Virgin voter flies back from America

Posted on 30 April 2011

Nothing can stop you from voting, if you really want to.

By Edmund Tee

Edmund and Michele – both wanted to come back to vote, but the kids decided he was the more expendable of the two.

THERE’S this guy I know who maintains that he was a technical virgin well into his late twenties.

All through his teenage years, his stint in the army, then university, and career, he dated a good number of women and was physically active with many of them, but never went all the way despite the hormones racing through his body and nether regions.

I guess it was a deal his mind made with his libido – he still gets teased about it by his wife today for saying he stayed a technical virgin for so long until he fell head over heels in love with her.

Well, my political experience is quite similar, because for lack of a better way to say this, I’m a “technical” Virgin Voter. I’ve never voted, but I’ve gotten to what I suppose is Third Base.

As a citizen, I’ve persuaded others to vote, rooted for and cheered for candidates, helped when I could, and commiserated with the underdogs. As an ex-journalist with the mainstream press, I’ve had to follow and cover the electoral process, sometimes to my disappointment and frustration.

So yes, I’ve done every thing but vote. This is because I live in Braddell Heights, which became part of Marine Parade GRC after a close contest inthe polls of 1988 and 1991.

Since then, it has been walkover after walkover. UNTIL NOW.

Ironically, I now live abroad, in Seattle, USA, and so my engagement with the elections came a little late – almost too late. But thanks to my friends on Facebook, it became clear to me that this election was going to be far different from previous ones. Thanks to Facebook and YouTube, we had unprecedented access to the opposition.

And I liked what I was hearing and reading. I especially liked what a level-headed, mature, and smart advertising executive from the opposition had to say.

So, on the evening of Sunday, April 17, I decided I would register on the Singapore Elections website as an overseas voter so that I could travel to Washington, DC, to cast my ballot. Sadly, given the time difference, Sunday night was also Monday morning on April 18 in Singapore, and the Writ of Elections had been issued.

For those of you back home, this meant that overseas voters who had failed to register before then would no longer be allowed to vote abroad.The only way to vote would be to travel back to Singapore.

And so, for this Election Day, I will take time off work, leave behind my wife and kids, and sacrifice a significant amount of my monthly income to flyback to Singapore to have my Electoral Cherry popped.

As it turns out, thanks to the creative restructuring of electoral boundaries,when I step off my early morning flight, bleary-eyed, on Election Day, I will be heading into the key battleground constituency that is Marine Parade. How will I vote? That’s for me to know, but I leave you with this quote from a man that is respected in Singapore and across the world.

“Let us shake off this oppressive shroud of sycophancy and unquestioning homage to authority. For if we just drift along, we may get to a positionwhere it is not only wrong to talk, but also wrong to think.”
– Lee Kuan Yew, New Year’s Day Message, 1965.

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  • Overseas Voter

    Hello Edmund,

    I hope we will be popping more than cherries but champagne! Thanks for this wonderful and funny take. Loved the LKY quote. Yep, everyone is doing what we can to spread the word.

    I am in a neighbouring country and I was prepared to fly home too (there’s no overseas voting in neighbouring countries — don’t know why) only to find out that I am still in Tg Pagar. This is one case of wishing for gerrymandering but they didn’t change my ward! I am still in shock over the Strike-Lottery MP in 24 hours. And we still have no answers over the Steve Tan episode. This is the government we have, ever haughty and never levelling with the people. Sucks!

    When you go home, wear your reporter’s hat and ask why neighbouring countries are exempt; how does the government ensure the integrity of overseas votes; and why the Election Commission is under PMO.

    Happy voting!

    Half-virgin overseas voter-reporter (I voted once eons ago)

  • virgin voter

    Hi edmund,

    I too, am a virgin voter, as I was under the age of 21 during GE2006.

    I am really excited about this election as it appears to be a turning point for sgp parliament.

    My sister is running as a candidate in one of the opposition parties, and through that, I have come to be much aware of politics than I ever imagined I would be.

    I am proud of singaporeans like you, and my sister, who have stepped up to support the underdogs and this goes to show that we are not ready to let the incumbent party to remain complacent. I wish you have had the chance to view the rallies of one of the opposition parties held in the past few days. It was an unbelievable sight and probably a moment of epiphany to many. The fact that u’re flying back to cast just one vote, goes to show how badly u want to see changes as well.

    If only the less educated and older generation could gain access to the social media, it would help in their decision making. Nonetheless, we could all help to spread the word and let the rest of fellow sgporeans know the real situation we’re in.

    On 7th may I’m gg to cast my first vote (hopefully not the last, as I belong in AMK constituency – yeah you know who’s in power here) and I’m actually I have a choice this year, no matter who the opposition is.

    To Half-virgin voter, gerrymandering will nv occur at Tanjong Pagar in the next few election, I think. I think u need to move outta there.

    The way that the incumbent party takes its citizens for a ride, is simply disgusting and I hope this time round, we can finally see a change in our parliament.

    That quote from mr LKY? Lets throw it back at him.

  • seriously?

    we have Singaporeans outside of Singapore who still remember their country. what more can i say to those who left their country for Singapore.

    I guess i dont need to state where their loyalty is but here we are, our government thinks that money and a good life can buy their loyalty to Singapore.

  • Edmund

    Thanks for the kind words folks.

    I have this silly, silly fantasy, to justify to myself why it would be worth the time and expense to fly back to vote.

    And that is, on the night of May 7, the returning officer announces that in Marine Parade GRC, the win was just by ONE VOTE! And it was mine that tipped the scales! And I scream like a girl (to clarify, that’s not part of the fantasy, given the talk of popping cherries and all – just editorial embellishment)!

    Now multiply this kind of idealistic thinking from an otherwise level-headed, pragmatic people, and we have 24-year-old advertising executives taking on Senior Minister, an MP that refuses to let stroke weigh him down, an NCMP who strives to drop the NC in her title, and a candidate who finds politics less stressful than those who never did have to earn the people’s mandate.

    Suddenly, the product of all these uncharacteristic optimism from otherwise cynical people doesn’t seem so silly after.

  • albert

    the quote is so ironic!!! he will never expect his quote starts to haunt him 46 years later!!!

  • overseassingaporean

    Edmund, I am just like you from LA, home to cast my vote. My vote will go to the alternatives.

  • TKS


    Another guy like you, I pay for my flight just to ensure I am exercising my citizen’s right. One more vote for the alternatves.

    I have two more friends will also fly back to vote and they mentioned that their votes will also go to the alternatives.


  • sgcynic

    Sincere thanks. God speed

  • western news

    since you people and your family members live in western countries (mostly) and basically have no intention to go back to live in S’pore again, so why does it really concern you about what happens to S’pore ?

  • Edmund

    My son is due for NS in a year, so how things evolve in Singapore certainly matters. Hopefully, when my younger boy comes back in 9 years for his NS, he will be coming back to a place that has progressed with what we are doing now.

  • Eu En

    I know so many Singaporeans abroad who will come home for good if there’s a change in our system to be more tolerant of dissent

  • Diana

    I just booked my flight from Siem Reap to Singapore today. Just found out today there is no polling booth in Cambodia. Only 9 overseas polling stations – in UK, USA, Australia, Japan and China.

    See you guys on polling day. My family lives in Bartley and we are also in the Marine Parade GRC.

  • Frankie

    I have respect for people like you. Have safe journey home : )