It has to happen. In my daily walkabouts to prepare residents for GE2011, I have been challenged with all sorts of questions. Typical ones include what I can do for this place, why I have joined the alternative camp, and what are the issues we are pushing for in this GE2011.
Yesterday, an elderly lady insisted I am just one of those who turn up only during GE. Unfortunately for me, none of the previous opposition candidates in this ward had appeared at her door during campaigning. They were not around before elections, during elections and after elections. She challenged me to show her things I had already done for this constituency.
I replied that I did not have the mandate of the people as an elected MP so it is difficult for me to actively do anything on the ground. She was not convinced and said that she does not know if I will keep my promise to be active on the ground if elected. I thought to myself that the proof should be what a person has done for the country and community at large, not just in a particular constituency.
So I listed my long and unbroken active community involvement since I was a student, not in this constituency but for the nation at large: as a volunteer officer in St John’s Ambulance Brigade and the Boys’ Brigade, in community projects through my church, giving talks in community centres (though not in this constituency), mentoring students, sitting on government committees to provide professional input, sitting on Advisory Boards of schools and in committees of non-profit organisations, 19 years of service to my college alumni, community assistance projects overseas, and many more. All these were done with not a single cent of renumeration whilst balancing career and businesses at the same time. She appeared a bit convinced but still muttered that I have not been active in this constituency. Hers is certainly a tough swing vote to win, but these are the swing votes I know I must win in order to have a realistic chance of making an impact in this GE2011. So we labour tirelessly daily on marathon walkabouts, covering nearly all areas of the constituency door-t0-door.
It is a tough challenge. There are mindsets that those in opposition are not serious, that they have a personal ego to fulfil or an axe to grind. I have no axe to grind, nor am I anti-government, else I would not have served on various government committees and given talks in community centres. It will take a long while for people to accept that when one joins the opposition cause, it can simply be because he or she believes it is another way to serve the country. One can serve through community projects, in grassroots, with the ruling party, and why not with the opposition?
Perhaps after this GE2011, with a progressively changing slate of better opposition candidates, rhe electorates’ mindsets may change. But for now, it is a challenge to overcome. I am honoured and deeply touched to have a dedicated team who similarly believes that we can overcome the challenges in this elections and have toiled tirelessly with me throughout the journey. Come polling day, and we believe voters will help us make that impact.