I finally found myself some time to pen down my thoughts for 7th May 2011.
GE2011 is not quite the same for me as compared to GE2006 which I was a part of it too.
In GE2006, I was both the Polling and Counting Agent for Aljunied GRC.
In GE2011, I was a candidate and of course still rooting for all the constituencies the Workers' Party had contested in which also includes Aljunied GRC.
As compared to the campaigning period, I woke up slightly later on Polling Day, 7th May 2011. Reason, I need to reach destination at 8am instead of the usual 7.30am :)
It was a long day filled with countless activities. Started the day early to ensure that all Polling Agents were in place at all 10 Polling Station and everyone was aware of their roles. Apart from making sure that the Polling Agents were alright, I would also, like other candidates, lingered in the Polling Station for a while to witness the polling and of course, smile at our voters :)
I remembered several incident as I was walking out of the Polling Station, residents came forward to me, shook my hands and told me that they had voted for me. I appreciated their gesture very much however we were not allowed to speak to voters in the Polling Station hence I had to explain to them nicely about this which of course all of them can understand. There were also residents who probably knew that we can't speak to them, were smiling at me knowingly :)
I remembered seeing this lady :)
The day continued with activities such as buying meals and delivering it to the respective Polling Stations for all Polling Agents. When dinner was finally distributed, my team of 4 and I stopped by for a drink and this was when I was reminded that polling will end soon and that means counting will take place after that.
The first thing that came into my mind was, the months of walking and the intensive 9 days of campaigning would soon be reflected in the result slip that I was going to get that night. In the case of East Coast, Nee Soon, Aljunied and Hougang, it was the years of walking and door knocking that we had done.
I quickly finished my ice Milo before making my way to the 1st counting centre, Rivervale Pri Sch.
Atmosphere was pretty tense as I entered the counting hall. The respective counting agents were waiting for the ballot boxes from the other Polling Stations to arrive. I didn't see the other 2 candidates. I supposed they went to the other counting centre first. I've got very committed counting agents who assured me that they would fight for every vote! Hahaha!
As the counting commenced, I was making my way around the 5 counting tables, spending a good 7-10 mins of time witnessing the sorting and counting for every table. Judging from what I saw, every 4 in 10 ballot paper, I can see a cross for the Workers' Party. With that, I made my way to the other counting centre, where the counting of both 'Punggol East' and 'Pasir Ris-Punggol' were held in the same hall. As I arrived, Mr Michael Palmer was about to leave. We wished each other luck and we moved on to what we needed to do.
I went through the same routine in the 2nd counting centre. About an hour into the counting, it looks like a 38-40% of the eligible votes for the Workers' Party. The candidates of the Workers' Party were all fighting to win but we were also prepared for the worse. I remembered receiving an email to inform all candidates to get ready 2 speeches on Polling Day, winning and losing speech. To be honest, I did not prepare for any. I wanted to just speak whatever that came to my mind that moment hence I started to think of what to say as we made our way to the assembly centre. Oh yes, it was a losing speech.
My family was there. Before I could even say anything, my father came up to me and said, 'Regardless of the result, you have done your best and we are all proud of you.' I was so moved by those words. Ever since it was made known to me that I will be the candidate for Punggol East, I spent almost all my time covering the ground. I didn't have much time with my family during that period. Is time to spend some quality time with them.
Rumours of Workers' Party winning both Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC were spreading like wild fire in the assembly centre. I was quite skeptical about it. It is better to hear from the horses' mouth, I thought. Bernard and I were talking about it just a few hours before results were announced. We both thought that let's hope that we can retain Hougang, home ground, first!
When Shin Leong arrived, I need not asked him, the result was written all over his face :) He brushed aside the rumours that a recount took place in Hougang. No recount was done. This to me means that we won by a good margin. Grrrreatttt!
Next, the Aljunied team came in. The team came forward, grinning from ear to ear. I had to ask. Sylvia, who was right in front of me, was looking so so so elated. I knew it. Emotions started to fill me up, as I was controlling tears from flowing down, Mr Low TK came up to me. I remembered his question.
'How was Punggol East?'
'I think I did reasonably well for a first time candidate, probably about 38-40%', was my reply.
Mr Low nodded his head, gave me a pat on the back, before moving on to the next candidate to perhaps also asked how his/ her results were.
The official result for the Workers' Party in Punggol East was approximately 41%, better than I expected :)
The moment came at approximately 2.30am, the supporters, members of the Workers' Party and candidates turned the entire Hougang stadium into a raging sea of blue flags upon hearing the Workers' Party electoral win in Aljunied from the now famous, Yam Ah Mee. Cheers, shouts, screams and tears filled the night. The tears that I had been holding back, flowed freely. It was tears of joy, relief, and perhaps tiredness too! The 5 years of effort we put in, was rewarded :)
We know all that is history now. The real work starts from the day we won. We have to show that the Workers' Party can manage a GRC as well as a SMC. I have been appointed as the Legislative Assistant for newly elected MP, Mr Pritam Singh. This to me is another new chapter of learning as a political activist with the Workers' Party.
I certainly hope that my experience as a candidate can propel me to greater things. And I sincerely hope that 5 years later, the electoral boundaries for Punggol East will be what it is today. With that, I hope to be able to walk the ground of Punggol East again. A place which I have come to love and know the residents as well as store holders.
Towards a First World Parliament!