In his victory speech (please remind me who, was it Wong Kan Seng or Vivian Balakrishnan?), a minister said that the past nine days have been divisive for many Singaporeans. His remark cannot be more apt to describe what I had been feeling. (Incidentally, I was also impressed with the speeches given by Sitoh of Potong Pasir and George Yeo.)
As a PAP supporter, I was one of the minority in my circle of friends and relatives. I felt so left out that I started viewing the opposition supporters as the ‘other side’, unreasonable, unappreciative, and overly emotional. Anyone whom I happened to meet, I would first do a pre-analysis as to which party the person may belong to. Prone to complain about minor things? Opposition supporter. Rational and calm – PAP. Easily swayed by gossips – opposition. I was of course proven wrong on many instances. A friend who tends often to gripe about everyday life turned out to be a PAP supporter. A cousin whom I thought was easily swayed was firm in his stand that he would not support just any opposition despite being persuaded otherwise repeatedly by his parents.
A invisible gulf developed between me and my Aunts, Grandma or friends who insisted on supporting the opposition. I couldn’t understand their irritation with Ting Pei Ling, who was to me a perfectly normal young lady not unlike many of my cousins her age. Perhaps if I was in the opposition camp, I might not have felt the same way. But neither did I find any fault with Nicole Seah despite the fact that she was from NSP. Conversely, I bonded warmly to my fellow PAP supporters. Thank goodness Mike was in the same camp. He had fun reminding me that I was once in the opposite camp from him. The walk-over in the last two elections sort of dampened any ill feelings then.
Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ To their credit, the opposition did precisely that. I must also acknowledge them for inciting the passion that I and many otherwise indifferent Singaporeans had felt for the GE2011. Thanks to them, every Singaporean, except those in Tg Pagar, got a chance to participate in the voting process. Thanks also to them, my kids took an interest in Singapore politics and politics around the world (and Ivan’s GP teacher deserves a special mention for playing a part in his enthusiasm in the GE.) It was a good election. I had been concern that there might be a freak result (87-0 or PAP can’t form a Gov) but the results satisfied the majority despite us losing our foreign minister.
In the early eighties, I saw an episode of The Cosby Show in which the then First Lady, Mrs Nancy Reagan made a special appearance in a classroom. One smart-alek girl went up to introduce herself and ended saying to Mrs Reagan proudly, ‘…and I am a Republican’ to much laughter. I remember thinking, there was no Republican or Democrat Party in Singapore. In fact, there was only the PAP that I know of. Three decades or more later, the scene has now changed. We are urged by the politicians to now put aside any difference and unite as Singaporeans.
After all the excitements on the media from the GE Rallies, Royal Wedding, Osama’s death and the elections, life is starting to feel a bit boring from tomorrow onwards.