Tag Archive | "Low Thia Khiang"

Highly paid politicians argue over meaning of word

Highly paid politicians argue over meaning of word

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Things getting existential in parliament.

By Nyi Nyi

Word.

Word.

MPs Indranee Rajah and Low Thia Khiang sparred over the meaning of “constructive politics” during the recent parliamentary session.

The two MPs, who each earn several hundred thousand dollars a year, thought it was a good idea to dedicate parliamentary time to sorting out what words mean.

Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang started off the proceedings by questioning what “constructive politics” meant when the President used it.

At some point, PAP MP Indranee Rajah argued that the word was probably not what the opposition claimed it was. She further gave her definition.

Jiang Ying Wen, an average man on the Singaporean street, said he was riveted by the discussion and glad that his tax dollars were being used properly: “I would really have liked issues concerning my stagnating wage and higher cost of living addressed, but knowing the meaning of a word is also quite useful lah.”

The issue is far from settled though, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who earns in excess of a few million a year, is expected to weigh in soon.

 

Talk about having a government that intervenes in all aspects of life:
Government bans ’69’ sexual position

Tourists to Singapore look forward to non-Singapore Tourism Board-endorsed places of interests:
Tourists excited to see S’poreans protesting

‘Our conscience is clear’, says Lianhe Zaobao editor…

‘Our conscience is clear’, says Lianhe Zaobao editor…

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… in a rebuttal to Low Thia Khiang’s assertion that the mainstream press are political thugs for the PAP.

This is a translation (stolen from the ever lovely Chong Zi Liang’s Facebook note) of the original article published in Lianhe Zaobao on May 28, 2012.

Hey hey, looking like a winner there...

Don’t treat the mainstream media as a target board

By Lianhe Zaobao Editor

This by-election has been full of surprises, as WP sec-gen Low Thia Khiang puts it, but with the final surprise coming from the man himself.

He chose to lash out at the media at his party’s post-by-election press conference, where he painted the entire mainstream press as the perpetrators of sneak attacks and playing the role of political thugs for the PAP.

These are serious allegations.

More importantly, he made these remarks by reading them out from prepared statements both in English and Chinese.

Simply put, he opened his broadside on the mainstream media after careful consideration.

Lianhe Zaobao was not in the two examples he raised in his answers to reporters’ follow-up questions. Read the full story

Teo Chee Hean advises Low Thia Khiang to seek legal recourse…

Teo Chee Hean advises Low Thia Khiang to seek legal recourse…

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…if he is indeed so unhappy about PAP’s alleged character assassination of Png Eng Huat.

Sore losers.

In The Sunday Times (May 27, 2012) today, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean expressed surprise that the Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang had accused the PAP side of “baseless attacks, distractions and character assassinations.”

And Teo is reported to have said that Low “is free to take it up further through legal actions if he feels it’s necessary.”

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Opposition supporters all over Singapore would like to take this opportunity to say this to PAP and Teo Chee Hean:

“Take up your si lang tao lah! You think everybody like PAP sibeh ooh eng ah?!”

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And now, in English:

“Wake up your idea! It is already the year 2012! And Workers’ Party is not the suing type, you understand?!”

Post coitus care: What happens after the climax?

Post coitus care: What happens after the climax?

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Now that Aljunied GRC has turned blue, the real test lies in making the relationship a long lasting one.

By Fang Shihan

Worker's Party voters in ecstasy. Photo: TERENCE LEE

THAT wasn’t such a big deal was it? For nine days the Worker’s Party campaigned hard and rallied the masses to a climax on 7th May when the 140,000 voters cast their votes. Result? Worker’s Party wins by 54% but a fine Foreign Minister was lost in the crossfire between the PAP and an electorate that’s grown frustrated enough to want to… spank them.

Aljunied voters are satisfied and satiated with Low and team’s tireless effort, so what’s left of the deal is the aftercare – they need to know the WP is in for a long-term relationship. Of course the cuddles will have to wait until they recover from campaigning exhaustion. Case in point? Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong fell asleep at the wheel the day after.

Brace yourselves and moderate your expectations people, your caretakers – Sylvia, Uncle Low, God, Chewbacca and Faisal have only just embarked on the beginning of a long five-year ride with you.

Remember all those complaints Chiam and Low had about the lack of funding from their Town Councils? That’s going to happen to you. Or being pushed all the way back in the queue for HDB upgrading? That too. Or being told every now and then that you live in a slum? Most likely.

Infrastructure repairs are a luxury and not a right when you live in an opposition ward.

As for all those promises about pegging HDB prices to the national median income? Better moderate your expectations.

Obama swept into power in 2008 with the promise of healthcare reform. Though the Big Plan did materialize eventually, it was severely compromised and led to a sharp drop in Obama’s approval ratings.

Likewise for the WP team in Aljunied: HDB honcho Mah Bow Tan called their housing plan ‘irresponsible’ while PM Lee has accused them of wanting to run a ‘welfare’ system. In other words, spending without a credit limit. Nevermind that he wants to build 7 new MRT lines each year for the next 7 years.

The WP team will not get a friendly reception to their ideas in parliament, to say the least, though all 6 of them will get to vote on bills this time.

While the PAP and its electorate had a consumer-service relationship, the voters in Aljunied voted with no expectation of a multi-million dollar town upgrade plan.

Furthermore, unlike the PAP which has tacit support from the People’s Association, the WP team in Aljunied have close to no organized grassroots support locally. Low hopes to take over the Aljunied Town Council but it remains to be seen if his reception will be as frosty as the one Sitoh Yih Pin received in Potong Pasir.

But problems aside, the WP has an edge over the PAP in one key area – popular support. How popular? Enough to fill an entire stadium full plus 10,000 stragglers outside.

Now that’s what I call political participation. While the PAP and its electorate had a consumer-service relationship, the voters in Aljunied voted with no expectation of a multi-million dollar town upgrade plan.

While the PAP would get faulted for even the most minor of details (like the a tile sticking out from the floor of a void deck), chances are, the WP will get away with it because..they were elected as representatives of their voters and not the chief janitors of the estate.

In return for increased self-reliance in the constituency, the WP will be expected to bring sweeping change into parliament. Though that’s unlikely to happen, you can be sure that the PAP will be reminded by their co-driver time and again that they need to get back on track.

Better than nothing? I guess so. Better than the last bunch in power? Most definitely. But moderate your expectations because change comes with a significant amount of resistance.

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Low Thia Khiang: PAP not playing fair

Low Thia Khiang: PAP not playing fair

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The Worker’s Party chief says PAP sets up barriers to stop opposition parties from getting involved in grassroots activities.

Photos and text: Terence Lee

WORKER’S Party Secretary General Low Thia Khiang, speaking at Bedok stadium, whacked the PAP on Saturday night for making it tough for opposition parties to serve residents.

He was responding to criticism from Sengkang West PAP candidate Dr Lam Pin Min that opposition parties disappeared from contest grounds after the 2006 elections.

Low mentioned that because new constituencies are often created at every election, it is impossible for them to appear in a “previously non-existent ward.”

“We certainly would love to do more to reach out to the residents, but do you know we are kept out by barriers set by the PAP?” he said.

The first barrier he mentioned was that Town Councils in PAP wards have rejected applications by the opposition party to hold dialogue sessions and forums at the resident’s void decks.

Second barrier is that opposition parties cannot set up physical premises to launch activities in PAP constituencies. The PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which is a network of pre-schools, is able to rent property from the Housing Development Board (HDB) for cheap prices. As a result, they can sublet space to the PAP.

“That’s why you see that every constituency there is a PAP branch, which is usually next to PCF.”

“Sometimes, some foreign reporters who come to Singapore to interview me, and they wonder, why we conduct Meet-the-People’s sessions at the void deck. So much for a first world nation.” – Low Thia Khiang

The Worker’s Party has no branches. And since they have no access to PCF facilities, their only option would be to rent from the open market, which is too expensive.

Furthermore, opposition parties are handicapped in their own constituencies.

“Sometimes, some foreign reporters who come to Singapore to interview me, and they wonder, why we conduct Meet-the-People’s sessions at the void deck. So much for a first world nation.”

PAP MPs, on the other hand, get to do such sessions in a facility of their own.

Opposition MPs are also disallowed from using Community Centres to organise courses and activities for residents, while PAP MPs can do so. “I thought community club are meant for community, not for propelling the PAP’s interest!”

He added that in Hougang, where he was an MP, the defeated PAP candidate became the grassroots advisor through the People’s Association, a statuary board promoting social harmony. Government bodies worked through him instead of Low, and when his town council paid a sum to the HDB for lift upgrading, it was the PAP candidate who announced the initiative instead. This allows the defeated candidates to gain a foothold at the next elections.

So, while the government says that the political playing field is fair, Low firmly denied that is the case.

“When they ask me to play a game of soccer, they use a goalpost smaller than the ball!”

George Yeo soon to be jobless?

George Yeo soon to be jobless?

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Foreign Minister George Yeo spotted lurking at Hougang Mall before and during Worker’s Party Rally.

By Fang Shihan

Foreign Minister George Yeo makes up for lost time

IT MUST be tough being the incumbent that’s facing an opposition team at their maximum strength. Spotted doing his walkabout at Hougang Mall just an hour before the Worker’s Party’s first rally on Thursday was about to begin, George Yeo looked like a… pretty busy man.

Shaking hands, taking pictures with his entourage of Aljunied GRC grassroots leaders, he seemed eager to touch (literally) as many people as he could within the 9-day campaigning window. More pictures can be found on his facebook page.

If that’s not enough, he even proceeds to campaign inside Hougang Mall, greeting the sales assistants at the Giordano store and moving up each level methodologically. Maybe it was out of pity that the mall security let this pass (shopping malls have never been amenable to political campaigning), or maybe there are different rules for politicians clad in white.

The question is: why Hougang Mall of all places? And right before the rally too. Well, he could be on a pre-emptive search for a new job, or this could be an attempt to inform opposition supporters that a heavyweight was still around, or maybe he was hoping to draw the 10,000 strong crowd away from the rally 5 minutes away.

Didn’t happen.

George Yeo walks around Hougang Mall

Foreign Minister George Yeo, head of the diplomatic strategy of Singapore, who shakes hands with dictators nearly on a daily basis to persuade them to kill less civilians, who went for a jog with the residents at Bedok only a few hours after flying back to Singapore from a diplomatic mission, who was the first minister in 2006 to tell the rest that attacking James Gomez for forgetting a form..was lame, THAT George Yeo was largely ignored in favour of a Worker’s Party rally where the stars were clearly still Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and god himself, Chen Show Mao.
He is up for a tough fight – one almost feels sorry for him. One of our best ministers, and a really nice guy too (he actually bothers to engage people on Facebook), he will not be voted out because of incompetency.

Over 9000 but not a 5-digit figure. Seriously guys, it was only day 1.

If he does lose his seat, it will not only be because the WP owned his ass. If he loses, he has the GRC system to blame. Designed on the pretext of securing minority representation and even harnessing economies of scale, the GRC system divides the heavyweights into different teams.

One minister per team is the norm, two if there are too many and fillers occupy the rest of the spaces. GRCs were designed with the assumption that a minister would never be beaten by anyone from the opposition, thereby shielding the younger and weaker candidates from the brutal glare of public scrutiny.

And so if the opposition were to want a GRC badly enough, “a minister has to fall in the process“. This was an observation made by National Solidarity Party Sec-Gen Goh Meng Seng just last year.

Don't forget your plastic Thor and balloon hammers.

But is he truly in any danger of losing his ministerial position? This is a man with sterling credentials and a stunning portfolio of running the well oiled Foreign Ministry. If anything, it is Wong Kan Seng of Bishan-Toa Payoh and Mah Bow Tan of Tampines who should be sweating in their expensive suits now. The PAP is a victim of its own electoral maneuvering. Our government is now in serious danger of losing a good minister, while the others should be able to be re-elected with less anxiety.

This is not to say George Yeo is indispensable. He may have been a Cambridge graduate, a Brigadier-General in the SAF, and he may have been an excellent minister for 23 years. But the Chen Show Mao of the Worker’s Party has studied at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, brokered an IPO for the Agricultural Bank of China (3rd largest lender in that very very big country) that raised $19 billion, and speaks Malay, English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Everyone's trying to get that aerial shot.

Even if Chen Show Mao were to become an MP, he’d still be taking a very big pay cut. This is the sort of guy that the PAP uses to defend its GRC system and the Ministerial pay. Without the help of heavyweights and a ‘competitive’ paycheck, qualified candidates would never bother joining politics.

Well, the PAP has been proven wrong. This is a man of ministerial quality. Seriously, given he heads a multinational law firm in China, he’d be excellent for Sino-Singapore economic ties. Which is what the PAP always wanted.

Ideally, GE2011 should see incompetent ministers being voted out, and opposition members being voted in based on their capability to lead the country. Ideally, if we were actually a more representative democracy. Instead, we’ll see young, eager ministers like Teo Ser Luck trying his best to rally a crowd while Teo Chee Hean and the rest take a free-ride (warning: very painful to watch), we might lose George Yeo, and we’ll probably see Wong and Mah being rotated around with different portfolios for another 5 years. And don’t get me started on Tin Pei Ling.

A minister has to fall in the process of change. But is it fair? Even if we don’t see a dramatic increase in the number of opposition-held seats this time, it’s time for the PAP to reflect on their home-made model of formal democracy. This will be a very very painful ride.

In the meantime, Lucas Chow of Mediacorp will be leaving his seat soon and the Presidential elections are due sometime later this year.

Hint to George:  Jobs are still available. :)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Who would you pick? Join this Facebook poll!

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Finance minister and Singapore Democratic Party come out winners in political debate

Finance minister and Singapore Democratic Party come out winners in political debate

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Worker’s Party played it safe, Lina fumbled, and what’s-his-name was plain horrible. And yes, the moderator said “Domination Day” instead of “Nomination Day.”

By Terence Lee

BEWARE, the gods may not be smiling on certain opposition parties this General Election, especially if the slip-up by moderator Melissa Hyak towards the end of the one-hour debate is any indication.

Some conspiracy theorists will insist that this was a deliberate attempt to “prove” the show was uncut, but let’s not go there.

The debate, screened on Saturday on Channel NewsAsia, lasted an hour, which was way too short for me. Candidates rattled off their points quickly, racing one another in a sprint to the finish line. It makes for fun TV, but a good substantive debate? I don’t think so.

But in all honesty, I think the extra time might actually hurt some of the opposition reps. Mohamed Nazem Suki, assistant secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), was a total embarrassment.

Unable to string together even a coherent sentence or two, you wonder how is what’s-his-name going to perform at the Rally or in Parliament, if he does get in by the slimmest chance?

Right now, I can’t even recall a single thing he said, and if I am a young voter getting introduced to the SDA for the first time, that’s a bad first impression.

Let’s hope he speaks better Malay.

Lina Chiam of the Singapore People’s Party emerged slightly better-off. The bad news is: She behaved like a slightly older Tin Pei Ling, the 27-year-old rookie PAP politician poked fun by netizens for her youthful exuberance.

Except that Pei Ling had more style, fashion-wise.

She often giggled nervously and sounded unsure, and there was even once where she appeared confused and zoned out. Melissa had to prompt her twice or thrice about the question of foreign workers before she rattled off a semi-coherent answer.

And God forbid, she attributed the quote “power corrupts absolutely” to her husband. Epic fail there.

To be fair to Lina: She did say some good things. But she needs a lot of polishing up if she wants to convince voters in Potong Pasir that she is a credible candidate.

Member-of-Parliament Josephine Teo comes across as being too… nice. While she has sure knowledge of the facts, she sounded like she was there to back Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam instead of standing on her own two feet.

Although she did okay at the beginning, she wasted her last two minutes of airtime going on a self-indulgent, off-topic ramble about the Singapore Story, and how it is co-authored by many people. Vincent Wijeysingha, assistant treasurer of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), questioned her assertion later on, remarking on how scores of opposition figures and activists were silenced unfairly.

As long as Vincent and Danny the Democratic Bear continue their outreach during the elections and after, I think SDP’s chances at the voting booth in this Election and the next will improve.

In a nutshell, Josephine might’ve been slaughtered if Tharman was not there.

On to Gerald Giam, a potential candidate for the Worker’s Party. True to form, he sounded like a foot soldier espousing the mantra of his party, starting every sentence with “The Worker’s Party believes that…”

I don’t think it’s awful; it’s just too safe. Which is what the Worker’s Party has become since Low Thia Khiang took the helm. Although he was calm and confident at the debate, much like Josephine, he could have spent more time talking about his party’s proposals on policy issues.

No doubt, he was right in saying that good Opposition is necessary in Parliament, but he seemed to have fallen back on that again and again, as if he had nothing else to say. Furthermore, he did not press home the point that despite having 33 percent of the votes, the Opposition only has three seats in Parliament.

I was also a bit surprised that he stopped his final ramble at the one-minute mark. Perhaps he felt he has done his job: Present Worker’s Party as a safe choice for voters. And by the way: We’re weaker than the People’s Action Party, we admit it.

Finally, we come to Tharman and Vincent. If I am the CEO of MediaCorp, I would allocate another one hour-show just for the two to slug it out, seriously.

While Vincent was the assertive bulldog raring for a fight, Tharman was the self-assured minister who appeared comfortable but not overbearing. He displayed some subtle command over the other candidates, exhorting everyone to think in Singapore’s best interest when it came to the issue of foreign workers. He reached out across the table to Gerald at times, praising the Worker’s Party for their views on increasing productivity.

He did not address criticisms about ministerial salary and legal prosecution of Opposition members, but I’m not sure if it matters to most viewers. For the politically-disinclined, these things might just pass over their heads.

But Vincent will be the one to watch. He sounded eloquent and quick-witted. He was enthusiastic, and even promoted SDP’s Shadow Budget while criticising the mainstream media, all at the same time.

He even found time to raise the issue of exorbitant ministerial salaries at least twice, but the PAP reps have totally ignored that.

Sure, the SDP cried foul over how the debate was unfair because candidates who are not contesting are not allowed to speak. This meant that Dr Chee Soon Juan, who declared bankrupt, cannot appear at the forum.

But surely they realise that putting a fresh face on television will take the party one step closer towards rehabilitating their image in the eyes of the populace, especially how Soon Juan has been demonised by the media?

As long as Vincent and Danny the Democratic Bear continue their outreach during the elections and after, I think SDP’s chances at the voting booth in this Election and the next will improve.

For a summary of the key debates, click here.