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mrbrown: On dealing with missing pots and flower garlands during election time
The General Elections are coming ... expect house visits from your MPs, missing flower pots and the odd high-handed grassroots leader
You can tell the elections are coming from the status messages you see on Facebook.
Like this one from my friend about a recent visit from a Member of Parliament (MP):
"AHHHH!!! SOME MP GUY WANTS TO VISIT AND SOME FELLA CLEARED MY POTS!!!!!!!!!!! HOW ARE THEY GONNA WIN VOTES LIKE THAT??? SEVERELY IRRITATED!"
Yes, in all caps.
Apparently, the local grassroots supporters, in their enthusiasm to clear the path for the ruling party candidate to do their house-to-house visits, took away her large collection of potted plants along the common corridor of her flat.
It seems they thought it unsightly.
Her subsequent comments under that Facebook status were also in caps. This coming from someone who says she actually likes the People's Action Party. I think it is now in the past tense.
I know how she feels. The closest thing to having a garden for many HDB flat dwellers with green thumbs, is to line the corridor outside their homes with potted plants.
As long as the pots are not dangerously perched on the ledge or blocking important fire escape routes, the town council normally closes one eye.
But come election time, that eye is opened and all manner of over-enthusiastic behavior appears.
Some are welcome, like the estate gets a new coat of paint, or is cleaner than usual. Some, like this potted plant kidnapping case, is a surefire way to turn even the staunchest ruling party supporter into an all-caps ball of fury.
In another incident, one of my friends had to deal with a high-handed grassroots leader coming to her house and declaring, "Your Member of Parliament is coming to see you, you might want to get ready."
My friend said, "So?"
Thinking maybe my friend did not quite grasp the enormity of the occasion, the grassroots chap said again, "Your MP is coming, so you may want to prepare a bit."
"So?" came the frosty reply.
Undeterred, the self-appointed messenger sent to prepare the way for his messiah, said again, "But your MP would like to visit your home ..."
And before he could complete his sentence, my friend replied, "No time, we are having dinner." And then slammed the door.
If only the fellow had asked nicely, like, "Sorry to trouble you at dinner time but our MP would like to pay you a visit, is that OK?"
Other possible gracious ways to ask include:
"Please allow us the honor of gracing your lovely home and sharing with you our vision for the country and your estate, in particular our vision of improved rubbish chutes and upgraded toilet seats for us all."
"Your MP would like to extend his apology for being so busy running your estate and country, only appearing at your door once every election, and humbly asks to come into your home, to shake your hand and carry your babies."
Instead, we get the equivalent of:
"Hear ye, hear ye, peasants of the land. Your MP and Minister has magnanimously chosen your blessed household to shine his awesome presence unto! Please put on your best apparel, remove your potted plants and wash your hands before his Lordship arrives!"
I am sure not all candidates, ruling party or otherwise, think they are God's gift to politics. But your grassroots supporters can make or break the public perception of your campaign.
Other signs that elections are coming include garland-wearing candidates walking around our wet markets and hawker centers.
My friend Ben (@miyagi) asked on Twitter, "How come orchid garlands conveniently appear, to be put on candidates when they go visit markets?"
That has always puzzled me, as well.
I mean, nobody goes out wearing orchid garlands most of the time, not even for formal occasions. If you are going to the hawker center for a cheap meal, it is mostly a T-shirt and slippers dress code.
But our political candidates show up with flowers around their necks, like they've just won some Olympic sport. That, or they think they are in Hawaii.
Heck, I don't even think folks in Hawaii wear garlands to their wet market.
If you want to come across as a Man of the People, surely you don't want your constituents to feel underdressed at the wet market, right?
Or worse, make them feel guilty that they didn't have the heart to buy some flower garlands in anticipation of your eminent walkabout.
Personally, I think the least they can do is to send their runners ahead of time to inform us that the MPs are going to visit such-and-such market at a particular date and time. Then we residents can come prepared bearing garlands and wearing some ourselves, too, so everyone looks like they fit in.
In fact, if they give us ample time, we may even be able to lug some of our flower pots to the market too, for our MPs to wear.
May as well, since their grassroots people are going to clear our pots anyway.