Sleepy little Pasir Ris finally gets some action

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The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) may only be running for one GRC, but they sure as hell know how to put on a show last night at Pasir Ris Park.

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(From left to right) Ismail Yaacob, Ong Teik Seng, Abu Mohamed, Arthero Lim, Harminder Pal Singh, Desmond Lim and Sunny Wong

In the Alliance’s first rally for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, serious topics of Central Provident Fund (CPF) being withheld, and the projected 6.9 million citizens were packaged in an entertaining way.

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The mayflies buzzing around didn’t put anyone off from staying for the entirety of the rally. Not even those who originally just came to ‘look see’.

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The rally, led by Pasir Ris-Punggol candidate Harminder Pal Singh, was filled with a good mix of humour and highbrow moments. With his charisma and undeniable charm, it’s no wonder he is the main speaker at the rally.

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Rarely anyone in the audience wore SDA’s shade of bright green, but attendees didn’t need to be wearing the same colour to be united in their want for change.

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Although the rally began on a negative note with a 40 minute delay due to lighting issues, Singh only took a second to conjure a swift yet witty apology. Even non-SDA supporters cannot deny was a pretty good save on his part.

Using the analogy of the delay as obstacles faced by Singaporeans, he promised the SDA to be able to stand strong regardless of any form of adversity that they encounter.

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The rally beguns with Singh encouraging all Singaporeans to take the pledge.

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His opening speech reminded my of motivational talks that I’ve been to during my time in school. With such passion, vigour, and the occasional humourous quip, I wanted to stay at the rally just to listen to his segments.

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And like with all opposition rallies, the topic of needing a change is heavily emphasized.

But the SDA focused on monetary issues, reiterating that with their leadership, the town council will not fall into deficit, but instead a surplus.

Slight dig at the Workers Party, perhaps?

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Desmond Lim is introduced as the first speaker.

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Speaking from the heart, and in Mandarin, he introduced the issues that plagued both him and his demographic: public transport and living a comfortable retirement.

Multilingual Ong Teik Seng was next, executing his speech in Mandarin, English, and Malay. His flair for languages, coupled with heated intensity and volume of speech, I believe he managed to draw the crowds to the rally site.

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Ong, a social worker by profession, discussed issues such as the broken promises made by the current ruling party. Namely the rising costs of healthcare for those who especially need it– the older and unemployed demographic. The main cause of their unemployment being their medical problems. He too highlighted the issue of generic vs brand name drugs, and how the cost of generics should be cheaper yet we are a still paying exceptionally high prices

Midway through the speech, a supporter bestowed the SDA and its speakers with orchid leis to show their support.

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Next, it was Mr Abu Bin Mohammed’s promises to represent the Malay community in Pasir Ris-Punggol. The People’s Action Party (PAP) were described as out of touch.

He highlighted their elite backgrounds and lack of empathy for the common people.

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Politics, after all, is for the people. Surely, the citizens would want someone to represent them, and to know their problems.

There was an invited guess speaker at the rally — Mr Tan Liam Siong — who decided to step down from running for Potong Pasir SMC in favour of Lina Chiam.

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He gave examples of the sense of entitlement the PAP seemed to suffer from, bringing up the example of the PAP rally at Bedok Stadium, where car parks were closed for PAP members themselves.

However, not only negative sentiments were shared about PAP. Most speakers saluted and spoke nothing but good words about the first generation-PAP — the one that fought for our independence.

Although not related, a fun part about the rally last night was the interjections and humorous replies from the crowd:

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In response to Singh’s question of, “Who do you want to listen to you?”

A member in the crowd shouted, “My wife!”

Film director Arthero Lim was up next, and his hilarious comments about PAP’s policies of ‘moneyfestos‘ and ‘sucksidies‘ made the crowd burst into laughter.

However, it was not all fun, laughter, and joy. A more sombre issue was brought up, about the elderly being unable to live comfortably during retirement.

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Due to the lack of access to CPF, the elderly are not able to manage their funds intelligently, thus having to resort to back breaking labour just to supplement their CPF. A slight dig at the PAP’s comment of ‘cardboard recycling’ as exercise was made.

The next speaker, Mr Sunny Wong, elaborated on the stress of the education system and the unfair advantage is provided to those whose strengths lay in rote-learning. The streaming system creates a sense of unspoken discrimination among Singaporeans, although we are ‘the best’ supposedly in terms of education.

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The last speaker, deputy president of Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura (PKMS) Ismail Yaacob, ended off the rally in a highly spirited note in Malay to the Malay-speaking community in Pasir Ris.

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Despite the hiccup at the beginning of the rally, spirits of the team were barely dampened. Their excitement spilled over to the supporters who as the night went on, only became more excited about the elections and fighting for their rights.

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As seen from the lack of green shirts in the crowd, many were there out of curiosity.

But due to the sheer energy of the SDA team, these unplanned attendees couldn’t help but stay.

The SDA may seem like a small party, but their ability to charm and energize a its spectators with their touching anecdotes and encouragement of crowd participation left an impact of a formidable size.

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All photos via MustShareNews