Putting the party into politics

TSMP Law's joint managing director Stefanie Yuen-Thio is going all out this year with her election party, with a special large screen installed in her home to show election-related social media feeds in real time and a hawker to cook for her friends
TSMP Law's joint managing director Stefanie Yuen-Thio is going all out this year with her election party, with a special large screen installed in her home to show election-related social media feeds in real time and a hawker to cook for her friends at her home.PHOTO: STEFANIE YUEN THIO

By 9pm tonight, brand consultant Emeric Lau's Katong terrace house will be packed with 20 friends and neighbours, gathering in front of the television to watch the General Election results together.

This get-together is in its third edition, following gatherings for parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011.

Says the 36-year-old: "Since Polling Day is usually on a Friday and everyone is in town because voting is compulsory, I've made it a tradition to make a night of it."

Featuring light bites, champagne, merchandise and manifestos accumulated from visits to various rallies, his parties are a way to get friends together to watch the results, discuss the candidates and cheer their favourite nominees to victory, he says.

Many other election-night parties are undoubtedly unfolding across Singapore tonight as, for the first time since Independence, all 89 seats in Parliament are contested.

While the parties may range from casual to elaborate - one house hired an on-site chef - most of them have one thing in common: privacy. None of the interviewees for this report wanted to provide pictures of their gatherings.

TSMP Law's joint managing director Stefanie Yuen-Thio is going all out this year with her election party. She has had a special large screen installed in her home to show election-related social media feeds in real time and has hired a hawker to cook for her friends at her home in Bukit Timah.

This is her second poll party following the resounding success of her last one in 2011.

From that event, the 45-year-old learnt that social media is often faster than official sources on television. So this year, a schoolmate is sportingly helping to set up the social media feeds so the 20 or so guests can get the latest news breaks.

Meanwhile, on the menu are local delights such as wonton mee cooked by a hawker from Fatty Ox HK Kitchen in Smith Street and custard puffs from Balmoral Bakery in Sunset Way.

In the name of fun, some friends have also pledged to open bottles of champagne should their favourite candidates win seats in Parliament.

She says, "Some of the candidates running this year are our ex-classmates or colleagues, which makes us more emotionally invested in seeing how things play out."

The mother of one also feels that the party serves to involve and educate the younger generation about national issues.

"I've taken my 16-year-old son to rallies even though this is a busy year for him with his upcoming O-level examinations," she says.

"The party is a great way to get our kids engaged so they're not removed from the fray. "

Meanwhile, Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, 36, managing director of a risk management firm, is holding a Singapore "teh party" at his colonial bungalow in the Seletar Camp area.

About 25 friends will convene in his garden to watch the election results, which will be screened on an outside wall of his home. Drinks will be all kinds of teas prepared by his helper, including teh tarik and teh halia.

This is his first election-night party. He says: "I attended a friend's Polling Day party back in 2011 and really enjoyed the spirit of it."

He recalls how the heightened atmosphere had people chanting for their favourite political parties by the end of the night.

"2011 was a game changer for Singaporean politics and I'm sure this election will be just as exciting, if not more so."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Putting the party into politics'. Print Edition | Subscribe