The View from the Outside

Yoong Khean
4 min readJul 8, 2020
Photo by Andrea Ang on Unsplash

“Singapura memilih”. On July 10th to be precise. As a non-citizen but a resident here, I admit it is a little odd, having to follow the election but unable to exercise any influence or action, though many of the policies set by the winning party (and subsequently, government) will affect me, even more than when I was voting in Malaysia back in 2018. I am not complaining, it is what it is, but an odd feeling nonetheless.

Being active in both the Singaporean and Malaysian social media circles, you would come across many comments from both sides. “What’s the point of elections in Singapore? It’s so boring there”, or “At least our politics isn’t like Malaysia, look at the sad state of their affairs now”. Both our countries have a unique bilateral relation and our people, history and culture are closely intertwined. Therefore, it is inevitable that even our politics, however different they are, will be compared.

While I understand why some would compare, I disagree with the opinions of both sides. There is no ‘better’ politics. There is no ‘boring’ politics. You might think lack of scandals (that we know of) is a good thing, but to many, it is what made the shift in power in 2018 for Malaysians. You might think the results of the election is a given in the island state but to many, the fight has just begun and the stakes are just as high.

What I do agree on the comparison is to look at growth. During the run-up to GE14 (General Elections) in Malaysia, there was a different feeling around social media, the many rallies and even dinner conversations. But the run-up actually started from GE12, where Malaysians did something the incumbent government never thought possible, breaking the 2/3rd majority in Parliament. GE14 was the culmination of all those years chipping away the regime. And it finally fell on May the 9th in 2018, a decade later.

Photo by bari abikar on Unsplash

Malaysian politics isn’t pretty. Sex scandals (a common recurring theme), billion-dollar scandals and deep-rooted corruption plagued the country. Yet many good people continued the fight. And this is something Malaysians will keep doing, regardless of what or who the government is. If you ask me, compared to pre-2008 and now, there are many similar themes in the politics of Malaysia, but there is also growth. Growth in a credible opposition, now proven to be capable of governing too. And most importantly, growth in the people, understanding voting is sometimes for the greater good.

Singapore is a younger country than Malaysia but economically, they are light-years away. A highly disciplined (some say pliable) society and I find them to be very pragmatic in their way of life. They have not known any government other than the current ruling party but that doesn’t mean there is no differences in political opinions. Similar to Malaysia, there is also a different feeling in the coming elections, at least in social media (yes, I am aware of the social media bubble). I am particularly impressed by the trio of Jamus Lim, Fadli Fawzi and Raeesah Khan, among others. Their ideas and politics represent the youth. A more inclusive, progressive politics. The incumbent candidates look obsolete beside them.

I think Singaporeans know on the morning on July 11th, the government will not change but again, that is not the only measure of change. It is whether there is growth. The opposition must now build up their credibility, encourage participation from the public on national issues and continue to recruit talented, passionate Singaporeans into their fold. It is only by this slow process of building credibility and talent, that they will become a force to be reckoned with in future elections. And one of those future elections could be their “GE14”.

So while our politics are vastly different in circumstances, there are similarities too, because as mentioned, our countries are so closely intertwined. These are just some observation from a layman, I am not a political analyst or a political observer. I am just a resident trying to build my life in this little red dot.

I bid my Singaporean friends all the best in exercising their democratic right on July 10th, boring politics or otherwise. Remember, just keep chipping away.

#SingaporeElections #GE2020 #Singapore #SGElections



Yoong Khean

Medical doctor by training & an MBA graduate. Has since hung up my stethoscope & currently working in a global health research institute in Singapore.