I’m having my air-conditioned serviced at home as I write this.

My conversation with the air-con guy disturbed me. He is Chinese, 30, married with a daughter. He is in the Mountbatten SMC. He admits he has not been following the elections.

However, he has decided to vote for the PAP. Why? Because he does not believe his vote is secret and his daughter attends a PAP school and is worried that she will be kicked out if he votes for the opposition. This was a serious, honest conversation. This is terribly, terribly worrying.

Later on in the conversation, he related his conversations with the various people he has met. You see, in his job, he goes from home to home servicing air-cons and being a young man with a pleasant disposition, he strikes up conversations easily. This is what he said to me. He said that almost everyone in private homes have indicated that they will vote for the opposition while almost everyone in HDB will vote for the PAP.

I was surprised. He was surprised I was surprised. He raised two points. HDB dwellers need the PAP to fix stuff. They equate PAP with HDB. Secondly, their lives are already so difficult that if they vote against the PAP (note, not for the opposition but against the PAP), their lives will be made all the more difficult. They too, do not believe their vote is secret. He even gave me an anecdotal example of someone who voted against the PAP and he was denied certain privileges.

This is a scary thing. A very scary thing.