After having spent ten days closely following political rallies and campaigns while tracking social media discourse out of academic interest, I took to the polls on Friday morning to cast my vote for the Singapore General Elections 2015.
Despite a mixbag of polarizing emotions (quick stats here, detailed results here), the next day I picked up my three favourite nieces for a fun-filled weekend – lunch, swimming, pizza party, lanterns in the park, chilling at the playground, late-night movie, sleepover, breakfast, and games – as a final hurrah to mark the end of their weeklong school vacation.
As a 14-year-old and two 10-year-olds, they know very little about politics apart from the fact that Friday was a public holiday “so Aunty Crystal doesn’t have to work and can come for lunch”.
In the afternoon, I took 14yo for lunch before picking up the younger ones, and told her about the previous night with my friends.
14yo: “How come your friends are so sad?”
Me: “Because the parties they voted for didn’t win.”
14yo: “Not enough people vote?”
14yo: “And the PAP always wins?”
14yo: “I also stayed up to watch. But I was so sleepy I fell asleep around 1145pm. I didn’t wait for Aljunied. Every body was waiting.”
After we had all met up, I chatted with the girls and told 10yo #1 that I had been to the Underwater World (est. 1991). She couldn’t comprehend.
10yo #1: “Do you mean SEA Aquarium [est. 2012]?”
Me: “No, Underwater World!”
10yo #2: “There’s no such thing!”
Me: “There is! It’s just very old!”
10yo #1: “Do you mean Dolphin Island [est. 2013]?”
Me: “No, Underwater World! Ask [14yo] if you don’t believe me!”
14yo: “Yeah, it’s Underwater World. It’s very old. No body goes there any more… ever since SEA Aquarium opened.”
10yo #1: “Aunty Crystal, then why don’t you just go to SEA Aquarium?”
In the evening, while waiting for the rest to get ready for lanterns in the park, 10yo #1 stood in front of the teley while the evening news was on.
10yo #1: “Why they all wear white?”
Me: “It’s their uniform.”
10yo #1: “Eh! Got woman! Got woman!”
Me: “Yeah! It’s mostly men…”
10yo #1: “I didn’t know they got women!”
En route to the park, we took a long walk to a nearby market to get candles. Both 10yos shared stories about their classmates.
10yo #2: “Our class has three Tricias. Tricia [something], Tricia [something], and Tricia V.”
Me: “What is V?”
10yo #1: “Tricia V. V is like her surname.”
10yo #2: “It’s too long, we don’t know how to say.”
10yo #1: “We just call her Tricia V.”
10yo #2: “She’s Indian.”
10yo #1: “We don’t know how to pronounce her name. Actually we never learn. We’re so racist.”
The next morning, while we were taking turns to shower, 10yo #2 caught a glimpse of the Straits Times’ Election special edition on my floor.
10yo #2: “This 69.9? Is it 69.9 vote for the PAP?”
Me: “Yeah. 69.9 per cent.”
10yo #2: “Who is the other party?”
10yo #2: “So PAP win?”
10yo #2: “How come the rest don’t vote for WP? Is it because they scared? Is it because PAP is good?”
I love my nieces a lot, and have spent many years tutoring them in English, Math, and Piano lessons. But this weekend, they taught me several lessons about politics, everyday life, and habitus.