer that the selection people will not select that person. Yes she may have change as in change to become a good citizen, but is that enough to prove that you are indeed good??

    Education does play some part. Can't be a ITE person without much knowledge of how economy function or how general things function and want serve people.

    A good leadership also need to have good knowledge and will need to strike a balance between knowledge and heart to serve. When a leader do not have much knowledge of their respective domain field but only have heart to serve, the result maybe disastrous. e.g Giving free healthcare to poor income family may seem good but in long run affects economy. From a normal person point of view many may feel government got so much $ give abit of $ to help poor in healthcare also cannot are ?? and if politicians that do not have much knowledge of how economy function ( does not have deep knowledge) and think that ya, we should make it happen ( heart to serve ) end up future generation suffer.

    Do you have good knowledge in the 1st place?? If you feel you have, than you need to prove yourself. Ok you do not have education to prove that, than you need to do other thing to make you notice and tell people that indeed you have deep knowledge and can really improve in how singapore function between people and economy sense.

    One of it to prove a person worth is youtube video..

    like... .. even if Peter Schiff does not have high education, people who viewed his video clip, will find him very clever person and has good economic sense which can help country grow.

    If you can do that well, than you have cut for being politician.

    1. What you said is the hard truth. There must be a good balance between will and knowledge. And if I want people to believe me, I have to prove my worth 1st. That's how realistic the world is, and it's also because of this that human society survived and flourished.

      I admit that I do not have much knowledge about the financial world. But I do read financial news from time to time to keep myself updated on the world market. I admit that I like to do too many things at once, therefore I am learning to prioritize my aims. I admit that I am easily swayed by others, therefore I am learning to develop my own perspective and stand my own ground when necessary.

      I may be just a naive student now, but do not intend to stay that way for long. I will start proving my own worth by posting my views on this blog. I will develop my own style as I read the comments on this blog. I do not know what the future goes for me, maybe I will never become a politician in my entire life. But I will definitely do all I can to change my country for the better, even if I fail miserably in the end.

      Thank you for giving me advice. It's these kinds of constructive views that helps me to grow. Keep them coming!!

    2. Btw I watched the vid twice. Man oh man was I blown away. This man's real good!!

    3. Ya, you really need to be as intelligent as him to make things happen. Ok maybe half of his intelligent can already. If you have that, you could be a very successful person. No need join politics and many people will head hunt you.

      But 1st study well and if education is a problem, than you really need to use other means to prove that you are good. Education is one way, but is not only the way, there are other way like youtube, writing letter or any other ways one could think of.. maybe could even be blog posting or facebook.

  9. Joining politics with the sole purpose of becoming an MP should not be the reason why u want to be a politician... It should be with the HEART of serving people, serving our nation, all of this can start by volunteering or even sharing your thinking on the Internet or to your classmates