Sunday, May 01, 2011

Indomitable Chiam See Tong: My improbable hero


I have often been unkind to Mr.Chiam See Tong.

I have thought him too slow and too cautious in the renewal of his party.

However his doggedness, irrepressible optimism in the face of the apparent all-powerful PAP juggernaut and his indomitable spirit has finally convinced me that his is the truly amazing Singapore story that has been deemed impossible by many a cynical Singaporean.

Political Journey

Those who are old enough to remember (and who love Singapore) will remember Chiam’s humble beginnings as a lonely politician.

His political journey started in 1976 when as a 41 year old, he entered the General Elections as an independent candidate at Cairnhill against the “Father of Singapore public housing” Minister Lim Kim San. His political symbol then was the Horse and he campaigned with the help of a loud-hailer attached to his faithful red Volkswagen beetle. He lost but continued 3 more unsuccessful attempts before finally winning at Potong Pasir in the 1984 elections against a certain Mr. Mah Bow Tan.

The victory was especially sweet as, during one of the rallies at Fullerton Square, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew asked, 'Who is this Chiam See Tong? We looked up his record and he has only got six Cs in his school certificate.'

Unfair treatment by establishment

It was perceived by neutrals that the traditional media did not accord Chiam proper respects as an elected representative as he was often depicted as less than an elegant orator and when he had internal party divisions within the Singapore Democratic Party that he founded, the media went about town making him look like someone who could not keep his own house in order.

However, in the more than 25 years as Potong Pasir’s MP ( 6 terms), he has never lost faith in his mission and the electorate had reciprocated time and again in returning him as its MP. This was despite of and in the face of all kinds of carrots and sticks that the PAP could think of including the much maligned “no upgrading for opposition ward” strategy.

Extraordinary outcome by an ordinary Singaporean

Despite all the scholarly talents that were at the disposal of the PAP, they did not take into consideration or perhaps underestimated the bond and kinship that the ordinary folks of Potong Pasir felt for “Ah Chiam” whom they consider as one of their own- an ordinary Singaporean with a very un-Singaporean mission of standing up against someone more powerful.

“Ah Chiam” now goes onto another fairy tale- that of making history by winning a Group Representative Constituency (GRC)!

With the indomitable spirit and especially now that he has emboldened more brave souls to answer the clarion call to join his battle outfit, the PAP can ignore this old battle horse at its peril!

Mr.Chiam See Tong sir, one more new convert will be rooting for you!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan


The Pariah said...

Despite being bowed by Time, Mr Chiam See Tong still wows!

Will Mr Chiam be bowed and beaten in GE2011?

Let's see if Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC voters will STAND UP or STOOP LOW.

I end off with this Anonymous quote:
“Courage is not a lack of fear, but the ability to act while facing fear.”

Anonymous said...

"Mr.Chiam See Tong sir, one more new convert will be rooting for you!", unquote.

Very comforting to read the Above.

Dr Huang;
me sure You need little persuasion, evidence is everywhere showing us the state of decay taking place in our society.


Anonymous said...

No words to describe what fine people the Chiams are, our heroes who are never given the credit they truly deserve because of small-minded people ruling this great nation.

Go Mr. Chiam! Go Lina! We hope your GRC dream comes true.

Anonymous said...

yes, i absolutely agree.
Chiam See Tong will be remembered for the right reasons, but sadly not for one despot.

The indomitable spirit is something you can never teach in schools and Chiam without a doubt, earned an A*

to me, this beats the so called scholars from LKY's system of selection...hands down!


chua soon hock said...

Mr. Chiam See Tong, a gentleman, is a true servant-leader in Singapore politics:
1. He served faithfully for 27 years
2. He served without million dollar salary
3. He served even in void deck for many years
4. He served without personal complain and claiming personal credit
5. He served despite the many roadblocks and obstacles against him
6. He is now even serving despite old and weak
7. His deeds matched what he said

He is a good servant-leader example for us, our children and children-children.
An ordinary man, doing simple kind extra-ordinary kind, gracious and thoughtful things for ordinary Singaporeans faithfully.

gigamole said...

Hear, hear!
Let's hope voters in Bishan-Toa Payoh will do what is right. One suspects that time is not on his side. Let's honour him while we still can. A true Singapore hero.

chemgen said...

I hope Chiam team gets into Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. A hero he is, no doubt about that.

But he cannot rely on the same comfortable speech he had for his home ground on Saturday night. Bishan Toa Payoh GRC voters would see Chiam as a frail man who cannot deliver a speech and has to be helped on stage. They would not give him sympathy votes just like that although he is a opposition legend. Chiam must explain that Bishan Toa Payoh voters are not voting for him, but for his solid SPP team. But can convince Bishan Toa Payoh GRC that?

Anonymous said...

"Chiam must explain that Bishan Toa Payoh voters are not voting for him, but for his solid SPP team. But can convince Bishan Toa Payoh GRC that?"

It really sad people still do not realize you do not vote for opp party this time, you are voting for yourself. Yes. Look yourself at the mirror and repeat this. YOU ARE VOTING FOR YOURSELF. Why ? Because the PAP is not going to speak for you anymore since they are there to rubberstamp their master's policies, and it is opp party that will aggressively fight for you in parliament. Lesser mortals still blur and complacent what is going to happen. Don't be sotong like MIW (of course, MIW can be sotong after all they received millions of tax money regardless but not you). The mass import of 1.5 millions foreigers is going to dilute the citizens'vote in next election, and citizen will lose jobs and dignity to foreigners. Now, citizen, please wake-up because you are going to be replaced.

It is about YOU now, not opp party !

And if citizens still want to be blur and daft, good luck.

Anonymous said...

I voted for the first time in 2006 in Aljunied. I gave my vote to WP.
I have since moved out of Aljunied a couple of years back and I get to vote again this time under Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC(how lucky!).

I don't drive (can't afford to; I have done my sums and it's just too expensive to own and drive a car given my financial capabilities. This was the case for me 5 years ago, and still is right now, so I don't see how PAP ruling is helping my quality of life to improve!) so I depend alot on public transport to commute around. My train/bus experience hasn't improved much over the years. I remembered being WOWed by Mr Lim when he talked about the plans for public transport in Singapore years ago, and then waking up after the I don't feel the improvement. The train gets more crowded, the wait gets longer, and the air-conditioning is breaking down more often.
I just want to vote based on my own needs, but honestly speaking I don't think by voting for any opposition party is going to make my daily train ride any less vexing overnight, as SMRT has to answer to its shareholders.

My own train gripe aside, if I get to meet my MP ( I have not seen Mr Wong nor Mr Ng coming around yet), I would like to ask them about the plight of that man who has to foot majority of his $147K hospital bill. I am alarmed that there is such a big hole in our workman compensation act that Singaporeans may fall though it.
SMEs has bottomline to watch so may not be willing to take up additional private insurance to cover their employees. How are the poor employees who are living hand to mouth to buy private insurance of their own as protection?
If we have billions to blow in losses made by GIC / Temasek, surely we can cough out some "small change" to improve on medical coverage for citizens who can't afford to buy private insurance. That, or Mr Khaw could give advice to all fellow citizens what we have to do so that we need not pay more than $10 in case we need to undergo a procedure.

I have watched Mr Chiam's rally on youtube and his sincerity touched me. So yes, I will be voting on for him and his party come 7 May.

Anonymous said...

Chiam See Tong is our Aung San Suu Kyi. He may not have gone to prison but lives metaphorically speaking in PAP prison. It cannot be easy as a lone ranger to go up against PAP machinery. Some people say he should have done more to build his party but let's be realistic, it is impossible to do so as long as LKY is around.

He has so much of integrity compared with WKS & his shallow team. Some Bishan residents fear he may be too ill to serve them but Wilfred, Benjamin and company are people worthy of a chance.

Anonymous said...

In my view, NONE of them in the PAP can hold a candle to Mr. Chiam.

andrewtungsk said...

Singaporeans should be inspired by Chiam See Tong and his life story.