Living in a community that includes several high rise apartment buildings, it is not unusual for us to hear different noises during any part of the day. Many of these noises are new. Some are becoming familiar. Sometimes we discover the source of one of the new noises. However it is not uncommon for us to not be able to accurately discern the particular source or where it originates. (One day what I thought might be a wedding was actually a funeral. Oops.) Yesterday contained an good example of the new noise phenomena.
Right before dinner a blasting (literally) voice booms outside. I couldn’t believe how loud it was! My first thought was, this must be some sort of a tsunami or natural disaster warning. It had been
raining pouring for the past 30 minutes. Maybe the loud PA system voice was a flood warning of some sort? I then logically reasoned with myself that that Singapore doesn’t really have any natural disasters that would be worthy of a booming voice that could be heard from miles away.
However, just in case it was sort of important announcement I struggled to make out what the words were and went to the window to check what was making all the ruckus. At first I couldn’t see any obvious source of the noise. Furthermore, as I listened I could tell that the voice was not giving any announcement in English… though maybe 2 different languages. It droned on. The rain which was pouring could not drown out the awfully loud noise. When Andrew arrived home from work and came inside we could barely hear each other speak in our own house! That’s how loud this little beast of a truck was!
Eventually I spotted the source. It was a medium size truck with a blue cabin and a open back. It was driving through the neighborhood blasting its message to those that were in listening distance, whether they wanted to hear it or not. Additionally it had flags and a poster on each side. Each poster sported a symbol of a lightning bolt surrounded by a circle and also included portraits of different people. Don’t ask me how I figured it out, but I realized that it was a political announcement.
You see, in a few weeks time Singapore will have their 2011 general elections. From what Andrew and I have gathered it’s a big deal. We have gotten more than one political flier placed under our front door or in our gate slats. I guess the truck driving around and blasting out some message is part of their advertising campaign.
Another part of their campaigning must be door-to-door style. Yesterday after dinner there was a knock on our door. I answered the door to find three ladies standing in the hallway outside the home. I’m guessing they weren’t expecting a westerner to answer the door. Between me being surprised and the ladies being flustered it took a little bit of effort to try to figure out what they were saying – even though they spoke to me in English. Apparently, if I understood correctly, they wanted to know if I wanted to shake the hand of the lady that they called MP (either she was the MP or she was running for MP). I tried to communicate to them that I was not a permanent resident so that I couldn’t vote. Finally I said, “I won’t be voting.” I think they eventually caught on that in essence it was useless for them to bring some lady who was running for office to me, who couldn’t voter for her anyways. (I later figured out that MP stood for Member of Parliament… here i thought it was Madam President.)
Good news though: I have not seen one political commercial. Normally in the states during this time, when elections are less than 2 weeks away, 95% (my estimation) of the commercials on TV would be one political figure or another bashing their component. Not so here… or if they do it, they do it somewhere else and not in English, such that I haven’t noticed it! (Side note: they have less commercials in general here. Normal US Programs typically run anywhere from 45-55 minutes instead of the typical hour in the states!) I may not notice commercials on the TV – but I’ve noticed the truck in the streets.
Regardless of the type of campaigning or advertising… it has the same effect as the undesirable commercials. It has taken away any desire I might have had to vote for whomever it was promoting. I guess it won’t matter, because I won’t be voting anyways.