Elections in India. Really?

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By Lee Jingwei and Trinity Chua

Most Singaporeans don’t know what is happening in India. And could care less.

The Independent Singapore polled 100 Singaporeans to find out how much they knew of regional affairs, and the results were not very encouraging. They were asked to name two Asian countries where elections were being held. Only three answered correctly, that nationwide elections were held in Indonesia last week and are still being held in India.

The 100 — ranging from 15-year-olds to senior citizens — were polled in Clementi, Jurong East, Orchard, Dhoby Ghaut and Toa Payoh; 25 said they did not know of any election that took place in Asia at all last week; 22 participants said an election was held in Thailand last week and seven others said there was an election in Malaysia; one each said North Korea, Crimea and the Philippines.

Only eight said they knew about the Indian general election that began on April 7. The rest remained unaware that an election actually took place in India, let alone the paramilitary police officers that were killed by a poll boycott during the Indian election this week.

Indonesia fared much better: 47 said they knew elections took place in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, a quick count from Wednesday’s voting shows the two-term Democratic Party managed to get only less than 10 per cent of the votes, and has been thoroughly defeated. The India general election will end on 16 May.

Among the participants, Yue, 15, a secondary school student in Clementi, said: “I know they show the elections on television, but I do not watch them. I am more interested in cartoons, and documentaries like those on National Geographic.”

Mr Tan, 55, who sells mobile phones and phone cards, said: “To be honest, I read the newspaper every day, but I am not interested in the elections. I read about MH370 though.”

Zainol Abidin, 29, who is unemployed, said: “I only follow the Indonesian elections roughly because my cousins live there and they ask me who they should vote for. They are still young, in their early twenties, so they don’t really know who to vote for. I just tell them to vote for whoever is the best for the job.”