defragment.me

Post-election thoughts & notes

So I am exhausted.

I actually wrote this more than a week ago but decided to let it 'cool' for a while before publishing it.

As someone who tires easily even from shopping mall crowds, attending a rally at Serangoon Stadium and the supporters' gathering at Hougang Stadium really knocked half of my life out of my already weak body. I kept telling myself, that this only happens once in five years.

In the end, it was all worth it. It was priceless to be part of the group of people – all 72k+ of us – united in a common purpose. Part of the victory speech delivered by the new Hougang MP, Yaw Shin Leong, said that the Hougang people knew that their vote held nationalistic importance. This to me, held a lot of power, but I am personally unsure if they truly voted because they understood the weight of their vote or if it was out of plain loyalty or anger.

But at the fundamental root of politics, isn't it very personal? Ultimately perhaps one may not understand the true power of the vote, perhaps that resident simply loves Mr Low Thia Khiang – to me, that is enough. You want a leader you can respect, that applies to every level of our lives. You want to respect your parents, your colleagues, your bosses. Not fear.

I understand the concept of duality, that sometimes it is necessary to have unfortunate events for human beings to display their true potential. If the incumbent didn't upset so many people in different ways, would we be initiated into thinking deeper?

Nobody can say that you're not interested in politics. That it doesn't affect you. Are you an animal lover? Then perhaps you should think about the state of animal welfare in Singapore. Are you in the Arts? Then, think about the media censorship policies and distribution of grants. Who are the leaders of these organisations? How are policies being formed? Are they formed by people who truly care about their respective areas?

I hope for the future of Singapore, we can set aside some time out of our busy schedules to ask more questions.

A few significant points I want to note:

  • Still wondering about the geographical significance of Aljunied GRC, previously in different incarnations of Cheng San GRC & Eunos GRC. This area has been hotly contested wards for the past few elections. I am curious to know if there is any reasoning to the high concentration of pro-opposition voters here.
  • Tensions and emotions running high on social media accounts. I am sure I am not the only one who ran into disagreements with friends because of differing political views. I think personally, I am fine going into debates with pro-incumbent people, as long as they are aware of what they're supporting. For example, if you're personally fine with the incumbent despite their oppressive nature (i.e. locking people up without trial and suing independent news agencies, controlling the state media, refusing to give clear statements of accounts to ex-Presidents, etc), then perhaps you just have a different set of values in the sense that you may favour stability over other things. Which is fine to me. I just find it difficult to stomach people supporting the incumbent literally blindly. Oh well.
  • The "Facebook is not for political discussion" people. So a couple of my friends got very annoyed with the FB streams getting filled up with GE updates (not only from me). I don't know what to say (lol). If our social media accounts are not for self-expression, I don't know what is. Hmm. I guess their annoyance are is their own form of self expression. I just don't understand why we can be tolerant of American Idol, pictures-of-the-branded-goods-I-have-bought, but it is not okay to post political updates.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, I am glad to have people telling me they look forward to reading what I had to share. I am grateful.
  • After physically attending a rally, I am surprised by the profiles of the pro-opposition people. You see people from all walks of life, no longer the perceived dissidents. A very memorable moment for me was seeing a well-dressed family of three, father, mother and young daughter, suddenly breaking into chants in excitement, waving blue flags, jumping up and down.
  • Very encouraged by the quality of writing going around. Yes, there are the crappy articles and noise. But hey, we had nothing to read for the past few decades except the Straits Times and The New Paper. Be grateful! ;P I understand the need for quality, rational discourse but as a young nation, we need to start from somewhere.
  • Heartened by several celebs taking a very clear political stand. Eg. Neo Swee Lin & Lim Kay Siu.
  • Was impressed by the quality of speeches given by the lower profile opposition candidates. Eg. Lee Li Lian, Png Eng Huat from WP, Michelle Lee from SDP.
  • Not sure why the victory of Aljunied was already confirmed by 12 midnight and yet they waited till 2am to announce it on national TV. Many of us were camped out at Hougang stadium since 8pm, after waiting for 6 hours we were denied a chance to spend more time celebrating with our candidates. That was a major disappointment for me.
  • I remain in hope that we can have political diversity, still be tolerant towards one another, that the welfare & economic growth do not have to be mutually exclusive, that voters can make empowered choices. Not blind ones.

The feelings President Obama invoked in me

My partner was asking me why I was sniffing away watching Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, deliver his inauguration speech. Was I touched? Not really. I was not really able to describe my emotions.

The first time

I remember the first time I had watched him. It was a video linked from a blog, during the early days of the race of the Democratic nomination. I do not usually have the patience to watch any videos, but somehow, something urged me to click on it. My hair stood while I watched him that day. From that moment on I would not forget who Barack Obama is and what he stands for, just like the many others who had watched him speak.

I have always been interested in politics, but my interest in Obama grew deeper than a casual interest. I followed him from the democratic battle with Hilary Clinton to the presidential race with John McCain. When there was a clear winner on election day, I, along many others, heaved a sigh of relief, took in a breath of hope, and waited in anticipation. There was something surreal about his win, it felt so real, yet some part of it was unbelievable, a black man taking the center-stage of America.

Resonating with him

Why am I so taken with him? Because he is the epitome of what I believe in. His story, borders on being too familiar with me. The struggle against the odds, the belonging to the minority, the unwavering faith, the fight against the cynics.

Each time I hear him speak, I cannot help but get reminded about my own struggles, the darkness of my past, and the brightness of my future. He symbolises hope, his words inspire. He is deeply attached to and fiercely proud of the founding principles of America, based on liberty, equality, virtue and ideals.

Hope & ideals

He is the living example of how much one can achieve with undiluted hope and ideals.  I am sure people stifled their laughter when he would tell them of his dreams to contribute to American politics, or when he first ran for the Senator seat; people did not give him a chance when he was up against Hilary Clinton, they applauded his courage for doing so because it seemed like an impossible task, that he would even bother to try.

Hope and ideals - two words that do not have any grounded feel to them at all, that it was almost that these words do not exist in reality. It was with hope and ideals that I have built my life around, it was with hope and ideals that I formed my arguments to retort those people who had criticized the way I had made my decisions. People who were hopeful and idealistic, were typically labelled as being naive. The world does not function based on hope and ideals, the tired song we were taught to sing.

Shift in our consciousness

Obama winning the election marked a signficant shift in the world. Probably the world was already evolving, but his win brought about a sense of reality to the idea that people are finally willing to open their hearts instead of using their minds all the time. He did not just scrape through the election, he won by a landslide, and the number of people who turned up to watch his inauguration was unprecedented. He did not just win the support of the hopeful and idealistic, he had managed to convert many of the fatigued realists. For once, the idea of having hope and ideals are moving these people.

Gratitude to Obama

I will have to thank him. For his presence has made my journey feel less lonely, with more people seemingly willing to take the road less travelled. People will find it less amusing when I talk about my hope and ideals. He has opened the world's eyes to the many possibilities possible with the intent, will, strength and faith. Over the past few months, it is as though the air seemed fresher, the colours seemed brighter, that somehow despite the failing economy, people are not afraid to fight hard for themselves and for other people. I watched as there were tears forming in the audience at the inauguration ceremony yesterday, tears forming in the eyes of the weathered faces, these tears are joy, that people are actually celebrating the inauguration from their hearts.

They all want to believe him, there is just something about Obama that makes you want to believe him. His speech was not the usual fluff, but pragmatic words that reminded us the need to face our issues and work hard at them.These words are not only inspiring for the Americans, but for everyone of us.

In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.