Love is more than loyalty.

An enamel pin of the Singapore flag

Dear Reader,

The elections are here, and campaign politics have begun:

Alfian’s loyalty to Singapore has become the proxy for an opposition leader’s. The evidence of their unSingaporeanness includes Alfian’s criticism of Lee Kuan Yew and specific government policies. Then, on Tuesday, the Prime Minister tells us “We need a capable Government, with the strong backing of the people, to […] see us through the tumultuous times”.

The logic is clear: criticism equals disloyalty, and disloyalty in times of crisis would destabilise the proper governance of our country. Thus, with undivided loyalty, we need to vote for the status quo and denounce its critics.

While this is effective as campaign logic, it is dangerous as citizen logic. And while undivided loyalty is a beautiful ideal, it is a political fiction. Within any political party, do we imagine there is absolute agreement?

The danger of ingesting this campaign logic is that it confuses love with loyalty, and muddies our role as citizens as well as our status as human beings. If we love our country, shouldn’t we point out its flaws, so that we may improve together? If our leaders respect us as fellow human beings, wouldn’t they listen to our honest opinions, especially when we don’t agree, so they can become more inclusive in their governance?

To the thinking and loving citizen in you, regardless of party loyalty, we ask: What are you concerned with? Is the current administration aware of your concerns? What do fellow Singaporeans think? Are there legitimate criticisms of the current administration and its policies that need to be addressed by the political candidates?

Beyond the ongoing pandemic, above the incoming personality and party politics, our authors and editors have identified urgent concerns. These include issues of governance—the role of civil society, transparency and accountability—specific topics such as identity and discrimination, inequality and poverty, as well as concerns specific to communities in Singapore who have been marginalised, including tenants of rental housing and migrant workers:

Read to gain knowledge, and gain solidarity in the sharing of knowledge;
Shared knowledge in the face of Power is empowering.
In this period of electoral activity, we assert that a critic can love, and that love is more than loyalty. And in this spirit of love, we look to a government who is open to co-authoring the Singapore Story with us:
And so I went around interviewing various Singaporeans, in the hope of getting a portrait of the Singaporean as a citizen voter. Some were very articulate, some less so; some were very certain of their convictions, some were still skirting around inchoate ideas. But the more I listened to the interviews, the more I realised that no matter the mode of expression, Singaporeans did care about being co-authors of the Singapore Story.”– Alfian Sa’at, Cooling Off Day

(From June 27, 2020)