3.5.06

Another night, another rally

I was gonna go to the Workers' Party rally at Tampines tonight, but a twist of fate --- namely, the influence of friends --- brought me to the Singapore Democratic Alliance one at Aljunied/Geylang East instead.

We got there around 9 pm and the first thing I noticed, honestly, was that the ground was a lot more potholed and therefore hazardous to one's feet and ankles than the previous field I was at. It's kinda hard not to notice this, seeing as every other step seemed to take my slippered feet into a pothole. In Singapore's much vaunted clean-and-green environment, I am shocked! shocked and outraged! to find that a field of such poor quality is still allowed to persist. (I'm not sure if I should be pointing fingers at the local Aljunied Town Council or the Ministry for Environment and Water Resources, but I know the Singapore Democratic Alliance can't have been responsible for it.)

The rally itself was smaller and quieter than my previous experience. The crowd numbered somewhere between 1,000-2,000 (again, these are my feeble layman's estimates) and the party's own cheering squad seemed less spirited, though the emcee's rousing introductions of each speaker and the coordinated whistle-blowing helped to keep things going.

In other respects, it was similar to Sunday's experience: Police/ISD tent set up to videotape and photograph the proceedings (check). Crowd made up of mostly older Chinese men (check). Overwhelming applause when the party leader --- in this case, Chiam See Tong --- arrived at the rally (check).


Originally taken and uploaded by elsija
(at a different occasion, but it's way nicer than anything my cameraphone could muster tonight)

The issues they talked about (excluding the speeches in Hokkien and Teochew which I couldn't follow, and I might've missed some of the stuff in Mandarin too because I didn't have an all-powerful translator like BoKo with me tonight), and my initial reactions, if any:
  • The introduction of a minimum wage to protect older workers' jobs.
  • Preventing transport fee or GST increases after the general election --- Hear, hear!
  • Lift upgrading programmes --- Alas, the details of this eluded me because they were delivered in Mandarin.
  • Introducing a new public holiday to celebrate Singapore's multiracial and multicultural identity --- Okay, now there are plenty of important issues that people should be concerned about, for this election and at any given time of the year in this country, but seriously, introducing a new public holiday is not one of them. Singapore's multiracial and multicultural identity is not being threatened, by any means --- I feel a wave of nausea at even having to type those overused "multi-" words right now --- and if anything, what this country needs is to get beyond the superficialities of having Racial Harmony Day (already celebrated in schools) and four official languages, to deal with interracial issues with more genuine honesty, so that stupid shit like this isn't par for the course in our delightfully racially integrated housing estates. *exhale*
  • Explaining why SDA election posters for Sin Kek Tong in MacPherson GRC had to be removed --- Apparently, they violated the Elections Department's regulations by a small measurement. Note to all aspiring Opposition candidates and supporters out there: Always always always read the fine print on any forms you fill, any regulations you swear to abide by, because this Elections Department will hold you to the very last letter of the law. If you haven't already hired the most anal retentive person you know as your campaign manager (or whatever the local equivalent is), now is the time to start training one for the next general election.
  • Sin Kek Tong explaining how he was misquoted in the Straits Times, conveying the false impression that he had failed his 'O' Level examinations four times.
  • The elimination of the streaming examination in primary school.
  • Chiam's ability to pick good political candidates --- He pointed out that the PAP too had picked candidates like Teh Cheang Wan (our local Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau has some handy background information on his case here) and a few other names that I couldn't catch.
  • The question of what happens to all the interest accrued on the deposits for public utilities accounts that every household is required to pay upfront and doesn't see again till the account is terminated --- I think we paid $70 almost seven years ago, which adds up to a whole lotta spare change even in that time. A worthy question, even if the answer turns out to be relatively banal.
  • Having Progress Package payouts every year, not just right before a general election --- Hear, hear! (Incidentally, those of us who dutifully signed up for our payouts in the first round got the cold, hard cash in our designated bank accounts on 1 May, a neat 5 days before the general election.)
Earth-shattering? No. Occasionally banal? Yes. But they've said what they believed in, and I still can't believe Chiam is 71 this year.

My newly acquired survival tips for future rallies:
  • Wear covered footwear, even in dry weather.
  • Budget an hour to leave the rally area because all the car parks will be jammed with cars trying to get out, there won't be enough taxis for everyone and even the footpaths to the nearest bus stop or MRT station will be somewhat clogged.
  • Don't wear black because it attracts mosquitoes (though I fared alright tonight).
  • Wear pants because --- and this might be psychosomatic, but --- exposed legs get grass itch.
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