As a single member constituency, Potong Pasir is a town like no other. Its residents are as vibrantly colourful as they are fiercely loyal. They are infamous for turning away multimillion dollars’ worth of upgrading packages by the Government just to support Mr Chiam See Tong and to have him represent them in parliament. Until the 2011 General Election, Potong Pasir was the ward longest held by the opposition; its voters backed opposition veteran Chiam See Tong for 27 years. At the 2011 GE, Mr Chiam took a leap and led a Singapore People’s Party team to contest neighbouring Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, while his wife Lina stood in Potong Pasir. Both of them lost.
It was a shocking result, but it showed that the residents will not be taken for a ride. Potong Pasir residents are a thinking bunch and will vote for the individual who works for them regardless of the color of their party (Chiam was SDP, SDA, SPP). Even Lina Chiam, wife of Mr Chiam See Tong could not cut it as a ‘stand-in’ with the residents.
Fast forward to today, the residents have since warmed up to the incumbent, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin. His votes increased from about 50% in 2011 to more than 65% in 2015.
Jose Raymond have also recently started to make his intention known in Potong Pasir, canvassing for support under the Singapore People’s Party. As a PR practitioner, Jose’s social media game is very strong. He posts regularly and takes beautiful pictures with the residents and prepare catchy captions to engage his social media audience.
While Mr Sitoh continue to connect the residents with the right policies and hard work, I keep seeing Jose going around my ex-neighbourhood posing with dogs and the old and young residents and playing with cute hashtags.
As a former Potong Pasir resident, all I can say is that we are a damn resilient bunch and we can tell the genuine from the fake.
Prior to Mr Sitoh’s win in 2011, he had walked the Potong Pasir grounds and interacted with residents for more than a decade (since 2000) despite the PAP being hugely unpopular in the area. He faced failure after failure at the polls before the residents gave him the big break in 2011 (when Mr Chiam left Potong Pasir residents to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh).
Jose tells netizens on social media that he tries to connect with the residents, but how exactly has he made Potong Pasir residents’ and Singaporean lives better?
From my observation, Jose has a tendency to publicise private information and milk them for political mileage (e.g. Sports Sg spokesperson on Rio Olympics; Toa Payoh Resident). Word on the ground was that he left the position of press secretary to Minister Vivian Balakrishnan after just 3 months because he was not selected to be fielded in the PAP team. He was then part of the Bill Ng’s team that tried to lobby FIFA to postpone the FAS elections last year. I also recently found out from his FB post, that he partners JSSL for publicity events, the same JSSL which Harvey Davis owns and is currently publicly fighting with MINDEF to defer his son (Ben Davis) NS duties.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, Potong Pasir residents are not like the rest of Singapore. We are not stupid and can see through people and call them out if they are faking it.
As an SMC, Potong Pasir is one of the most direct way for individuals to get into parliament as the contest is ‘one on one’. Mr Jose may have just started walking the ground in Potong Pasir but will he continue to walk the ground and serve the people if he had failed as many times as Mr Sitoh? Is his heart really in Potong Pasir or is this his back-up plan to get into politics after quitting as press secretary to Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
Ms Lina Chiam found out the hard way that invoking Mr Chiam’s name or playing to popular sentiments will never get you our votes.
Time will tell if Mr Jose is indeed who he says he is or will Potong Pasir spit him out like those who came before him.
“I do not talk for the sake of talking… Talk is cheap,”
– Mr Sitoh, 2015 GE Rally
P.S. If we wanted Instagrammers or Influencers in Potong Pasir we would have invited Xia Xue to come and taste our famous fish steamboat….