RONALD LEE: When Singaporeans band together in a common chorus of “nabeh lah” and other curses, we can effect change. Just look at how the power of our collective voice over internet and kopitiams has compelled the government to withdraw free parking privileges for MPs.
Some background – MPs were paying S$365 a year to for anytime parking at all HDB carparks across Singapore (including season parking lots) and at Parliament House (located just next to Boat Quay). But, a huge hue and cry was raised after this parking privilege was made public and as of 1 December this year, MPs now have to pay S$250 a year to park at Parliament House and hourly parking charges when they park at any HDB carpark.
The same thing goes for Social Enterprise Hawker Centres – the worst thing to ever hit Singapore’s hawker scene. As soon as local makan guru KF Seetoh went to bao toh (expose) the unfair and arguably downright despicable practices of SEHC operators, Singaporeans banded together and, as Singaporeans do, complain. The government is now reviewing the operation of SEHCs, which will hopefully see hawkers getting their fair dues and Singaporeans not having to cough up more money to feed the fat cats who are supposed to manage these hawker centres in a “socially responsible” (aka not-for-profit) manner.
Singaporeans have shown that, when we want to, we can make our voices heard loud and clear. When there is an injustice, or when our fellow Singaporeans are stuck in a rut, we have time and again harnessed the power of complaints to effect change. The thing is, can we be a bit more proactive and not let things sink to such a level from the start?
There are some things which, once set in stone by the government, will not be changed come hell or high water. Like death and ever-increasing taxes. Water price hikes, S&CC hikes, electricity fee hikes, and the coming GST hike, carbon tax and e-commerce tax – all this over and above the increase in salaries of average Singaporeans.
The next General Election looks very much just around the corner – it’s very likely coming in 2019. It’s time for the everyday Singaporeans to put his or her vote where their mouths by sending more opposition members into parliament to act as a check on the government. You know, so they don’t ownself check ownself. Let’s not forget that conscientious objectors raised the issues mentioned above so that change for the better may come. If the ruling party is once again given a free rein (and reign) to do as it pleases to our detriment, then in the words of Kenneth Jeyaretnam, we will once again get the government we deserve.