The Progress Singapore Party wants to lower Singapore's minimum voting age to 18.
This was proposed by one of its central executive committee members Michelle Lee, a former Singapore Democratic Party candidate, and echoed by its secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock, at the party's launch on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Young people should have a say
Said Lee, an educator and counsellor:
"We propose that voting age be lowered to 18 years old. Young people are the future of this country and should have a say in what they want their future to be.
By 18, young people today have very clear opinions and ideas on what they want to see in Singapore, how they want to get there and who they feel will be able to lead them in that direction."
Lee added that Singapore was lagging behind other countries on this issue:
"In this, we are already behind the times. Most countries around the world lowered their voting age to 18 in the 1970s.
Malaysia changed their voting age to 18 this year. This is the 21st century but Singapore politics is still stuck in the 20th century."
Duty and the right
In his own speech, Tan reiterated what Lee had proposed.
Tan said that since 18-year-olds in Singapore go through National Service and are duty-bound to defend the country, they should have the right to choose their own leaders.
"At 18, they are old enough to drive. The girls enter university and the boys enter National Service.
Since they have a duty to defend their country, these 18-year-olds should also have the right to elect their leaders."
Youths should be more involved in the democratic process
Tan said youths aged 18 are mature enough to take on the responsibilities of an active citizenry.
But he also explained why he wanted to take this step:
"We have heard it said that the young are apolitical and not interested. I have not found that to be very true. But of course, it will mean more to them if they are a part of our democratic process. So we must allow voting by the age of 18 years old."
Every CEC member gave a speech
All seven members of the PSP's CEC appeared before the audience and took turns to speak:
- Tan Cheng Bock, Secretary-General, former PAP MP and 2011 presidential candidate.
- Wang Swee Chuang, Chairman, Tan's former campaign chair for the 2011 Presidential Election.
- Abdul Rahman, CEC member, a fire and safety engineer.
- Hazel Poa Koon Koon, Asst. Treasurer, former NSP secretary-general.
- S. Nallakaruppan, Treasurer, chartered accountant and investment specialist.
- Michelle Lee Juen, CEC member, former SDP candidate, educator and counsellor, previously worked at Monetary Authority of Singapore.
- Lee Yung Hwee Anthony, Asst. Secretary-General, listd as a founder of the PSP, small business owner.
Each CEC member delivered a speech, with Abdul Rahman speaking in Malay, Poa in Mandarin, and S. Nallakaruppan in Tamil.
They touched on topics ranging from government accountability, foreign talent and local jobs, and the transparency of the country's reserves.
In addition to the voting age issue, the PSP members vowed to review the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a trade agreement between Singapore and India, and suggested that more in-depth training be done to help Singaporeans secure jobs.
Top photos by Andrew Koay