This letter was sent to TOC by a reader
I found this ‘Chua Chu Kang Celebrates’ flyer in my letterbox on Thursday 4 Sep 2015. I had never attended a community event before, but this looked suspicious so on Sunday 6 September I turned up for the event.
I expected a small stage with several rows of chairs, with lots of free space for residents to mill around and engage in the Mass Community Painting and possibly other activities while being serenaded by the performers listed on the flyer.
In actual fact, the whole set-up was very like a getai – seats from one end of the tent to the other. The Mass Community Painting was just a sorry few tables with a banner and plastic containers of paint. Here’s a picture of a few people daubing paint on the banner.
Meanwhile, the backdrop for the event on the stage had the event title and listed as ‘Host Advisers’ the four PAP GRC incumbents. Their various positions in the government were also stated.
When the performances began, Pornsak and the female emcee joked that it was not a getai, so there was no need to leave the seats empty at the front for the “Hao Xiong Di” (referring to the spirits of the ghost festival).
But as the evening progressed, it seemed less like an SG50 celebratory community event and more of a getai. There were Chinese songs, Tamil songs, a Malay song, Hokkien songs, a Cantonese song, and an English song. Several of the performers were introduced to the audience as being popular on the getai circuit, including one man who was described as ‘evergreen’, and a 16-year-old boy who did a Hokkien song duet with the female emcee.
Confused, I approached a gentleman wearing a black Keat Hong RC tee-shirt and asked him, “is this a getai?”
His reply, “Yes, it’s a getai. We organised a getai community event.”
Then we talked some more about the lucky draw prizes and so on. Nice man, quite friendly.
I hung around as it seemed likely that the PAP GRC candidates would show up.
True enough, at 8.40pm, Mr Zaqy Mohamed, MP for CCK, Keat Hong ward, arrived dressed in all-white. He proceeded to hand out flyers and went seat by seat to shake the hands of residents.
Soon the other PAP GRC incumbents showed up too and chatted with residents and took pictures with them.
The final event for the evening was the lucky draw at about 10pm. Before this, the GRC team was invited on stage and Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of Health and anchor minister for the CCK GRC team, gave a short speech. By now My Zaqy had swapped his white short for a blue one.
Was this a getai? If so, should PAP GRC candidates have turned up dressed in their party uniform to hand out flyers? Was this a case of the PAP incumbents using, however subtly, a community event paid for with taxpayer funds to connect with residents/voters in the middle of an election campaign?