06 May 2006

Photo Essay: WP Rally at Serangoon Stadium

Yesterday night, I attended the last round of rallies. My first experience. I was lucky enough to have one right near walking distance from my home. It was held in Serangoon Stadium, a WP rally. It was unfortunate that I only had time during this election period to listen to one rally. I would be able to form a more balanced opinion if I were to go for the other party's rally, but then, this is a blessing in disguise, for who goes to PAP rally anyway?

Anyway, here's my humble photo essay on the event. It was taken with my old Sony digital camera, so pardon me for the poor exposure control and blur images, as well as the badly done stitches. Oh yeah, and if anyone needs it, just take the photos as long as it is not for commercial uses. (But frankly, who would want mine when Yawning Bread can give much better ones?)

I reached the rally site at slightly after 7. It was still not very crowded yet. The stands were all filled, but the fields were only about half full. There were some people scattered along the tracks and the dee. Outside the stadium, people sat in a line on the kerb. It's still early.

The first few speakers were quick, and they are from other constituencies. I did not pay much attention to what they said because I was taking photos.

I was walking around to find good photo shots, and guess who I bumped into? Andreas Keil! He's a German student in NUS taking his PhD in physics. He is also a brilliant SPS senior. It turns out that he's here to watch the show. Indeed, opposition rallies are a special sight in Singapore!

Gradually, the crowd began to swell. Interesting banners also start to appear.

At some point I stopped taking photos, and started listening to the speeches. I remember one guy... I forgot his name... he spoke in Teochew. He got everyone crackling in laughter with his witty jokes and snips at the PAP. It was just like the rallies in the past that my parents sometimes describe to me.

At about 2000 hours, the crowd began to hit the limit.

At this point of time, I planned to head towards one of the HDB blocks over the street to get an overview of the entire place. When I reached the only entrance/exit (which was rather small), it turns out that there was some trouble.

I'm not sure what exactly happened. What I know is that the police were trying to close the gate, while the people outside (angry, might I add) were trying to get in. I conjecture that the stadium has exceeded its maximum capacity, and the police were trying to stem the inflow of people. Later on, there were also repeated calls from the emcee to ask the people to move further in, so that those outside can come in. I remember the emcee saying, "I know there are some PAP people outside. Never mind. Let them come in." Hahaha...

Back to the situation at the gates, a short while later the police gave way to the crowd, and let the people stream in freely.

While I took this photo, I could hear the incoming people swearing at the police. Anyway, with that temporary blockade, an incredible size of crowd gathered outside the gates.

Quite clearly, I couldn't get out. So I went back in and took more photos. If you have been to Serangoon Stadium before, you would know that there is a small "alley" (for a lack of a better word) behind the stadium. That was filled with people as well.

At this point, I also caught a very funny banner.

When Sylvia Lim gave her speech much later on (which was the penultimate one, in between the two Low Thia Khiang gave), this banner apparently made its way right in front of the stage. She commented that "if two or three of you love me, that's okay, but if ten or twenty people, I can't concentrate." Hahaha... nice one!

Okay okay, rewind. And no more photos on this, because my camera was running out of memory space and battery. Back to the time after the gate incident. I went to a less crowded spot and listened to the speeches. I'm not quite sure who spoke next, since I forgot to bring a notepad, but about this time came the guy of the controversial storm - James Gomez. When the emcee announced his name, there was thunderous applause from the crowd. It seemed that PAP's smearing campaign has failed. Gomez brought up a couple of things, but what I remember the most was his take on the political ban of podcasts and videocasts and political discussions in blogs. He said that WP will not have such a policy. I like that. Obviously.

I'm not sure who exactly came up after this, but I remember (no one would forget, I believe) Tan Wui-Hua started off by saying he wanted to thank someone and apologise to someone. It was his wife that he wanted to thank, for her support during this election period, and his two-years old son, whom he said he has neglected because of his busy schedule. His voice started off shakily, but when it came to his son, he broke down. It was rather touching, I must admit, though as far as I'm concern, it did not become a factor in me deciding my vote, and I don't see why it should for anyone. He went to gave a speech in Mandarin, which according to him was the Mandarin version of what Sylvia Lim was going to give afterwards. There was a minor interruption at the middle of his speech, as Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim and some other party members came onto the stage chairs.

And then... the man came. Low Thia Khiang. The moment the emcee called out his voice, the audience broke into wild cheers. He gave a speech, first in Mandarin, then he let Sylvia Lim give hers, then he spoke in English. When I hear him speak, I finally understood why, even in the heavy onslaught of PAP, he was able to defend Hougang. It is not that he can articulate fluently (he admitted that he got F9 for his English in O-and A-levels). He is more of an orator, and he really knows how to connect with the audience. I cannot describe it here; you have to hear it for yourself.

Before he ended, he said that he wanted to prove the integrity of the WP candidates, to refute the claims of the PAP that the WP's candidates were of questionable reputation. He asked all the candidates on stage to recite the pledge, first in English led by Sylvia Lim, and then Mandarin, led by himself. I don't think he really pulled this one off nicely; I didn't find it impressive, and neither do I find his reasoning logical.

Anyway, he finished right on the dot - 2200 - and asked the people to leave slowly and in an orderly manner. I stayed for a while, since I don't want to squeeze into the exiting crowd. Moreover, there were some interesting photos to take. Oh, did I mention that, just like in the rally in Ang Mo Kio, the crowd were chanting "Worker's Party! Worker's Party!"

And finally at about 2220, I headed for the exit, but before turning home, I took my last photo of the crowd outside from the overhead bridge. Too bad it didn't come out nice.

And then I turned back and headed home.

(You can see the rest of my photos here.)

1 comment:

Calamity Man said...

i hope the turnout translates into votes. keeping my fingers crossed.