updated 13 Jun 2011, 14:52
user id password
Tue, May 10, 2011
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
My son teaches me how to vote
by Clara Chow

IT'S not easy explaining politics to a kid.

This, I found out, during the recently concluded General Election season, which marked my five-year-old son's political awakening.

"Mummy, why are there so many signs around our block with the same picture that is on my school uniform?" Julian asked me one day, pointing to the lightning bolt on his PE T-shirt.

Trying to think of a simple way to explain the electoral system, I said: "There's going to be a big competition, in which everyone in Singapore is going to help choose a winner."

I added: "The people competing are from groups called political parties."

Julian then asked, referring to a story from the Thomas the Tank Engine series: "Is it like the competition that Gordon joined, on who was the best dressed?"

I replied: "Um... yes, sort of. And the contestants are like Gordon, Percy and all the other engines in Tidmouth Sheds."

Over a long dinner, the Supportive Spouse and I explained to Julian how political parties worked.

In Politics 101 for kids, we introduced him to "the Government", which was made up of "people we chose to take care of Singapore, making sure we have homes to live in, jobs and workers to keep the roads clean and tidy".

Putting things so simply tested my understanding of the system. But it also demonstrated that the principle of it was logically sound, so that even a kid could grasp it.

We told Julian that Singaporeans were going to choose people for the government, from a pool of people who wanted to represent various parts of Singapore in the competition.

And we told him that the Government, since independence, has been made up of People's Action Party members, and they have set up towns, hospitals and schools - such as the kindergarten he attends.

We told him about opposition parties, and how they wanted to be voted into Parliament, so as to provide a different way of doing things.

Different parties believe in different things, we said, and have different things they want to do for the country. The boy wanted to know more. And more. Rather than give him black-and-white answers, we felt it was important to explain things so that he could make up his own mind.

We told him about how political parties would try to get voters to choose them, by promising them things. And the key was in deciding for yourself if the promises are what you want, and if the promising party is capable of delivering on them.

"If two people ask you to vote for them as your parents, and promise that they'll buy toys for you and not scold you, would you choose them?" I finally asked my son.

Julian shook his head: "No. I want you and Papa to be my parents. Because I love you."

And, just like that, my son summed up for me what it means to be a voter: to use your head, as well as your heart.

For more my paper stories click here.

readers' comments
DAFT parents...DAFT kids teaching DAFT parents!!!!!
Posted by hehehehahaha on Thu, 12 May 2011 at 10:18 AM
Why were there 44,737 votes disqualified?????
Opposition should demand for a recount and double check and clarify what constitute a disqualification?????
Posted by hehehehahaha on Thu, 12 May 2011 at 10:15 AM
i believe this is what we call emotional blackmail ..... do check it out, its a pity we got so many such brainless mothers ... no need to say what the child turns out to be. Just use the aged old emotional game.
Posted by mcheong1 on Wed, 11 May 2011 at 22:55 PM
if the father and mother earns high income, leaves the son with the nanny and goes on many holiday trips without the son, the son will vote for the nanny!
Posted by tommyng7 on Tue, 10 May 2011 at 23:35 PM
It is not meant to be difficult. There is a lot we can learn from children. DO NOT belittle them. As adults we often make things look & sound more complicated than it really is. I am just glad that we have a government that delivers & Spore is the envy of many other countries.sometimes we live in the midst of prosperity & do not recognise it. I am grateful for the peace & security that we enjoy in Spore & am efficient system that works.
Posted by asiapact on Tue, 10 May 2011 at 22:31 PM
I think the government thinks we are all have roughly 5-7 year old thinking, so that's about right.
Posted by OnTheWatch on Tue, 10 May 2011 at 22:18 PM
5 years old only ... very easy to 'tackle'. Try doing this to a 7 years old, you have to be more creative (than Thomas) and be ready to have questions thrown back at you. 'If only its that simple ...
Posted by mystrawberry on Tue, 10 May 2011 at 11:31 AM

Copyright © 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.