ENCOUNTER WITH A GRASSROOT LEADER
(Yesterday morning, 22 Aug at Blk 17 Old Airport Road Food Centre)
Smiling broadly and holding up my J4M flyer, I approached a man aged about 40 sitting alone.
He glared at me and motioned that he did not wish me to approach him.
Thinking he might not be local, I asked in English “Are you a Singaporean?”
Staring at me for a couple of seconds (to the point that I thought he might indeed be a non-Singaporean), he then answered in a stern tone, “Yes, I am a Singaporean and I have already decided who to vote for.”
Astounded, I said “But how can you have decided when elections have not even began yet?”
Him (with hostility): “I am a grassroot leader.”
Me (thinking that grassroot leaders are community-minded): “Oh may I know your name?”
Me (realising that my thinking could be wrong): “Why would being a grassroot leader mean that you already decided who to vote? Does it mean that all grassroot leaders are …..”
Him (sensing where I was going, cut me off in mid sentence): “I know who you are. You are a lawyer and so am I. You are engaging me the wrong way. I am here to have my breakfast. You are engaging me the wrong way.” He clearly wanted me to go away, so I went away.
I am really puzzled by the man’s response. Many Singaporeans join the grassroots to serve the community, and not to serve politicians or the political ambitions of the ruling party. This grassroot leader had made up his mind who to give his vote to. He was not interested to meet me or to even hear me out. He made it very clear to me that I have zero chance to win his support.
Well, can’t say I didn’t try. If you’re reading this, I want you to know, no hard feelings. To everyone else who is reading this, I’m going to keep trying to work for your support, regardless of affiliation.
All I ask is for you to judge me on my merits and give me a fair chance to win your support.
Source: Jeanette For Mounbatten