Political Dialogue at NUSS


The political dialogue organized by NUSS was well attended by more than four hundred members. The impending election is a key reason that I attended as well. The speakers were new to me, but not unfamiliar. There was NMP Mr Calvin Cheng, Christopher De Souza from PAP, Kenneth Jeyaretnam from The Reform Party, Chee Soon Juan from SDP, Lina Chiam from SPP and Sylvia Lim from Worker’s Party.

Past NUSS Chairman and Ex-NMP Chandra Mohan did a good job as a moderator, providing some comic relief to the otherwise serious event. (Even reading the house rules was funny.)

Chandra Mohan started by quoting Sir Winston Churchill – Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times. So the speakers on stage are really brave to enter politics. That I agree.

As this was a close door event with ‘members only’ rule, there was no jeering or rowdiness that had been present in the last dialogue four years ago. The atmosphere was ‘peaceful, friendly, with people agreeing to diagree.’

Mr Calvin Cheng, a graduate of Oxford (‘Just as good a University as NUS’, said Mohan) spoke about the new generation electorates which are internet savvy and have a higher hierarchy of needs that are quite different from the bread and butter issues from past generations. He does not see any new change in the political playing field.

MP Christopher de Souza is from Bukit Timah/Sunset Way ward. He spoke of the contribution the ruling party had brought since the last recession, which Europe and US are still trying to recover. His speech, shown with charts and statistic, is typical like that of civil servants. He assured a member living at Sunset Way – who had complaint that the member had never met his MP- that he had been to every single HDB household and Sunset Way landed properties. It was too bad that the member was not around when he visited.

The next speaker was Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the son of late opposition MP, who had spent 40 years overseas because he couldn’t get a job in Singapore despite getting a first class degree from Cambridge (‘Another University as good as NUS’: Mohan). He mentioned a valid point. Myanma had its first election after two decades recently, but there are people in Singapore who had never voted in 40 years. He put up a slide with a quote from a resident that said, ‘I just want a chance to vote before I die.’ We all had a good laugh. Alas for him, it was weird hearing a British accented man speaking about foreign talents taking away jobs. (He had served NS and is a Singaporean, despite his accent.)

Chee Soon Juan spoke about the vision of SDP. His accent made him sound fake and insincere. Perhaps it’s just my prejudice against him from the press reports. His speech ended with a whole lots of ‘I want…, I want…, I want…’ To him, Singapore is morally corrupt and just plain materialistic. To me, he is idealistic and not realistic. Someone asked him, with all the ‘I want…’, where is the ‘how?’ Well, go to SDP website to find out.

Mrs Lina Chiam, wife of Potong Pasir opposition MP Chiam See Tong, is hoping to continue what her ailing husband has set out to do for Potong Pasir. Her inexperience as a politician was obvious, with her reading her speech and apologising when she read wrongly to repeat the sentence again. Why is she not enjoying her retirement and doing this at her age (61)? She enjoys it and want to continue her husband’s legacy. We must give her credit for that, if nothing else.

Sylvia Lim was the last speaker. She was an eloquent speaker, clear and easily understood. It was no surprise that she had garnered 44% votes in the last election. She spoke about level playing field in the election, and the need for an alternate voice. In answering the question from a member about forming an opposition alliance, she replied that it was difficult as the parties do not share the same manifesto. Having said that, they do cooperate with each other and do not engage in three corner fights with the ruling party.

The three-hour dialogue ended with Q & A thrown by the same few members. The rest of us are contented to sit and comment privately on the side.

The last dialogue post election four years ago was an eye opener and had shown me the wide disparity between the opposition and ruling party. The gap is narrower this time. Chris de Souza, as expected bore the brunt of defending government policies and he did that brilliantly with logic and conviction. He was the most impressive of the lot, in my opinion.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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13 Responses to Political Dialogue at NUSS

  1. Your simple and non- judgmental comment on the dialogue forum is encouraging. The truth is Lina chiam is never cut to be a politician. And Chiam See Tong’s choosing her instead of Desmond Lim, has really nailed himself and Lina into their own coffins. Unable to give up the dominance of SPP and too authoritarian in his nepotic choice of Lina. His mis-judgment is also his political swan song for Chiam See Tong.

    Potong Pasir will be the ‘last of the Mohicans.’ It is so mediocre, so to speak of Lina chiam but possesses the greatest ego of her unrealistic self.

    Chee Soon Juan has all along the maverick of opposition politics. His too confrontational approach has made him and his members to be the ‘living jail-bird’ than becoming parliamentary bird. Sad for a man of his vision and belief but unable to come to reality of self to the politics of S’pore. His, is a personal crusade and vendetta against the PAP regime.

    Kenneth Jeyaretnam never is his father’s shadow . With great aplomb, he took over Reform party from his father’s loyal steward, kicking Lim Teck Siong out for good.

    Sylvia Lim by far is one ‘hell’ of a woman, which I watched her in parliament and her courage of questions, will make a good opposition MP. This coming election , Workers Party will win one GRC in my prediction.

    I have nothing to comment on christopher de sousa, a real ‘soosa’ lah..harping the yes tune of his paymaster. He is in denial mode to paint such a ‘scenic picture of S’pore.

    • vickychong says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. I detect an opposition sympathizer if I may say so. I’m no political watcher and only voted once (not counting once in a presidential election) in my 45 years. I am curious – were you at the dialogue as well?

      • I was not invited…am not in the alumni. Try to enter ‘backdoor’ like so many like PAP MPs and ministers in walkovers. I was very close with the the establishment. My friend and countryman NSP’s Goh Meng Seng as Secretary general of NSP were not invited too. He is an NUS alumni.

        I always adhorred forums like this… ‘staged’ in certain ways. The credible are left out , the mediocre included! Lina chiam is one!
        PAP’s Christopher is just an eye-sore presence. What better views can he offered but the usual PAP rhetorics !!

      • leesjuanpat says:

        Are you that young Vicky?..you said in your 45 years! I love ladies who have no qualms telling her their age !

      • vickychong says:

        Patrick, thanks! I love men who tell me I look young.

  2. hahaha says:

    one incompetent PAP backbencher that entered via the backdoor is one lost voice for the people. Simple math!

  3. Edward Tay says:

    It is not uncommon for private clubs to hold closed door events, since that is what we join it for in the first place. NUSS is a private club which graduates from any recognised university (not just NUS) can join. Patrick, you can find out more about NUSS membership at their website at http://www.nuss.org.sg.

  4. BryanT says:

    Vicky, my commendation on the observations at the NUSS event too.

    I wrote about KJ’s presentation here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/bryan-ti/kj-rp-policies-should-be-examined-tested-and-held-up-to-rigorous-scrutiny-except/476624483976

    And he befuddled stand on Opposition unity here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/bryan-ti/kj-rp-befuddlement-over-opposition-unity/476803573976

    And you might detect my NON-sympathy of the Opposition. But sincerely, I mean well (haha)

  5. Bryan, I want to impress my new found d virtual friend Vicky on your write lah…I concur with your ‘innuedos’… are all in good faith but the opposition leaders are so daft as not to understand your implication. Instead, they then banned you and deleted you and ‘slap’ you left and right….I admire your endurance. A solid ‘lau peng you’ of mine…hahaah! Let’s go for kopi-si. Umpteen times now …no show…..hahaah!
    I kick my own butt with my persistence !!

  6. Anony says:

    De Souza can say all those things because the local media can only say the good things leaving out the bad details such as the sufferings and sacrifices exacted on the common folks. How can the rest of us contradict him when our views don’t see the light of day in print or over the air and when reporters are subject to their editors’ censorship and when mass media bosses and editors get called to the forbidden city for a right royal roasting and chewing up if the emperor don’t like what he reads in his morning papers.

    I believe you are trying to be fair and neutral, but you have achieved neither. you must have a truly cloistered life outside of your schooling!

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review | Vicky's Writings

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