A fellow grassroots volunteer tells me this the worst time ever to be in PA grassroots organisation with Palmergate and AIMgate surfacing in the news. That friend may be right. But the obstinate yet weird nature of yours truly thinks otherwise.
Singaporeans have been deferring to the authorities far too long to take ownership of our lives. Even in areas such as grassroots organisations or town council committees where they were setup and intended to encourage active participation for the residents by the residents. Yet many level headed, non partisan residents refrained from participation. Why is that so? I asked myself and others countless times. The usual responses I got include the following,
1) What’s in it for me?
2) It’s a private club for PAP
3) It’s a thankless, wageless job
4) It’s for porlampas (ball carriers)
My response to the first question is this. You get to serve the residents, your fellow residents, your kampung. You have the privilege of helping those in need of help. You get to know more people in the neighbourhood. You’ll learn compassion. You’ll built self-confidence. But to get these, you have to humble yourself first. You’ll have to understand the purpose of grassroots organisation. You’ll have to throw politics out of the window when you’re wearing the hat of a grassroots volunteer.
As for the next 3 responses, my reply is this. For far too long, Singaporeans have been deferring to the authorities to manage almost every aspects of our lives. The passionate ones also gave up far too easily when some setbacks arises. Over time, you see a dilution of humble, sincere and almost passionate grassroots volunteers. Self serving, arrogant or ignorant people moved in. Instead of removing the infection, we choose to cut off the healthy limbs to preserve them.
If I am to pull out now, am I not creating a seat for self serving people to fill? Am I not proving that I was in for selfish reasons?
I told my friend this. If you’re sincere and understands the cause of grassroots organizations, have no fear. Hardworking, honest Singaporeans will understand that we are volunteers of the ordinary people pool. We’re not Xmen, superheroes, Avengers types. Remain true and sincere to what we believe in, that is to promote harmony, neighbourliness and mutual respect, for the people by the people.
So what if it’s PAP? So what if it’s WP or whatever political party, if your affiliation in grassroots is the residents? The MP is voted in by the majority of the constituents, your fellow residents. Give the MP at least that recognition. I know some of you will cite the GRC system that allows some MPs to ride on the coattail of the heavy weights but let’s leave that discussion for another day.
The points I wanted to say in this post are these, especially if you are a volunteer yourself… keep your conscience clear. Be sincere and humble. Built up your knowledge by taking an interest on the happenings in your community, government policies and various functions of the state organs. Last but not least, recognise that you are only a volunteer and like any other person, you have your limits and don’t take it too hard upon yourself.
(Like I mentioned in my previous posts on RC, all the above are my personal opinion. They are not endorsed nor bare any relation to official statement or organisations)