Rants of a Weird Little Bird

Random stuff involving myself…and people around me. Hello, and goodbye. :-)

Archive for April 2011

What Chiam See Tong Might Say After His Appearance Today

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Today, Chiam See Tong appeared on TV, and he looked in pretty bad shape. He needed someone to hold his microphone, his speech was slurred, and even needed someone to hold his hand up in the air. Even so, he’s preparing for yet another election. I wonder if this is what he might say if he can still talk.

DISCLAIMER: This speech is not real.

Dear citizens of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, thank you for your support for the SPP just now. I have just arrived home, but your cheers still reverberate in my ears as I type.

Just now, I stood before you again, as an election candidate for the 2011 Singaporean General Elections. This is the eighth time that I’ve been here, and my political longevity is thanks to the first chance which my Potong Pasir residents have given me in 1984 to prove myself, after two previously unsuccessful attempts in 1976 and 1979.

Though the twenty-seven years that I’ve been in parliament, it has been a largely lonely journey, especially after Jeyaretnam’s expulsion. That solitude ended in 1991 where I finally helped three of my fellow Opposition colleagues obtain parliamentary seats in the General Election. One of them, Mr. Cheo Chai Chen, is currently running under the NSP ticket. Low Thia Khiang also joined me in Parliament during that year. This year, his vote hangs in the balance, as he has abandoned his stronghold for a greater cause – Towards a First World Parliament, as his party so succinctly puts it.

Four Opposition figures – among nearly eighty others – and this was the highest level of Opposition participation and parliament! Subsequently, this number has since dwindled to a miserable two – Mr. Low and myself. To their credit, the Potong Pasir and Hougang residents never gave up on either us, despite all the bad press which the merciless newspapers and television station heaped on all of us Opposition figures. After this elections, how many will it be? Some pessimists say zero. Even Low himself has conceded that he was making a huge gamble by throwing his hat into the fray at Aljunied GRC.

For me, I never intended to abandon Potong Pasir. My name is synonymous with the place, and the residents. However, nothing is permanent in the universe, and that includes myself.

I am currently seventy-six years old, and as you have seen on television this afternoon, I am pretty frail, not only because of the ravages of age, and not because of those tenacious electoral battles, seeing that Potong Pasir has always been contested. It is largely due to a stroke which I had had not long ago. My English is slurred, my back is hunched, and I needed help to raise my arm. You saw it all this afternoon, on Channel NewsAsia.

I apologise for my current condition, as it must pain all of you to see me in this state, as I stood before all of you today, on Nomination Day to address you.

All I could muster during that short span of time was “Vote SPP”, sprinkled among two or three very broad and generic statements like “We need to hold the PAP government to account”. Even through my visible effort in making myself heard, I could hear all the cheers that you have given me. It was gratifying but it was also sad.

Yes, I know I don’t have that many days in front of me anymore, but I still have to soldier on, despite me being a shadow of the force that I once was. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a full recovery, and most of you have seen me speak before my stroke, and after it. I think I don’t need to elaborate further on how I looked on television.

Speaking of television, you may wish to look at the victory speech of MM Lee Kuan Yew himself after Tanjong Pagar GRC became a walkover GRC yet again – more on him later. He’s nearly ninety now, and you can observe that his speech is starting to become less forceful, and even starting to slur. His hand motions are more strained now, and there’s every chance that he himself may not have that many days in front of him. From the past, though, one thing has never changed: he has always harped on the subject that the Opposition parties have no experience, and they have no credibility.

Credibility. Something that newspapers continually harp on Low and myself as “credible” opposition members.

In nearly every blog posted, every newspaper article published, every television programme broadcasted, I keep on hearing the word “credibility” where we Opposition members are concerned. What is credibility about? Can it be defined by academic achievements, or career achievements, or even one’s occupation?

For me, credibility did not come easy. At the start, I could only talk and show my empathy with all of the constituents whom I tried to represent in parliament. I had no track record to speak of. It was only when I got into parliament, that I could gain credibility as an Opposition member, by consistently speaking up on my residents’, and my country’s behalf. Even the PAP continued to call me a “credible” opposition, and has consistently attempted to drive a wedge between myself and the unelected Opposition members.

I agree that we have seen some Opposition members among the pitiful few who have made it into Parliament. However, don’t forget that these Opposition members toe the party line, which is, more often than not, finalised only after much extended discussion among the political party members, cadres and executive committee members in the Opposition party. They may have been mute in Parliament, but they always voted along their party lines – which were dictated by our executive committee members after much debate and thought with you, dear residents.

People laud several PAP members of parliaments for speaking their minds on helping people from the lower-income strata of society, but so what? What can they do, when the Party Whip does not permit them to vote against the PAP’s policies?

It gets worse. Currently, in the slate of PAP candidates running in this election – the best 87 they could find, in their own words – we now have candidates who contest in elections, even though they have only been Singaporean citizens for a few years. One of them chose not to volunteer for National Service, and one of them has explicitly said that she doesn’t have any policies that she disagrees with. Some PAP members have been forced to step down in this election. One said, tearfully, that there had “no group-think” in the PAP, but what’s the use of that? There was “group-vote” – and there was only one group which had a voice – the men and women in all-white.

Even the PAP parliamentarians who have spoken against the PAP’s policies have no influence on whether a bill is passed, because all candidates have to vote along party lines. That is the critical factor in parliament – what goes on during the discussion is not important. Instead, it is what the political party stands for that counts.

Do you want people who can speak up for your rights, and vote against government policies when necessary, or do you want sheep in parliament who vote “Yes” every time?

Don’t be daunted by some of the Opposition members who may not be good at speaking. Even if they don’t speak up with their voices, they speak up with their votes when any parliamentary bills are passed – unless the Party Whip is lifted, their votes are along party lines. You are voting for a party, not for individuals. You are voting for your voice to be heard in terms of parliamentary votes. Your votes for us are for our parties, and our parties will speak up for you in parliament if you would just give us the chance to do just that.

My time may be up soon, and I may not be sure on whether I will survive in office for even five more years, let alone speak up for your rights. Yet, we all have to fight on. Today, after nearly fifty years of nation-building, we still have a long way to go, in terms of progressing towards a truly democratic parliament, where minority voices can be heard and debated. The vision of having a working democracy, dear voters, is why I am still using every single ounce of my strength to contest for elections today, though the process is become progressively difficult by the day. It’s not a pleasing sight, but I’m used to strange looks from everyone – I’ve experienced it in Parliament for more than two decades. I want to make sure that my last service to you is to give all of you a parliament where policies undergo much debate, thought and voting before they are implemented.

Against the odds two decades ago, I triumphed in Potong Pasir, against seemingly insurmountable odds. That was achieved despite me having inferior academic results to my PAP opponent (even Lee Kuan Yew tried to make an electoral issue out of it). That victory was achieved despite not having modern luxuries like the Internet, or SMS, or even mobile phones. If I can triumph in an election constituency without the modern-day luxuries that you have, against no less than PM (at that time) Lee Kuan Yew, and against the government press, so can the other Opposition members. Now, dear voters, these eighty-two Opposition candidates need your support so that they can speak up – and vote – for your rights, just as I have done for more than two decades. We have staked a lot of money and effort in giving you the right to exercise your democratic rights to vote, not only with the ridiculously high election deposit, but also for those large posters, flags, placards and speeches, all to ensure that your views are heard.

I know you’re thinking that I might not last the course of another six years. However, don’t worry about it. Even if I’m not around with you, my party members will carry on with my good work. The PAP has never called for by-elections in any GRCs when one of their members – like Dr. Ong Chit Chung (died), Dr. Balaji Sadavisan (died) and Mr. Choo Wee Khiang (convicted in court) – left parliament. Even if I’m gone, they will still be around. My wife will carry on with my good work in Potong Pasir, I am sure. Running in a GRC does have the advantage of sharing responsibilities among the other MPs. Or we could even bring someone from our SPP ranks into Parliament, like the PAP did.

No matter what, we have to hold the PAP government to account, even if it costs me a large part of my energy.

It’ll be another tiring election campaign, and I hope that you’ll not only greet me with the same respect that you have given me for the past two decades, but you do the same to all my fellow candidates who are running against the PAP, to provide checks and balances against abuse of power.

Last time, Low and I kept on winning our SMC battles, but we are not yet satisfied, for there is still much to do. We have stepped out of our comfort zones, and it is time to step out of yours too!

Do the right thing on Polling Day, and vote for not just the SPP, but for the Opposition as a whole, so that we, in return, can vote for your interests in Parliament. I am sorry that my health does not permit me to type more, but I hope you understand that I will continue to stand up for your rights, up to my last breath.

Chiam See Tong


Written by aweirdlittlebird

April 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Chee Soon Juan’s Reply To Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan (Transcript)

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Dr. Chee’s statement on Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan’s cheap shot.

I can’t say too much on it, except that he’s done what Dr. Balakrishnan had asked the SDP to do – state upfront on whether it is pursuing a gay agenda.

Actual Video

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan has asked whether the SDP is pursuing a gay agenda. Let me state categorically: We are not pursuing a gay agenda and none of our MPs will.

Our candidates have been selected because of their ability to serve you, the people of Singapore, as your representatives in parliament. They have stepped forward because they love this country, and they know that Singaporeans yearn for an alternative voice in parliament. That’s the only agenda.

I know each and every one of them, and I am so proud of them. They are people of integrity and capability. When we speak up, we do so for all Singaporeans because we serve all Singaporeans, not just a segment of Singaporeans. At the very core of our country and our national pledge, is the creed that we do not discriminate against anyone, be it on the basis of the colour of the skin, the face and the heart, whether they are young or old, or what their sexual orientation is.

This is why we are so disappointed that Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan raised this issue in such a manner. He did not have the courage to say what he really wanted to say at first, and he was beating around the bush.

We call on Dr. Balakrishnan not to continue in this manner. I can only hope that he will not adopt smear tactics in this campaign, and we ask him not to go down this road. We are betting that, we can disagree on policies and not have to resort to personal attacks. Let us lead Singapore to a higher level of politics.

Dr. Balakrishnan has asked us the question: Will the SDP pursue a gay cause? I answer forthrightly and without equivocation: No.

Now I would like to ask Dr. Balakrishnan to reciprocate: Will he now make public the accounts of the YOG and debate our Holland-Bukit Timah team, in the interest of transparency and accountability?

We hope Dr. Balakrishnan will not equivocate and accept our invitation.

Written by aweirdlittlebird

April 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm

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1st Time I Got Quoted As A Source On Wikipedia

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Heh. Thanks, whoever who wrote Nicole Seah’s Wikipedia entry. :) You may want to link the original video clip to the post too?

Written by aweirdlittlebird

April 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nicole Seah’s Interview on Razor TV

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Let’s get this out of the way first – Nicole Seah is pretty.

Bimbotic? Hell no.

This is a transcript of excerpts of an interview conducted by Razor TV. Note how the reporters try to rake her over the coals about her age, her vulgar Twitter feed, and her greatest regret in her life.

Then, notice her overall confidence in tackling the questions. Wow.

Not to mention how she tackles potentially awkward questions with much humour, especially the one about that vulgar Twitter feed. Goh Meng Seng had wanted to take the question from her, but she told him that she wanted to address it herself.

Never on any occasion during this interview did she not know what to say. Kudos to her!

GE: More interviews with Nicole Seah – 21Apr2011

What kind of grassroots or policy-making experience do you have?
Ok, with regards to your question, I wouldn’t say that I have had grassroots experience per se, but I’ve been very involved in the community ever since I was in secondary school. I used to volunteer regularly with a community service group, and I was a camp counsellor to delinquent secondary school students, and on top of that, I also made regular house-to-house visits to deliver food stuffs to the needy. Just to sidetrack, this was actually when I had my first political awakening, because when I visited a house, I was surprised to see that there was an old lady who was – she had a roof over her head, but she didn’t even have enough money to buy a meal, and that angered me, because, yes, we have provided food for her for that one day, but what is going to happen to her for the rest of her days? And that was when I realised that we need policies to go down to the root of the matter, and you cannot rely on organisations to do the job for you. Moving on, so after that I went to junior college – I was always very actively involved in CCAs – I was in the secondary school band, after that I continued with my band activities in junior college. When I moved on to university, I decided to take on a more nurturing role, so what I did was, I continued doing camp counselling, because I believe that’s the best way to integrate students into the community. On top of that, I also headed an online publication in NUS, that was independent of any stakeholders. So this was called the Campus Observer, I fronted it as the managing editor, and from there, I explored issues that were pertinent to the ground at NUS.

What’s your response to criticisms about your age and suitability to connect with the ground?
Many people have questioned whether youth is a liability in politics. I’ll like to disagree. I feel that, in politics, you need a representation of different types of voices. In parliament, you need to ensure that there is a diverse and well-rounded group of individuals who are coming together to speak on behalf of national interests, so with that, I would like to say that, you know, I want to stand up here, as a candidate, and I want to represent the voices of young Singaporeans who feel that they want a stake in this country, who want to have their voice heard, but who have been apathetic all this while because they feel powerless to make any real change, and I want to change that. I want to engage young Singaporeans in politics and policy-making.

Why contest at Marine Parade GRC when pitting against Tan Pei Ling is going to draw attention away from national issues?

[Goh Meng Seng’s reply – but since this is not about Nicole Seah and not about him, go watch the video if you want to know what he has to say :) ]

The NSP has been working the ground in MacPherson for the past two years, and (to Goh Meng Seng) or maybe longer than that (laughs), yes or maybe longer than that but that was before I joined the NSP – so, we already have a very intimate understanding of the ground, and it would be a shame if we were to let this GRC go uncontested, the way it has for the last twenty years. For me personally, Marine Parade holds a lot of sentimental value because I spent most of my education there in CHIJ, in TKSS, followed by VJC, so I feel a strong draw to the environment, to the GRC itself, and I hope to offer my candidacy to the residents to show that I am familiar with their concerns and their needs.

Netizens who spotted vulgarities on your Twitter feed are now talking about it. What’s your response to that?
Ok, er…(to Goh Meng Seng) never mind, it’s okay, I will address this question. (Laughs) The Twitter was meant as a, a personal account, and I am quite surprised to see that people would dig up a post that is really very, very old, because I have seen that particular Tweet for myself, and it has something to do with congested traffic. Now, honestly, if the traffic has been like, at a standstill for an hour and you are running late for a meeting, wouldn’t you be swearing too? (Laughs) That’s all I can say.

Can you describe your family background?
Yes, I’m from a middle-class family. I stay in a five-room HDB flat, so if that’s down-to-earth enough…I eat at the coffee shop every day, because that’s the cheapest thing that I can afford. I mean, once in a while, I do go abroad with my friends, be at nice places but, you know, I think with regards to being on the ground, I understand how the average Singaporean feels, because I myself am an average Singaporean. I’m not elite, I do not have a scholarship background, I was never, like – I never read university overseas, so I think with regards to the concerns of the everyday Singaporean, I understand how it feels. I understand how it feels to stand in a crowded train; I understand how it feels to, you know, to be stuck in congested traffic, you know, refer to my Tweet, so, (laughs), yeah, so, I think, yeah, I do empathise.

How did your friends and family react to you taking part in the election?
I think that politics in general is quite tricky, especially for the opposition, but one thing I am very thankful for, and I think it’s important to have, is a strong support system, so I have friends, I have family, I have all the people who are rallying behind me online.

Have your parents voiced any disapproval?
I think one thing that I am thankful for, is that I’ve been raised in a culture that has always taught me to push the boundaries and to question the status quo, so I think part of it led to me questioning the current state of policies. Yes, they benefit Singaporeans as a whole, but what about those who fall through the cracks? Is there enough being done for them? And I think that, yeah, I have very supportive parents.

What is your greatest regret in life?
Wow, you guys, really recycling your questions! (Laughs) Okay, I think that’s a very tricky question to ask a twenty-four-year-old. I’m only twenty-four. I cannot say that I’ve had a regret that’s so life-threatening that’s stopped me in my tracks and made me unable to move forward. So, yes, I would say that I have had many setbacks in life, perhaps a few minor regrets here and there, but I think as a whole, every triumph, every regret, every tear that you’ve shared, every path that you’ve chosen to take, has developed me as a person.

What is your biggest strength and weakness?
Okay, my biggest strength, I would say, is that I’m very driven, and I’m very committed, and I’m very energetic, so when I find that I am committed to a cause, I see it through, and I have a very strong sense of justice, so if I feel that there are people who are being treated unfairly, if I feel that there has been an unfair distribution of resources, I would want to be in there to step in and to be the do-er, you know, to change things instead of standing by the sidelines and complaining.

But with regards to my weakness, you know, that could also translate to my weakness, because I can get very emotional about it, so, I need to control that. But, that said, I am also a procrastinator sometimes, so, for those of you on my Facebook page, if I haven’t reply to your comments, I am very sorry. I will do it very soon.

What do you think is your edge over Ms Tin Pei Ling?
I do not wish to compare myself to her. I do not wish to focus on issues that are of trivial importance, and I think that it is important that we focus on the pressing national issues at hand, that will impact how voters make their decisions in the coming elections.

Written by aweirdlittlebird

April 22, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized