Tag Archive | "Tin Pei Ling"

PM Lee insinuates Tin Pei Ling will be fielded in SMC because she is so awesome

PM Lee insinuates Tin Pei Ling will be fielded in SMC because she is so awesome

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He praised her, so that means he wants her to stand on her own two feet.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong threw his weight behind Tin Pei Ling, MP for Marine Parade, by praising her on his Facebook page on Aug. 24, 2014, for no apparent reason.

This praise out of nowhere, however, has solidified the belief of many professional political observers, who concluded that Tin Pei Ling will be taken out of the Marine Parade GRC and fielded in an SMC on her own in the next general election.

Lim Koh Pee, a coffee shop regular, said: “This move by PM Lee is a political masterstroke. He is singling her out for praise because this marks the end of her GRC joy ride and she will no longer be a liability to the other Ministers.”

“PM Lee is actually insinuating she will be canvassing for votes by herself in the next General Election so that she doesn’t bring the whole GRC down. She will be fielded in MacPherson SMC, which will be carved out.”

Other political observers added that the accompanying newspaper coverage is even more masterly as it is meant to convey how well-liked Tin Pei Ling is, as a Malay woman in a tudung is photographed being in close proximity to her.

Fan Dui Tang, a Singaporean, said: “You see this photo? If a macik in tudung allows you to hug her, it means you are SMC material.”

Other political observers noted that PM Lee conspicuously did not publicly endorse Seah Kian Peng, the other MP for Marine Parade.

Hong Kan Leow, a local, said: “This is the end of his political career.”






Tin Pei Ling’s Kate Spade bag attracts numerous bidders…

Tin Pei Ling’s Kate Spade bag attracts numerous bidders…

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… with different motives for wanting to successfully bid for her bag.

One bidder has expressed interest in buying the Kate Spade bag as a good luck charm.

Since news broke that Tin Pei Ling is donating her infamous Kate Spade bag to women’s association AWARE Singapore for a fundraising auction, up to a dozen anonymous bidders have expressed interest in getting their hands on the coveted piece of leather.

Tin’s bag, which propelled her towards Internet notoriety and turned her into an overnight meme during the General Election 2011, will be put up for auction at AWARE’s Supersonic Big Ball, which will be held on Sept. 10, 2012.

The opening bid starts at $500, and the bag is reportedly still in mint condition, most probably because she can no longer be seen in public with it without risking an egg to the face.

Self-styled political pundit, Eric de Yaya, said the Kate Spade bag is a poignant reminder about everything that is wrong with Singaporean women these days and it is foolish to think this auction can pass without drawing negative energy from inside the Interweb.

De Yaya, who is also a part-time fashion police, said: “The Kate Spade bag has come to represent all of the First World Problems women face in Singapore: Wrong size, wrong colour and an ultimate fashion faux pas.”

But not everyone who is into the bag is buying it to make a fashion statement.

One bidder, who refused to be named, said she is willing to bid up to $20,000 for it, as the return on investment is estimated to be quite high.

The anonymous bidder said in broken English about this possible good luck charm: “I hopes the Kate Spade bag will bringing me good lucks. And land me a high-paying job, hopefully.”

She also said: “I am a strong believer in lucks. I am generally not spectacular, quite stupid, but I hope I can make also 15 grand a month doing stuff. And I think the bag will make me heng heng also, kio liew lian*, you know.”

*Editor’s note: “Kio liew lian”, is Hokkien and translates directly as “pick up durian” and it means “enjoying payoffs with minimal effort”. This is because durian falls from trees and you need to be there at the right time to enjoy the fruits without labour. 

But not all bidders are hoping to get hold of the bag for personal gratification.

One other prospective bidder, Magnanimous Chong, said: “I hope to buy the Kate Spade bag and set it on fire to exorcise all the demons and put this horrid aspect of Singapore’s past behind us.”

Chong also said: “The process will be documented and put on YouTube.”

Why Tin Pei Ling is cooler than you

Why Tin Pei Ling is cooler than you

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And no, we’re not being sarcastic this time.

By Terence Lee

Let’s face it, many of us in our lifetime will never achieve what Tin Pei Ling will do in her one-term as a Member-of-Parliament. Certainly not armchair critics who rant and rave but do nothing to help the less fortunate in society.

And I wonder if the opposition can really do better if they had been elected, despite being politically savvier.

Why am I saying this?

After just a few months on the job, Tin has revealed that she will be launching a S$150,000 fund to help low-income residents in MacPherson, which is her constituency.

“We hope that with this MacPherson CARE fund, seniors in MacPherson can look forward to tapping on this fund to relieve some of the financial stress they may feel when seeking medical follow-ups,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

The money will go towards subsidizing health and medical expenses, which include eye care and dental care, hearing and walking aids, and non-critical medical conditions.

According to Publichouse, the scheme was initiated by Tin Pei Ling, who has highlighted the plight of the elderly in her Parliamentary Speech last year.

She’s simply acting on her words.

Unfortunately, PAP politicians are not exactly politicians. Many of them have the charisma of a wooden block, and are prone to facepalm-inducing verbal gaffes.

Their lack of media savvy has made them the butt of a thousand jokes (including this latest one).

But we can’t always blame them. A minister once told me that he stumbled into politics, after much persuasion from the higher-ups. It was a path he would never envision himself taking. Giving nice soundbites is certainly not a priority for him.

The same can be said for many others.

Tin got the brunt of the netizens’ scorn, and it didn’t help that she was compared unfavorably with Nicole Seah. But much of the public anger was not so much directed at her per se, but more so at the GRC system, which is deemed an unfair political process.

And it certainly didn’t help that she sounded like a bumbling idiot on TV.

Ideally, I would want somebody who is both eloquent and good at implementing her words. But if I were forced to choose between either, give me the latter anytime.

So yes, while Tin may have her fair share of WTF-did-she-really-say-that quotes, she’s actually making real impact on the lives of MacPherson residents.

Come 2016, my bet is on her winning re-election.

And that’s why she’s cooler than you.

Lee Kuan Yew walks away from Tin Pei Ling in Parliament

Lee Kuan Yew walks away from Tin Pei Ling in Parliament

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There’s a video going viral on facebook. The two central characters? The man everyone loves to hate – Lee Kuan Yew, and the girl everyone wished never became an MP – Tin Pei Ling.

So this video apparently show The Old Man picking up his briefcase and walking away from Parliament just as Tin Pei Ling was starting to speak.

Now, there seems to be a consensus that The Old Man was disrespecting the Miss Tin. Because who walks away just as an MP is about to give a speech right?

But according to this video, which shows Minister Lui Tuck Yew giving a speech, Miss Tin was actually asking a question, and not giving a speech.

(Scroll to the end)

Give The Old Man a break. He’s 89 and probably has a weak bladder. You expect him to sit through every dull Q&A in parliament? Have some sympathy lah…

Just some Grace Fu memes…

Just some Grace Fu memes…

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…going viral.





And for the last time, can somebody please explain why is Horatio Caine going to wear two pairs of sunglasses in the meme???

How politicians can get started on new media

How politicians can get started on new media

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With these 5Cs, politicians can more effectively master social media as an engagement tool, says Ryan Lim, business director of social media consultancy firm Blugrapes.

Avoid ending up like Tin Pei Ling. Photo: SPH

POLITICIANS should approach social media like a courtship. Start slowly, first wooing your voters and attracting them to you. Once you have established trust, engage your followers and get to know each other better. Finally, make a long-term commitment with them and ask them to put their faith with you.

For politicians who have not yet gotten on the social media bandwagon, here are some guidelines on how to start:

Content – Planning content is the most important thing when entering any social media platform. Know what you want to share with your voters. They wish to understand your views on key political issues, as well as your personal and party manifesto. Top scores will go to politicians who allow their personality to shine through, revealing a human side to politics, rather than a faceless party.

Community – Leverage upon the social media platform that the majority of your targeted voters are on. Platforms such as Facebook and Foursquare have targeting tools, which can be used to your advantage. You can also benefit by localising your messages and organizing events. Not all voters are equal, and you may wish to focus your limited resources on winning a few key voters over, who can then have a positive multiplier effect on the masses.

Benefits of using social media

Technology-savvy politicians can leverage upon social media to complement their engagement efforts. The main benefits of using social media for politics include:

Cost – Online rally platforms are faster to create and cheaper to operate. This levels the playing fields amongst all parties, as the more established politicians with deeper pockets no longer hold an advantage.

Constraints – Unlike the number of rally sites in Singapore, real estate in social media is virtually unlimited. The public can see opinions and discussions, allowing them to understand about new candidates and what they believe in. With viral marketing, they can also see what their trusted networks are following.

Communication – Social media allows candidates to engage directly with their voters, building up personal relations in an easy and safe manner. Voters can virtually follow candidates, through updates on platforms like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.

Conversation – Talk to your voters; not down at them. Social media is about being social, so interesting conversations are important. Welcome anyone who has taken the time to connect with you. There is no better endorsement than unsolicited praise from your supporters, so do remember to thank them! With social media, everyone will be able to see good and bad comments. There will always be instances when people will not support you. However, never abuse or attack them. Take it in your stride and respond graciously, remembering to accept and learn from their views.

Care – Show that you care for the welfare of your voters. Respond to their needs and concerns. While it may be tempting to use social media as a broadcast platform, vague and general responses will show a lack of sincerity. So be prepared to spend time engaging with voters on a one-to-one basis.

Commitment – Any social media effort requires long-term commitment to sustain what was started, and should never be used for immediate and temporary gains. Do not launch a Facebook page just to garner votes, only to let it become a ghost town once you’ve been elected. Sustain the community that has been built up over the duration of your tenure. This is a community that is interested in you, and can be used as an effective forum for governance and as a feedback channel on policies and engagement.

Exciting times ahead

The 2011 General Election in Singapore was an exciting event. It was the first time that Singaporeans voted during the social media era. Social media became the platform to showcase and disseminate information for public consumption. Those parties that were able to do this well were able to galvanize their supporters, engage the public and win their votes.

The emergence of “citizen reporters”, the viral spreading of messages over social media platforms and the ability for parties to really engage with the people resulted in the rapid and effective dissemination of information. Overall, the rise of social media in Singapore resulted in a more balanced coverage of political issues.

This article is contributed by Ryan Lim, Business Director of Blugrapes, a leading social media consultancy firm based in Singapore. The company has a track record of launching and maintaining social media solutions for organisations including Fortune 500 consumer brands across 15 industries. In Singapore alone, over 1 in 20 Singaporeans would have engaged in any one of Blugrapes’ social media solutions.

Tip for the PAP: Build a church

Tip for the PAP: Build a church

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To win the next generation of voters, it needs to do something it has sucked at doing: Getting emotional.

By Terence Lee


I WILL never forget the day I attended the Worker’s Party rally at Serangoon Stadium, where the crowd of 40,000 roared in laughter whenever the speakers slammed the PAP, and where Singaporeans, led by the booming voice of Pritam Singh, recited the national pledge like they meant it. Putting it mildly, it was an awe-inspiring moment when we worshipped the sacred values that guide our nation.

It felt like church.

The only PAP rally I attended, which was in Yishun Stadium, was lame by comparison. There, nubile cheerleaders attempted to rouse wrinkly seniors to cheer, grassroots leaders sang praises of the PAP candidates for half-an-hour, and a small welcome party was planted to drape garlands on Shanmugam and Co. like they were kings.

And many in the crowd were not even true-blue PAP supporters. No pun intended.

Sure, there were small outbursts of spontaneity here and there, but it was nothing like what opposition commanded during their rallies.

The stark contrast signals an affective divide between the two camps. Sure, some of the opposition candidates are questionable, and some policy proposals downright ludicrous, but they have won the battle of attracting organic, ground-up support.

Even in the online sphere, the paragon of democratised participation, the discussion appears to be overwhelmingly anti-PAP.

So it’s pretty well-known that the pews for the Church of Lightning has been empty for decades, which means there are only two reasons why they are voted in again and again: Sheer technical competence and Lee Kuan Yew.

Sure, the PAP has to tweak and rethink some of its existing policies to win voters back. But more than that, it needs to win the hearts of both the online and offline community.

In the past, they had Lee Kuan Yew. With his charisma, intelligence, and iron-fist leadership, he brought Singapore out of the slums and inspired songs of praise. Schools were named after him, and even the uniquely Singaporean title of Minister Mentor was created for his sake.

Brutal as he may be, it’s hard not to like that son of a gun.

Fast forward to today. The Old Man has now stepped down from The Cabinet, leaving the son in charge. No doubt that PM Lee is an okay speaker, but I wouldn’t call him Obama-esque. But that’s okay, surely his party branding is there to pick up the slack?

Not really. Not when being “struck by lightning” has become a byword for the government’s heavy-handedness.

Sure, filling stadiums at rallies has never been an accurate way of predicting vote share. But it is a symptom of a deeper problem: Lack of emotional connection to the PAP.

Going forward, what the PAP has to do now is to win affection back from the 40 percent of Singaporeans that voted against them, and the untold numbers who voted for them only because the opposition sucked.

It’s time for the PAP to take a leaf from churches.

Religious entities excel at doing one thing: Building a strong network of supporters. A very successful one, City Harvest Church, attracts about 13,000 worshippers every week (despite its money-sucking practices, which makes it even more amazing).

Churches are successful at fostering strong emotive connections through music, social bonding, and preaching. They enforce moral values through weekly reminders at the pulpit, through monetary donatons and charitable work in social welfare organisations.

That is what the PAP needs. Instead of winning voters through facts and figures alone, it needs to encourage organic support in both online and offline communities, on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs as well as in the kopitiams and neighbourhoods. It needs to address the moral issues that irritate voters, such as the unfair playing field in politics against the opposition, and the lack of a social safety net for the poor.

The PAP needs to carry a new message; a new vision. And they need to execute it. It needs to bring tears to my eyes, like George Yeo almost did.

Lee Hsien Loong, sad to say, cannot be the torchbearer of the new PAP because he is too tainted already. We need a new personality to front a rebranding effort; someone with a clean slate. Less boring old geezer, more Stevie Tyler authenticity (Chuan-Jin, I’m looking at you).

Relying on the Singapore brand like it did in the past will not do. As the last elections has showed, Singaporeans are now more comfortable with divorcing the Lightning from the Merlion. By voting in the Worker’s Party, they are comfortable with the idea that PAP/LKY is not Singapore, and vice-versa.

Sure, filling stadiums at rallies has never been an accurate way of predicting vote share. But it is a symptom of a deeper problem: Lack of emotional connection to the PAP.

Rallies also serve a useful purpose: It’s at such mega events that affiliations are reinforced, and thousands are inspired by the political pulpit.

In the next half a decade, the PAP will have to do a better job of becoming viral (not in the Tin Pei Ling way, please). For years, they’ve been saying that politics should be rational, calm, and measured. Yes, we need that. But voters are human beings: We need to be inspired, entertained, and engaged.

And when all the right buttons are pushed, that’s when we click that ‘share’ button on Facebook.

PAP, be warned

PAP, be warned

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Eff around with the people again, and you can be sure we will do another George Yeo on you.

By Belmont Lay

What do Tin Pei Ling and Annoying Orange have in common?

THERE’S no other polite way I can put this: 7th May, 2011 will go down in history as the day when close to one million Singaporeans tore the PAP a new asshole.

For the ruling party to have won only 60.01 percent of all valid votes this General Election, is a very pathetic showing.

It’s akin to Man U beating Swansea City 1-0. And only because Man U played Swansea on the condition that Man U uses a futsal goal post.

And the Swansea goalkeeper must be a Paralympian.

Simply put, this result is telling. It is an indication of the beginning of a new era where Singaporeans, which includes Yours Truly, refuse to take any crap from anyone, less so from the ruling elite.

And truth be told, the supposedly biggest and most powerful machinery is not delivering the goods to the people who are increasingly empowered to hold it accountable.

To start this discussion proper, let me give you vivid examples instead of harping on trite analogies.

The PAP’s Marine Parade GRC team led by the lanky titan Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who still appears a bit gormless to me, scored a mere 56.6% win against a new NSP team led by Spencer Ng (Hey bro! Sup man?!).

But looking only at the figures for valid votes is half the story. Let’s also look at the number of votes that were not cast.

For the record, 8.6 percent of the 154,451 voters (or 13,282 residents) in Marine Parade GRC decided they were going to stay home to make love or clean out the cardboard or pat the dog or cook pasta or go to JB or do dirty dancing for the rest of Polling Day. This makes the Marine Parade GRC the holder of the title for the lowest voter turnout.

To put this no-show number in perspective, the Workers’ Party led by God Himself, won Aljunied GRC by 12,433 votes.

And this no-show is serious.

Voters would rather abscond with the poll card than bother to show up to spoil the vote. And they would rather run the risk of being struck off the electoral list the next time round for being absent this GE than having to choose between NSP and PAP.

And I know why.

The no-shows of Marine Parade GRC didn’t want to vote for the NSP team led by Spencer (You the man, bro!) because he might be relatively inexperienced. And also partly because the NSP team showed up two weeks before Nomination Day and their quality was hard to judge.

But neither did they want to vote for a drooling vegetable known as Tin Pei Ling, who also happens to look and sound like Annoying Orange.

More importantly, Goh Chok Tong, Fatimah Lateef (who has teapot ears), Seah Teh Peng and ex-SAF regular Tan Chuan-Jin are not attractive enough, especially not so because they were coercing people to choose Annoying Orange too.

And let’s look at the other stats: The Workers’ Party secured 45.2 percent of votes in East Coast GRC.

The Singapore People’s Party managed 43.1 percent in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC against PAP led by Wong Kan Seng (who also has teapot ears).

The National Solidarity Party scored 42.8 percent against Affordable Mah in Tampines GRC.

In other words, PAP almost lost four GRCs overnight.

Now that the report card is out, there is talk that PAP is doing some soul-searching to find out what caused the overall slump.

Why not consult me? I am a true blue Singaporean. I can tell you what went wrong having spent my whole life under the PAP regime.

Simply put, the politics of misdirection, arrogance, entitlement and double standards must stop if the PAP wants to woo the younger voters and not look like ingrates and turd-like in the eyes of older ones.

1. Misdirection: When WP came out with their manifesto about wanting to move towards a First World Parliament, what happened? As WP chief Low Thia Khiang put it, His Leeness was “jumping up and down” and getting livid over WP’s show hand gamble and harping on Aljunied GRC’s property prices.

Singaporeans no longer appreciate this kind of politics of misdirection. Address the issue directly, especially about a First World Parliament, rather than trying to beat us over our heads with a stick.


2. Arrogance: Never, ever promise the electorate you can provide them with everything. Never only say sorry three days before Polling Day and never force the electorate to accept another Annoying Orange.

The method of picking candidates has to change. No more tea sessions that obviously don’t work because it cannot even spot God Himself from a mile away and the psychological testing should go the way of the typewriter.

3. Entitlement: Trying to justify why ministers make so much money is going to blunt PAP’s appeal to anyone who makes less than $30,000 a year.

Having front page say in the national newspaper is not helping either because it makes you all seem more powerful than you really are and having the mandate of Heaven to be featured ad nauseam.

For PAP to be able to pick and choose which candidates stay and which should be pawned in GRCs would give us not much choice except more Tin Pei Lings and less George Yeos.

Shouldn’t the people who are voting be entitled to choose instead? More SMC contests anyone?

4. Double standards: Vivian Balakrishnan, who annoys the hell out of a lot of people, straight or gay, got a direct answer from Chee Soon Juan when he wanted to know if the SDP had a gay agenda (Which is utterly nonsensical because there is no such thing as a “gay agenda” to begin with).

And when Vivian, who has a girl’s name, is asked to reveal the accounts for YOG, he hams and haws and acts like $300 million spent is all worthwhile.

Plus, for all the PAP talk about scrutinising opposition candidates for this GE, they couldn’t practise a little introspection.

Annoying Orange flouted campaigning rules at least twice, once before Nomination Day and then during Cooling Off Day as well, and then what happens?

Nothing. Precisely.

The Elections Department claims to be unable to deal with it, so they can take their rules and shove it.

So, that’s the round-up. But there’s more.

Yam Ah Mee, who is the new sex, has his stellar announcements to thank when more women (and some men) approach to bed him.

And this annoys the hell out of a lot of people as well because Ah Mee kept announcing PAP the winner for every GRC even when they only received 60.14 percent of the valid votes.

So, herein lies the point of today’s missive: 81-6 annoys a lot of people.

But that’s okay for now because the journey Towards A First World Parliament means more PAP candidates will be George Yeo-ed in 2016.

I can’t wait.

Caveat: Author is the boyfriend of Nicole Seah and her election agent for GE2011. Read with discretion.

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PM Lee justifies the PAP’s weak candidate

PM Lee justifies the PAP’s weak candidate

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Because cannot find enough people mah.

By Fang Shihan

“We are not able to generate the talent in order to produce those numbers of people who are able to do their job, competently, to the satisfaction of Singaporeans” – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 5/4/11

Now we know why the PAP’s fielding Tin Pei Ling. In his reply to a student during the Q&A session of the NUS-organised Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum, PM Lee defended the decision to field Miss Tin by emphasising that she empathised with the elderly, was bilingual, and had been doing grassroots work for 6 years.

He also revealed that the PAP had trouble finding suitable candidates to be fielded as potential MPs. At least, not enough candidates to form a “team B” to serve as a shadow opposition party. PM Lee did not mention if he currently had enough candidates to field a complete team.

This begs the question of whether the current team consists of deadweight to make up the numbers.

But let’s give him the benefit of doubt. Not many people are like Miss Tin: Despite the years of moral education taught both in Mother Tongue and English, not many people truly love old people, are bilingual and care as much for their community. She must have been a rare find, groomed the moment she was talent-spotted speaking at a PAP convention while schooling in NUS.

She’s not the only inexperienced new face in white. To ensure that the party does not stagnate, PM Lee emphasised that it was of utmost importance that at least a quarter of the PAP candidates are fresh faces. Around 20 new candidates will contest this elections of which 18 have already been revealed with less fanfare than Miss Tin.

If you’ve got no idea who these new guys are, you’re probably not the only one. Chan…Chan who? Orh, the former general har. He believes that Singapore should er…. er…

*crickets chirp in the background*

The new candidates have no experience in politics, credentials from past jobs aside. If they appear weak or unimpressive, that is to be expected. Paraphrasing PM Lee, voters must give them time and support over the years in order for them to deliver results.

In Singapore, new MPs are not elected based on political skill or savvy. Oh no. MPs become understudies only after they’re elected.

You, the voters, hold the key to the minister job-training centre. If these new faces don’t get voted in, they will not be able to start their on-the-job training and will hence weaken the half-a-century old PAP succession plan.

Scared already? Read on.

The GRC system allows for the assumption that all candidates who won the GRC are competent, an assumption with no proof until he, the one with no political clout, enters office.

Not only does PM Lee admit that the lack of qualified candidates has led to MPs needing to be trained on the job after being elected, the need to enforce racial harmony through the GRC system has sustained repeated batches of low-profile MPs with the ability to do a disappearing act better than David Copperfield.

You’ve heard of them. That one minority candidate in each GRC that you’ve never heard of, or seen for 5 years. And you know he’s there just to show his non-Chinese face. Whassisnameagain? Er…dunno. The Malay guy.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe he’s been busy behind the scenes, fixing problems plaguing the neighbourhood like broken tiles, uncleaned litter and whatnot. And there are many other Chinese MPs like that too.

But you get the point. GRCs allow politicians to… not be politicians. They allow MPs to be quiet servants of the public, or as one MP puts it, the caretaker of the constituency. Most of all, the GRC system allows for the assumption that all candidates who won the GRC are competent, an assumption with no proof until he, the one with no political clout, enters office.

A big risk for the voters, no? Yet according to PM Lee, the risk of not having a proportionate number of minority candidates is a bigger threat. At least bigger than having a potential deadweight on the GRC team.

If GRCs were abolished one day, he says, Singaporeans would vote overwhelmingly for the candidate of the same race. For example, newly converted citizen, Janil Puthucheary, despite not having done his national service and justifying that practicing medicine was a form of service to his new country, would have the overwhelming support of Indians in this country.

The PAP conducted tea sessions with 240 candidates, of which only 20 made the cut. And PM Lee still laments that the PAP cannot find enough qualified, ministerial-quality candidates. But he still has to fill the numbers. MP spots have to be taken up just like minority quotas have to be fulfilled.

Is the PAP responsible for ensuring each and every candidate is deserving of the peoples’ votes? No. They’re only responsible for ensuring a win. If a deadweight politician makes it to office just remember, you elected them.

Or did you?

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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.”


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.


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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.