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Gen Y Speaks: As first-time voters, this is what we look out for this GE

Ahead of the General Election (GE) on July 10, some first-time voters share what they look out for in the political parties and candidates and what issues concern them, among other things.

From top left in clockwise direction: Mr Yeo, 26, a full-time artist; Mr Tiong, 22, an undergraduate; Ms Nazira, 24, a public servant; Mr Chong, 22, an undergraduate; Ms Tan, 24, an external auditor and Ms Elangovan, 22, an undergraduate.

From top left in clockwise direction: Mr Yeo, 26, a full-time artist; Mr Tiong, 22, an undergraduate; Ms Nazira, 24, a public servant; Mr Chong, 22, an undergraduate; Ms Tan, 24, an external auditor and Ms Elangovan, 22, an undergraduate.

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Ahead of the General Election (GE) on July 10, some first-time voters share what they look out for in the political parties and candidates and what issues concern them, among other things.


More short videos and don't forget youth at risk

Calista Tan Kim Lin, 24, external auditor living in Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC)

I don’t follow politics closely but as a first-time voter, I look out for a party that is compassionate, relatable and has the people’s best interests in mind.

For example, with many people losing their jobs due to the pandemic, I want to know the parties’ specific proposals on dealing with this unprecedented crisis moving forward.

I would also prefer a party that adds value to the country and society. For instance, some candidates talk about wanting to bring greater transparency in Parliament and on the issue of the countries’ reserves as well as wanting to tackle the rising cost of living in Singapore. 

I would like to know some concrete actions they would take to achieve those objectives if they were to win the election. One issue I feel strongly about is youth at risk. With over 7,000 divorces each year and families coming under pressure in the current crisis, the mental health of many children could be adversely affected.

I strongly believe in the importance of education in shaping a child’s mentality.

This issue does not seem to be talked about by the political parties, something which I hope would change.

In this election where political parties have to rely more on social media and digital platforms, I look forward to seeing more short informative introductory posts or videos so that first time voters such as myself can know them better.


Why I will look beyond promises and charisma

Nivani Elangovan, 22, first-year undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University living in Nee Soon GRC

I didn’t care about the General Election until a week ago.

I knew very little about actual policies and Members of Parliament, because it never seemed like the discussions in Parliament were affecting me, and I never had a say anyway. 

But now I do.

Being an undergraduate, this election determines who will be in power when I enter the workforce. I’m naturally concerned about the economy and availability of jobs.

But I cannot help but also be concerned about personal issues I hold dear to my heart.

I could easily vote based on party promises, speaker charisma or social media collaterals, but as a citizen I care more about the day to day. I care about my friends and my family.

The rumblings of Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have set off many discussions here about Chinese privilege and treatment of minorities. As an Indian, I can’t turn a blind eye to the role race plays in a multi-racial country like ours.

Many people close to me are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the topic of Section 377A — the law that criminalises sex between men — comes up very often.

We talk about how archaic we find the law, and how despite not being enforced, its very existence sets a tone for the LGBTQ community here.

These issues that I care the most about tend to be skirted around, and while politicians can have views like mine, I have yet to see this translate into tangible change.

Politicians of all stripes have a role to champion causes that people care about; support and reassuring words mean nothing when that is all they have to offer.

As a first-time voter, I understand the part I play in shaping the wellbeing of the people around me. I hope to vote for someone who understands this as well.


Show us you’re listening

Nazira Mohamed Rasol, 24, public servant living in Jurong GRC

Being a first-time voter can be very exciting for some. For me, I have mixed feelings about voting — how effective is my vote in changing our society?

To me, politics should be more than just achieving economic progress. It should also be about building a better society where we care more for one another and there is a lesser gap between the rich and the poor.

Naturally, we should look at what each candidate stands for. More importantly, we should recognise that every party consists of individuals with different beliefs but have a common goal.

There’s never a “correct” individual/group to vote for.

What we should look out for are not only sound policy proposals but also the inclusion of feedback from the ground.

To not hear nor understand the people’s voice is a foolish thing for any politician to do.

I’m somewhat between the Gen Z and the millennial generations. These two generations differ in how they express their values.

The younger generation is more vocal and passionate about their activism, and this can be a good thing in highlighting systemic issues. 

Recently, we've heard about the OkLetsGo saga, where misogynistic remarks were made on a local podcast. Many young women spoke up, and many young men are starting to speak up too. 

Following the killing of George Floyd in America, people here, especially the young, have also become more vocal about minority rights. 

Political parties must recognise that many among my generation aim to be advocates for something bigger — gender equality, minority rights, normalising a non-nuclear family structure. 

You need more than passing mere policies to get to us. In this time and age, social media is a useful tool for politics. Ultimately, it gets people to think and talk. 

Politics can be a very distant thing, so it is important to find a medium and a message that can resonate with the people. This will help any politician grasp the millennials’ initial attention and tell them: “Hey, I’m listening”.


Address difficult issues, and it’s not just about Covid-19

Yeo Tze Yang, 26, full-time artist living in East Coast GRC

In light of this upcoming election, many issues come to my mind. 

The “new normal”, a term we often use these days, will not be the result of only Covid-19, but also many other factors looming in the distance.

These include recovering from the pandemic, the plight of migrant workers in Singapore and a recession. Job insecurity and unemployment will be the primary concerns of many voters.

Both globally and here, we also see the rise of racism, ethnonationalism and rightwing politics, political instability, and to top it all, an environmental crisis.

These global issues, no matter how seemingly distant from our daily lives and immediate surroundings, will affect us ordinary people in one way or another in days to come. Business is far from usual, and we can no longer return back to that “old normal”.

As a young adult, my peers and I hope the many serious issues in this “new normal” will be addressed by candidates of the political parties.

This would be a test for both the ruling party and the opposition this GE, and I hope voters will not be distracted by other issues.

As a voter, I will be looking out for politicians who are not only in touch with the everyday concerns of the people, but who also will take a stance and offer possible solutions to the difficult issues ahead of Singaporeans and humanity as a whole. 


Look long term and show me your authentic self 

Jonathan Tiong Soon Yi, 22, fourth-year student at the National University of Singapore living in Macpherson Single Member Constituency (SMC)

I don’t want this election to be solely defined by Covid-19. The pandemic will pass and we won’t be in crisis mode forever. 

Parties need to avoid getting mired in short-term discussions about the immediate problems we’re facing and instead adopt a long-term view. 

They must show that they understand the everyday bread-and-butter issues that affect the man on the street, whether or not there’s a pandemic or recession going on, and have concrete ideas to address common and ever-present pain points like rising costs of living and worries about overcrowding in our tiny island home.

On an individual level, I’ll identify better with candidates who show me their human side. 

Straight-laced, cookie-cutter politicians are boring and no fun to root for. I want to vote for someone who’s a real person just like me. 

Candidates can use social media to connect with the public on a more personal level by exposing their authentic selves: Their likes, dislikes, hobbies, hopes, dreams, fears, and even insecurities. 


Be transparent and open to criticism 

Chris Chong Yong Jian, 22, second-year undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University living in Hong Kah North SMC 

I look out for humble, conscientious and trustworthy candidates who are truly genuine in helping Singaporeans and be their share of voice in parliament. I also want to be confident that they are capable of leading Singapore through difficult times such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and making critical decisions to protect Singaporeans’ wellbeing and livelihood.

As a young adult, some concerns I hope to be addressed by candidates are job opportunities after I graduate, taking care of ageing parents as well as costs of starting a family. 

I would also like to see candidates addressing issues such as climate change, LGBTQ rights and greater social support for the underprivileged.

One issue I personally feel stronger about is greater support in education for children from needy families. 

Political parties should also encourage healthy competition between one another, be transparent, open to criticism and not abuse their privilege for personal gains. Mistakes made should be admitted and addressed publicly.

I think parties can better engage millennials by having a greater online presence. 

As much of our lives are infused with social media, it is a great platform to showcase the personality of their candidates and interact with Singaporeans. It is also a good way for candidates to share their opinion on current issues and the changes they hope to make.

For example, they can be more responsive to comments on their social media posts and share more about their personal lives to appear more friendly and approachable. 

They should also have the initiative to maintain their social media profiles frequently, not solely during the election period, so that voters can keep abreast of their work in the community.

Related topics

GE2020 SGVotes2020 General Election Singapore General Election first-time voters

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