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SG Elections (3) – Election Rallies

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Writing a quick one, while almost all election rallies videos were uploaded to youtube, I believe in listening to them on ground. This way, you can tell more about the people’s voting intention. I attended four election rallies:

SDP (Singapore Democratic Party)

A spontaneously random decision as the rally was close to my place. My first rally in Singapore. Was able to catch the four candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. Turnout was about 3k (though online blogsite theonlinecitizen said more than 5k?). Core supporter group was about 500 to 800, others seem to be spectator. Honestly I can’t remember the rally well. The female candidate Michelle Li was good, or at least her voice was loud enough. The PA system wasn’t good apparently. The other 2 candidates, Tan Joo Say and Dr Vincent Wijeysingha weren’t loud enough, though they have been more focus on policies, which didn’t seem to click with people. That’s the dilemma, when you focus on talking about the laundry list of problems underlying the country, people are very responsive, but others complain that “you don’t give solution! just shooting is of no use lah”; When you talk about hard numbers and policies in great details, not so much attention and interest from people. Remember this is a public rally, which by Singapore’s rules and regulation, can only be held from 7 to 10pm, you gotta do something to make the voters think of you more favourably. Delicate balance is needed indeed.

Anyway, Dr Vincent is very well-liked by people, apparently more than one people said he’s Obama-esque, I’ll leave you to decide on that in youtube! Smile  The last candidate, can’t remember much except his way of speaking was just loud and keep swaying into hokkien, not a problem for me to understand, but it was interesting. Election issue was mainly immigration, “I’m not anti-manufacturing”, economy, income gap, CPF (pension) among others. Oh Dr Vincent is openly gay, and his PAP rival Vivian said Vincent is pursuing gay agenda, and Dr Vincent fired back. Interesting drama, but anyway, it’s amazing how well-received a gay politician was. Smile

NSP (National Solidarity Party)

Was held in Pioneer SMC. The party fielded a young 24 years old leng lui called Nicole Seah, who apparently is the “star candidate” of the otherwise old-man-ish party in another constituency. She didn’t speak during the rally, such disappointment Smile with tongue out The candidate for Pioneer spoke most part during my “stay”. He touched on constituency issue as well as national ones. And he attempted to speak Malay, which was EPIC FAIL! Or shall I not criticise the goodwill of the candidate trying to speak in Malay but failed? Smile with tongue out Turnout was about 5k.

Some interesting issues which were then repeatedly heard in other rallies as well as in the internet:

(1) YOUR VOTE is SECRET. Tell everyone and especially the older generation! Yep, indeed, a lot of people still think the-power-that-be knows who you’re voting for. But interestingly, when I ask, “so who you’re voting for”, they in return said, “Eh cannot tell, voting is secret!”… Voters education, man…

(2) PAP government is too GDP-oriented. Every policy was crafted to score high GDP, but high GDP alone can’t offer prosperity to people lah.

(3) That PAP MPs are seldom seen. Candidates promised to meet their constituents 4 times a week if they were elected. Also to turn themselves into full-time MP, donate 30% salary as a social assistance fund among others. 4 times a week, I wonder if they would regret if they were voted in. MP is after all policymakers, not public complain bureau worker. You are expected to read the bills, prepare your debate speeches among others…
Anyway, it’s important that the speaker not raising too much issues, a long laundry list of issues resulted in loss of interests…

WP (Workers Party)

By far the opposition party with strongest organization, both rallies that I went, one in Kallang and one in Aljunied (the grand finale!) were attended by at least 15k to 30k of people. I wrote this in one of the comment to a blawg post:

While the rally was held in Kallang Moulmein GRC, The Workers Party (WP) continues to stake its hope in capturing, for the first time in Singapore history, a GRC, that is Aljunied GRC, which is the reason why the last hour of this rally featured three WP candidates for Aljunied, Chen Show Mao, Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Kiang. (Note: Singapore has very good public transport, people travel from all parts of Singapore to participate WP’s rally!)

Chen is Stanford Law School, Harvard and Oxford graduate, and practised in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing but decided to return to Singapore, running for the office. Sylvia Lim is the party’s chairperson and led her party’s team in garnering 44% votes in Aljunied GRC during 2006 general election. This time, the team is led by party sec-gen and the four-term MP Low Thia Kiang with another two decent candidates Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal Manap.

Aljunied GRC is the match to watch at the night of 7th May. 7% swing away from PAP is all it needs to see the first opposition GRC in Singapore. I’m definitely with Tricia in hoping an opposition gain, just like I wish to see the fall of BN in the near future 🙂

I wasn’t impressed with Chen’s speeches, though he’s supposedly the “star candidate”. Long winded at times, long pause in between, which is perfectly fine for a statesperson-ish speech, but for campaigning? Maybe not. My thoughts drifted away when Pritam Singh, another supposedly good speaker, was speaking. So I probably can’t tell if he was doing a good job Smile with tongue out  See, that’s the problem with not having sense of attachment to the rallies, because, well I’m not Singaporean Smile with tongue out

I may have overestimated the immigration issue being the big one, when it comes to Workers Party. WP’s slogan is “towards the first world parliament”, which obviously seeks bigger parliamentary accountability and opposition’s involvement in debate. “The PAP needs some hammers (the party’s logo) to knock on them so they won’t sleep!”, so said Sylvia Lim the party chairwoman. The party’s paper mentioned her as “Party Chairman”, once again, why can’t you call her Chairperson, or Chairwoman instead leh? She also mentioned that the government department has clearly stated that it will not reply to any query or request to an NCMP on behalf of the residents. Hence, vote for Workers Party (and then the people chant and chant and chant, Workers Party * 10, or make it 20), so they can press the government department more! Good way to response to the PAP’s trick, i.e. vote PAP to get development, and you have opposition in parliament (as NCMP) too!

Apart from parliament issues, economy, money matters, immigration and ministerial pay are again some of the major issues raised. Another interesting one, is surprise, surprise, town council! Elected MP is automatically the member of the constituency’s town council, which oversees the housing areas. WP has been fighting an argument that public house in opposition ward would be less valuable as the housing in PAP ward. But I couldn’t read the ground well on this town council issue, people didn’t seem interested…

One problem with bi-lingual speech: Shall the speaker repeat the same content in another language when you addressing the crowd in two languages? I felt bored listening same thing twice in different languages…

 

While the speakers may attack their rivals based on what they said, I don’t think I could recall any “personal attack” during the speeches. Kind of different from Malaysia where some commented about, say the new wife of a certain politician yadda yadda… Gotto give the Singaporean politicians a thumb up on this Smile  Police were doing good job in managing the crowd and the traffic, from the MRT station all the way to the rally venue. In general the opposition parties activist/grassroots presence is weak. Which makes me wonder, if a person in, say 30k of the audience doesn’t feel well, or fainted, what’s provided to help him/her? Also it would be great for the candidates to squeeze him/herself into the crowd trying to shake people’s hands and mingle abit, instead of sitting on stage looking bored, no?

Oh, and is the big screen not allowed? I mean, you want to be able to look at the speaker’s body language right?

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