Workers’ Party (WP) member Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim has recently expressed his high hopes for his fellow WP members, Jamus Lim and Nicole Seah, who won Parliamentary seats in Singapore’s 2020 General Elections.
Mr Shariff took to Facebook on Thursday (July 16) to tackle the issue of whether or not the pubic acclaim given to his fellow WP members, Mr Lim and Ms Seah, jeopardizes the objectivity with which Singaporeans evaluate the work of politicians.
So much has been said about Nicole Seah’s “star power” and Jamus Lim’s “warm the cockles of my heart”. One article even…
Over the course of the nation’s most recent GE, Mr Lim and Ms Seah made quite the impression among Singaporeans. Mr Shariff made reference to this in the opening statement of his Facebook post.
“So much has been said about Nicole Seah’s ‘star power’ and Jamus Lim’s ‘warm the cockles of my heart’,” he wrote. He then cited an article which he said “expressed concerns about elevating politicians to celebrity status, arguing that it will undermine objective assessment of candidates’ competence as a politician.”
Mr Shariff then tackled the issue of whether or not excessive praise for politicians obscures the sound judgment with which Singaporean politics should be assessed. “In a political landscape such as Singapore’s, many find it daunting to step forward as opposition candidates,” he wrote.
He then supposed that compared to other countries, being an opposition politician in Singapore entails a higher risk. “Hence, over many elections, voters are deprived of ‘quality’ opposition candidates – those whose views strike a chord with voters,” said Mr Shariff.
However, he argued that Mr Lim and Ms Seah’s highly acclaimed qualities “did not come out of thin air.” Making reference to Ms Seah’s first appearance in the nation’s political landscape in the 2011 GE, Mr Shariff said that she “showed that even someone as youthful as her is capable of articulating views that resonated with voters.”
“Had it been merely “star power” which is not accompanied by the attributes that define her as a politician, it couldn’t have been sustained over such a long period,” he wrote.
Mr Shariff then raised the question, “Can such adulation for politicians lead to their being spared scrutiny?” His answer was simple–“Perhaps, not in Singapore.” To back his argument, he raised the point of how Mr Lim’s stance on minimum wage has drawn significant attention.
“In other countries, you can have politicians with extreme views – such as racist and xenophobic ones – still being elected MPs and even President! Not in Singapore.” he said. “In my opinion, voters may be a little risk-averse but still rational.”
Though Mr Shariff along with other WP members lost the battle in East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) to a team from the nation’s ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), he expressed his high hopes for his fellow party members who managed to bag seats in Parliament.
“Hopefully, Nicole and Jamus will be beacons of light who will pave the way for even more talented candidates to step forward,” he said.