The Singapore Democrats went on our customary Chinese New Year walkabout yesterday to meet residents and to help usher in the Year of the Snake.$CUT$
Armed with ang-pows and oranges, members mingled with the shoppers and breakfast-goers at the food centres and wet markets – from Marsiling to Bukit Panjang, Yuhua to Ghim Moh – greeting one and all “Xin nian kuai le, gong xi fa cai!”
We were also there to sell the party’s flagship publication, The New Democrat, and, more importantly, listen to and speak with the residents.
The schedule started at 8am with members boarding the bus which made its way to the Marsiling Lane market and food-center in the Woodlands area.
Danny the Democracy Bear was on hand, as usual, to help us spread good cheer. His basket of gold coins attracted many children and not few adults who wanted a photograph with the him.
Red SDP balloons were also a hit with the residents, many wanted one for their children.
As the team went from table to table, residents were returning our greeting. “Jia you! Jian you!” a few exclaimed. “2016 is not far away.”
By the time we visited every table at every food-centre in the vicinity it was 1pm. This is a repeat of the CNY walkabout we conducted in 2012, conducting a record-breaking exercise which covering five constituencies from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south.
But it was not just meet-and-greet. We had the chance to engage in conversation with Singaporeans who, not surprisingly, wanted to talk about the high cost of living.
Housing and healthcare were the predominant issues.
The older generation lamented the lack of income for their retirement, much of their CPF savings have been withheld under the Minimum Sum Scheme.
A few of the younger residents worried about having to take care of their ageing parents as well as having to provide for their children.
Having to pay for healthcare costs, especially if their parents needed long-term medication, was a big drain on their household budget.
The issue of the Government raising the population to 6.9 million was, of course, not far away from their minds.
“Why can’t they talk about the quality of life? Why only talk about the number of people?” one middle-aged man at the Ghim Moh food-centre asked angrily, speaking loud enough that others having their breakfast could hear. “If Singapore gets so crowded, I wouldn’t want my children living here.”
Despite the frustration with the PAP policies, the SDP spread hope that with a stronger opposition the Government would be more consultative and would govern with a listening ear.
With each passing year and with the advance in communications technology, the electorate will gain greater access to views and policies put up by the SDP.
In the process, we hope that Singaporeans will find our alternative vision and plans for Singapore will be better.
In the meantime, the Singapore Democrats will continue to work to spread our message of a competent, constructive party endeavouring to build a compassionate Singapore.
We wish all Singaporeans a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year!
More event photos at SDP’s facebook album.