It is like a pilgrimage to me. One that I make once every five years.
Today is the second last day of campaigning for political parties before Singapore goes to the polls on September 11. During the last General Election in 2011, I went to almost every single Workers’ Party rally, but this time, I have not gone to any until today.
As I walked to Serangoon Stadium, my mind went back to four years ago when I had ambled along the same path. That seemed like yesterday. I quickened my pace to catch up with my brother, who’s clearly oblivious to the fact that his sister was not walking as fast as he was.
The crowd started getting thicker as we neared the traffic junction at the stadium. A sense of excitement welled in me.
The rally had already started for more than an hour, and there were people everywhere outside the stadium. The stall selling merchandise from Workers’ Party appeared to be a hit with the crowd.
Upon entering the stadium, we were momentarily lost, but quickly decided on a spot to stand. My brother soon had his gaze fixed on the stage, clenching the Workers’ Party flag close to his chest as he peered through the sea of heads for a glimpse of the speaker on stage. On the other hand, I – all of 1.6 metres – couldn’t see the stage at all, not even on tiptoe.
I began to look around. The stadium was brimming with people.
There were people from all walks of life. People of different ages, races and backgrounds. It was evident some came from work, still dressed in collared shirts and pants. Some came in casual clothes, with family members in tow. It didn’t matter who we all are and where we came from. We were all there for the same purpose.
We were there because we care for our country and the future of Singaporeans. I still remember reciting the national pledge at a Workers’ Party rally at the last General Election, together with tens of thousands of people. And, I had recited it with tears in my eyes.
There was this realisation that I was losing the country that I grew up in, and I badly want my country back.
There’s something about a Workers’ Party rally that non-supporters would not understand – it brings Singaporeans together. We cheered in unison; we clapped in unison; we chanted in unison. We, a bunch of strangers, are joining hands and fighting for our countrymen and our future.
And it amuses me to see how creative and humourous Singaporeans can be in times like this. You could see flags styled in various forms, placards with witty messages, gigantic hammers, even lighted ones.
And the most beautiful part is – all these came from our hearts. There was nothing staged or contrived about it.
“Wah, this is better than NDP,” I overheard a guy say to his friend, referring to the National Day Parade.
I smiled when I heard that. What he said is true. I have never felt more Singaporean than I did at a Workers’ Party rally.
And for me, this is home. Truly.
This article is written by Katherine Goh. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own.
Photo © Katherine Goh.