SINGAPORE - When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong participated in his first general election in 1984, there was no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Connecting with voters was "very personal, face-to-face", said the People's Action Party secretary-general during the constituency's Facebook live rally on Monday (July 6).
Over more than three decades, he has grown grey with his Teck Ghee ward and its volunteers, and together they have built a community and home, added the 68-year-old.
"It's a place where people have deep roots; they're been staying here a long time," said Mr Lee.
Looking back at the first Fullerton rally he did in 1984, he said he had told the young people then to have fun. "But at the same time do something for your community and we hope this will be a society where you know your neighbours, you help your friends, help your community and you participate back. And I feel we've been able to achieve both of that in Teck Ghee and in Ang Mo Kio."
This "kampung spirit" is also reflected during festivals and durian parties held in the neighbourhood, said incumbent MP Gan Thiam Poh, 56.
PM Lee was joined in the PAP studio by fellow Ang Mo Kio GRC candidate and e-rally host Darryl David, 49, with Mr Gan, new faces Ng Ling Ling, 48, and Nadia Samdin, 30, participating via video conference.
The e-rally, which saw over 7,000 viewers as of Monday night, had the five PAP team members sharing their plans and highlighting future developments in Ang Mo Kio, which encompasses the Teck Ghee, Sengkang South, Ang Mo Kio-Hougang, Cheng San-Seletar and Jalan Kayu districts.
Seven elections have been held since 1984, and PM Lee stressed that building trust and relationships with voters remains key to the ruling party.
What the PAP offers is dogged loyalty, said Mr Lee, adding: "MM (the late Minister Mentor) Mr Lee Kuan Yew used to say that this is dog loyalty and not cat loyalty. The difference is the dog loyalty is to the person. If the person goes somewhere else, the dog goes with him. The cat loyalty is not to the person. And MPs, our relationship with our voters is dog loyalty and they must build it."
Members of the public also posted comments and questions during the hour-long chat, with Mr Erwin Isaak asking how the team plans to keep building relationships like the PAP old guard. In response, Ms Ng said: "There's no short cut... A relationship is built step by step; trust is built over time. That's what I'm intending to do."
When asked by Mr David on what keeps him going, PM Lee replied: "You must have a purpose in life. You get up in the morning for what? There's something to be done, problem to be solved…you must feel that this is something which you really want to do, then you can put your heart and soul into it and for a long time."
The e-rally ended with an acoustic rendition of local artiste Kit Chan's Home sung by Fernvale residents Ferlyn Chen & Stitch. After the song, viewers were also treated to a candid moment by PM Lee as he took a wefie with his teammates and the duo before commenting that the photo was "not bad".