Tag Archive | "Hazel Poa"

Whose coattails would you ride on?

Whose coattails would you ride on?

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If you could be fielded in a 5-person GRC team and given the choice to pick any candidate from any of the opposition parties to be your running mates, what would your dream team look like?

OR TO put it in a more vulgar way, on whose coattails would you want to ride on?

Guess what? All three editors at New Nation have unanimously picked Singapore Democratic Party’s Vincent Wijeysingha and God, erm, no.. I mean, Workers’ Party’s Chen Show Mao as part of their dream teams.

Explanation of choices follows.

Fang Shihan’s 5-person GRC Dream Team:
1. Sylvia Lim (Workers’ Party)
2. Chen Show Mao (Workers’ Party)
3. Vincent Wijeysingha (Singapore Democratic Party)
4. Gerald Giam (Workers’ Party)
5. Fang Shihan

Shihan’s explanation: Sylvia’s awesome because as an Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, she’s proven her vocal worth by saying sufficiently smart and important things in parliament. The specific substance of it doesn’t matter actually, nor does her political stance.

Because people like me will vote for her, and whatever team she’s leading, simply because she symbolises ‘a credible challenge to the incumbent’.

You know, like how it is a matter of posturing? It’s like people playing mahjong for the first time, who don’t really know the specifics of the game, but they know when they get a damn powerful set and it’s time to follow through to finish it?

So, it’ll be Sylvia leading the pack, together with Chen Show Mao, Dr. Vincent for the minority, and Gerald Giam. Yes, egos may clash and Vincent may feel out of place compared to the hammers, but hey, he being the best minority candidate now.

You could say I’d have four coattails to ride on, but in reality, it’s only the leader that counts. The leader is the face of the GRC team. Sylvia’s an alpha female, has whopped the garhmen’s arse in parliament and lived to tell the tale (unlike, ahem, Viswa), and is relatively good-looking. We’ve satisfied the lesbian population, the anti-PAP ra-ra sector and also anyone who’s superficial.

That more than covers a large voter base.

Conclusion: Shihan is a closeted Workers’ Party supporter. She doesn’t even bother to explain why she chose Gerald Giam. Gerald Giam… just because. Furthermore, she might also be a progressive at heart. Or, somewhat queer.

——————

Terence Lee’s 5-person GRC Dream Team:
1. Sylvia Lim (Workers’ Party)
2. Low Thia Khiang (Workers’ Party)
3. Vincent Wijeysingha (Singapore Democratic Party)
4. Chen Show Mao (Workers’ Party)
5. Terence Lee

Terence’s explanation: For me, experience comes first. On this count, Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang come to mind.

Sylvia has served one term as an NCMP and she appeals to the younger, English-speaking crowd. Low has been an MP since 1991. Plus, his Teochew is second to none, and older folk respond to that. Both are relatively young, and pretty sharp.

If this was the 2006 elections, I’d want Chiam See Tong. But after hearing him speak in person recently, I’m not impressed. He has lost a step. And he doesn’t seem as sharp anymore. A team, in my view, must also have longevity, which means I want the team to stay intact not only in this elections, but the next. So no, I don’t want him on my team.

I must confess something: I like the Singapore Democratic Party. No, not the old, slogan-chanting, placard-waving SDP of the Chee Soon Juan mould, but the new SDP featuring Danny the Democratic Bear. Policy-wise, SDP actually has really solid proposals. They have a Shadow Budget that tells us how they hope to fund their policy proposals, something that WP has failed to do.

I also like the fact that they are a principled and loud party who would stand up for the values even if it costs them in the short-run. A perfect complement to the WP’s pragmatic, quiet approach. WP is the yin to SDP’s yang. But I have an issue with Chee Soon Juan’s confrontational style. It’s off-putting, repulsive, and quite alien. Plus, Singaporeans remember him for all the wrong reasons.

So, therefore, I really like Dr Vincent Wijeysingha. He might be confrontational too, but he’s milder than Chee Soon Juan. I was impressed by the way he stood up to Tharman, rebutting him not just with platitudes, but arguments backed by actual figures at the Channel News Asia debate forum. He’d make a fine Parliamentarian, and furthermore, he’s openly gay (minority voice!). He’ll be a fine addition to my team.

Finally, since Singaporeans are such paper-chasers, we need a candidate with credentials so impressive that it would cause Tin Pei Ling et al. to shit in their pants and wallow in self-pity. More importantly, Singaporeans will swoon over him in no time.

That man is Chen Show Mao. Check this out: He graduated from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, and has tremendous experience in international securities offerings and merger and acquisitions. Here’s more namedropping from his law firm’s website:

“In capital markets, Mr Chen advised the Agricultural Bank of China on its recent $22 billion IPO, which is the largest by an Asian issuer, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on its $21 billion IPO, which is the second-largest IPO ever, and the first global offering that involved a concurrent listing in China. He also advised Sinochem on the largest-ever international debt offering by a Chinese company and the underwriters for China Unicom in the largest-ever international convertible bond offering by a Chinese company. Mr Chen completed the global initial public offerings of Air China, China Construction Bank, MCC, Sinoma, Sinopec, Unicom and others.”

I sure as hell don’t know what the paragraph is talking about, but count me into the Cult of Show Mao. He not only had a good career, but he’s eloquent too, judging by the interviews and soundbites he has given to the media. He’s cool as blue.

Conclusion: Terence might also be a closeted Workers’ Party supporter given that three out of five choices are from WP. He should also be forgiven for favouring flair but it is obvious that Low, Lim, Chen and Wijeysingha are hot, hot, hot. They have seared themselves into many people’s brains.

———–

Belmont Lay’s 5-person GRC Dream Team:
1. Sebastian Teo (National Solidarity Party)
2. Tony Tan or Hazel Poa (National Solidarity Party)
3. Vincent Wijeysingha (Singapore Democratic Party)
4. Chen Show Mao (Workers’ Party)
5. Belmont Lay

Belmont’s explanation: I doubt many people have heard of Sebastian Teo of the NSP. But from what I gather, he is a fluent speaker of Mandarin, Teochew and Hokkien. His demeanor puts heartlander folks at ease and he has worked the ground very, very hard the past few years doing his rounds and meeting the people face-to-face.

This is old-school politics and I like that style. And best of all, Sebby has a MBA from NUS! He is a self-made man, therefore, I approve.

Now, look: As a bargain-hunting Singaporean, what more can you ask for if you had EITHER Tony Tan or Hazel Poa in parliament? Tony and Hazel are a husband-and-wife team. Wherever one goes, the other will be right behind. Even if just one of them becomes an MP, I can be assured that taxpayers will be getting two MPs for the price of one.

Tony’s got a problem dealing with the figures of a new policy? No worries. We have a numerate Hazel to look through the numbers. Oh, you mean Hazel’s got a draft that needs some editing and needs another pair of eyes on it? Tony’s right on it.

Even Groupon.com can’t beat this deal, you know (Terence’s note: Belmont missed out on the fact that Nicole would be on this team, since they are a couple. What a bargain!).

Dr Vincent Wijeysingha. Ah… It’s always good to know that someone was a social worker. He would have seen a side of life not many people can even come to terms with. This parliament needs someone who is burdened by the problems of the poor and needy.

Lastly, I would definitely want God, erm no I mean, Chen Show Mao to be on my side. Chen has a statesman-like demeanour as he is someone who has been at the highest echelons of the corporate world, unlike say, someone who used to serve in the SAF.

And the last time I checked, he has more credentials than Tin Pei Ling has handbags.

And imagine if Chen wasn’t denied entry into medical school last time. Then he would have served National Service for real and be a doctor who would continue to serve the people. This is unlike some doctors who never served NS and still want to enter parliament.

I would prostrate myself in His presence, erm I mean, I would have a lot to learn from Him, erm no, I mean, Chen.

Conclusion: Belmont is a typical cheap bastard who is also god-fearing, no erm.. pragmatic and politically astute in his choices. His choices may appear wide-ranging, but he is a National Solidarity Party supporter.

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PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

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Here’s the scary part about last night’s Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum: For a minute there, I actually bought what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to say. But not for long.

By Belmont Lay

The Prime Minister's wife, Ho Ching, was there to lend her quiet support. Photo: FANG SHIHAN

THE gist of Prime Minister Lee’s argument about leadership renewal is pretty straightforward: There really is only one party in Singapore that is wise and talented enough to attract the best and the brightest to lead this country.

And that party happens to be the PAP.

This is a re-iteration of what his father, Lee Kuan Yew, famously once said: If a jumbo jet carrying 300 of Singapore’s top leaders were to crash, Singapore would be finished.

So you want viable opposition parties to be at the helm? Nope, sorry. They are going to find it even harder to attract the best.

You want a two-party system? Nope, not even remotely possible. Not that the PAP did not think about splitting itself into two.

The younger Lee said: “But the most important reason why a two-party system is not workable is because we don’t have enough talent in Singapore to form two A-teams.”

He added: “We are now pulling together the next A-team of Singapore. And the PAP candidates in this round will form key members of this team and in the next couple of rounds.”

Fair and good, right?

Well, not until you take a look at what is happening on the ground in the opposition camp and you can easily dismiss what Lee had to say about the shortage of talent.

The simple fact is that not everyone who is bright and able wants to be part of the PAP.

The National Solidarity Party has two ex-government scholars: Hazel Poa and Tony Tan, as well as a lawyer, Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss.

The Singapore Democratic Party has Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, who worked as a social worker (with a doctorate in social policy) and absolutely rocked at the Channel NewsAsia debate last week.

And short of introducing God himself to run in a GRC, the Workers’ Party has Chen Show Mao.

So, pray tell, I want none of these but Tin Pei Ling? Just because the PAP says she is good?

Why should I trust the PAP’s ability to screen for potential candidates let alone attract top dogs? There is nothing in their mechanisms that inspire confidence or convinces me that they are not just making up numbers or creating the appearance of looking diversified by fielding Tin Pei Ling.

Therefore, two rebuttal points to the PAP system: It reeks of hubris and it has a tendency to breed bureaucratic apparatchiks.

But what really got my goat was what Lee had to say about PAP wanting to represent every Singaporean: “I think we should try to the maximum extent we can, align all the interest of Singaporeans and make sure one party can represent you, whether you are the CEO or whether you are a taxi driver.”

Right…

I just cannot buy the argument that one party can represent the interest of every segment in society.

If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

Even lesser so, when it is one party trying to be representatives of all the people by manipulating the interests of its citizens.

This is social engineering gone mad.

Let’s not argue about hypotheticals but illustrate using a vivid example: Just look at what happens when you have one Housing Development Board dictating the housing needs of 80% of the population.

The system eventually went tits up late last year when it can no longer make affordable housing to cater to the needs of the masses.

My take on this is pretty simple: If the present Government (a term that was interchangeably used with PAP last night) is indeed as brilliant as it makes itself out to be, it should have been able to create an alternative to the HDB, or made tweaks to refine it.

But it didn’t.

And you ask: Why is there a need for an alternative?

Because public housing, which are built across the island, 1) do not have any quotas reserved solely for local Singaporeans and 2) are subjected to open market competitive pricing, forces prices of housing across the board (private property included) to explode the moment demand goes up.

HDB prices have gone up drastically over the last twenty to thirty years, outgrowing the average Singaporean’s ability to afford them.

And yet the HDB would still insist on providing for the majority, which means it will come back to bite you and me in our asses, because no matter how much richer you can get, you might still end up in a HDB.

Or remain staying with your parents.

I see you have half a million dollars there? I’m sorry, you can probably only afford to buy a three-room flat in Ulu Sungei Goondu, behind Woodlands forested water catchment area, you high-income earner you.

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

The PAP doesn’t represent your interest at all. It can’t and I won’t even humour myself to say it can.

Period.

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Parachute politics in Singapore

Parachute politics in Singapore

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PAP brings in two new citizens as candidates for the upcoming elections. Will this move cost them?

by Terence Lee

Photo: PETER TAYLOR / Creative Commons

POLITICAL parties here have the nasty habit of springing surprises at the eleventh hour. Candidates are announced only weeks before Polling Day, and right now we do not know where most of them are contesting.

Recently, we were blessed to know that Tony Tan and Hazel Poa parachuted from a wobbly Reform Party jet and into the arms of Uncle Meng Seng, secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party.

He announced with great fanfare that his prized catch will be contesting in Moulmein-Kallang GRC, but even that is now uncertain.

Blame it on the short electoral time frame imposed by a government who would rather get on with business and leave behind messy politics, and messy opposition parties unwilling to reveal their cards early.

But the PAP recently gave parachute politics new meaning: Two of their new candidates, Dr Janil Puthucheary and Foo Mee Har, are new citizens. Janil, a paediatrician at KK Children and Women Hospital, came to Singapore in 2001 but only became a citizen in 2008. Mee Har, the global head of premier banking at Standard Chartered Bank, also became a citizen the same year.

Netizens have roundly criticised the commitment of these candidates, but Janil seems to be hardest hit because – gasp – he did not serve National Service. They also questioned whether new citizens like them truly understand the concerns of native Singaporeans.

I, for one, would not judge so quickly. It’s just like meeting someone at a speed dating event – don’t expect to know someone well within five minutes, let alone through a pithy soundbite or newspaper article. An atas Singaporean who has lived here for fifty years may have never interacted with the poor even once in their wasted lives, whereas a new citizen, concerned about the well-being of his or her adopted society, would volunteer at Meet-the-People sessions.

So time is no indicator of empathy.

But I wonder if everyone thinks the same way? Judging by calls for Dr Janil to pick up the SAR21 and shout “arty, arty, arty!”, maybe not. And I suspect this is a vulnerability the opposition parties will exploit during the hustings. Expect them to call out Janil for not being committed to, or understanding the country enough. Mee Har will not be susceptible because she has been in Singapore since 1989.

Citizenship, to some, is a fleeting concept. So is National Service. Why expect Janil to serve NS when many of us are happier without it? There is no point in making him suffer like us.

So, given the anti-foreigner and anti-immigration sentiments pervading Singapore nowadays, I cannot vouch that they will be readily accepted by voters.

But I can be wrong.

If I were them, here’s what I’ll do: To ensure that I get into Parliament, I would play it safe. Don’t start a blog, or have a Facebook page. Don’t make any controversial statements, or be overly aggressive. Toe the party line, at least until I get elected, or become a minister. Let the anchor Member-of-Parliaments I am contesting with do the heavy lifting. That’s what GRCs are for, ain’t it?

The other alternative would be to portray themselves as the rebel in the camp, but that seems unlikely to happen, given how kosher they have been in their interviews.

They should also keep harping on their credentials. Many Singaporeans who don’t really care much about politics will be hypnotised by the fact that Mee Har is some bigwig at a big bank. And don’t forget: apathetic Singaporeans have a significant influence on voting results (as Belmont astutely pointed out), since voting is compulsory.

The only way for opposition parties to counter this would be to put on the pedestal someone more impressive, maybe the CEO of a bigger bank.

Ultimately, whether these two candidates will be a boon to the PAP depends on where their parachutes land. I suspect these characters will appeal to wealthier, cosmopolitan types – Singaporeans who spend plenty of time abroad to work or study. Much will also depend on how the opposition candidates attack their credentials, and how they deflect them. Soon we will know whether both candidates truly understand the concerns of Singaporeans.

Citizenship, to some, is a fleeting concept. So is National Service. Why expect Janil to serve NS when many of us are happier without it? There is no point in making him suffer like us.

So, in an increasingly cosmopolitan Singapore, it will matter less how much time a candidate spends in the country, and more how a candidate makes the most of his or her time here.