Tag Archive | Sylvia Lim

WP is gracious in victory

That’s what I thought of the way the Workers’ Party handled its suprisingly (to me anyway) good victory. At least in the manner Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Lee Li Lian and Ah Huat handled their press conference earlier this morning

They were clearly delighted that their party won quite handsomely: it’s by 3,000+ votes leh and not the the 300 votes that were being twittered around be4 pole faced n squeaky voiced Yam Ah Mee made his pronouncement.

There was no trace of triumphalism among the WP leaders; no excessive and unrealistic ambitions, with Chairman Lim pointing out in answer to a reporter’s leading question. The Opposition with only 10 seats out of 90 in Parliament is a long way from being able to form a government.

So, no, unlike Chua Mui Hoong of the Straits Times, I think what happened in Punggol East last night is no tipping point for the PAP or politics in Singapore — yet.

But the PAP could make it the tipping point all the same if it doesn’t accept defeat with the same graciousness with which WP embraced victory.

Take the PAP’s press conference to concede defeat and congratulate the WP.

The slight smiles on the faces of Teo Chee Hean and Koh Poh Koon were painful to see. They were more like grimaces plastered there out of PR necessity than a genuine acceptance that the majority of citizens in Punggol East had gone with the WP!

Also, i couldn’t help noticing how Mr Teo kept clenching his fists or his impatience in asking if there were “any more questions” –that wasn’t a real invitation for more but a signal to close for the night.

Hopefully what I saw last night was just the natural human reaction to an unexpected and unwanted event and that the simmering disappointment and/or anger at being rejected wouldn’t be carried over to the handing over of Punggol East’s Town Council infrastructure to the WP.

Otherwise Punggol East could go down in the PAP’s history as the truly tipping point 😥 😥


Game, set, match? Checkmate?

If I wasn’t alone in my car, I would have laughed aloud yesterday on hearing the 93.8 radio report of the Prime Minister’s reply to an MP’s question on a by-election for Hougang, a Workers Party seat vacated when it sacked its erstwhile treasurer Mr Yaw Shin Leong for alleged personal misdemeanors.

However, I resisted laughing for fear drivers in nearby cars might think me mad 😆

After a good night’s sleep and waking refreshed to reflect a bit more on the matter, I can’t help laughing still.

As PM Lee said to Ms Sylvia Lim, WP chairman, who asked won’t Hougang residents be unde-represented in the interim while Mr Lee mulls when is a good time for the by-election: well, babe, who brought this on in the first place? Shouldn’t WP have considered such a possibility be4 taking the ultra drastic step that affects not only Mr Yaw but also some 25,000 Hougang residents, the majority of whom had supported WP?

But with friends like the WP, you don’t really need enemies as Mr Yaw has learned and as Hougang residents are learning now.

Add to that the friendly benevolence of high profile lawyer M Ravi. In one fell swoop by representing a part-time cleaner from Hougang to bring the by-election saga to the courts, he has ensured that Singaporeans in and outside of Parliament will be prevented from discussing the merits of the case till they have been decided by their lordships. To do otherwise would be sub judice, usually punishable by jail :(((((

The gods seem to be conspiring to favour the ruling party when every action taken by those opposed to it has turned out so far not to hurt the PAP but the Opposition!


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will call for by-elections in Hougang (reproduced from Yahoo website)

This is PM Lee’s full reply in Parliament to PAP MP Christopher de Souza’s question on a by-election in Hougang:

The Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC) seat is vacant after the Workers’ Party expelled Mr Yaw Shin Leong, following several weeks of media reports on Mr Yaw’s personal indiscretions. I intend to call a by-election in Hougang to fill this vacancy. However, I have not yet decided on the timing of the by-election. In deciding on the timing, I will take into account all relevant factors, including the well being of Hougang residents, issues on the national agenda, as well as the international backdrop which affects our prosperity and security.

As for the legal question of whether and when I must call a by-election, an application has been filed in court concerning this, so the matter is now sub judice, i.e. under the consideration of the court. While MPs enjoy parliamentary immunity in this House, our parliamentary convention is that we do not talk about matters which are sub judice, for good reason.

I can, however, remind Members that Parliament debated this issue extensively in 2008, when two NMPs moved a motion proposing to require the Prime Minister to call a by-election within three months of a seat falling vacant. I participated in that debate, and stated the Government’s position fully, after taking the advice of the Attorney-General. I consulted the present Attorney-General again to confirm his advice before answering today’s question. Let me summarise what I said in 2008 about the Constitutional position.

Article 49 of the Constitution states that when a seat falls vacant it shall be filled by election. In an SMC, a seat falls vacant when the MP vacates his office, for example when he is expelled from his political party, resigns his seat, or passes away. The timing of the by-election is at the discretion of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is not obliged to call a by-election within any fixed timeframe.

This absence of any stipulated time frame is the result of a deliberate decision by Parliament to confer on the Prime Minister the discretion to decide when to fill a Parliamentary vacancy. Then-Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew explained this when he moved the Constitutional amendment in December 1965:

“[This amendment] revokes a clause which was introduced into the State Constitution of Singapore when it entered Malaysia.

Members in this House will know that there was no such injunction of holding a by-election within three months in our previous Constitution. We resisted this particular condition being imposed upon the State Constitution at the time we entered Malaysia, but our representations were not accepted because Malaysia insisted on uniformity of our laws with the other States in the Federation and with the Federal Constitution itself.

Since we are no longer a part of the Federal whole, for reasons which we find valid and valuable as a result of our own experience of elections and of government in Singapore, we have decided that this limitation should no longer apply.”

The Constitution therefore reflects a political philosophy that emphasises stable government, and the view that in elections voters are primarily choosing between political parties to be given the mandate to govern the country, rather than between individual candidates to become MPs. We have kept the Constitutional provision because the considerations for enacting it in 1965 remain relevant today.

Uptight Workers Party’s fatal mistake

On my way home just now, I heard with disbelief on the radio  that Workers Party has expelled its ex-treasurer Yaw Shin Leong, thereby triggering a by-election at the single member seat of Hougang!

I came home and read WP chairman Sylvia Lim’s statement on Mr Yaw on the Internet.

Are the WP and Ms Lim for real? Is this the 19th century or the 21st century?

Yaw Shin Leong has been sacked because he has been “accused of several indiscretions in his private life”, he has continued to refuse “to account to the Party and the people, especially the residents of Hougang…  he has broken the faith, trust and expectations of the Party and People. ”

He was shown the door despite having “been a core member of the Party leadership for more than 10 years, and has made significant and unique contributions towards WP’s growth.   He has also served the residents of Hougang diligently.”

That’s the reward for serving WP and high-moral ground likes of Mr Low Thia Khiang and Ms Lim! 😥

The Cabal’s decision to expel wasn’t unanimous but was carried by a majority.

Perhaps the WP has taken this “drastic” (Ms Lim’s description) step to raise the stakes against the PAP? If the WP with a handful of MPs in Parliament has one who is promiscous, perhaps, just perhaps, there might be more in the PAP ranks with their overwhelming numbers in the House? Wishful thinking?

If this is the WP’s strategy or ploy, then I say shame on the whole party.

Mr Yaw doesn’t need to be sacrificed like this in an attempt to be cleaner than white.

In any case such a strategy is doomed to failure, because PAP chairman Khaw Boon Wan has already gone on the offensiver by questioning if the WP leadership knew about this side of Mr Yaw before he was fielded for the May General Election

If there’s no ploy or strategy, then all the more the WP seems to have lost its way, suggesting that it is unable to grow big without going to pieces over what in my view is a relatively minor indiscretion — provided the alleged paramour isn’t an underaged kid or had been dishonestly benefitting from the relationship with Mr Yaw at the expense of the party or Hougang Town Council .

Adultery is not a jailable offence in Singapore, the last time I checked; it’s not even an offence if the party most hurt by the betrayal forgives, and I don’t mean the Workers Party but the wife.

By cutting the political ground from under Mr Yaw in one swell swoop, the WP may be ensuring that his marital rift will not be healed.

Let that be on the conscience of all those in WP who think that their MPs in the SG Parliament have to be more chaste than Carmelite nuns 🙄

Let’s hope that Hougang residents will go for substance rather than hypocritical form and that in the by-election, they would vote in Mr Yaw again, whatever ticket he stands on or even if he stands as an independent.

Bhutan: Shangri-la with a price tag

As someone who doesn’t care too much for Mr Khaw Boon Wan — even tho we share the same religious beliefs — I secretly get a kick out of it when someone takes him to task.

And to show how mean I am, my “bad” attitude towards the minister hasn’t anything to do with his/the Government’s policies. It’s just that I don’t like the way he looks when he’s speaking!

Downright irrational right?

So it was with seething glee that i watched the brickbats falling his way when he stated his conclusions about Bhutan and happiness.

Yet despite my antipathy towards Mr Khaw, I felt the response he got in this instance was both naive and unfair. Perhaps it’s because I think what he said contained home-truths, even tho he might have been less blunt about it.

That’s why I would like to share with regular visitors to this blog an exchange I’ve had on the topic with my erstwhile travel companions and regular co-conspirators in food gourmandizing 🙄

It started when the second best cook in our group sent an email to us regarding a certain Bhutanese reply to Mr Khaw’s comment, which incidentally for those not following this was in response to Opposition MP for Aljunied, Sylvia Lim’s waxing lyrical about the happy Bhutanese.

2nd best cook’s email said inter alia: “Hello – I finally located the piece on the Bhutanese’ reply. …  Let me share – I really like Bhutan. It may be not modern and a bit on the primitive side but the people are very gentle and there is general sense of peace, dignity, contentment and quietness.

Excerpt from the reply from the Bhutanese.

Four days after I landed in Bhutan I woke up and started sharing the stories of your wonderful country- yes it took me four days of sleeping to shake of the hangover of many sleepless nights in your 24X7 country. I read the amazing history of your country and thought to myself, if Bhutan’s to develop, Singapore can be our vision.

But since you questioned the presence of happiness in Bhutan, let me answer by telling you few things that you overlooked when you visited my country. Those people you saw in the fields weren’t unhappy, if you have gone closer you would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives, perhaps you won’t understand that.

If you have spent a little longer time watching them, you would have seen and a woman with basket on her back and holding arms with several children coming with steaming food- we don’t have McDonald or KFC. Then everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing and joking, feeding babies, for over an hour- you wouldn’t have had so much time to sit and watch I know, times means money in your country. But we have luxury of time. People don’t worry “about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products.” In fact, we don’t do much commercial farming, we do most of them to keep with the tradition. And when the sun sets, doesn’t really matter what time, people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting. Large family because we don’t chase away our children when they become 18 or children cast away their parents when they age.

We don’t need Health Insurance to survive, no have to go for Education Loan for educating our children. We don’t hang the drug users, we counsel them to hang on to their lives, we don’t have to have a job to survive, and when we fall sick even the furthest cousin comes to attend without having to update Facebook status.

If you reread our history you will find that our wise kings have hidden us from the outside world so that we could remain the way we are today. If we start mining our mountains and lumbering our forests, we can become Singapore in a year but no matter what you do you can never become Bhutan.

It is far too difficult. We shall be the last breath of oxygen on earth.

Bhutan may not be the Last Shangri-la but we are happy.

Kaypoh moi quickly replied to all:  “Friends, read the full piece n others’ comment here http://www.passudiary.com/

To which He Who Shall Not be Named (the best cook amongst us, a fact that even the 2nd best cook would concede) gave his take:

Frens…Let’s all try to be very clear about one thing. Sylvia Lim brought up Bhutan in the context of her Gross National Happiness Index. She did not (and I hope nobody else either) advocate that Singapore should become a Bhutan in order to achieve happiness (even assuming that Bhutanese are indeed a very happy lot).

The concept of a GNH Index (like all indices) serves one singular and very useful purpose – it serves as an aggregator where we can better quantify and compare performances overtime. In so doing, allows the user to analyze, understand and appreciate how policies and trends have affected our lives (for better or for worse), thereby facilitating refinements and tweaks all with the aim of creating a more balanced life for the average soul.

So, let’s not start to debate whether watching sunsets is more relaxing than watching TV, whether the sound of flowing streams is sweeter than Celine Dion’s, or whether taking a crowded train is still a far better option compared to walking 20 miles to one’s destination – that’s missing the point entirely.

The runner-up cook amongst us answered quickly: “I guess the 2 indices of GNH and GDP are definitely inversely correlated, thus, they will always be at different ends of the same pole. Anyway, to be happy or not is determined and decided by myself, I believe.

As usual, I tried to have the last word, though not always successfully, natch!

Methinks the indices aren’t correlated at all; inversely or otherwise.Happiness and wealth can go 2gether; on the other hand, happiness and wealth needn’t go together. Like runner-up cook says, it depends on the individual and his/her circumstances and mental make-up.Indices on hard stuff are already bad enough. It’s an average but who is the average or the mean for heavens sake!To create an index on happiness which is trying to capture the elusive and ephemereal is just like trying to cannister our nightly dreams!And like He Who Shall Not Be Named, I don’t mind not having Medisave but I do mind not having an A&E hospital within 15 minutes drive!

Finally, to Mr Passu, I would like to say this: Singapore may not be the last Shangri-la but at least we welcome visitors, rich and poor. Alas, where Bhutan is concerned, only the rich can visit, thanks to your government limiting the number of visitors by stipulating a minimum spend of USD200 per head per day! So even Shangri-la has a price tag!

With friends like People’s Association…

… the People’s Action Party doesn’t need enemies…. if what Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman of the Workers Party, has stated in her media release is even 80% true!

For ease of reference, I reproduce below the statement.

Media Release on Use of Public Sites at Aljunied GRC

This release seeks to enlighten the public about what transpired in the weeks after the May General Election, which has led to the current controversy about use of public spaces by residents of Aljunied GRC to organise events.

Background Facts
On 21 June 2011, the interim Secretary of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) received an email from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) entitled: “Sites Excluded from the Management of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council”.  The email attached a list of sites to be excluded from AHTC management, including 26 sites commonly used for community activities which had previously been managed by the former Aljunied Town Council.  No background nor rationale was given for the decision.

Upon further and repeated enquiries from AHTC, HDB revealed on 13 July 2011 that these sites had been leased to the People’s Association (PA), in 2 tranches – on 27 May 2011 and 13 June 2011.  The AHTC had thus been informed retrospectively of this decision, which to our knowledge has not been published anywhere.

A check on the sites, which were part of the common property managed by the former Aljunied Town Council but now leased to PA, showed that many of them are strategically located, being hard courts or amphitheatres highly suitable for organising social activities.  We were puzzled about the intention behind the move, which occurred before the new management took over the estate.  We are left to conclude that the decision by the HDB to shift management of these common properties from the Town Council to the PA was precipitated by the victory of the Workers’ Party in Aljunied GRC in the General Elections.

In order not to subject residents to unnecessary inconvenience and confusion, I sought a meeting with the HDB for clarification, and on 13 July 2011 conveyed to the HDB AHTC’s willingness to discuss the matter further with the PA, to explore joint use of the excluded sites.  HDB then followed up with the PA.  In an email to me dated 15 Aug 2011, the PA indicated that “booking by WP will not be allowed”, which we assume includes bookings for activities organised by WP MPs for residents.

Effect of HDB’s Decision as Landowner
During the weeks in July / early August leading to the lunar Seventh Month festivities, residents of Paya Lebar Division gave feedback that they were informed by the PA grassroots organisations to apply for the use of the said sites to the Paya Lebar Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) instead of to the Town Council as was the previous practice.  We also received feedback that those who had applied to the CCC for the permits were told verbally that they could not invite the elected WP MP or they would risk their applications being turned down in subsequent years.

Residents have told us that they are confused by the new requirements of the CCC and annoyed by the intense politicking by the PA grassroots organizations.  They felt torn and in an emotional dilemma.

Political Implications
It appears to us that the unilateral decision by the HDB to lease these sites to the PA and to have them excluded from common property under the management of AHTC without any consultation with the AHTC or its elected members is politically motivated and an abuse of power.

First, the HDB as part of the government machinery is abusing its power as land owner of common property in HDB estates to help PA to achieve the political objectives of a) preventing elected MPs from holding activities at the excluded sites which are strategically located and convenient to residents; and b) curtailing the ground presence of the elected MPs, by warning the residents that their applications for events at those sites may not be approved in subsequent years if WP MPs were invited.

Secondly, the PA, a statutory board funded by tax payers’ money and chaired by the Prime Minister, appears to capitalize on its close connection with the government to serve the political interests of the ruling party.  The PA is leveraging on HDB to enable PAP candidates who lost at the last elections to re-emerge at community events as “advisors” to PA grassroots organizations. The move to let PA control the sites previously managed by the Town Council would give PAP candidates a ground advantage and permanent presence, in advance preparation for the next elections.

The PM has just called for political harmony and national solidarity in Singapore, and said that “we must have a harmonious political system where we make important decisions in the best interests of Singapore and Singaporeans.”

Regrettably, there appears to be a dissonance between the language of national unity employed by the Prime Minister and the actions of the HDB and PA in Aljunied GRC.



Eating my words…

On Nomination Day, I wrote a post that said Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chiam See Tong had adopted a sucky strategy by moving out of their long-time strongholds of Hougang and Potong Pasir respectively to lead teams to contest in five-member Group Representation Constituencies helmed by big wig PAP ministers.

I said both risked losing their home crowd as well as the GRCs they targeted.

In the event, I have been proven hopelessly wrong about Mr Low’s strategy.

His team won Aljunied handsomely enough and swept out not one but two ministers, a speaker-to-be and a minister-to-be besides a two-term MP. As for his home base, his disciple Yaw Shin Leong basked in Mr Low’s reflected popularity and pulled in the best-ever percentage win for WP in Hougang!

I was right where Mr Chiam was concerned, although to be fair, he, his team and the party he leads are as different from the WP as chalk from cheese.

His party, Singapore People’s Party, lost both Potong Pasir where he had been for 27 years and also the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC he had hoped to get.

Yet, given his precarious health and how much he and his wife continue to be loved in PP, it might have been better had he had stuck with Potong Pasir.

As his wife was the best performer among the election candidates who stood against the PAP, it seems fair to extrapolate that had he stayed put, he might have been able to oust Sitoh Yih Pin for a 3rd time!

It’s not to be now.

Hopefully, if Mrs Lina Chiam takes up the Non-Constutency MP offer from the Election Department, she too may blossom like WP’s Ms Sylvia Lim. But time isn’t on her side!

Opposition goes for lousy odds

we doing right?

taking on George Yeo

Call it their death wish? Or the way irrational eternal optimists do things?

I’m shocked but not surprised entirely that Mr Low Thia Khiang has upped from Hougang and gone to head a “dream team” to compete in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency.

Yet going by the look on Workers Party chairman Sylvia Lim’s face at the apres Nomination Day press conf, I don’t think she’s entirely pleased by this strategic move.

While I’ve never been enamoured of George Yeo, the incumbent lead at Aljunied GRC, it’s hard to imagine that Mr Low and Ms Lim, together with corporate legal big wig Chen Show Mao (who incidentally looks and speaks uncannily like corporate big wig Ho Kwon Ping) and two others, could actually unseat Mr Yeo and his team.

Ditto for Mr Chiam See Tong and his team tilting to represent Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. Ditto ditto for his wife, Lina Chiam, to whom he’s “bequeathed” his long held ward of Potong Pasir.

Of course Mr Chiam is much respected by many Sgaporeans and Mrs Chiam is much-loved by the people of Potong Pasir.

But would the people of Bishan-Toa Payoh want to swap two ministers — unpopular tho both might be among some Sgaporeans — for a leader who is visibly unwell and newcomers like Benjamin Pwee, though he might be a government scholar and articulate?

People may out of sympathy want to wish Mr Chiam and his team well but vote for them? That may be another story.

And it’s the same story from West Coast to Marine Parade. Some may prefer Nicole Seah to Tin Pei Ling but would you swap Chokie for what else besides Nicole on the other side?

Like Mr Low said, possibly prophetically, at today’s WP press conf: “This is a watershed election. We may end up with no elected opposition MP!”

He probably meant that for the WP but it could well apply across the board.

I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. But unless voting Sgaporeans are willing to make a leap of faith into the unknown, the outcome will be — alas — completely predictable!