As long as I have been old enough to vote, I have never had the opportunity to vote, as nobody contested the ruling political party- The People’s Action Party- in the constituencies I lived in. There has been a general apathy and sense of powerlessness where politics is concerned in Singapore, and little political debate. I did not mind too much in the past though as I never thought that I could make a difference in the way that my country was run. I felt very much like my vote or opinion did not matter.
This is changing for me as I build a sense of sovereignty over my life and shape my personal life into one of freedom, meaning and purpose. As I feel more empowered in my life, I feel that I can make a difference in the community and world in which I live. So I have become more involved in social causes and want to make my voice heard.
I signed a petition in 2008, saying I would boycott the Marine Life aquarium at Sentosa if they imported Whale sharks. A year later in 2009, Sentosa announced that they had decided against importing the sharks. It was the first time that I realised I could make a difference by supporting a petition. I was thrilled.
Encouraged by this, I started signing petitions sent out by Avaaz*- An orgaisation that increases awareness of and raises funds for various current and on-going sociopolitical issues from corruption to climate change. Their members currently number over 8 million and are growing at a rate of 100, 000 a week. This month in India, 650,000 people joined their campaign for a powerful new anti-corruption bill, and won.
I recently signed a petition that was submitted to the President of Singapore to pardon a Malaysian man, Chun Yin, on death row in Singapore, charged with trafficking drugs, though when he was arrested he had no drugs on him.**
I used to be intimidated by the seeming absolute authority of the People’s Action Party in Singapore and the political persecution of any voice that dared to question them. But I now realise that you can’t persecute a whole society, or even thousands of people. As we are now witnessing in the Middle East, when the consensus for a need for change from a population reaches critical mass, it takes on a force of it’s own and change then becomes unstoppable.
We are part of an interconnected whole that exists as the entity of the human race and on a larger scale, as creation. Being a part of the whole we influence it by the mere fact of our existence; and on an energetic quantum level, who we are and the choices we make everyday, contribute to the whole of humanity, past, present and future.
We may not feel like we can make a difference because we feel distant and far removed from social issues but we can and we do by the very lives that we lead. Our votes and the social causes we support, or not, contribute to the fabric of the society we live in.
Only you can decide how much you want to be involved, but choose to be involved; choose to be a part of the creation of your life, your community and your country. No one knows more about your needs or will better represent your rights, than you. If you do not declare sovereignty over your life and contribute to your community, you create the condition for somebody else to. Obama said it well when he said ‘We are the people we have been waiting for.’
‘First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.’
Pastor Martin Niemoller
* Find out more about Avaaz at http://www.avaaz.org/en/index.php
** Watch a video interview of Chun Yin’s sister at http://vodpod.com/watch/6359228-justice-for-chun-yin
UPDATE: ‘Following the amendments to the mandatory death penalty that came into force in 2013, Cheong Chun Yin eventually received a Certificate of Cooperation and was re-sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.’ http://secondchances.asia/current-cases/257-2/