As I'm not in Singapore most of the year, I've not had much experience with any grassroots activities going around my residential area (unlike my Mum who frequents the various Karaoke competitions and CNY dinners organized by the nearby CC).
But during a recent trip back home for Chinese New Year, I became part of a little "grassroots incident", which, in a small way, reflected on how in touch the incumbent political party was with its constituents.
Our family was having breakfast at a nearby hawker centre when a swarm of white shirts approached our table. Amid the swarm of bodyguards, photographers and
lackeys grassroots leaders, Minister Mah Bow Tan appeared to chat and shake hands with us.
Apparently, election time was drawing near.
"So how are you?" MBT started.
The Minister then took one look at my brother-in-law, who is from Hong Kong, and exclaimed excitedly: "Wait, I've seen you before right?"
My brother-in-law, whom like me also spends 99% of the year overseas, contemplated the low possibility of this happening, and was about to correct the Minister when he interjected:
"You're from Simei, right? Simei! You've got a Simei face! I can recognize it anywhere", the Minister exclaimed enthusiastically, to the broad smiles of the white cohort around him.
"Actually, I'm from Hong Kong." my brother-in-law offered.
The Minister looked a little taken aback by this and an embarrassing silence ensued for several seconds.
Then dear mother broke the silence, saying:
"Mr. Mah, my daughter and son-in-law are based in Hong Kong, and my son and daughter-in-law are living in Taiwan. They're coming back for Chinese New Year..."
"Great", the Minister must be thinking to himself, "an entire family of quitters..."