Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Difference between how the Privileged and Unprivileged Participate in Politics

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This is an 18-minute film about Chee Soon Juan's family, and not as much about him.

I teared as I watched his Taiwanese wife talk rather candidly about her life, especially the dream she recalled. 陪着走远路的梦.

I also like the part where the son brushed his mother's hair as the interview was going on. No one looked awkward. Just a fidgety kid listening in to his parents' conversation.

CSJ's political techniques aside, his choice of life partner is awesome.

How many highly-educated and beautiful Singaporean women can be such a devoted wife and mother under these very difficult circumstances?

An example I can think of is Mrs Lina Chiam, who is carrying on her husband's political work. To be technically accurate, Mrs Chiam was... Malaysian, i.e. not born and bred in Singapore either. So yeah... still no Singaporean example.

Meanwhile, you have TPL taking every opportunity to remind everyone that:

(1) I just gave birth LEH LEH LEH!!

(2) I gave up my job to be "full time MP" LEH LEH LEH!

(But I did spend the past 2 years reading a masters degree and the past 10 months being pregnant la.)

(3) I support single mums and their children LEH LEH LEH!! 

(But I only said this AFTER PAP Minister-in-charge of this issue, Tan Chuan Jin, made a statement stating that he was sympathetic towards single mums and their kids' plight.)

On the issue of single mums, Kervyn Lim has revealed that she is a single mum.

Finally! A real single mum championing for single mums, and not some privileged tai tai exploiting the single mum and kids issue for political posturing.

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Next Transport Minister - Use it Strategically

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With WP and the opposition parties gaining momentum, PAP could put forth a deal with Singaporean voters:

"In GE2015,
if you give PAP all seats in Parliament, 
except for Aljunied GRC, 
Low Thia Kiang will be appointed as
the Minister of Transport in the post-GE2015 Cabinet."

The fact remains that the Transport portfolio is one of the harder ones.
We must be reminded that the Transport portfolio is bigger than just train issues.
Regardless, the public/personal transport issues have the most direct impact on voters.

There are bound to be more breakdowns because (i) the East-West MRT lines are 30 years old, and (ii) there are more and more train lines added to our public transport system.

So, put the opposition camp to the real test. Don't just quarrel at the town council level.

Depending on how voters view ideal roles for opposition candidates (e.g. voters only want opposition as opposition MP voices in Parliament and never to be given power in Cabinet), PAP may just win back all the seats with this strategy.

And even if the votes do not work out, then there is always the option of making Josephine Teo the next Minister of Transport in a low-back black dress, like the one she wore to and was crying so much in especially when the cameras panned to her, at the most sombre event of the year and probably in the last 50 years, i.e. the LKY funeral procession.

The above strategy would be a Win-Win for all, wouldn't it?

Everyone is covered up to the neck in this photograph, 
except for Josephine Teo.

Who, with a modicum of sense of propriety, wears a LOW BACK DRESS to a funeral, 

not to mention a STATE FUNERAL?

This is neither a Dinner & Dance, nor some Tatler event.

Show some respect for the event, and restraint on the need for attention, please.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

St Nicks 学妹s in Politics

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Amidst the ongoing election fever, I got very excited about 2 people.

(A) Sun Xue Ling 孙雪玲

(B) He Ting Ru 何廷儒

This is because they are both my 学妹s from St Nicks.

Finally, politicians from my alma mater. It's about time.

Show them how to do it without being kayu or fake.

Make us proud. Make 校长 proud!

#iduncarewhichparty #SNGSftw

Friday, 28 August 2015

A MP without a day job... and the MP's job.

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RE: Don’t be seduced by notion politicians can work without incentives: Vivian

(A) A MP Without a Day Job

I have noticed this unhealthy assumption going around, even amidst highly-educated (supposedly-thinking) Singaporeans, that a MP without a day job automatically means that the MP is treating his/her MP duties as 'full-time'.

This assumption is just plain wrong.

A MP without a day job is NOT a full-time MP.

A MP without a day job is simply... a MP without a day job.

One should not jump to the conclusion that this MP, without a day job, would be spending all his/her waking hours in his/her ward.

The MP without a day job could be spending time on other things like completing a 2-year masters, having kids, taking care of kids, involved in his/her hobbies, whatever he/she chooses to do etc, but just not reported on Facebook for your reading and her political convenience.

One also should not conclude that the MP is spending a lot of time in his/her ward just because he/she uploads a lot of photos on his/her Facebook account.

Have you wondered why some MPs have so many pictures of them at work in the ward?
Many of such photos are posed for. Selfies, taken by 3rd parties etc.
And if the pics are taken by 3rd parties, it means time and effort need to be spent on arranging for whoever to take the pic, then send it to the MP for uploading etc.
Yes, it is easy to take pics and upload onto Facebook these days, but so many pics?!

If a MP truly works his/her ward daily, there is no need to take and upload photos 'all the time' as proof of work, right?

(B) Part-Time MPs & What is the MP's Job?

The other type of MP >>> those with a day job.

Some people complain that this means they are merely part-time MPs. That they do not serve the residents fully. So they do not deserve the full MP allowance of SGD16k per month.

See... To begin with... What is 'serve'?
We have not even begun to settle on the core duties of MPs.

(i) Some say MPs are estate managers. 
But they don't really manage the estates, right? Town council does that.

When MPs announce $XXXmil plan for upgrading/improving this and that, they are not really the ones who came up with the plan. Neither are the MPs gonna find money to finance the project, nor carry out the project. The stat boards do that.

(ii) Other say MPs are law-makers.
But really, many many rules and regulations are not made in Parliament.

Even for those which are tabled in Parliament, we very seldom see or hear disagreements from the majority. That's not really law-making, but more law-endorsing.

(iii) MPs as help-givers
At the meet the people sessions (MPS), which are held once a week, residents ask the MP for help. Help for financial problems, help for getting into trouble with the law/government, help to appeal to the government for something.

Sometimes, the help is direct. E.g. vouchers are given.
Other times, help is indirect or can be impotent. E.g. MP writes a letter to a government agency to appeal for something. Not all MPs' letters carry significant weight.

In general, I would say that the MP gets more out of the MPS, than the residents do, i.e. not all residents' requests for help are met, but the MP certainly gains insight on problems faced by residents.

The issue here is how much time and energy should a MP devote to MPS?

I have seen some MPs announcing on Facebook that their MPS last night was held past mid-night. I think such comments are self-gratifying.

If the demand for MPS is high, it is the MP's job to hold more sessions, and not squeeze everyone into 1 session per week, making people wait past midnight, then showing it off on Facebook.

(iv) A taken-for-granted definition is that MPs represent residents in Parliament and whatever.

This is different from the law-maker point.
The law-maker definition of MPs does NOT require MPs to put forth representative views in Parliament when 'making law'.

If MPs are meant to represent us in Parliament, the logical outcome is that MPs would conduct town hall meetings (or some kind of gathering of views from residents) before EACH Parliament session, to formally gather views from residents on the issues / proposed laws tabled, then present them in Parliament.

If not, when voters give the MP a mandate, it becomes a mandate where the MP can say what he wants or what he thinks voters want, and not what the voters really want, in Parliament.

If representation is the definition of MPs, then MPs would be required to spend a lot of time and energy on ward matters. It would likely require them to either hold day job which they have full control over, or have no day job at all.

But since the current definition of a MP's core duties is so loose, then there is no need for MPs to be full-time at all.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Lee Pei Fen for MP

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Apart from Wang Lei, Low Ling Ling etc, Lee Pei Fen is a familiar Gen Y face in the Getai circuit.

She can speak Mandarin, Hokkien and other dialects fluently. Of course, she can speak English too. She has tertiary education.

She is a Gen Y pursuing her passion through her own ability.

Her singing voice is awesome.
Her compere skills are outstanding.
She is a ball of energy.

Most significantly, she has been leveraged upon by both the government (see Pioneer Card vid etc) and civil society to channel important (policy) issues to the folks.

She is likeable. Her sphere of influence is significant. She gets the folks' attention. She gets the message across to them.

Contrast this to politicians who try to be 'folksy' with the folks.
Who cannot speak or sing in dialect/Mandarin properly, but die-die must put on an act of effort, especially during major events and election periods.
Or pretend to be 'chummy' with residents. Hugging and posing for photos so as to upload onto Facebook.

Why so 勉强?
Just get Lee Pei Fen to run for MP.

Why choose 'folksy' over real folks?

Is it that hard to stomach a getai singer being in Parliament?

Her full-time job is already connecting with the folks.

But yes, we will find it hard to stomach, because we are silly unthinking snobs.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


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Come... It is only Tuesday...
Let my favourite Taiwanese old Beng slow-rock us through the day...


Monday, 24 August 2015

What would our Post-GE2015 Cabinet look like?

The list below is made up of:

(A) Current cabinet members who are going to contest in GE2015
(B) A few new candidates who are likely to be destined for the Post-GE2015 Cabinet

Then, I sorted them by their birth year:

Name Birth Year Religion Race Before Politics
Goh Chok Tong 1941 ? Chinese NOL
Khaw Boon Wah 1952 Buddhist Chinese Civil Service
Lee Hsien Loong 1952 ? Chinese Military
Lim Swee Say 1954 ? Chinese Civil Service
Teo Chee Hean 1954 ? Chinese Military
Yaacob Ibrahim 1955 Muslim Malay Academia
Tharman 1957 Hindu Indian Civil Service
Amy Khor 1958 Christian Chinese Academia
Sam Tan 1958 Free thinker Chinese Civil Service
Ng Eng Hen 1958 Christian Chinese Medicine
Gan Kim Yong 1959 Christian Chinese Civil Service
K Shanmugam 1959 Hindu Indian Legal Practice
Heng Swee Keat 1961 ? Chinese Civil Service
Heng Chee How 1961 Christian Chinese SPF
Vivian Balakrishnan 1961 Christian Indian Medical Practice
Lee Yi Shyan 1962 Christian Chinese Civil Service
S Iswaran 1962 Hindu Indian Civil Service
Indranee Rajah 1963 Christian Chinese-Indian Legal Practice
Masagos 1963 Muslim Malay Singtel
Grace Fu 1964 ? Chinese PSA
Maliki 1965 Muslim Malay Academia
Josephine Teo 1968 Christian Chinese Civil Service
Ng Chee Meng 1968 Christian Chinese Military
Teo Ser Luck 1968 Catholic Chinese Private Sector
Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim 1968 Muslim Malay Academia
Ong Ye Kung 1969 ? Chinese Civil Service
Lam Pin Min 1969 Christian Chinese Medical Practice
Chan Chun Sing 1969 Christian Chinese Military
Tan Chuan Jin 1969 Christian Chinese Military
Lawrence Wong 1972 Christian Chinese Civil Service
Low Yen Ling 1974 Christian Chinese Banking & Civil Service
Chee Hong Tat 1974 ? Chinese Civil Service
Sim Ann 1975 Free thinker Chinese Civil Service
Desmond Lee 1976 Christian Chinese Legal Service

If we look at those born after 1960 (highlighted in blue), we find 22 candidates. A rough gauge of our future leadership.

Upon a closer look, there seems to be a religion-imbalance, especially amongst the Chinese candidates.

At the national level, this is what our religion distribution looks like:

Christians / Catholics
Free thinkers

(a) Majority of Chinese in Singapore is Buddhist or Taoist.

(b) Free Thinkers and Christians/Catholics are in fact similar in terms of proportion of Singaporeans.

Now take a look at the religion distribution amongst our plausible future Cabinet, i.e. those born after 1960:

All Plausible Post-1960 Cabinet Members
If Chinese
If former Civil Service
If former Military
Christians / Catholics
Free thinkers

(a) No Buddhist/Taoist
It seems there will NOT be any representation by Buddhist/Taoist in our future Cabinet, i.e. 44% of all religious views will NOT be (directly) represented in Cabinet.

(b) Over-representation of Christians / Catholics
Meanwhile, Christians and Catholics are grossly over-represented at almost 60% of the future Cabinet, as compared to only 19% in all of Singapore.

(c) Dearth of Free-Thinkers 
Given that Christianity/Catholics and Free Thinkers are both similar in terms of population proportion AND rising religious types, one would think that their respective representations in the future Cabinet would be similar.

However, there seems to be only 1 free thinker in our future Cabinet, i.e. Ms Sim Ann.

(d) The 4 members with Unknown Religions
Maybe the 4 future cabinet members with unknown religions are not Christian/Catholic and so can swing the proportions more towards the national figures.

Maybe they are all Free Thinkers. If so, the Free Thinker representation would improve, but still not on par with the Christian/Catholic representation.

Or perhaps those 4 are all Buddhists / Taoists, but that would only bring its representation in Cabinet up to 18%. This is hardly the same as the national figure. It is also hardly a majority in Cabinet for Buddhist/Taoists.

Whichever way we try to cut it, the over-representation of Christians/Catholics in the future Cabinet seems to be real and difficult to re-balance.

The Right Balance?
To begin with, is this imbalance important enough to be re-balanced?
I guess that depends on who gets to answer this question.

Perhaps it is difficult to get the 'right balance' in representation because that depends partially on the profile of those are keen to serve in the first place, which may in turn be affected by their religious belief.

Regardless, if one group dominates the cabinet, then their collective unfavoured issues are unlikely to move forward.

Further, if the dominant group is too different from the Singapore mode, then there will likely be inevitable divergence in terms of agreement.