She may have gotten barely four hours worth of sleep, but victory was sweet indeed for the Workers' Party's Lee Li Lian as she embarked on a three hour thank you parade around her newly-won constituency.
The sales trainer was all smiles and confidence as she received a warm welcome at Blk 311, Rivervale Walk where the parade kicked off. Over a hundred residents swarmed around her and other WP members like Low Thia Kiang, Sylvia Lim, Png Eng Huat and Chen Show Mao, cheering “Huat Ah!” and congratulating her on her win.
“We woke up early and saw (WP supporters) from our living room window,” said secretary Eunice Tan, 30, who stays at Blk 114 and brought her two children down to wave to Lee.
Her son Regan, 6, in particular, drew much attention as he waved a plastic hammer and cheered for WP.
“We’re hoping that Li Lian will push for more benefits for us and serve as a checking voice in Parliament,” said Tan.
Speaking to reporters just before her party set off, Lee said that she was “honoured and grateful” for the mandate of the Punggol residents and would be working hard to make sure that she did not let them down.
Lee said that her immediate focus would be on kickstarting Meet-The-People Sessions so that “residents know where to find me”, and then on ensuring a smooth and peaceful takeover of the town council from the ousted PAP members.
She said that there would be no reason for severely delayed renovation works at Rivervale Plaza not to continue and finish on time given that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had already come forward to assure voters that it would be done.
“We have a very stable and dependable team at Hougang Town Council, it’s something we hope to bring here, and set up a strong volunteer base,” said Lee.
The rest of the parade continued on a high for Lee and her fellow party members as residents waved WP flags from their bedroom windows, some leaning out of the corridors of their HDB blocks to get a better look.
Groups of staunch supporters toting WP hammer umbrellas gathered at places like the Rivervale Plaza and Rivervale Mall, filling the neighbourhood with sounds of their whistles and cheers of victory.
Far from being disturbed by the noise, most Punggol East residents joined in – cars driving by tooted their horns, lowering windows to wave and yell “Lee Li Lian” while others came all the way up to the WP lorry to request a photo and shake Lee’s hands.
The most outspoken in their support were young families – more than one father was spotted hoisting his toddler onto his shoulders for a better look.
At one point, the WP lorry crossed paths with that of PAP’s Dr Koh. Dr Koh was spotted clapping politely and congratulating Lee on her win, which the WP responded to with friendly waves.
Lee’s historic win at the polls last night makes her the first female opposition member to win a single member constituency since 1965.
When asked if she felt her shock underdog win would inspire more to come forward to contribute to politics, Lee paused to consider the question.
“I hope that the results last night will encourage more women and young people to come forward. It’s not something to be afraid of. If you have a heart, you can do it,” she said, a determined gleam in her eyes.