Singapore primary school boy went to America for a holiday, when he came back his teacher asked him, "What's interesting about America?"
The Singapore boy said, "Do you know they have many MacDonald's there too...".
MacDonald's .....Yeah but do they have outstanding newspapers like the Straits Times with excellent reporters like Chua Mui Hoong and Sumiko Tan?!
Take this excellent article written by Sumiko Tan about the unthinkable horror of having 4 Opposition members out of 82 seats. Thank goodness we have reporters like her to remind us that the opposition is full of clowns and oddballs, Chiam & Low had "so-so" performance in parliament and Steve Chia loves to be nude. Low won mainly because he spoke Teo chew ...must be because the govt is simply perfect so there were no other reasons. She had a desire for the Opposition when she was in her 20s & 30s. Now that she is old and wise that desire is gone......wow! My guess is as she gets older, she realises that the PAP treats the elderly well, finding them jobs so they can work well into their 70s to earn enough money for basic necessities. Sumiko also says she is "secretly relieved" everytime the PAP wins in her constituency - who wouldn't be, with all the goodies & upgrading at stake. To think of having true Democracy is an idealistic thought held by 20-somethings, yes other countries with full blown democracy are full of idealistic silly people.
See how lucky Singaporeans are to have such an excellent newspaper.
The sound and the fury
Jan 29, 2006
In my 20s and 30s, I desired an opposition in Parliament, never mind what sort of opposition. That desire has since waned. Could age be the reason?
I STILL remember the night Low Thia Khiang became the opposition MP of Hougang back in 1991.
Aug 31 was Polling Day, and what a day it had been.
As the votes were counted that night, it soon became clear that the People's Action Party had, in one fell swoop, lost four single wards.
Potong Pasir was retained by Chiam See Tong, Hougang went to Low of the Workers' Party, and Bukit Gombak went to Ling How Doong and Nee Soon Central to Cheo Chai Chen, both of the Singapore Democratic Party, led by Chiam then.
Four seats to the opposition? Unthinkable! Singapore had seen, at most, two opposition members since the PAP came into power in 1959, when Chiam and J.B. Jeyaretnam, then leader of the Workers' Party, won at the 1984 general election. Was the PAP not unassailable after all?
It was crazy back in the newsroom and for reporters on the ground that night. Even as we called back our stories, and even as they were furiously being written up to meet the printing deadline, the enormity of what had happened didn't quite sink in.
But when the paper was finally put to bed in the early hours of Sept 1 and as I headed home, it hit me.
Hougang, the area I've lived in all my life, had 'fallen' to the opposition.
I wasn't part of the actual constituency though. My house is on the edge of the Hougang electoral boundary, and was then in the Serangoon Gardens ward.
But I grew up in the area, and I took Low's victory personally. After all, like most residents there, I'm Teochew, and Low had played the Teochew card during his campaign.
Driving home that early morning, I couldn't help it - I made a detour to Hougang.
It was, perhaps, 4.30am then, that no-man's-land hour just before dawn breaks and the cacophony of a new day begins.
Slowly I drove through the deserted streets and looked up at the darkened blocks of flats.
I marvelled at the residents, now asleep, and wondered what made them forsake the entrenched PAP. Who were these heartlanders who helped put an opposition in Parliament? Why did they vote for Low? How did they 'dare'?
Which PAP policies were they unhappy with? Or did they, like the 20something yuppie I was then, subscribe to the notion of Democracy with a capital D, which meant an opposition at all cost?
The word 'brave' kept flitting through my mind.
I circled the area for five minutes, then drove home to my house in my PAP-controlled ward.
I didn't admit it to myself then, but I shall do so now: Flushed though I was with Low's win, at the back of my mind was this thought - Singapore needed an opposition and I thanked the residents of Hougang for giving the country that. But better the opposition MP be in their ward than in mine.
TALK of an upcoming GE is reaching fever pitch and, like any Singaporean with the faintest interest in politics, I can't wait for it to be called.
Politics is serious business, of course, but in my years of covering four GEs (1988, 1991, 1997 and 2001), and one by-election (1992) as a journalist, it had its entertaining moments.
More often than not, they had been provided by the opposition.
As certain as the sun will rise, each GE would throw up its share of opposition oddballs whose main role, it sometimes seemed, was to make clowns of themselves in the run-up to Polling Day.
And so we've seen the likes of 'the slipper man', a candidate who appeared in flip-flops on Nomination Day, and folks with nary a battleplan in mind but who contested just for the publicity.
They have done no favours to the opposition cause.
The problem with the opposition in Singapore - those who have got into Parliament and those who aspire to - is that their impact has been, at best, laudable; at worst, laughable.
When you think of opposition representation over the last 20 years, what do you remember?
Chiam and Low have been generally described as credible, even by the PAP. On the national stage, both have asked the occasional probing question, while on the ground, I suppose they must have done a decent job to have won re-elections.
But the others? I can only recall the rudest outburst ever in Parliament (Ling How Doong), a nervous, mumbling figure who hardly spoke (Cheo Chai Chen), and a nude photo-taking controversy (NCMP Steve Chia).
It is estimated that at any one time, about 30 per cent of the population are against the ruling party.
Among them are mainly two groups - those disaffected by the ruling party's policies, and those who believe in opposition for opposition's sake.
Back when I was in my 20s and 30s, I belonged to the second group. I wasn't anti-PAP, not by a long shot, but it just seemed 'right' to have an opposition to act as a check on the Government, no matter how good a government is - or how bad the opposition was.
These days, though, I'm not so sure.
Maybe it's because I'm older, less idealistic, less inclined to rock the boat and because I have more at stake, but I think a parliamentary seat should go to the more deserving person, never mind his party colours.
And by deserving, I mean someone who can serve the ground and be an effective voice - and counter-voice - in Parliament.
Besides, if I'm really honest with myself, each time the PAP had been returned to power in my constituency, I was secretly relieved.
Rightly or wrongly, the perception is that things get done faster if your MP is from the PAP. His voice carries more weight, your ward will get more goodies and the value of your home will rise.
So, yes, theoretically and ideologically I still think it will be ideal to have opposition MPs when GE 2006, or 2007, comes around - but only if it is a decent opposition.
Meanwhile, the waiting game continues.
My house has since been designated part of Aljunied GRC, which is touted by pundits to be a 'hot' ward given its proximity to Hougang. Low's Workers' Party is said to be working the Aljunied ground too.
Much of politics is local, and my neighbourhood has certainly been spruced up in the past few years.
The area around the shopping mall has been upgraded, and the public carpark has had an ERP system installed, no less. Roads have been re-tiled and bus-stop-like shelters for passers-by built (though I've never seen anyone use them).
It will be interesting if the Workers' Party contests Aljunied, and I can't wait.
How will my vote swing? As always, myriad factors will come into play.
But this time around, it won't be, for me at least, a vote hinged on just wanting opposition for opposition's sake