Singaporeans vote for their government today

Today is polling day for the General Election in Singapore. Citizens vote today for the Members of Parliament who will manage their constituencies and estates, and represent them in Parliament.

The political party with the majority will also form the government for the next five or so years until the next election.

Polling stations across the island nation opened at 8 am local time to voters selecting their representatives in Parliament. The polling stations will remain open for voting until 8 pm tonight.

The neighbourhood school across the road from where I live has been designated as the polling station where residents around my neighbourhood will cast our votes.

As I walked towards the school with the Poll Card in my hands, I couldn’t help but muse that I was holding in my hands about the only tangible manifestation of what being a Singaporean Citizen entails – the right to vote.

Gripped in my hands was my voice. With it, I get to say who I want to represent me in the government. The most wonderful thing about it all is that everybody – whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re from the establishment or whether you’re disenfranchised – gets exactly one vote. Nobody’s voice is louder than that of another.

The slogan “One man, one vote” has never sunk in so vividly until you walk with this IC-sized slip of paper towards a ballot box, especially since in this election, it can really make a difference as to who gets elected.

A poll card to exchange for a voting slip at the polling station

A poll card to exchange for a voting slip at the polling station

For this election, 2,350,873 citizens will decide who the 87 MPs representing 27 constituencies are. 12 of the constituencies are SMCs (Single Member Constituency) while 15 are GRCs (Group Representation Constituency where the constituency is represented by a team of candidates rather than a single person).
Unlike past elections, where many constituencies are unchallenged by opposition parties and enjoy walkovers even before the polling day, in this election – only one constituency has enjoyed a win without a fight.

The 5-member team headed by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in Tanjong Pagar GRC was returned into office on Nomination Day when their would-be opponents from the opposition failed to submit their paperwork in time. They were deemed to be 35 seconds late and the 139,771 electors in the constituency – some 6 percent of the overall electorate – will not have the chance to vote in this election.

Nevertheless, there are still 82 parliamentary seats up for grabs and the hustings this election has proven to be more intense than ever before, with the opposition presenting many credible and eminently qualified candidates who were able to enunciate why the voters should support them and what they can do for the nation.

Unsettling for the incumbent party, the voting public – at least based on any casual browsing of social websites on the Internet and overwhelming attendance at opposition rallies – seemed to resonate with opposition candidates.

How did I vote this morning? I voted – wisely.

Polling day for General Election 2011

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