Even after eight years in politics, Mr Gerald Giam, 40, still gets butterflies in his stomach before he knocks on doors during house visits for the Workers' Party (WP).
Talking to strangers might come naturally to some people, but not to Mr Giam, who admits he is an introvert. "It's not easy for me to go up to strangers to try and convince them of my point of view, but once things get warmed up I really enjoy interacting with people, especially those who want to see Singapore move forward," says Mr Giam.
The IT consultant, who does weekly house visits in Fengshan SMC with a team of volunteers, says nowadays he seldom gets doors slammed in his face. "People are much more open now. People are more willing to open their doors and speak to us without looking over their shoulders - people see us as a relatively permanent feature now, especially in this part of Singapore," says Mr Giam, describing how the reception to the party has changed.
He joined the WP in 2009, and was fielded as a candidate in East Coast GRC for both the 2011 and 2015 elections. As part of the top-performing GRC team that lost in 2011, he then went on to be one of the WP's Non-Constituency MPs.
"(People) are judging us not as young new upstarts, but a party that has been around for some time. Expectations have increased and we need to work harder both on the ground and in Parliament," he says.
The former co-founder of online news site The Online Citizen says he joined the WP partly because he wanted to help build up a credible alternative to the ruling People's Action Party (PAP): "I felt I wanted to get into the ring and effect that change. I knew that change could not come from within the PAP, and a lot of this change would have to be imposed from the outside in terms of a credible alternative party."
The fact that young people now are politically aware and interested has also given him cause for optimism. "I go on house visits, and I meet young people - I'm talking about teenagers and Secondary 1 students - I ask them, 'Have you heard of WP?' Almost all of them will say yes. It's quite different now. When I was in Secondary 1, I don't think I knew what the WP was," he says.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline ''Now, doors don't slam in my face' '. Print Edition | Subscribe
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