“Why are you here?” The first thing I notice about my interrogator as she looks up from a newspaper article is her tooth. The only one in her mouth juts out below a mess of straggling, mousy hair. The shopping mall coffee shop is crowded and I remind her of this, but it is quickly apparent that she’s asking a more general question. In the run up to what is billed as the country’s first ever competitive elections next month, her challenge to my right to reside in Singapore is not out of place. An open door policy has precipitated the arrival of a stream of ex pat workers in the past few decades. So, I assumed that having decided to stop here to earn some extra travel funds, I would rapidly join the confident, striding ranks of foreigners breezing between meetings in the Central Business District. However with voters to sway, championing local employment rights from electoral podiums is suddenly very fashionable. My aborted attempt to get into business in Singapore was therefore shrouded in talk of quotas and prioritising the local workforce. Some knowledge of Chinese would also have been beneficial. The lady opposite is waiting for an answer. I explain that I have found work because there are few native English teachers here to educate the ex pats invited in during the last twenty years or so. Inevitably, their preference is to consolidate their knowledge of native English, rather than attempt to master the local dialect, the unique Malay-English-Chinese hybrid Singlish. She says her name is Rosalind. Addressing my comments, she puffs out her cheeks and abruptly swivels in her chair. She raps the shoulder of the person behind her and asks for, nay, demands a pen. It is handed over nervously by a poor girl who can’t be more than ten years old. Oblivious and impassioned, Rosalind gets on her soapbox. I am fascinated to hear that she is an active member of the Worker Party (WP), the only political group with any chance of prising enough electoral seats from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to influence decision making. As she is talking, Rosalind jabs the pen at the newspaper for emphasis. An inky mess quickly spreads above the headline. “Obviously-” she announces grandly. Despite the lack of information in this fledgling sentence, she pauses here for effect and scribbles the word down. She underlines it twice. “Obviously. The people. Singaporeans…NEED. Work. Jobs.” I think I am supposed to stand and applaud. Gradually the cogs start turning and she reels off a few campaign messages and fragments of policy. As she does so, she lingers over eye contact until my cheeks heat up and I have to look away. I’m not accustomed to political preaching. My skin itches. Her only cohesive point concerns the shrewdly chosen election date. Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew’s death in March 2015 and the fiftieth anniversary of Singapore’s independence a few months later whipped the populace into a nationalistic fervour. Enduring images of their beloved President’s rain-soaked funeral and the Red Arrows spelling out 50 in formation in the sky over Marina Bay are still fresh in the minds of the locals. Weeks later, when I learn that the Worker Party does not yet have enough candidates to contest every constituency, Rosalind’s urgent but disorganised musings make more sense. The PAP is subsequently given another term after a landslide victory, so for the likes of Rosalind it is back to the drawing board. For her and her fellow WP representatives, there is still a long way to go.