I get super worked up when I hear people say "opposition candidates are not good". I also feel bad because as a journalist on the Straits Times political desk, I was part of the media machinery that helped perpetuate this image.
There always have been really good opposition candidates who dared to put themselves up for election - you just never heard about them because we were not allowed to report on good opposition candidates or highlight anything good about them. But news of silly minor things that made them look bad - those we played up. (Photos of them with eyes half closed, mouths open, looking sweaty etc were encouraged.)
There were, of course, a fair number of real nutjobs that emerged during elections. Those we played up. A lot. To build up the image that opposition is ridiculous and have no real candidates. If you still feel that way, it means you fell for the ploy.
My favourite opposition candidate was Dr Wong Wee Nam who has since passed away. I covered his candidacy in 1997. If you've never heard of him and still think "opposition" never had good people... well, that's thanks to mainstream media.
I tried my best to give Dr Wong and his team fair coverage. Once even managed to get a full page coverage for his party then - National Solidarity Party. It actually went to print... but boy was there hell to pay the next day. Editors had to scramble to explain to the "higher ups" why opposition candidates were given so much coverage.
Editors explained to us later on, in seemingly-logical language that "coverage of parties must be proportionate to the number of MPs they had in government". Meaning it is totally fair for opposition candidates to get little to no coverage.
I was so disheartened I asked for a transfer out of poldesk and they were more than happy to let me go. I tried. Many of us tried, constantly doing small things to challenge the "rules". Most of us have left ST.
That's why I am so happy that with social media, there's little room for censorship. Because someone else will have a record of what really happened and a platform to share it on.
So if you're still unsure about who to vote for in this election, the last thing you should trust is what the mainstream media is telling you. Vote for the party you think will ensure your views are respected and represented in parliament.