To my dear volunteers

September 14, 2015
Singapore Democrats

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Clarence Zeng

The whirlwind hustling of GE2015 is finally over. The applause has mainly been for the candidates, but I believe the appreciation should go to a lot more people.

– Matthew Tan, who helped me co-helm the Ground Operations Team when Bryan Lim stood up to be a candidate for our party. He is the analytic guy, and helps to disarm tricky situations when tensions are high, and provides alternative solutions when none seemed to be in sight.

– Ricky Loo, my fellow comrade and deputy in ground operations. He, together with Harry oversaw the peramulator and driver duties.

-The Constituency Grassroots ICs, who ensured that the candidates kept to their schedules during the 9 day campaign:

– Mahat

 – Irene Foo/Abdul Salim Harun

 – Mervin Tan/Chris Ang

 – Lawrence Lai

 – Thomas Guna/Gerald Sng/Bobby Chia

– Bryan Lim, Dr Chee Soon Juan and the Party Leadership for handing the trust and judgement to Matthew and myself for the running of Ground Operations during the 9 days of campaigning.

I also thank the party leadership for expending adequate resources on party posters, banners, candidate booklets, flyers etc. to ensure that the logistical part of our campaign is run toe-to-toe with the incumbent’s.

I too, like you all, was a volunteer with the SDP. Back then, SDP often held sessions with prospective volunteer sessions. These were usually pow-wows for interested people at a food-court in Toa Payoh. It was interesting to find out more about the members, and the things they were discussing… until Ms Chee Siok Chin asked the magic question: “Would you like to be a volunteer?”

Upon hearing that, I disappeared without a trace not showing up for the next few activities. The climate of fear was still strong in my heart as I was still holding a job with a government-linked company.

It took me a while to muster up my courage and a little prodding from my friend, who mentioned that I was a armchair critic, for me stand up to be a polling & counting agent for my contested constituency (NSP in CCK GRC). Eventually I joined a walkabout session with Bryan, before I came on to volunteer for the SDP, and became a member and eventually rose to become a party cadre.

Courage. This is the very word that pushes you to help out, after finding out you’re gripped by fear. That fear exists in almost all of us. Fear of losing a well-paying job, fear of being scrutinized in the public light as a candidate. Fear of being outcast by your friends because you help out with a very left-leaning party. Fear of being hated by friends, family and even total strangers for the unconventional decisions that you have made as many Singaporeans seem to be allergic to politics.

A few weeks ago, I asked for volunteers, to help ensure that the flame that we kept alive, burns bright during the General Elections. You have answered that call beginning in January with courage and passion, right up to the last day before Polling Day. Uncle Albert, one of our oldest cadres, was brimming with pride when he saw me together with 4 volunteers planting a 7 metre long banner (with 21 more banners to plant!) near his house in the wee hours of the night, while he was going home from our rally.  I myself am deeply moved by the numbers that came, as well as the patience, and flexibility of the volunteers. The winds that accompany the white cumulonimbus clouds may have nearly snuffed out the fires of passion in our hearts, but let’s huddle together, and keep the flame of democracy burning until the next General Elections. We will overcome someday!


Clarence Zeng is a member of the Young Democrats and Deputy Head of the SDP’s Ground Operations Unit.

Read also Calrence Zeng’s previous article, Let’s burn the flame bright (31 July 2015).