A little more than a year after the last general election, the dust has settled in Singapore.
Election fever has died down except in Hougang, where the battle there is between the ruling People’s Action Party and the Workers’ Party.
Meanwhile, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) is still steadily working on its own programmes.
Without representation in parliament, the NSP has been unable to participate directly in the law-making process. However, the party has been quietly contributing to the lives of Singaporeans in more direct ways, through its youth wing and legal clinics.
“Everything has been overly politicised. We don’t want to be engaged in scoring political points against other parties or the incumbents, because I don’t think that is far sighted in what we are trying to achieve,” Nicole Seah, NSP’s youngest candidate in the previous GE, told Yahoo! Singapore.
Engaging the youth
The 25-year-old currently fronts the party’s youth wing. Named the “NSP Catalyst”, it has a current strength of about 30 members below the age of 25.
Through it, Seah hopes to make politics “non-threatening and non-intimidating” for people who are keen to find out more. As such, a recent forum on “Singapore Identity” was held at the Pigeonhole, a favourite hang-out for youths in Singapore.
“I wanted to create an ambience where people can feel free to come and chill like they would in a café, and at the same time engage in issues that are important to them as well,” she said.
Seah has also delved into volunteerism to get more youths involved in community activities.
“I think community service on its own is very simple, it’s a lot less complicated than having a political affiliation to it, which I fully understand. So all our events are apolitical,” she said, citing the McPherson Tuition Project as an example.
The project is one of the branch activities for the NSP Catalyst, which provides tuition for low income students in McPherson. Currently, it has about 30 volunteers. The NSP also has arrangements for students to give tuition in place as part of their Community Involvement Program (CIP).
“So it’s not about staking claim in a particular territory or constituency but really about identifying an issue there. We identified an issue in McPherson and we stepped in,” Seah said.
The party has also been offering free legal clinics for those who do not have the means to seek legal advice on their own. Spearheaded by NSP vice-president Jeannette Chong, the clinic is held at the party office in Jalan Besar every first Monday of the month.
“I’m quite heartened by the responses so far. People who have been coming forward have real issues and were genuine. They really need help,” said Chong, adding that the party does not do legal representation.
Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore, Chong said people have approached the clinic for help over issues such as probate, inheritance, employment and housing.
She hopes that more lawyers step forward to volunteer their services as the demand has been increasing. Currently, the legal clinic runs with a rotation of three lawyers, who see an average of four cases per night.
“There’s always question of what if we get more people enquiring than we can fulfill? Then we may have to make people wait for the next session. Right now we’re managing, but it’s a matter of keeping the demand fulfilled,” Chong said.
Plans for the next GE
But the focus on legal assistance and community work is not to say that NSP has been politically inactive.
The party has already started its walkabouts and has been ramping up house-to-house visits in the constituencies it is eyeing for the next GE in 2016.
“Marine Parade, Mountbatten and Tampines are three constituencies we will not miss out on,” said Tony Tan, who fronts the NSP’s policy committee.
Elaborating on the party’s plans for the next GE, Seah said: “We’re hoping to more or less contest in the same constituencies as the last GE, but this time round we are definitely going to close ranks and send out the best we have to give people a viable and credible choice.”
Ultimately, Chong believes that political parties should have a role to play in between elections.
“We’re not here just to lie dormant in between elections, only to resurface [at the next GE]. I think in between elections we have a role to play in talking about the issues of the day, contributing our ideas, and being a channel for other people to express themselves,” she said.
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