Sunday, April 30, 2006

My second rally

After the first rally I attended last night held by the opposition party, I decided that I should balance it up with attending one from the ruling party.

My grandmother and aunts live in the Potong Pasir constituency. We had a family dinner and walked to the rally point as a group. When we reach the field, a first time candidate Josephine Teo was speaking. Honestly, whatever that was the content in her speech was lost in me, because it sounded like the constant droning of repeated themes in the campaign that I had heard many times. The only conclusion I had from her speech is that her mandarin public speaking needs polishing, and she is very far away from proving to be a bi-cultural talent, at least to the man-on-the-street like me.

I spent the time that Josephine Teo was speaking to observe the ground. The PAP setup is more professional, with good concert-like speakers that project the words of the speech in a hi-fidelity quality. This compares to the trumpet-like speakers I saw at the WP rally last night, which did it's job well but was a tad on the deafening side. In the middle of the field in front of the stage, platforms were placed on the ground in anticipation of a muddy field. These are the same kind of platforms we see placed on the ground for funfairs or carnivals. Well thought. :) However, if it rained today, the platforms would not have been enough for all that was there.

The MC for the PAP rally sounded like professional MCs, and this again compares to the WP using one of their own candidates to introduce speakers. All-in-all, the PAP rally set-up spoke of their consistant image of bringing professionalism to everything they do.

The crowd was not as big as the one for the WP rally. I estimated the size of the crowd [second photo] tonight to be about 1/8 of the crowd there was last night. Both tonight's photos and last nights photos were taken when I was standing at near the perimeter of the crowd, so the relative size of the stage tells you the relative distance I was standing from the stage, giving you the relative size of the crowd.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister Lim Hng Kiang took to the stage, both giving their side of their point of view on why Mr Chiam See Tong's previous night's comments about an economic union is not a good idea. Vivian made a slight boo-boo when he attempted at talking about Sitoh Yih Pin in hokkien, because what my father (a teochew) heard was something to the effect of 'See-dor he peng' - translated to mean 'die at that place'.

Sitoh Yih Pin took to the stage after this, and his speech was something that caught my attention. He sounded sincere and genuinely wanted to serve. My previous impression of him being just the 'abalone-porridge-supplier' was changed when he claimed on stage that he was in touch with the ground. I confirmed immediately with my aunt on the spot, she told me that while previous challengers to the Potong Pasir ward were never seen around the ward, Sitoh Yih Pin is consistently seen at coffeeshops talking to people at least twice a month on Sunday mornings.

Sitoh went on to list out some of the things he did for the residences, of which there are some items that are genuinely beneficial. The one thing that oppositions can learn from Sitoh is that, while you are not the MP for the ward, you can still try to work your way into the people's heart by spending enough time with them. Granted that there are a lot of things that cannot be done through this channel, but small things will add up to what the residents can collectively remember you of. And of course, you can score points with listing out the things you have done while not being their MP.

The highlight of the night was SM Goh's presence and his speech. In his usual light-hearted manner, he gave a speech that was convincing and I believe could have helped some residents made up their decision. In the middle of the speech, the flood lights that were trained on the crowd suddenly went off one by one, until only the light on the rostrum was visible. SM Goh was unaffected throughout the effect, only a slight pause upon the initial blackout, and continued his speech (luckily the sound system was still working). Does show the class and style he has. One more thing that won my respect for him is that he did not harp on the Gomez issue like the other PAP candidates had. (In fact on TV news later he was seen talking a little on the issue, but closed with the comment that we should all move on to discuss bigger issues).

SM Goh give his vote of support for Sitoh, and a list of the reasons that the people should vote for Sitoh. Very convincing, I have to repeat, and very well delivered messages. The only thing that I was looking out for, which was not mentioned, was the earlier promised of raising the party whip for Sitoh.

SM Goh's speech was the final speech, and the MCs ended the rally with a series of cheers for PAP and Sitoh. Sad thing to say that in this respect the crowd does not respond too well, leaving one MC to start the cheer and often the other MC to respond.

The crowd dispersed quickly. I did not stay to see whether there was any sending-off like in the WP's case, but from the response of the crowd, I doubted it.

One WP rally followed by one PAP rally. Quite a good balance for a first-time rally-goer and a first-time voter. However, seeing that local issues concerning the constituency are being brought up in both rallies, my wife and I decided to attend to WP and PAP rallies for our own constituency when they come around to our place. More rallies to attend. :)

[One final point: I think the decision to ban podcast for this elections is really a bad decision. With between 5-7 rallies held each night, there are sometimes more than 1 rally that an individual is interested in attending. With the rallies all being held at the same time, there is no way physically a person can be in two places at one time. If podcast of verbatim recordings of the press conferences for all parties is allowed in the media, why don't the media also provide verbatim recordings of rallies everyday?]

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