Not many things can get me out of the house on a weekend. I, however, did so today. The very thing that wielded the power to make me step out (and brave the bad haze at that) was the Workers’ Party Youth Wing SG100 Conference.
Now, I have never attended any political event before, apart from the rallies I went to during the last two General Elections. This SG100 Conference is my first and I went alone. I did not know what to expect and I went with no expectations.
The conference was held at a modest venue called The Agora at Midview City. I had earlier signed up online for the event, which apparently met with an overwhelming response. So, I suppose I’m considered lucky to be one of the 70 who got a place. The registration was quick at the reception table and attendees were segregated into eight groups.
A quick round of introductions within my designated group saw young people who have not even reached voting age to those who are almost nearing the age limit of 40 to be considered a “youth” by the Youth Wing’s definition. (I must admit I’m tickled to be labelled as a youth, considering my age.) An engineer, an NS man, a financial planner and a part-time dog boarder, to name a few, were among those in my group. It was really interesting to see people of different ages from all walks of life and hear their individual stories.
Facilitated by two Youth Wing members each, the groups were given questions to ponder over and discuss, such as:
- How old will you be in 2065? What will you be doing?
- What is the Singapore you wish to see 50 years from now?
- What can you do for Singapore?
I was pretty amused by the first question. In 2065, I would be in my 80s and I’m not even sure if I am still alive then. Some in my group said they would like to be happily retired in 50 years’ time; others foresee a bleak future in which they cannot retire at old age. For some reason, Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” popped into my head.
It was food for thought.
I sat next to a young man named Jimmy, who is 20 and doing his national service. At his age, I was apathetic and had next-to-zero interest in the local political scene, despite being a Political Science major in university. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked Jimmy what prompted him to attend the event.
He spoke of changes he saw in Singapore, and how some policies had affected him when he was a student, albeit less so now that he is undergoing national service. Jimmy shared on his desire to do his part for Singapore and prove to naysayers that those in opposition parties can contribute to society.
I was truly heartened to hear all that from a young Singaporean.
The conference ended with a few of the Youth Wing members sharing anecdotes of how they came to join the organisation as volunteers. One recalled how his parents had called him “into a room” over his decision, and we all had a good laugh.
If anyone had expected any form of hard selling or coercing to join the party from attending the conference, he or she would have been disappointed. The atmosphere was light and casual throughout, and the conference was more like a gathering of like-minded people on a weekend afternoon. We were not even given any forms to sign up as volunteers at the end of the session.
I had taken the step out of my house today, and I’m glad to have taken that step. Because by the looks of things, that step is going to lead to something more.
Workers’ Party Youth Wing member Bernard Chen takes a wefie with the SG100 conference attendees. Photo via Workers’ Party Youth Wing Facebook page.