103-year-old has voted in every election since 1959

The 103-year-old Mr Abdul Latiff Kassim, who cast his ballot yesterday at a polling station located at Block 28, New Upper Changi Road, said he was still excited about exercising his vote after all these years.
The 103-year-old Mr Abdul Latiff Kassim, who cast his ballot yesterday at a polling station located at Block 28, New Upper Changi Road, said he was still excited about exercising his vote after all these years.ST PHOTO: JAIME KOH

Mr Abdul Latiff Kassim is 103 years old and, as far as he can recall, he has voted in every general election since 1959.

Yesterday he went to a polling station yet again, this time at the void deck of Block 28 in New Upper Changi Road.

He was in a wheelchair and was accompanied by his son, Mr Muhammad Abdul Latiff, 60, and daughter-in-law Rahmah Ahmat, 55.

The voting process took less than 15 minutes at about 10am.

He was voting in the East Coast GRC, where the incumbent People's Action Party team was up against a Workers' Party team.

The senior Mr Abdul Latiff has been living in Bedok since 1972, and worked as a gardener before an accident forced him to retire in the 1980s.

Until about three years ago, he volunteered as a gardener at the Al-Ansar Mosque in Bedok.

He gave it up when his legs became too weak.

Now, he spends most of his time at home, where he is still able to walk slowly with the help of his cane. "He does not like to trouble us; he likes to be independent," said his son, Mr Muhammad, a security officer.

Though hard of hearing, Mr Abdul Latiff nodded when asked if he was still excited about exercising his vote after all these years.

According to his daughter-in- law, an operations support officer, he reads the newspaper every day and has kept himself updated on happenings during this general election period.

"He would ask me when, when are we going to vote," she said.

Mr Abdul Latiff said in Malay that the voting process is much more systematic now than in the "early days".

"Previously, the queue was much longer and we had to wait a long time," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline '103-year-old has voted in every election since 1959'. Print Edition | Subscribe