Tag Archive | "Virgin Voter"

Popping your election cherry

Popping your election cherry

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This virgin voter gets nervous about his first time.

By Alvin Phoon

THERE are many moments in life we just can’t seem to erase from our memories (assuming your life is as exciting as i’m making it sound). First times generally claim a spot in our hippocampus’ hard drive.

You know how it is. The idea forms and instantly, the lack of experience terrifies. You trawl whatever medium you can for information; books, videos, websites, hoping desperately for an epiphany to unveil itself. Eventually, the moment arrives. You try to look prepared, but, your mind threatens to empty itself out. You make your way through those doors with sweaty palms amongst other sweaty body parts. Finally, it’s time. You pull out your instrument and linger for a moment, before finally making your move. And after 10 seconds, you’re done.

Damn voting must be tough.

At 23, I’ll be popping my election cherry in less than a week. I’ve never known myself to be an emotional person; I don’t cry at movies, I don’t smile at cute babies, and I don’t let stray dogs lick my face, no matter how adorable they are. This week, I’ve seen a side of me I’ve never known, and am quite frankly a little ashamed of.

All this time, I’ve believed that Singaporeans were mostly cynical, apathetic people who’ve accepted that we would never have a shot at toppling the mighty men in white. I’ve convinced myself that I would be one of the few who were willing to invest their hearts and heads into what appeared to be a losing battle. I have, myself, conceded defeat, and made plans to exit the country as soon as I can. Yet, as I stood atop a tiny bump, watching the first NSP rally at Aljunied, as my pupils scanned the horizon and my ears took in the deafening roar generated by the crowd, I felt my eyes grow moist.

We are educating ourselves, and we are getting braver by the minute. We are no longer afraid of imaginary consequences, and we no longer care about short term rewards.

I have never been to a rally until Thursday, and even then it was to a rally whose party I had written off as late as February. I have never been in the presence of so many disgruntled Singaporeans. And I have never seen so many hearts linked by the same ideology (yes, not even during national day).

I have never participated in so much political conversation, online and offline. People I don’t even know to be politically aware are suddenly reposting quotes and videos. People I’ve always thought to be indifferent are displaying, very outwardly, their anger at the current administration. I have not seen a single pro-pap status update since the start of the rallies.

If there’s anything I’m sure of this year, it is that there is a wave of political awakening sweeping through our island. We are educating ourselves, and we are getting braver by the minute. We are no longer afraid of imaginary consequences, and we no longer care about short term rewards. We are getting angry, and we’re demanding change. We are steadily realising the power we hold as citizens of this country, and we’re learning to utilize it.

I have never been this glad to be wrong. Come May the 7th, this virgin voter is ready to get it on.

Image: BARBARA DURAND. Modified with Creative Commons license

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Virgin voter flies back from America

Virgin voter flies back from America

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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.

Stuck in Switzerland

Stuck in Switzerland

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With the nearest voting centre in London, students in Switzerland will not lost their virginity for the next five years at least.

By Lee Jian Xuan

Photo: TAHIR / Creative Commons

THERE’S a common consensus among university students that exchange programs are generally beneficial.

You get to do all the touristy, sight-seeing stuff, meet new people, eat cheap food and stay in crappy youth hostels while chalking up Eiffel Tower-sized debts.

What’s not to love about that?

No, really. My exchange experience in Europe this semester has definitely opened my eyes. (Bad pasta and rude Italian housemates aside.)

Actually, more like it’s grabbed me by the hair and yanked my eyelids wide open.

I don’t know what it is about being overseas. Perhaps it’s the sheer distance from home and the estrangement from friends and family. Or maybe it’s the unsettling feeling of being the minority in far-flung lands.

But Singaporeans abroad seem to work harder at staying connected to our country than those of us who live on the island.

A friend I stayed with in London reads books by Kishore Mahbubhani and Cherian George (who are the so-called “public intellectuals”). My brother and his friends at the University of Leeds descend upon Channelnewsasia.com during their daily web rounds and discuss Singaporean politics at dinner.

Inadvertently, I find myself doing the same, devouring any material I can find online: Following the General Elections buzz closely and having the sort of no-holds-barred political discussion with friends that would instantly be shushed at dinner tables back home.

Quite an amazing feat for someone who previously did not even know the names of the six Presidents of Singapore.

But life has a funny way of working things out.

Just very recently, I learnt with great disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to cast my vote while overseas as the nearest polling center to the little Swiss town of Lugano where I’m at now is more than a thousand miles away in London.

This cruel irony is further intensified when I learnt that Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where I belong and one that traditionally succumbs to a walkover, is to be contested this year.

Sidenote/ complaint here: I’ve no clue why the Elections Department chooses not to delegate more polling centers in Europe for voting.

There’s a perfectly proper and fine consulate here in Geneva. It doesn’t get any safer than here, right? I mean, Switzerland is practically the world’s panic room!

It’ll be years before I get to cross off my first ballot, but slightly more than a fortnight before the Singaporean electorate goes to the voting stations.

So to all you maiden voters out there, I say this: Wield the power of the vote wisely and choose the right party to run our country. If not for yourselves, then on behalf of those of us who can’t.

In any case, vote or no vote, come May 7, all Singaporean eyes from Switzerland to Sweden will be fixed on our sunny island set in the sea.

I can’t wait.

I will still be a virgin.

At voting, that is.

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