Journey of a Politically Woke Swinger

I actually cringed when using the trendy term “woke”, because I’m already past that age of speaking like a Gen Z or millennial. And no, my lifestyle is definitely not like Fifty Shades of Grey (although I wished ….)

I belong to what many call the 30% (or even higher) of voters who are undecided, fence-sitters, easily brainwashed, cowards, the list goes on, and gets even more demeaning. But guess what? My vote really counts – because it can swing results either way.

But am I really undecided? Am I stupid? Am I asleep? I admit I am politically apathetic, but definitely don’t agree with what die-hard opposition supporters label people like myself.

My First Political Rally and Inclination Towards the Opposition.

It was during GE2001 when Low Thia Khiang was always a draw with his immensely well attended rallies. Besides Hougang stadium where I jostled with tens of thousands others, I attended Chiam See Tong’s rally at Kallang Padang and was blown away by his conviction and eloquence. But when I got home and watched the news on television, they showed close ups of ruling party candidates perfectly poised and speaking flowingly, while their report of Mr Chiam was a segment where he was stuttering when he started his address.

How unfair! I thought. Here was someone who was really fiery, convicted and really talked sense, and yet was painted as a less than capable candidate. Bear in mind this was someone who always contested at the same constituency, was “kicked out” of the party he founded, and for the 2001 GE, formed and led an alliance with other opposition parties. He definitely did not deserve such treatment after overcoming so many challenges.

Being the young, idealistic (or so I thought) and reckless youth then, I decided to be anti-PAP and plunged into the new media of the time – the Internet. For those of you too young to know, the Internet was still in its infancy and the default search engine was Yahoo (Google was only starting out) and Amazon was still selling only books.

From chat relays (ICQ/IRC), I was a keyboard warrior on various forums of the day, and was attracted to the Workers Party.  The WP was undergoing a renewal of sorts that year, with  Low Thia Khiang winning his 3rd term in parliament after taking over from JBJ as the leader of the party.

I was encouraged by the overwhelming support online and affirmation that so many of us were thinking of a more democratic society. Come on, just look at the tens of thousands at WP rallies compared to the near zero attendance at the all-white’s ones.

My anti-establishment tirades and open support especially for the WP, were measured and reasonable – so unlike the illogical ranting and vulgarity from many other opposition supporters. So much so that a WP committee member invited me to a meeting at their Jalan Besar headquarters. Obviously someone had noticed and figured I was the kind of supporter they wanted. But the politically apathetic me declined.

The result of the election was not at all what so many of us netizens expected. There was no “by-election effect” despite 51 of 84 seats being uncontested and the PAP being returned to power even before a single vote was cast. In the end, only Hougang and Potong Pasir were retained by the opposition.

My Awakening

Or should I say, when I became woke. I realized that I was always there just for the entertainment. For the thrill and excitement of being in large rallies/crowds where you could feel the passion of the supporters (mainly applicable to opposition).

My anti-establishment sentiments were really due to my immaturity as a youth. As much as I hate it, I was the type of person that parents will say “不会想” or not discerning.

But wait, the support online is so strong! Everyone is FOR the opposition! Why did the PAP win over 90% of the seats?? Actually the “group support” I found online was really all about “birds of a feather flocking together”. It was self-affirmation where I only saw similarities with others who were like me, but blind to the reality of how most people were thinking.

I decided to put everything aside and focus on building my own career, which made me even more apathetic but opened my eyes further.

As I progressed and rose through the ranks, I realized that I had been wasting my time previously – instead of focusing on exceling in my job and improving myself, I was throwing away precious time online on my anti-establishment efforts.

As I became entrenched into the “swing voter segment”, it simply reinforced the simple fact that people like us have no time to waste on foolish pursuits –  like lobbying online to people who cannot even vote in opposition-contested wards, and attending rallies far far away from our own neighborhoods!

We have often also been called the “silent majority” but someone labelled us the most appropriate way – the “sensible segment” because we concentrated on making ourselves better and climbing corporate ladders, and simply did not bother to attend pointless rallies, or live in the virtual (aka unreal – where so much is fake) world of the Internet. We did real work and enjoyed real achievements. It was this sensibility that led us to make sensible choices – in life, career, and for whom we chose to walk with for our futures.

Sadly, many opposition supporters are still trapped in this vicious cycle. They complain about everyone and everything, and pay more attention to such anti-government activities, instead of prioritizing their work and careers. In the end they do not progress quickly enough, and choose the easy way out of blaming everything and everyone instead of themselves.

As a parent now, my thoughts are crystal clear. Would I want my daughters to make a sensible choice for a life partner, or go for that cool, rebellious “Mr Popular”?

Share your thoughts!

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.