fbpx

The slowly-hoisted dream of Aljunied

During a phone call with his six-year-old daughter, Chen Show Mao shared with her about Aljunied, the constituency that he was standing in. She interrupted him before he could finish spelling it out, exclaiming in mistake, ‘Oh, a journey!’

For the candidates and the 30,000-strong party faithful in Serangoon Stadium last evening, the journey to Aljunied would define the party for the coming few years. And the dream of Aljunied was slowly hoisted, as the party embarked on their final push before entrusting the mantle of this journey upon the electorate.

As Pritam Singh (Aljunied) had declared, this particular election portends as a ‘historic moment’. It presents an opportunity for ‘changing the spirit and substance of Singapore politics’ by signalling the start of an ‘honourable brand of politics’ where the opposition would be embraced as equal and loyal citizens of the republic. And if elected, the candidates would responsibly play their roles as ‘worthy first world parliamentarians’ who would ‘raise national issues rationally, respectably and responsibly’.

Heeding the call of party founder David Marshall, Pritam promised that the party would ‘act with vigour in guiding and criticising with integrity the conduct of the government, to make heard the voices of the minority without fear’.

According to him, ‘21st-century governance calls for a new relationship between the citizen and the government’. Transparency and accountability must be demanded of power, and a robust opposition presence would ensure that these be fulfilled.

His fellow candidates have nimbly pointed out how the strong display of support for the opposition over the hustings has mollified ministers, extracting from the incumbent a more compassionate and accountable personality. Apologies and answers had become more forthcoming as the threat of electoral backlash loomed larger.

The voters need only imagine the humility by which the government must potentially conduct its affairs in the presence of a robust opposition lobby in parliament. This is the promise of the Aljunied dream.

The voters need only imagine the humility by which the government must potentially conduct its affairs in the presence of a robust opposition lobby in parliament. This is the promise of the Aljunied dream.

* * *

But it was not all promises, as Sylvia Lim (Aljunied) invested her speech with a dose of reassurance for residents still sceptical of the party’s ability to lead. The party is committed to serving the residents, she said. The elections are not for personal glory, since there is ‘no glamour’ in undertaking the ‘difficult task of running against the PAP’.

The former non-constituency member of parliament said that over the weekly door-to-door visits that she has conducted the past eight years, it has pained her to know that she had no standing as an NCMP to help the residents that have approached her for help. She was looking forward to chairing her own meet-the-people session as a full-fledged parliamentarian, since she can then ‘do more for residents’.

She assured the residents of Aljunied that they ‘will not have to repent!’ The party knows that in an event of a victory, their hold on Aljunied would be probational. They would thus work hard – ‘even harder than the PAP MPs,’ she said. ‘You will not have to repent!’

* * *

Visit TOC's General Election website for more GE news