Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Attending a rally by NSP at Jurong West stadium on 2May

Singapore General Election is going to take place on 7 May'11. This election takes place once every five years, and I am really excited to be able to vote again. I was not able to vote in 2006 because my residential zone was part of West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) represented by five members of parliment. As they had no opposition party to contest against them then, they walked through the election. This happened for many residents of the GRC ward for many years. This year is really different as the opposition parties are able to form their teams to compete both in the GRC and in the Single Member Constituency (SMC) ward (SMC ward is represented by a member instead of a team).

My residential zone is no longer under West Coast GRC but standing on its own  as Pioneer SMC. Mr. Cedric Foo of the incumbent ruling party (i.e. People's Action Party, PAP) will be contesting against Mr. Steve Chia of the National Solidatry Party (NSP). I attended a rally held by NSP last Sunday at Jurong West (JW) Stadium. 

Scene from the stand at NSP rally in JW stadium
The whole stadium was packed, and emotions were running high. The NSP knew how to fan people’s emotion. What impressed most is that Mr. Chia was able to utilize statistics and hard facts to support his arguments. The presence of foreign workers is a sore sight in Pioneer neighbourhood. Some of them would gather as groups in the void deck, drinking beer and eating together, while some of them would venture into the parks using the facilities there. Mr. Chia personally witnessed foreign workers leaving litters behind and urinating in the public while he was in the neighbourhood. To enhance the safety of the local residents, Mr. Foo advocated for security camera to be installed outside the lift of every block. However, Mr. Chia pointed out that the cost will come from the town council, and the maintenance cost will be likely added to our monthly conservatory services charge, and does not solve the problem. He suggested regular patrolling making up of MP and volunteer residents to remind these foreign workers not to litter or to urinate in public space. He put forth a 2nd viable suggestion, i.e. to shift these workers’ dormitory from to Joo Koon, which is further away from the residential area. Among these two different approaches to handle the presence of foreign workers, I think Mr. Chia’s proposal is more proactive, and put the elected MP closer in touch with the residents.

Mr. Chia also shared his response from the prime minister when asked about the ministers' high pay (in fact S'pore's ministers are one of the highest paid in the world). Minister's pay is written in their contract and cannot be amended. Mr Chia then compared why our Central Provision Fund savings (equivalent to U.S. social security) withdrawal age can be amended, and the minimum cap amount can also be amended. While I do not understand why minister's pay in S'pore is pegged to fifteen top earning industries in S'pore, I do understand the government's initiative in  revising the CPF's minimum cap and withdrawal age to reflect the older retirement age and higher cost of living in S'pore. I can see how relatively easy it is for the political opponents to find fault with government's policy and incumbent ruling party, and to raise the stake of the issue by hinging upon people's emotions.

It may not easy to differentiate what is at stake in this election. I do pray for the wisdom of my fellow citizens in electing our candidates to represent us in the parliament.

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