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♫ Stuff In My Head ♫

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Singapore, it's over to you. (From Yahoo! Singapore, 6 May 2011)

In less than 48 hours, slightly over 2.3 million of you will begin casting your vote at ballot boxes across Singapore.

For many, me included, it will be our first walk to the ballot box, and for that we must be thankful. It has not always been so.

In 2006, slightly over half of Singapore got to vote. In 2001, it was even less than that. We have to go back to 1972 when a majority 87 per cent of parliamentary seats were contested. This time, it's over 94 per cent.

Come Saturday, you have the ability to chart the country's destiny for the next five years and beyond. My sincere hope is that you do not take this lightly.

I am hopeful because over the last week, I have witnessed active citizenry at its best. At each of the four rallies I have been to in the past week, I was heartened to see Singaporeans from all walks of life show up in the thousands and, for some rallies, tens of thousands.

There is something gratifying about seeing your fellow citizens -- Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians of all ages, of all backgrounds -- coming to attend these rallies in their own time, of their own free will. Some come alone, some with friends, many with families.

But all come because of one thing: You care.

It is no small sacrifice. Some skip dinners and go on hungry stomachs to hear what the candidates have to say. Others travel across the island, spending precious time and money just to listen. Snarling jams, pouring rain and muddy fields didn't deter you and, for that, I salute you.

In the last few days, many concerned citizens have also taken to cyberspace to pen their innermost thoughts. Their appeals are insightful and heart-wrenching to read. Elections talk has also dominated coffeeshops and conversations across the island and I cannot help but smile when I overhear such heated, fervent discussion of national issues.

This is what it means to be Singaporean. This is what it means to take a stake in your country.

I am most heartened to see the Gen-Y generation, who some have called apathetic, attend the rallies in great numbers. I have received many emails from this group, telling me they have gone out of their way to educate themselves about what the respective parties stand for ahead of Saturday's decision day. They are our future and, guess what, they care too.

At this important point in Singapore's fledgling nationhood, it gives me great comfort and a deep sense of pride to know we are all together in this. To know that regardless of events around the world, come Saturday, we have the choice to decide our own fate -- a future for Singapore, by Singaporeans.

Whether it will truly be a watershed moment come the early hours of Sunday, I cannot tell. But whatever the results, I am already gratified because I know you care. Come what may on 7 May, let us not forget to come together as one, regardless of which box you crossed.

I will end by saying that over the last few weeks, but especially in the last nine days, I humbly hope you'll agree my team has delivered, bringing you reports from the rallies of all the parties involved. We have done our best to bring you their ideas and platforms and what they represent.

As the intense war of words of the hustings campaign die down and Cooling Off Day kicks in, it is now time for you to calm your minds, cool your hearts and consult with friends and family.

But most of all, you must consult yourself. Decide what is best for you. And decide you must because it is your chance to say, I made a choice.

Your vote is your own and it is indeed secret.

It is up to you now.

It is your time, your vote.

This article is published by Yahoo! Southeast Asia Pte. Ltd., 60 Anson Road #13-01 Mapletree Anson, Singapore, 079914.