Election fever grips Singaporeans in China

PHOTO: The Straits Times

To cast his vote in Singapore's general election, undergraduate Saishreyas Sundarajoo took a six-hour train ride from Wuhan in central Hubei to Beijing.

Yet the Marine Parade constituent showed little sign of fatigue from the long trip, telling The Straits Times that he was determined to travel to China's capital because it is important to exercise his vote. "I want to have a say in who represents me in Parliament," said Mr Sundarajoo, 23, who is studying medicine.

He was among the first Singaporeans to vote at the Singapore Embassy in Beijing yesterday. Some queued up before voting opened at 8am.

Mr Spencer Hsu, 33, who works at the Monetary Authority of Singapore in Beijing, was the second person in line. Like other voters interviewed by ST, he said he was gripped by election fever despite being away from home. He was planning to play host to some friends and watch the results together.

A Pioneer constituent who is voting overseas for the first time, Mr Hsu said he keeps up with election goings-on through social media and WhatsApp chat groups.

Following the hustings in China requires effort, though - watching an election rally on YouTube requires logging onto a VPN network, as the video-sharing website is blocked in China.

But few are complaining.

"Elections are getting more exciting in Singapore," said Hougang constituent and Nestle China research and development head Rebecca Lian, 59.

"There are more candidates with interesting backgrounds now."

Besides Beijing, Singaporeans could also vote at the Singapore Consulate-General in Shanghai.

While overseas votes make up only a small portion of the overall ballots, Mr Sundarajoo feels that the exercise "bonds us all as Singaporeans". "When everyone can see the importance of voting, then Singapore will be stronger."

chengwee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 12, 2015.
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