Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Mandate in Ang Mo Kio

Nominations are over and we are still free. Certain events happened today which require some analysis. The contest of Ang No Kio GRC and the non return of PAP to power are two politically significant events for the GE.

The move to contest Ang Mo Kio GRC is a political masterstroke. The WP is indeed shaping up to be a professional Opposition PArty. The fielding of a totally young team, lacking all political experience, to contest the Prime Minister's ward, is a win-win situation for the party. They will probably lose. But imagine the political exposure this team will get. Already the media is edgy about this team. A wildcard. While the foreign media is having a field day splashing their youth in their coverage. The experience of standing up for elections in the Prime Minister's ward is invaluable. So what if they lose, at least they are giving a test, a slippery, tricky test for the Prime Minister.

For the people of Ang Mo Kio, a constituency which includes a chunk of the infamous Cheng San electorate, what will they be thinking? The responsibility is heavy, if by some fluke, and flukes do happen in a politically fluid period as now, Ang Mo Kio residents will be responsible for not returning the reigning Prime Minister into power.
History in their hands.
Imagine this. The PAP returned to power on Polling Day without their leader, without the Prime Minister. A heavy responsibility indeed.
Even if returned, what is a clear mandate for the Prime Minister? 75% and above? Remember how the late Ong Teng Cheong fared against the unwilling Presidential candidate? That remains the only national-level benchmark of the percentage of ruling party support in Singapore. It was a dismal number. And Ang Mo Kio represents this chance again to discover, what is the national-level benchmark.
Simply because it is the Prime Minister's ward.
The psyche of Ang Mo Kio residents has to be examined. What is this constituency? Comprising many resettled residents from the remnants of the kampung clearing exercises in the late 70s. Known to be predominantly Chinese. Swayed by the Hokkien rhetoric of a certain Tang Liang Hong. It was in Ang Mo Kio, that I first witnessed the graffiti NKF = PAP, that troublesome sigul which dogs the PAP.
And suddenly, through this process known as democracy, Ang Mo Kio residents are handed real political power.
The last time I talked to a friend staying in Ang Mo Kio. He was upset. His complaint? Having to pay ERP for going home to Ang Mo Kio after work. He was upset about that. Very upset. His understanding was this : restricting access into the city, yes it was fair for all Singaporeans. But putting a gantry on his way home. That was wrong. Very wrong. It is like a penalty he had to pay for staying in Ang Mo Kio.
What does Ang Mo Kio mean? Literally it translates as "a foreigner's bridge", to be exact, a Caucasian. There are definitely quite a few flats there rented to foreigners working in Singapore, studying in Singapore. How would these foreigners feel? Staying in a constituency which will see a contest of the "radical English educated young" against the Prime Minister. It is a bridge. Ang Mo Kio is a bridge which the 5 young WP candidates have to cross.
What is Ang Mo Kio? It is one of those older style estates which actually have coffeeshops dotted in every other block of flats, unlike the new housing estates which force residents into small neighbourhood centers. It is one of those areas where three room flats can still be found in abundance. It is where older Singaporeans congregate at coffeeshops to watch live EPL broadcasts because they cannot afford SCV charges for the premium sports channels. It is where a lot of taxi drivers stay in.
Ang Mo Kio is a heartland. Representative of a Singapore heartland. Predominantly Chinese, lower middle income. And the 5 young WP candidates will have to cross the bridge into this heart and win this heart over.
Unlike the previous elections, there is a sense of change in the air. Already on Nomination Day, we have the surprise that Singapore is still without Government, without Parliament for another 9 days.
This GE is about a clear mandate. The Mandate. Mandatory. Remember that?
And we have a group of Singaporeans in Ang Mo Kio, who are custodians of this Mandate for these nine days.
Quote of the Day --
"You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul." -- Mahatma Ghandhi


Blogger prettyplace said...

truly a masterstroke by the WP, to put young novices..
seems like david and goliath...and

AMK, a place which never really much as Bishan or Yishun...right in between
it stands with the same mature people...

i certainly recommend, people to make an effort to watch Shin Leong speak...

heard him once and was overwhelmed his oratory style.... to capture the audience and involve them and all this in a language i do not understand....impressive
i reckon a 30% return for the WP would be brilliant and anything more a wake up call to LHL....

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the WP all the success in AMK and hope that AMK residents seize this opportunity to make their voices heard. Whether the WP win or not, I admire their guts to contest in AMK. A little chip at a time - the winds of change is blowing softly but surely for the heartlanders. I'm still p.o. that I can't vote!

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the worst thing in media today is that the journalist still call Lee Hsien Loong "PM" and all the PAP candidates by their "minsterial name".

For goodness sake, PAP is not returned to power! Stop calling them by their offical name. No one has formed the government yet.

If opposition wins all seats, LHL will be the "ex-PM" .


2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my goodness, you are writing so much better than the straits times! viva le WP

5:02 AM  
Blogger Camoranesi said...

I am a resident of AMK and I will be taking part in this election.
I think your piece is very analytically written. Lee has already mocked the WP for sending a "gan si dui" squad to contest against him but has he forgotten that the formerly tetchy Cheng San electorate of '97 which gave WP 45% of the vote?
Imagine the influx of post 65-ers who are voting and many of them are a disgruntled lot , I can tell you.

8:12 AM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

prettyplace -- time to populate your Sembawang with some nice writing too?

anon1 -- aye aye, we will and shall wait

anon2 -- I'm glad that at least we are beginning demand the same exactitude to "facts" as MM demands of us. That, in and of itself, is surely already a the beginning of awakening.

anon3 -- Hardly, i still fail by the measure of responsibility demanded by the ST

Camoranesi -- It is funny why the so called WP suicide squad is blasted for their age when other 30 year old PAP candidates are riding a back door into Parliament. Sometimes suicide squads do great damage by vitue of their unpredictability.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll play devil's advocate and say Singapore and AMK have nothing to lose by voting out PM Lee. That's because SM Goh is already in. There is no lack of prime-ministerial talent and experience. A by-election can be held if he wants LHL back in.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous uran said...

this happened in a shophouse in amk: i wish i videoclipped what the photo proccessing shop auntie said about the WP last week. She cautioned another auntie not to vote for WP cause the hammer might drop and hit her leg. seems like she didn't mind lightning striking!

9:55 PM  

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