Friday, August 29, 2008

No by-election no matter what! Politics Singapore Style!

What People of Bukit Batok say
By Arul John (The New Paper)
Aug 29,2008

THE majority of parliamentarians voted one way, and heartlanders the other.

Do Bukit Batok residents feel the need for a by-election to fill the seat vacated by the late Jurong GRC MP Dr Ong Chit Chung?

Yes, said the majority of 150 who had a clear opinion.

The New Paper asked 150 people in Bukit Batok what they thought. And their views, depending on which side of the parliamentary debate you were on, would either be a vindication or a surprise.

While less than 10 per cent of Parliament felt a by-election was necessary, more than two-thirds of those we polled who were clear in their opinion felt they wanted a by-election (70 out of 100).
The rest - 50 - were not concerned either way.

They were either undecided or did not care.

Retiree S K Koh, who is in his 60s, said: 'If Malaysia could have a by-election, why can't we? Besides, it would show the democratic process here.'

Lecturer David Koh, 48, was one of those who felt the need for someone to focus on the constituency's needs. 'In the coming years, the future will be uncertain.

'We need a dedicated MP for Bukit Batok.'

Engineering student Alvin Tan, 30, said: 'Currently, Parliament is short of one seat. And without Dr Ong, the other four MPs have to share the workload.

'It's better to have somebody take over properly, and it would be even better if it's someone who has been working closely with Dr Ong and knows the area better.'

Among those who felt they could do without a by-election was student Muhammad Afiq, 18. 'Having a by-election and all that campaigning will be a waste of time and resources.

'It would be better if Parliament or the Cabinet chooses a replacement for DrOng.'

Housewife Madam Jay Norman, 61, said: 'One of the other MPs in the GRC can be the MP for Bukit Batok as he or she knows the constituency well already.'

Entrepreneur David Foo, 58, summed up the views of those who felt it wasn't a priority. 'It does not matter whether we have a by-election or not. We lost a good MP when Dr Ong died and we miss him but life still goes on.

'What is important is that Bukit Batok is still well-managed.'

Housewife Madam S K Tan, 48, said: 'I did not know the late MP well, so I have no opinions about a by-election.'

Additional reporting by Melissa Tan, newsroom intern and Catherine Lim, teacher on attachment

My comments:

Hi Friends,

TOC (The has said it.

Now one of MSM’s papers, The New Paper has also said it too.

That a significant number of people in Bukit Batok think that it is in their best interest to have a by-election.

The point about the two polls is...

Of course, any student who has done Statistics 101 will know that these two simple polls will not stand the scrutiny of statistical analysis as the design of the surveys leaves much to be desired.

But the point is that it is not as cut and dry as suggested by Mdm Halimah (Jurong GRC MP) who said that she was assured by her grassroot leaders that no resident in Bukit Batok has asked about a by-election. Really?

Grassroot organizations not acting as credible “eyes and ears” of government?

Why am I not surprised by these grassroot leaders' reactions? If simple polls like these show up not insignificant (sorry to use statistics phraseology) proportions of populations wanting by-elections but grassroot leaders saying otherwise- does it not just show how far removed these “eyes and ears” of the government are from the ground? Or do they just tell the PAP MP's what the latter want to hear?

Persuasive PM does not move me..

PM managed to move a Nominated MP (Bannerjee) into changing his vote. PM’s argument is that Singapore’s election system has changed ( some say "bastardised") from the Westminster system – which according to PM is MP-centric , to ours which is party-centric.

If that is the case, what say him that we just change to a system of party list where parties just draw up lists (according to party seniority) and the number of seats won would be according to percentage of votes obtained This would be in effect the Proportional Representation (PR) which the PAP so dreaded.

The parties can then allocate number of MP’s according to their own internal agenda. ( eg PAP No. 1 MM Lee (I don't know who No.2 is) etc and WP No.1 LTK, No2. Sylvia Lim etc). Those constituencies who vote majority for a certain party will get that party’s MP(s) and the winning party then gets to decide who seats where. (Bukit Batok would not need an MP as the present situation has already proven that there is actually an excess to requirement!).

My deep concern

I am gravely concerned that even a very reasonable motion by NMP’s Prof Thio and Dr. Loo was categorically dismissed. Even if more than half of a GRC’s MP’s have quit or if the only minority GRC MP has left – the PAP “die die” also will not have a by-election? So minority representation is not a big deal after all?

So does being party-centric mean that as PAP had won the majority of votes for Singapore, it has heaven’s mandate to do as it pleases? Really?

Why do I get the impression that PAP just cares about control and power?

I am feeling more than a bit disgusted!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Table Tennis: STTA president's puzzling action

S'pore's table tennis team manager told to leave ( Sun, Aug 24, 2008The Straits Times)
Fate of head coach hangs in balance.

In a shock announcement, Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah told The Sunday Times yesterday that the services of team manager Antony Lee are not needed anymore.

Some view as not only too rash but also harsh, is sure to put a dampener on the team's scheduled celebrations when they arrive back in Singapore tomorrow.

Ms Lee, who took over as STTA president, her first foray into sports, said: 'I have a new team and will have a new CEO and technical director. It is best that the manager is chosen by them. Antony is welcome to apply for the position when we ask for applications.' But a clearly upset Mr Lee, 39, did not take kindly to the news.

Dear Friends,

Another STTA president- another controversy!

I have written the following to Forum page editors

To the editor:

Dear Editor,

Many in Singapore are shocked at this seemingly rash act by the new Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah.

Ms Lee, who according to the mainstream media, was just appointed last month in “her first foray into sports” is also a PAP MP.

Singapore just won second Olympic medal in 48 years

Singapore has just won its long overdue second Olympics medal after a hiatus of 48 years. This medal was the culmination of calculated government and STTA policies as well as the hard work of players and support staff, which included team manager Antony Lee and head coach Liu Guodong.

All of Singapore was looking forward to welcoming back these heroes and heroines.

Is STTA president’s action justified?

Notwithstanding the “Gao Ning incident” where no coach was present at Gao Ning’s match, is Ms Lee’s action justified?

We wait with bated breath to hear for ourselves why such drastic action has to be taken that could not even wait for a proper inquiry in Singapore. The alleged infraction must have been extremely grave to warrant immediate dismissal in Beijing!

Project 0812 chairman Ng Ser Miang is not the only person puzzled- the whole of Singapore is too!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My thoughts on that Olympic Silver and that Political Liberalization Speech.

Hi Friends,

Just touched down from Down Under.

I only got to know that our girls were in the Table Tennis final match on Sunday itself!

I have no excuse at all not knowing as there was internet at the hotel’s business-centre and even if I did not want to spend the Aus $5 / half hour, there was always the internet cafĂ© 100 metres down the street.

However after vineyard-hopping around the Barossa countryside, we were pleasantly surprised that the whole China-Singapore match was shown on TV. So there we were, in a quaint and cozy Tanunda cottage, cheering for Singapore and wondering if we had too much of the Wolf Blass reisling or Peter Lehmann’s shiraz.

That Table Tennis Olympic Silver

The Germans have done it- so have the Americans. Almost everyone is using athletes that are not home-born.

Before the diaspora of China’s ping pong talents to the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania, there was Martina and Monica.

Martina Navratilova was born Czechoslovakian but later became an American tennis icon. Monica “grunter” Seles, was from Yugoslovakia but represented USA when she migrated there. The reasons for migration for each of these athletes are varied and different and ranges from cold war political asylum to economic pragmatism where Chinese athletes who feel that they do not have any realistic chance of being on the China’s A team left for places like Singapore in search of greener pastures.

In my mind, so long as a foreign athlete has taken Singaporean citizenship, I will root for him/her to bring honours to Singapore. It matters not if this is ex-Briton Bennett of our football team or China's Li Jia Wei of ping pong. They will be deemed worthy of my cheer.

It also matters not if the athlete came 10 years ago or 10 days ago, so long as he/she has fulfilled the conditions for national representation, it is not an issue with me.

Ex- Brazilian Alex in Japan’s football team? Ex-Kenyan wearing Danish colours? No worries- Let the Games begin!

That National Day Rally speech by PM Lee

I welcome further political liberalization as announced by PM, although they are mere baby-steps. Political videos on the net and the right to demonstrate are bugbears of many a civil and political activist.

We should see this as a small victory won and look forward to further and more important victories eg dismantling of GRC’s and bringing down to earth the stratospheric Ministers’ salaries!

How will opposition parties respond?

If they still insist that demonstrating anytime and anywhere is their God-given right and ignore this opportunity given them at Hong Lim Park, neutral observers would be justified to think that these political activists are not really quibbling about the right to demonstrate but just want to break the law ( or worse-they just want to make trouble).

This does not prevent anyone from using Hong Lim as a platform for even further liberalisations.

So the ball is in our courts now.

Want to show commitment to your favourite political cause and get some publicity? See you at Hong Lim!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: Amongst teams beaten by China and Singapore's women teams enroute to the final match, the following other teams had players with Chinese names:

USA: Gao Jun;Wang Chen;Huang Xi
Netherlands:Li Jiao;Li Jie
South Korea: Dang Ye Seo
Dominican Republic:Qian Lian;Wu Xue
Austria:Li Qingbing;Liu Jia
Hong Kong:Tie Yana;Lin Ling;Lau Sui Fei

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy 43rd National Day!

Dear Singaporeans and friends,

I am proud to be a Singaporean.

May Singapore continue to advance in all spheres of its national life.

It may be in small baby-steps or in leaps and bounds.

I am there to see that it continues.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My response to Shriniwas Rai's letter about the need for political changes

How we are governed: Let's consider changes (ST Forum 5 Aug 08)

THE recent discussion in the press on democracy and the system of government in Singapore has generated some public interest. It is encouraging that the political leadership is prepared to accept some changes, in particular comments by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at National Day celebrations in Hougang. I appeal to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues to consider some of them.

The Westminster form of government is well established in Singapore, but to suit local needs it may have to go through changes. We have made some changes, such as giving the President power over reserves.

Although nearly one-quarter of the population votes for the opposition at each general election, the opposition failed to achieve any significant presence in Parliament. Granted that proportional representation is not ideal, we can marry the Westminster and proportional representation system in Singapore. Opposition parties that secure more than 15 per cent of votes in the general election could be given non-constituency members' seats. The maximum could be set at nine.

The Nominated MP (NMP) system has to be adopted by every new parliament after the general election. This was done by SM Goh to accommodate criticism of the NMP system. The time has come for Parliament to decide whether the system should become permanent. We should modify and allow a full term of five years instead of the present 2-1/2 years. A proviso that
NMPs should not serve more than one term should be entrenched.

Group representation constituencies (GRCs) were introduced to bring about multiracialism and minority representation in Parliament. The system began with a small GRC but now more half of Singapore is under GRCs. From three-member GRCs, we now have six-member GRCs. We should look into this and introduce two-member GRCs. This will ensure multiracialism.
We should also amend the law to reduce the voting age to 18, which is the practice in many other countries. I would like to believe our young are more mature and responsible than was the case 50 years ago.

We have a clean system of government, but we cannot ensure this will remain in years to come. In many other countries, popular mandates have been used to undermine the political system. It is therefore suggested that an independent election commission be set up.
Finally, constitutions are not written in stone. They are living institutions with their own strengths and weaknesses. We should be prepared for change, if it will improve the system.

Shriniwas Rai

My response:

Hi friends,

Mr. Shriniwas Rai is a well-known lawyer and an ex-Nominated MP and his letter today is much welcomed.

Although his letter to the forum contains much substance it is couched in mild and diplomatic phrases. Maybe it is just the cut of the editor’s scissors?

My response is as follows:

1.I am not as optimistic that what SM Goh has in mind is further liberalization. More likely SM Goh wants to enlarge GRC’s rather than reduce it. He has also confirmed that grassroot organizations under the People’s Association are part of the PAP’s tentacles and are definitely not apolitical.

2. I am for redressing the discrepancy between the amount of support that opposition parties get at the polls and the number of seats actually awarded to them. Yes some kind of hybrid of First-past-the-post and Proportional Representation (PR) can be considered. I am against total PR as this works for unstable governments. All of us know that smart money of capitalists (which we still depend on) loves stability ( yes including the PAP’s monopoly- they love monopolies!)

3.I prefer the abolition of GRC’s but will rather have 2-member GRC’s than 10-member GRC’s anytime! Let us just abolish GRC’s and not be satisfied with half measures. About the issue of minority MP’s- If on election night there are less than the desired X number of minorities, the best losing minority candidates would be considered duly elected.

4.Nominated MP’s should not be allowed to just walk into parliament. They should be elected as Independent MP’s on election day ( with no geographical constituency).

5.I totally agree on the need for an independent Election Commission. The government of the day should not just be fair but be “seen to be fair”. What better way than to have a Election Commission under Presidential purview headed by a prominent non-partisan Singaporean. This will once and for all remove all allegations of gerry-mandering and of pork-belly politics.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

Friday, August 01, 2008

Our Nurses- Singapore's Unsung Heroes

IN SINGAPORE’S quest to be a regional medical hub, we often overlook and underestimate the
contribution of a vital part of the health-care industry – nurses.

As we celebrate Nurses’ Day today, I would like to thank our men and women nurses working in
our hospitals and clinics.

They toil day and night –often missing meals – and frequently have to tolerate abuse from patients and their relatives, as well as (I am ashamed to say this) their doctor colleagues sometimes.

No matter whether you come from an ASEAN country or from afar, we thank you for looking after our loved ones and our countrymen.

All of you , including my mother, who is a retired nurse, are worthy successors of Florence Nightingale- the Lady of the Lamp.

Happy Nurses’ Day!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: This letter was published in My Paper