Rallying hope

Taken by Domch.

I've been asked this week why I'm attending so many election rallies, particularly since I don't even get to vote in tomorrow's election. The glib answer I've given, as well as the rallying (no pun intended) cry in my attempts to dragoon friends to these events, is that this only happens once every five years and it all happens in this one week, really, so we'd better not miss the chance.

That's not entirely accurate, though. What it is, is that this is the first elections since 1988 when so many constituencies have been contested and such a striking proportion of the population gets to vote. It's the first election I remember when the dominant People's Action Party did not emerge on nomination day with an outright parliamentary majority (47 seats are being contested this time round, as compared to 28 in the last election in 2001). And it's the first election happening in a really thriving internet environment.

I suppose, having worked on the government and seeing how some things work on the inside, I'm also curious to see what the alternative might be and what their ideas are like. I already know what the People's Action Party's all about, so I don't need to go to their rallies. And seeing as the friendly neighbourhood mainstream media is continuing to avidly cover that party, I might as well take myself off to Opposition party rallies to hear from the horse's mouth direct. Yeah, I could have read the party websites, but I was also curious to see who were these people and voices behind the names.

Of course, election rallies are a good show too. A colleague said that people go for the theatre; another friend remarked that people like to go to feel angry. The political candidates do their best to rile up the crowd about their issue of choice, while simultaneously entertaining them and making them feel good about their vote --- and all without digital special effects or a multi-million dollar budget. While it is a spectacle in its own way, it's about as far as you can get from the pabulum of other "national" events like the National Day Parade.

Ultimately, perhaps it's the very fact that I don't have the opportunity to vote that drives me out to these rallies. Disempowered, disenfranchised myself, I want to see what other Singaporeans might be thinking and what parties I can't vote for are offering. I want, a little bit, to hope ---

--- But not too much, because I don't want to be disappointed again and because I know there are people, even among my friends, grumbling about the "hassle" of having to go down to their polling venues or who will vote without thinking about the social issues or political concerns at stake. (Needless to say, those friends don't understand why I want so badly the opportunity to vote.)

I went to four rallies this week and I'm glad I did. I've learned more, thought more, debated more. I know where I stand.

Tomorrow, we find out how this country measures up to that.


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At 5/06/2006 1:18 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have voted.

Now the wait begins...

At 5/06/2006 1:18 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that was in pentameter! :D

At 5/06/2006 1:24 am , Blogger Olorin said...

Just voted in East Coast GRC... not telling if it was the lighting or the hammer that struck (well not here anyway)... so Tym, if you were hypothetically given a choice to vote in any constituency of your choice in this election, where would you want to make your vote count?

At 5/06/2006 10:30 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish i could have voted.

I don't think i'll be eligible to vote from overseas the next time elections come around. apparently you have to have spent an aggregate of 2 years in the last 5 in Singapore to qualify - crappo maximus!

At 5/06/2006 1:57 pm , Blogger Tym said...

Olorin > I used to be in Aljunied-Kembangan GRC, and would've been happy to vote there --- for the Workers' Party :)

ejl > Maybe they've changed that requirement, now that they allow Singaporeans overseas to vote? Anyway, the more critical question is whether your constituency is contested in the first place ...


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