Several years ago when PM Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ho Ching, visited his son who was in Tekong doing his NS , he took the same ferry to Tekong as all the other parents. When he arrived at the island, there was no colonel or any officer standing at the jetty specially assigned to greet him. He had to find a seat on the bus at Tekong bus like all the other parents to get to the camp. At the camp, he ate at the cook house, queuing up with all the other parents to get his food. He then sat with his son for lunch on an ordinary seat at an ordinary table like every other parent that day during the BMT open house. How do we know all this? One of the parents who was there that day wrote to the ST Forum about how great an impression he had of PM Lee. Whatever differences in thinking or political disagreement we may have with PM Lee, what he did that day was commendable. Given what usually happens in Singapore, he probably took the trouble to indicate to the organisers he did not want special treatment that day.
A few years ago, I was at Holland Village queuing up for chicken rice and the retired minister for law, the late EW Barker, came and queued up behind me. The chicken rice seller instantly recognised him and asked him for his order. He replied that the other people were there 1st and he would wait for his turn. He probably understood that people wouldn't be impressed and would lose some respect for him if he had been given special treatment.
Here is an example (see story below) of how not to do it. While old folks and children had to eat at an open tent, VIPs were put in the comfort an airconditioned room. The special treatment was not well received by one of the attendees of the event.
Undoing community bonding
LAST Saturday, a friend invited me to an event organised by the People's Association (PA) at Cheng San Community Club.
The ticket cost $12 per person, and a high-tea buffet was included. In attendance were Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ang Hin Kee and PA chief executive director Yam Ah Mee.
While I appreciate the efforts of the PA and community clubs in organising such community-bonding events, it left me with reservations.
I was flabbergasted to discover that the organising committee, judges, sponsors and other VIPs enjoyed their high-tea in a closed air-conditioned room while the rest of the guests had theirs outside under a tent.
Why was there a 'divide' for an occasion aimed at community bonding?
On the same day, across the road from the PA event, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was officiating at an event marking the completion of an upgrading programme.
According to press reports, he emphasised that the Government was determined to improve citizens' lives, and this included community bonding.
What happened was unfortunate because the grassroots leaders who organised the community-bonding event were undoing what the Government is trying to achieve.
Lum Yan Meng