Bikers in white back PAP

Posted on 28 April 2011

Opposition candidates can expect uphill battle in Sembawang and Nee Soon GRCs, which has strong grassroots support for the People’s Action Party.

By Terence Lee

Bikers gathered at a PAP Community Foundation branch outside Admiralty Secondary School. Photo: TERENCE LEE (Click photo to view gallery in Flickr)

AS expected, PAP supporters of all shapes and sizes arrived by the busload to a vicinity near Admiralty Secondary School, which is the nomination centre for Sembawang GRC and Nee Soon GRC.

Amidst the sea of white, a group of motorcycle riders stood out: Grown men (some really grown), decked out in sunglasses and leather jackets, chit-chatting besides their Harley-Davidsons and shiny choppers.

It was truly a sight to behold; a couple of angmohs who would look perfectly comfortable in the movie Wild Hogs, a bunch of young and old Malay dudes, and some Chinese riders who don’t quite measure up on the cool quotient.

Soon, their hero emerged out of nowhere and pro-PAP cheers erupted from this group of unlikely PAP supporters. The man at the centre of it all? None other than Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

It turns out that the Minister has been giving moral encouragement to Rider’s Aid, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts that actively participates in community events.

In return, the group decided to show up on Nomination Day to lend their support.

“I know they’re good people,” Mohd Salleh, a 60-year-old rider, says of the PAP team competing in the two GRCs: Sembawang and Nee Soon. “The government has been doing a good job so far. We should be grateful we have a good system. It’s not perfect, but they’ve done their best.”

Given their decades of presence among grassroots leaders, PAP supporters outnumbered opposition ones by about ten-to-one that day, and while we may chalk that up to logistical advantage, it’s much harder to rebut the genuine affection pouring out from the ruling party supporters.

But not all who wear white are fervent Lee & Lee fans.

“I’m ashamed to have the same surname as Tin Pei Ling, and you can put that down!” – Mr Tin

A friend I had bumped into was asked to support the PAP because one of the Ministers assisted in a community project she was doing. So she thought she’d see what the fuss was all about.

“Nah, politics is not really my thing,” she said, clad in white, “maybe this is the first and last time I’ll be involved this elections.”

I’m sure there are many like her, not passionate about politics, but generally pro-PAP and willing to carry the party symbol. And they’re likely to vote them into power too.

Then again, the opposition parties can expect modest gains this elections, since the PAP has not resorted to legal action so far to stymie opposition voices.

Disenfranchised voters, as well as Virgin Voters would form a significant voting bloc for both the SDP and WP, with bread-and-butter issues foremost on their minds.

I spoke to a 36-year-old unemployed man who came to the nomination centre dressed in jogging attire, wearing a blue singlet in support of the WP. He declined to give his full name, but says I can call him Mr Tin.

“I’m ashamed to have the same surname as Tin Pei Ling, and you can put that down!” he tells me.

Tin goes on to rattle off a list of concerns he has, which include: Rising costs of living, ERP gantries, expensive parking charges in the CBD, crowded trains.

“And you call this Swiss standard of living?”

Bryan Wong, a 19-year-old student from Temasek Polytechnic, may not be able to vote, but he’s a keen opposition supporter. His political awakening began two months ago, after doing research on his own and talking with friends. Affordable housing is a chief concern for him.

“If you have a $2,000 salary, it takes you three to four years to save enough money to pay for the ten percent downpayment,” he says, “that is too expensive.”

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This post was written by:

- who has written 81 posts on New Nation.

Terence is an online media nut that is obsessed with writing and publishing on the Internet. Recently, he took up photography to expand his repertoire, and hopes to learn videography soon. He has worked in both online and print publications such as The Straits Times, Today, Mind Your Body, The Online Citizen, and Funkygrad. He is currently the assistant editor with SGEntrepreneurs, a website that covers entrepreneurship in Singapore and Asia. Terence can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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  • Something to consider

    Well, Sembawang and Nee Soon GRC somehow has its political machinery work for most of its residents. All the best for the MIW.

  • The Pariah

    For those who think Minister Khaw Boon Wan (Sembawang GRC) is caring ….

    Did any citizen get heart surgery at $8 under Medishield Scheme advocated by Health Minister Khaw with inherent (A) Deductibles and (B) Co-Insurance?

    So how did Minister Khaw get away by paying only $8 for heart surgery?

    Was it because Minister Khaw did not practise what he preached? Did the good minister buy extra insurance riders to cover Deductibles and Co-Insurance, even though he advocated them as being essential core elements to prevent abuse and wastage of medical resources?

  • The Pariah

    For those who think K Shanmugam is essential …..

    On 4 Nov 2010, in a speech at Columbia University, Law Minister Shanmugam said (para 23(2)): “There are thus less institutional checks-and-balances on executive action in Singapore compared with the US – and that is deliberately so.”

    A few days later, on 9 Nov 2010, speech time in Parliament cut (a) from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for MPs and (b) from 60 minutes to 45 minutes for ministerial reply.

    In addition, PAP have constituted Govt Parliamentary Committees (GPCs) as PAP organs. Generally, there is one GPC for each ministry. GPC membership is limited to PAP MPs and their meeting minutes are not verbatim and not published (unlike the Hansard parliamentary report).

    On the one hand, PAP increased Single Member Constituencies, Non-Constituency MPs and total electoral wards. On the other hand, despite a legacy of overwhelming PAP dominance of the House, they cut parliamentary debate even before more opposition MPs should get voted in. Is GPC framework a bypass of due parliamentary process?

    What do you think?