I had no clue our Prime Minister was coming to The Central mall today. I was there to catch the Riverside festivities and the annual lantern festival light up. I only wondered why there were so many policemen around and metal detector barricades to the stage area erected just outside the Central. As it quickly passed by day to night, I wondered why the zodiac figures by the river were not lit up. I wanted to leave then thinking that I was there too early in the week and should return another day perhaps.
At that moment, I heard the crack of an explosion and I was totally surprised by the fireworks. I was too far off by then to get a good photo and was blocked by the crowd and trees as I tried to walk as fast as I could towards it. It was near the stage area, but I has walked towards Food Festival area by then. The fireworks only lasted about a minute I think, starting at about 7.15 pm.
Shortly after, I was mesmerized by little kids doing a dragon dance and then lo and behold was our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong flanked by body guards and an exicited mob. It was as thrilling as the time I spotted Kevin Bacon from afar at New York City’s Central Park. It felt surreal, and I was felt sorry for the PM who looked quite worried as he walked briskly with his head down, flanked by body guards and security personnel. He even seemed a bit shy. I wondered what was on his mind. Was it the recent elections and how his pick only got 35% of the vote? Or just something mundane like he wished this event could be overly quickly as he was so tired. At that moment I totally set aside my political views and saw our Prime Minister just as another individual. You see, no matter what my political views (liberal), I still kinda like our PM who seems in a way a reluctant politician, thrust into the role, which was probably expected of him since birth. I also wondered what it was like to be the most powerful person in Singapore.
I did spot police in plain clothes checking out the area earlier and now I knew why. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for PM Lee, to have to do this probably almost every day? I would feel totally claustrophobic with so many cameras flashing at me and a mob surrounding me. I wondered if the tourists knew who he was. It was pretty darn exciting and I must say he is a handsome guy and very tall. He hardly looks his age as well. He’s 59 years old, but could easily pass for fourty-something.
I felt like such a stalker, following after him to get a photo. He was walking so fast it was hard to keep up. This was my first time ever seeing him in the flesh, even though I have lived in Singapore all my life.
In the end I just got hurriedly taken blurry shots and mostly from the back. The whole mob (security personnel, entourage, tourists and mesmerized Singaporeans) seemed to struggle to keep up with him. He didn’t seem to break a sweat, but I saw the security people perspiring like crazy. I think they must have the hardest jobs.
As PM Lee walked on, I saw that on stage, in front of Central, an entertainment show was going on. The troop from China were decked out in what seemed like belly dancing outfits and old uncles were probably having a feast of the eyes. Meanwhile I had given up on chasing after our Prime Minister who probably was at the other end of the Riverside being shown the various food stalls. It made me wonder, what does he eat? And then I realize that we don’t know much of the personal side of our PM and it would be nice if he would try to engage the population again through Facebook or some other form of social media. He is probably really busy, but I think it would be totally worth the effort to regain some direct connection with ordinary people.