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Precisely three weeks after the general elections in May 2011, the Singapore Democrats redoubled our efforts in our quest for electoral success.
We gathered all of our members and volunteers which by then had swollen to a few hundred and organised them into various units to undertake the work that was before us. One year on, we are able to report encouraging developments. We start with our Ground Operations Unit or GO!
GO! has grown in stature and size since its formalisation. The Unit’s objective is to get to know the electorate better by conducting activities on the ground especially house visits and walkabouts.$CUT$
We also strive to reach out more extensively to youths especially those in campuses and to recruit them for our activities. We work with other units (collectively organised into the Party Organisation Department, or POD) to ensure optimal party operations.
More Singaporeans have joined us they come to realise that without groundwork, we will not be able to communicate the benefits of our policies such as our Ministerial paper and healthcare plan. This is especially important when mainstream media are under the tight control by the incumbent Party.
GO!’s first assignment was to visit the residents staying in Blk 686B, Woodlands Drive 73 in Sembawang GRC. The meeting gave us an opportunity to listen to their concerns so that we could help to address them, provide advice and speak up on their behalf.
The residents at this block were traumatised when news broke that a dead body was found inside the water-tank that supplied their drinking water.
More than 20 residents attended the townhall meeting and expressed their displeasure at the Sembawang Town Council and their Member of Parliament, Mr Vikram Nair. One of the participants was pleased that the Singapore Democrats showed care and concern for the residents who continue to be haunted by the incident till this day. We wrote a letter to the Sembawang Town Council on behalf of the residents to ask for answers.
We also organised the inaugural SDP Futsal Carnival 2011 – the first of its kind organised by an opposition party. The SDP feels that youths in Singapore tend to become disengaged from society because of the rigidity of our system.
As a result, they are unable to fulfil their potential even though they are an integral and vital part of our nation’s future. We believe that society will only become better when the more youths are engaged on national issues.
Amidst fun and laughter, the Carnival was a huge accomplishment as nine teams from the public and four from the party contested in the tournament. Riding on this wave of success, we will be organizing the tournament for this year on a larger scale.
A thank-you dinner was organised for the players under our Campus Outreach sub-group and this led to our adoption one of the participating teams as the SDP Fushan Warriors.
To reach out further to the youths of Singapore, we also organised a Youthful Moments an online photo essay competition to commemorate International Youth Day under our Campus Outreach sub-group.
GO! also organised seven walkabouts in all the constituencies the Singapore Democrats intend to contest in the next GE, including the Tanjong Pagar GRC. One of them was a record-breaking six-hour Chinese New Year walkabout.
It was a major success in terms of turnout and crowd response. The logistical preparation was considerable in an event that went on for half-a-day, covering five constituencies, and involving much resource. It is a testament of our party’s progress since the last GE (watch the video). We are in the midst of planning for two even bigger walkabouts in June to promote our SDP National Healthcare Plan.
On top of the walkabouts, our Unit has also jointly conducted pow-wow sessions, house-to-house visits and regular Block Parties with our counterparts in the Community Services Unit.
These events are great opportunities for the party to listen to our fellow citizens and, more importantly, learn how we can help to make the system work better for everyone. Get-togethers like this will help us formulate alternative policies.
One striking quality of our new members is the willingness to learn from the senior members. I am proud that GO! is the most cohesive and close-knitted group in the POD. Besides being a committed and cooperative, GO! members understand their roles and the department’s objectives clearly.
Members and volunteers are willing to work for one another and the success of the May Day Rally, of which GO! provided the logitiscal support, is a testament to the Unit’s capabilities and strengths. A number of them have been entrusted with leadership roles and given important assignments by the party’s leadership.
We will continue to nurture our newer members under the never-say-die culture of the party. Finding new members and volunteers to join an opposition party in Singapore is an uphill task. Finding quality and dedicated ones is even more challenging. GO! has managed to accomplish both in the past year.
Bryan Lim is a member of the SDP’s Central Executive Committee and Head of the Ground Operations Unit. He is deputised by Young Democrat Clarence Zeng.