I have great respect for this man, fighting on despite his age and health
This is what I call a true man. A man who will not relent, despite any conditions or obstacles he faces, just so we can have our voices heard by the nation.
A true Singaporean who have stood up for fellow Singaporeans, and will stand up for all of us. All the things he stood up for, not for his own benefits, but ALWAYS for us singaporeans. He is the voice that will speak up for us, in the past, right now and definately in the future.
I'll always support you Mr Chiam!
~ An ardent supporter breaks down upon meeting Mr Chiam See Tong
For one man in his 60s, it was just too much to bear.
Moments after the Singapore People's Party's (SPP) first General Election rally at Jurong West ended on Friday, he was so moved by secretary-general Chiam See Tong's speech that he began to tear.
The man cried as he shook Mr Chiam's hand and said, "I feel so happy for you that I am crying. I hope you win."
Others added more words of encouragement, including one who said, "We need more people like you."
Indeed, many in the estimated 1,200-strong crowd had come just from across the island -- some from as far as Woodlands --just to hear Singapore's longest-serving opposition MP speak.
Crane operator Nizam, 26, who stays in Choa Chu Kang, attended the rally even though he would not have the opportunity to vote for the SPP, which will be contesting only in Hong Kah North SMC, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Potong Pasir SMC.
"I came down to see Mr Chiam, because I wanted to see him in person, to hear him speak. He's a great man," he said.
"He's a legend," added Hanizah Zaini, 27, a customer service officer. "It's amazing that he is still here (and standing for election again), against all odds."
The most poignant moment of the night came when Mr Chiam -- hunched and bowed by old age and the lasting effects of a stroke -- took to the stage.
Even as the audience chanted his name, the Potong Pasir MP for the last 27 years said humbly, "You give me more applause than I deserve."
Explaining his decision why he's contesting another election at the age of 76, the former lawyer said, "I am not actually a brave man. But I love Singapore and I love Singaporeans."
Speaking in a slow, measured voice, he said that the opposition is the essence of democracy and that the government needs to be more transparent and accountable.
Urging the audience to make their vote count, he said, "Every one of us can take part in politics. I can assure you that nothing will happen to you; I am a living example you can follow."
The crowd responded and at one point, a resident called out, "Mr Chiam, you don't have to speak. We will vote for you!" while others applauded to show encouragement.
During the rally, Chiam's wife Lina -- who will be taking over her husband to contest in Potong Pasir -- also delivered her maiden speech.
Acknowledging that she was more well-known as "Mrs Chiam See Tong", she was determined to stand on her own two feet.
"My name is Mrs Lina Chiam, not Mrs Chiam See Tong. I am my own person, and I will do things my own way," she declared to resounding cheers.
Mrs Chiam, 62, also revealed some of the trials Mr Chiam faced as an opposition MP.
This included an incident where Mr Chiam planted a tree that was given to him as a gift, but it was uprooted and killed with acid by unknown enemies—a story that even her fellow SPP candidates themselves were unaware of.
SPP's Lina Chiam :
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC candidate Benjamin Pwee later told Yahoo! Singapore he was "completely touched by the Chiams", while his teammate Jimmy Lee was inspired by the stories shared on the night.
"I now have renewed strength for the coming week," Lee said.
~ Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC candidate Benjamin Pwee encourages the crowd to face their fear of voting the opposition. …
Pwee himself took to the podium earlier in the night and spoke passionately about the need for voters to overcome their fear of voting for the opposition.
The former government scholar shared that he had battled fear for the longest time, eventually telling himself that "if (he was) going to step out, it has to be for the people."
Addressing comments made previously that voting for the opposition was akin to making a ship sink, he responded, "Which opposition candidate will put everything on the line to bring this ship down?"
~ Enthusiastic supporters cheer the SPP candidates on as they speak
Despite the night of drama and rhetoric, however, the question remains how and if residents will be swayed to vote for the SPP or the PAP.
Hong Kah North SMC resident Linda Tan, 30, remains ambivalent despite the events of the night, having attended the rally to translate what was said to her parents, whom she lived with.
"They (the candidates) brought up a few things, but I will need time to digest what has been said here, as well as to listen to what the PAP candidate has to say," she said.
Mr Chiam See Tong's rally speech :