I’m sorry if I’m referencing Les Misérables again after my last post (I’ve been a fan for 19 years, pun intended :P), but a few nights ago, on the 19th January, I was part of a similar sea of unbridled passion, fervor and excitement as the French revolutionaries when I attended the Workers’ Party rally* for the Punggol East By-Election. (For those of you not familiar with Singapore politics, no, this is not a revolution. The backstory is that the ruling party had to fire their own Minister helming the seat in that political ward because of an extra-marital affair and had to call another election for people to choose their new MP.)
The echoes of the student revolution song “Do you hear the people sing” reverberated in my soul as I witnessed the immense gathering of the crowd despite the elements, the rain having poured non-stop for at least 15 hours, and even as the rally started, a light drizzle still prevaded. The field where the rally took place was muddy and soaked, and you must really want to be there to want to enter the field voluntarily – I would know, because my nice blue shoes were ruined entirely, and even the hem of my jeans got muddy.
The beating of the hearts the people there echoed the beating of the drums (I kid you not), and the blaring sounds of what I think were Vuvuzelas (I went a little late, and couldn’t get near the front where the sounds were coming from) can be heard whenever a member of the workers’ party was introduced, but the loudest cheers and applause were reserved for Mr Low Thia Khiang, the leader of the Workers’ Party.
“Thank you all for coming to the rally despite the rain. We should be ok, unless there’s a lightning risk” he started, making a salient reference to the ruling party, whose symbol is that of a lightning rod. Guffaws erupted across the field, mixed with cheers and racuous shouts of support.
There’s something about attending an opposition rally, especially one by the Workers’ Party. These people came without any free busing, nor free food (unlike those from the ruling party, whose supporters are often bused down, with promises and the lure of free meals), nor were they coerced in any way to be present. They just came, umbrella in hand (many sporting the trademark blue umbrella embossed with the WP logo), waving flags in support, roaring in unison and agreement in an uncoordinated fashion.
Perhaps, Singaporeans are not as apolitical and apathetic as we thought we were. And judging from the results of the General Election of 2011, the people are singing. And this is the music of a people who would no longer put up with what Singapore is turning into anymore.
* In the interest of full disclosure, I live in the Aljunied ward (which WP conquered in the 2011 General Elections, a historic first in the history of Singapore where 4 MPs of the ruling party were unseated simultaneously) and is a supporter of the Worker’s Party and the policies they embody.
Update: Feel the rush and the excitement in my next post – “The People Have Spoken” on the historic win for the Workers’ Party in the Punggol by Election!