The flags and banners are out. The political tensions have increased. The announcements of new candidates have occupied many pages of the paper these two weeks. The news of who will be fielded where are being released every day.

The General Elections are here. They are round the corner. And they are soon becoming one of the most hotly contested dinner conversations in our recent years. In fact, that’s the only topic that my family and my friends have been talking about in the past few weeks. Everything that the gahmen is doing now is being perceived as an election tactic or gimmick or carrot or stick.

But I hope that GE will not be the only topic of concern for the 50th National Day Rally for Singapore.

Traditionally, NDRs are platforms in which the Prime Minister will give an account of what has been done in the past year and the key policies that are to be implemented in the coming year. Just like the Budget, many have begun to see policies and announcements coming out of NDR as “goodies” to keep Singaporeans appeased, satisfied and placated. Every NDR, we look ahead to see how Singapore will be in the next couple of years. We dream ahead and make sure that the policies executed can help to achieve the dream. My guess is that everything that the gahmen announces this year at NDR will be perceived as a GE tactic to win votes.

Whatever it is, I hope that this year’s NDR will not just be one where good things are shared and “goodies” announced. Dreaming if good because it gives us hope and inspires us to continue working towards our goals.

But over-dreaming isn’t the way to go if we neglect to understand our environment as well as foresee the challenges and threats that we will face in the next year, next 10 years or even next 50 years. Without a critical take of our challenges and threats, Singapore will not be able to defend the work that has been done in the past 50 years or the work that will be done in the next 50 to achieve our dreams. Forward-thinking, a governing principle that the Singapore government is known for, must go beyond dreaming for our lala land to actively ensuring that our dreams and journeys to achieve them will not be broken.

I should think that the government does a lot of research and write a lot of papers on this (that’s where are our tax payer monies are going right, to scholars from Oxbridge and Harvard who are able to predict our future hehe). But the government needs to go one step further in its efforts to include Singaporeans in nation building – by sharing these possible threats and challenges with Singaporeans so that we are aware of the stakes involved in policy-making.

I will like to hear more about the challenges that PM foresees that Singapore will face in the next 50 years. Honest, brutal truth that will help us to get a sense of the reality that Singapore is in and will be in, in terms of our economy, security, community and nationhood. It will be interesting also, to hear about global challenges and threats that may arise in the future and how they may potentially affect Singapore.

Perhaps the “goodies” will make more sense then, rather than be perceived as “election corrects”. The policies announced can then be understood as measures to protect our common future and safeguard our dreams. These policies and programmes need to be implemented not so that people will be happy and vote for the incumbent but because they are absolutely necessary for our nation in light of the upcoming global changes.

I think Singaporeans are at a place where we can understand more and critically decide whether a policy/programme is indeed necessary or not. I hope the government trusts us more (just like they want us to trust them more), to know that most Singaporeans are sound-minded, logical and ready to be part of the nation building journey.