Youth in Singapore are generally “lost” when it comes to politics. There is no clear leadership. The PAP expects them to join YPAP or involve themselves in “constructive” contribution towards society. Very few would want to involve themselves with the Opposition directly. In the end, it seems that there is no way out.
Carlos Abdullah made a fantastic suggestion in his post, Singapore Youth Parliament. The idea is however, not new as the United Kingdom already has a Youth Parliament in place for about 11 years. But it could be a shot in the arm for youths in Singapore, who are clueless about politics, as Mr Abdullah correctly pointed out in the quote above.
Youths today, which is also my generation, are apathetic about the issues surrounding around or in Singapore. Mention an opposition MP’s name, and you will draw blank stares. Talk to them about the latest policy that the PAP has introduced, and they will lose interest.
I do not think it is an issue as to which party a youth is affiliated with, which is Mr Abdullah’s concern. We could follow the British system, where youths represent their region in Parliament. In Singapore’s context, a youth could represent his own housing estate that he or she is living in, for example: Tampines, Woodlands. If they are elected, they will be charged with representing the views of all the young people in their housing estates.
More importantly, the selection process for youths to stand for election in to the Youth Parliament should be open to every young people, from the age of 13 to the age of 35, as suggested by Mr Abdullah and which I concur. Elections can be held every 2 years, where young people from 13-35 years old are allowed to vote and stand for election.
The UK Parliament is open to EVERYONE. Which means young people who suffer from disabilities are also allowed to stand for and vote in elections. This is an example which Singapore should emulate. It would also be nice if a youth’s education background is not an important factor. Whether the youth is from a neighbourhood school or from an elite school, he or she should have a fair chance to have a shot in being in Parliament.
As a young person, I’m very excited about the prospect of having a Youth Parliament. But the current political system in Singapore must be changed first or this ideas will never see the light of day. As Callan Tham points out matter-of-factly, ‘..this would never become reality until the current political landscape is changed dramatically.’
I will end this post with the mother of all quotes by Mr Abdullah: ‘Politics is not only for old people’.
Below are videos of the UK Youth Parliament and a Member of Youth Parliament candidate.
(HT: The title of this post is one of the mottos of the UK Youth Parliament)