Voting for the Opposition goes against human nature

From ‘PM to actively push for succession in new Cabinet lineup’, 19 Sep 15, article by Charissa Yong, ST

…PM Lee was also asked whether he was surprised, relieved or vindicated by the election results, which saw the PAP win 83 out of 89 seats and get 69.9 per cent of the popular vote, a near-10 percentage point swing from the 2011 elections.

He said he was surprised and relieved. But he would not use words like vindicated, as “you only know you’re vindicated after 100 years have passed”.

As for what led to the election outcome, he said the PAP will study it but it was hard to say for sure. But it seemed that voters approved of what the PAP Government had done over its past term and wanted them to continue on the same track, he said.

The opposition’s storyline, he noted, was “the Government is doing good; you vote for us, the Government will work even harder”.

“That’s a very dangerous approach and it goes against human nature,” he said. “If you have a friend and your friend is nice to you, you’re nice to him or her.

If the Opposition were a terminal patient rendered comatose by the election trouncing, then PM Lee is following up the defeat not by buying flowers and fruit baskets as a sporting victor should, but putting a pillow over his face.

The analogy here seems to be ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, that since the Government had done well, says our PM, it is only ‘human’ for Singaporeans to show some damn gratitude and appreciation by voting for them. If you don’t, then well, pay the price and repent for your choice. Politicians comment on hindsight that Singapore has voted ‘rationally’, which implies that the remaining 30% cast their votes on base animal instincts, biting the hand that feeds them. If the Opposition’s share were higher, they either call it a fluke, or sugarcoat the result as a ‘new normal’.

I’m no evolutionary psychologist, but I believe returning favours isn’t a uniquely human trait. Primates groom each other for sex, for example. In the same way, we put a cross next to the PAP box not just as a ‘reward’ for the party’s efforts, but because we expect something in return; 5 years of them doing their damn job. Alas, simple reciprocation is merely one aspect of this ‘human nature’ that PM speaks of. It’s also typically human to be swayed by sentiment. Cue SG50 and the death of LKY.

Conversely one could argue that it’s ‘against human nature’ to vote for the PAP too. By doing so, you’re endorsing arrogant oppression, which goes against the human quest to be ‘free’. You’re endorsing the generous slapping of litigation on critics including 16 year old bloggers, which goes against the human trait of compassion. You’re saying yes to opening floodgates to foreigners, which goes against the human ‘territorial’ instinct to reject invaders who want a share of your pie.

The PAP has displayed the entire range of human traits, altruistic and kind on one hand, devastatingly ruthless on another, bold then fearful, humble then pompous. So to single out an undesirable, supposedly dangerous, action such as Opposition voting based on the ‘make the Government work harder’ premise as ‘unnatural’ is falling into the very human trap of cherry picking. ‘Dangerous’ to who, exactly?

If our leaders continue to congratulate themselves and saying that voting for the PAP is a ‘no-brainer’, many will be wondering if they made a terrible mistake giving them the mandate. But it’s OK, to err is human after all.

PAP winners humbled by landslide victory

From ‘PAP wins in a landslide with 69.86% of votes’, 12 Sep 15, article in CNA

…Among the winning PAP candidates, clear common themes arose in their victory speeches and interviews: Gratitude to voters, the humbling mandate, and the work to be done.

For example, Cabinet Minister Grace Fu – one of the first winners to be announced on Friday night – said that while she was happy to see her share of the vote in Yuhua SMC improve from 66.9 per cent in 2011 to 73.54 per cent, she was “very humbled” by the mandate and would work hard to prove herself worthy of voters’ trust.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his victory speech for Ang Mo Kio GRC, told voters: “We are very grateful and happy but at the same time humbled by the result, by the trust you have put on us, by the responsibility we have taken on to serve you.”

In any sporting contest, to be ‘humbled’ usually refers to an unexpected result when a crowd favourite suffers defeat at the hands of a less worthy opponent, such as Man U were humbled 1-2 by Swansea City. In 1984, one would celebrate with champagne upon seeing the ‘mighty PAP humbled’ post-election. If you use it in the first person, however, it expresses something rather different, a feeling of surprise and gratitude mixed with mild self-deprecation. Like ‘I’m not a man with many friends, therefore I’m humbled to see all of you here at my wedding’, or ‘I’m a terrible writer, so I’m humbled to see people clicking on this blog’.

So the PAP, sensing that they may be in for a tough fight, decided to thank their supporters with some syncopatic grovelling when they were rewarded with a rock-solid victory margin. Being ‘satisfied’ , ‘happy’ or ‘relieved’ (or as Lim Swee Say would say, ‘heng ah’) isn’t enough. You need to give the masses the illusion of authority, that you, the MP, are the ‘chosen’ one, that you’re proud to assume the role as a servant of the people, a steward, a ‘JAGA’, as PM Lee described. That you’re so honoured by the overwhelming mandate that you could drop on your knees and kiss our feet for this opportunity to serve. Like we’re 18th century plantation owners buying you out of a life of tunnel digging or dragging boulders up a hill.

For a while at least, we, the PAP voters, are made to feel like the masters of our fate. The people have spoken, and whether you call it a mandate, upswing, or some severe ‘groupthink’ on the part of the electorate, we always bring out a crouching, simpering tiger during the victory parade, but come SG51, let us brace ourselves for the searing heat when that familiar fire-spewing dragon emerges out of its subservient shell. I suspect most Singaporeans already know this, that the U-turns, the misguided policies, the preservation of a conservative status quo, can be seen a mile away, but they decided that they would rather live with a painful, but apparently successful formula, than put their faith in the Opposition. Which makes us, well, political masochists who love complaining, who attend Opposition rallies and raise their candidates to the pedestal of heavy metal gods, but when it comes to the crunch, go for the only option that will enable us to continue complaining, to live in fear of getting arrested for defamation, to huddle with more sweaty bodies on the train, to save up for more goddamn Walls ice cream promotions. As long as someone is putting up a sheltered walkway, a lift upgrade, a new hawker centre, or giving away the occasional public holiday for no good reason.

As Kenneth Jeyaratnam sourly observed, Singaporeans got the government that we deserve. It’s only a matter of time before we see this charming humility being shed like a snake moulting its scales, and for the PAP to revert to its old highfalutin ways, with men and women with not just IRON in them, but willing to push policies with an iron fist as well. Until then, revel while you can, rest assured that with the PAP cruise ship restarting its voyage, and the mango fruits of election promises just starting to seed, there won’t be any dead founding fathers rising out of the grave to set things right anytime soon.

Police report filed over Vivian Balakrishnan’s Facebook glitch

From ‘Elections Dept reins in breach of rules’, 10 Sep 11, article by Siau Ming En, Today

…Screengrabs of a tweet on Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan’s account linking to a Facebook post about an election walkabout — with a time stamp indicating it was published today — had some netizens questioning if electoral rules had been broken.

A spokesperson for Dr Bala­krishnan — who is leading the PAP team defending their seats in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC — said the minister has explained to the ELD that the Facebook post in question, which was first published on Sept 4, had been repeatedly published automatically.

“Despite multiple attempts by the page administrators to stop this, the problem recurred at 1.52am on Sept 10, 2015. We have contacted Facebook headquarters to conduct an investigation into the source of this bug,” Dr Balakrishnan told the ELD.

As his Facebook and Twitter accounts are linked, an associated tweet was also generated today. “We have also requested that the page be locked down to prevent any further postings,” Dr Balakrishnan said. Both the Facebook post and tweet have been removed from the respective social media platforms.

The police confirmed that reports were lodged on the matter, and they are looking into it.

UPDATE: Facebook confirmed on 11 Sep 15 that it was indeed a bug in the system that led to ‘recurrent autoposting’. Which is the internet equivalent of a ‘broken record’.

PAP’s youngest candidate Tin Peiling was accused of flouting Cooling Off Day rules back in 2011 when one of her Facebook posts called out rival Nicole Seah for sympathy weeping. An ‘administrator’ named Denise He took the rap. 4 years later, Tin is a rising star and looks set to sweep Macpherson off its feet, and another breach of Cooling Off Day rules is attributed not to a social media ghostwriter, but a ghost in the machine. Just a few days back, police reports were made against PAP MPs attending getais, which cater to a different sort of ghost altogether.

I suppose we should trust the Minister when he claims that there was a glitch in the Facebook-Twitter matrix. After all, this is the man who delivered an epic lecture about integrity and admitting to mistakes during his hawker centre kerfuffles with the WP. He could have blamed it on a hacker like what Ello Bello did to explain his seditious comments on Facebook. He could have blamed the haze for impairing his judgement and making him lose track of time. BUT NO, he chose to target a bug in the 2 biggest social media platforms in the world. Vivian is also no slouch when it comes to tech, being a self-professed gadget hobbyist himself, so he should know what he’s talking about. The PAP, I’m sure, just like it doesn’t have a ‘history of backstabbing’, does not have a history of obscuring the truth either.

Still, I don’t recall the Minister making personal apologies for blowing the YOG Budget in 2011, putting the fault on the ‘ministry’s inexperience’ in organising such a mega event. He also justified tripling the budget by saying that the YOG couldn’t have been a success otherwise. That’s like ordering a cake too large for a birthday party and then buying more candles to make up for it. Well at least he didn’t say there was a glitch in his calculator then.

If there’s a freak result in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC today, let’s hope the PAP team admits that they simply did not do enough to win hearts and minds, rather than dig into the ballot boxes looking for phony saboteur votes instigated by rogue polling agents. But if they do walk out as victors, my advice to the Minister and his team is to look beyond petty politics, all this talk about being whiter-than-white clean, and focus on the haze immediately instead.

PAP is a cruise ship with a definite destination

From ‘Aljunied GRC voters can ‘have cake and eat it’:ESM Goh’, 6 Sep 15, article in CNA

While on a walkabout with the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Aljunied GRC team, ESM Goh said his sense of the ground in Aljunied, which was won by the Workers’ Party in the 2011 General Election (GE), is that “many people are caught in a dilemma”. 

“They tell us quite openly that they want to support the PAP, but at the same time they are afraid. Vote for PAP, and Workers’ Party will be out. And therefore there will be no more opposition party, led by Mr Low Thia Khiang and Ms Sylvia Lim, in Parliament,” he noted.

The NCMP scheme ensures that there will always be a minimum number of opposition Members in Parliament. Citing the scheme, ESM Goh said voters and WP can, in fact, “have their cake and eat it”.

…The former Prime Minister also likened the dilemma Aljunied voters face as between a cruise ship with a destination and one without. “If you go with the PAP, you are actually embarking on a cruise ship with a definite destination. You know the destination, you know the journey, the path taken by the cruise ship. You know the captain, the crew members, you know the quality,” ESM Goh said.

“The other choice you’re given is take my cruise ship, I’m going to nowhere. You know there are cruise ships that go on a journey to nowhere. These are gambling ships, very exciting. You take my ship, you can gamble but go no where, just go round and round and so on. The point I’m making is there’s a choice for yourself.”

The phrase ‘having our cake and eat it’ has been used in the GE context to refer to Singaporeans wanting the PAP to lead the country, but at the same desire alternative voices in Parliament. In 1991, WP candiate Jufrie Mahmood used the same idiom to urge Singaporeans to vote for the WP (WP targets floaters and predicts a close fight, 31 Aug 1991, ST). Since 2011, Aljunied residents have indeed been enjoying cake, despite LKY’s insistence that they would repent for the indulgence. Come a week’s time and we’ll see if 4 years of cumulative indigestion would lead to voters puking all WP MPs out of their Parliament seats. Or, if voters are not swayed by the AHPETC salvos, Aljunied continues to eat the same cake. And then some.

ESM Goh’s cake comment reminds me of those ominous words erroneously attributed to Marie Antoinette. When told that the people were starving and had no bread to eat, she supposedly replied: ‘Let them eat cake!’, a phrase that alluded to the class separation between France’s aristocracy and the common people. It’s no coincidence that PM Lee not too long ago spoke of this ‘natural aristocracy’. Well, most Singaporeans can afford more than their daily bread, or even cake, of course. At least we don’t have to eat our own words. And we all know what happened to Marie Antoinette’s head after that. It rolled.

Since the watershed victory in 2011, it would be an insult to the Opposition to settle for NCMP positions in the catastrophic event that the PAP swallows all 89 seats this year (i.e they eating the whole damn cake, sugar frosting, candles and all). The scheme was a token creation of the late LKY in 1984 to help the younger generation appreciate ‘constitutional Opposition’.  Having gained considerable ground since then, no ‘self-respecting’ WP candidate especially the likes of Low Thia Khiang or Sylvia Lim would re-enter Parliament through the ‘back door’ if they could help it. It’s like having a chocolate lava cake one election, and being presented with a combat ration sponge cake the next.

ESM Goh’s analogy of the Goverment being a luxurious cruise ship also seems at odds with what PM Lee had to say regarding Singapore being compared to the same vessel. He said:

Once you think you are in a cruise ship and you are on a holiday and everything must go swimmingly well and will be attended to for you, I think you are in trouble.

No, it definitely doesn’t feel like the Royal Caribbean to the average Singaporean. Some of the houses we live in are even smaller than those cabin suites on board.  I’m also not sure what this ‘definite destination’ that ESM Goh painted for us is (Switzerland?) Whatever happened to choppy waters, stormy weathers and such? Didn’t we learn anything from killjoys like SARS, or the haze? Isn’t the Singaporean journey together as one united people, through ups and downs, more important than the final destination?

In fact, the casino ship seems a more appropriate analogy if you consider our dependence on the 2 IRs. Except that they’re more accommodating to foreigners than our own people, who’re probably stuck in the cargo hold peeling potatoes while the elite dance in banquet halls and have artisan cocktail parties with the captain. We need people to peep out of the porthole, to survey the ocean every now and then to look out for impending icebergs. We’d rather be a cruise to nowhere than the Titanic.

For a man who spoke only ONCE in Parliament these few years, he’s rabidly vocal this week alone. When asked about that one speech on the Population White Paper, ESM Goh admitted that it was a one-off, but at least was ‘impactful’.  You can still read the 2013 speech online and in essence he’s saying ‘I support the White Paper’, and something about pushing boulders up a mountain (Sisyphus much?). No one will remember it, quote abstracts from it, or say ‘GCT WAS RIGHT!’ should the 6.9 million target indeed turn out to be a lucky number. It doesn’t, however, beat his immortal speeches about our ‘Swiss standard of living’ or ‘stayers and quitters’ in terms of impact. Talk about Ownself praise ownself.

We’ve had a taste of cake, now here, have some humble pie, sir.

WP uncle calling Law Minister a ‘barking dog’

From ‘Personal attack by WP supporter regrettable’, 6 Sep 2015, article by Charissa Yong, Sunday Times

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said in a Facebook post yesterday that he was disappointed by a personal attack made by a Workers’ Party (WP) supporter at a rally on Friday night. The supporter, Mr Lim Ee Ping, called the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew “a liar who had hung on to power until he died” and referred to Mr Shanmugam as a “barking dog“.

The insults were “very regrettable”, said the minister, adding that they were made because he had pointed out three things: first, that the High Court had said the WP was dishonest; second, that if the Aljunied-Hougang- Punggol East Town Council had been a company, the WP might have faced criminal sanctions; and third, that the WP had not answered any of his questions on what it did.

“Disappointing that the WP officially sanctions these vile personal attacks,” wrote Mr Shanmugam, who is leading the People’s Action Party team in Nee Soon GRC. He noted that during the same Friday rally in Yishun stadium, the WP’s East Coast GRC team leader Gerald Giam said that the party did not engage in personal attacks.

Looks like Shanmugam needs to arrange a tete-a-tete with Uncle Lim before he decides to file a police report or a defamation suit, just like what he did to resolve an ‘Islamophobe’ accusation previously. Or perhaps he just needs a course in Hokkien 101, to fully appreciate Lim’s analogy. Not sure if the minister actually understood Lim, or one of the PAP’s ‘running dogs’ did the translation for him. Shanmugam, a self-professed animal lover, owns 4 dogs himself, all adopted from a shelter. Now he has a ‘bone to pick’ with a veteran who’s not even contesting and was nothing more than the ‘opening act’ for the WP show.

A dog is often cast as man’s best friend, tenacious, vigilant and loyal to the very end. A governing body is described as a ‘watchdog’ if it safeguards public interest, for example. It could also describe a hardworking, persevering chap. Goh Chok Tong had this to say about Wong Kan Seng in 2003 (Bulldog with dogged resolve’, 19 May 2011, ST)

Kan Seng is a very effective minister. Give him the most difficult operational task and he will sink his teeth into it, like a bulldog.

So, perhaps one could view Lim’s dog comment in a more positive light, that on a flipside it speaks of your ‘dogged’ determination. You even have superstars proud to name themselves after dogs. Like Snoop Dogg and Pitbull. There’s a reason why they call soldiers ‘The Dogs of War’ and not the ‘Monkeys of War’.

Otherwise you’re an ‘attack dog’ if you openly criticise the Opposition on behalf of the party. If you’re out of control, you’ve gone ‘off your leash’. If you can’t manage your estate well and it turns into a slum, then your constituency has ‘gone to the dogs’. If you lose an election and scuttle off, only to rejoin another GRC under the protection of an anchor minister, you’re deemed to have your ‘tail between your legs’.  You’re also warned to ‘vote wisely’ and not ‘bite the hand’ that feeds you. Need I mention ‘All bark and no bite’? Or how about ‘Wag the Dog‘, an expression that means using distraction to steer the people away from things of primary importance. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it.

Dogs aside, halfway into the hustings and we’ve run the gamut of Animal Farm. PM Lee has already warned of having a ‘MOUSE in the house’. In response, WP supporters argue that mice will keep the fat CAT on its toes (or paws, rather). The Orange-themed NSP recently claimed they could roar like a TIGER in Parliament. Chee Soon Juan tries to count jumping SHEEP before he goes to sleep. ESM Goh and WP hurl COCK analogies at each other, the former for being a ‘hao lian’ rooster, the latter for claiming credit for successful policies as they crow. The jeering at the Ng Eng Hen’s PAP team on Nomination Day was referred to as the ELEPHANT in the room. The PAP seems hell-bent on hammering WP’s town coucil management than slay ‘sacred COWS’.

In the last election, Low Thia Khiang spoke of PORK barrel politics. ESM Goh suggested that the WP were SNAKE-oil salesmen with their First World Parliament slogan. In 2007, PM Lee used a Chinese proverb to describe how the WP scattered like MONKEYS when the tree fell.  Even mythical creatures are not spared. PM Lee says that Singapore is a Unicorn, one of a kind. Don’t be surprised if somewhere along the line we may see ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, ‘crocodile’, ‘sloths’ or since we’ve done unicorns, eagle-headed fire-breathing griffins with fairies in rainbow armour on their backs.

Maybe the Law Minister should just let, well, sleeping dogs lie, and focus on the key election issues instead.

PAP posters displayed next to Taoist altar

From ‘Mini PAP posters taken down after queries from SDP:ELD’, 5 Sept 2015, article by Koh Swee Fang Valerie in Today

A day after Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan cried foul over miniature posters promoting the People’s Action Party’s team for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC being plastered around Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, the posters have been taken down.

In response to queries from TODAY, the ELD said that it understands these posters had been put up by the merchant association in the area.

“The association has since taken the posters down,” said an ELD spokesperson. “ELD would like to remind everyone, including candidates and members of the public, that the display of election posters and banners must abide by the rules set out in the Parliamentary Elections (Election Advertising) Regulations.”

During an election, the Returning Officer authorises candidates and their election agents to display election posters and banners for campaigning. “No person shall display or cause to be displayed in any public place during the campaign period any poster or banner without the authorisation of the Returning Officer,” added the spokesperson.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Dr Chee said that his team – which is also contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC – had alerted the ELD to these miniature posters, after coming across them on a walkabout at the food centre.

“We… saw miniature posters of the PAP Holland-Bukit Timah team pasted all over the food centre – even at an Taoist altar,” he said. “The SDP team is also campaigning for every vote but, please, let’s have some decency and not paste our photos where people worship.”

Eat, Pray, Vote

There is a specific list of places where you’re not allowed to stick posters in the Election Handbook. These include on an ERP gantry, traffic sign boards and stalls within a hawker centre. Not in this list are places of worship, between the grills of your front gate, or behind public toilet cubicle doors so you can ruminate on your party of choice while taking a shit.

So technically, millionaire pastor Kong Hee and his ilk could flash PM Lee’s face all over the megachurch premises without committing an actual offence. You could be queuing up at the ATM and have a group of MPs on a poster smiling at you by the side while you withdraw your cash from the machine. You could be buying groceries and have someone covertly slipping a mini handout into your bags at the cashier. You could be out jogging on a windy day and one of these discarded flyers could be blown smack into your face. The PAP, as our PM Lee promised, will be ‘For you, With you’. Every single day. Everywhere. Like an overprotective girlfriend who refuses to leave you alone.

Some posters are already stuck on traffic signs as we speak, and the police should really clamp down on these as they pose quite a distraction to motorists. Imagine cruising along the streets and seeing one of the Opposition’s placards asking hard questions about government investments and CPF, or getting awestruck by our PM’s warm glowing face everywhere you turn.  That may be enough to prevent you from checking your blind spot, or spotting an old auntie pushing cardboard against the red light. I wonder if any of the PAP’s posters were placed on U-TURN signs, though.

It’s ironic that as an anchor minister with the Environment portfolio, the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC team leader would endorse such indulgent paper consumption, as if the SG50 flags and paraphernalia still flying about weren’t enough. ‘Poster wars’ between political parties and random vandals have led to the ‘disfigurement’ of the city ever since 1955, where lamp posts, trees and even longkangs (culverts) are not spared from party propaganda.  Up till today, we have people messing up banners or stealing them as collectibles. Maybe we should be thankful to these thieves for relieving us of a serious eyesore. Or maybe it’s the ghost of Yusok, I mean Yusof, Ishak at work.

As for the Holland ward, I saw with my own eyes Vivian Balakrishnan and gang’s faces stuck on the wall between stalls while ordering food at Ghim Moh Temp Hawker centre some days back. Which means PAP has, indirectly, already flouted one of the election guidelines set up by the ELD, merchant association or not. While fashioning PAP candidates as deities next to a religious shrine comes across as a show of disrespect (though not illegal), that didn’t stop contestants from physically entering places of worship during their walkabouts during the last election. Politics and religion shouldn’t mix, of course. That includes holding rallies in conjunction with getais. Neither should politics be mixed with basic necessities like Lunch or Dinner.

NSP candidate joking about Tin Peiling’s weakness as mother

From ‘Being a mum is not a weakness: Tin Pei Ling’, 4 Sept 2015, article in CNA

Her new status as a mum is not a weakness, and neither is her youth, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Tin Pei Ling said on Friday (Sep 4). Ms Tin, the PAP’s candidate for the MacPherson single-seat ward, had written a Facebook post in response to a TODAY report in which National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Cheo Chai Chen was quoted as saying that being a mother was Ms Tin’s weakness.

Mr Cheo, who spoke in Mandarin, had said: “If voters choose her, she might focus more on her child than on her voters. This is her weakness.

Disagreeing, Ms Tin said she is committed to MacPherson, and that she returned to work two weeks after she gave birth because she wanted to continue to serve. “I am confident that even as a mum I can continue to focus on my work in MacPherson,” she said.

…Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr Cheo said his comments were meant as a joke. “I just said: ‘Tin Pei Ling now has a son, so she will focus on the child. Then she will split her attention to the residents’,” he said. “It was not my intention (to criticise her), it was a joke.”

Ms ‘Kate Spade’ herself should be used to getting picked on, none more so than by her former Marine Parade GRC team mate, ESM Goh Chok Tong himself, who posted on Facebook that Tin had been ‘traumatised’ by election pressure back in 2011, and was seeing trauma specialist Dr Fatimah Lateef. He clarified that it was ‘tongue in cheek’. Goh recently boasted that the PAP could be its own ‘self-check’ (which spawned Pritam Singh’s ‘Ownself check Ownself’). Not sure if his tongue was in his cheek then. At least the PAP needs someone to check on the appropriateness of their ‘jokes’ perhaps.

When Cheo passed what has been deemed to be a discriminatory remark about mothers, he clearly forgot about fellow NSP candidate Kevyrn Lim, who revealed to the media a few days back that she was a single mum. If Tin’s baby were a liability to her political aspirations, then what of Kevyrn? The latter already had to endure online catcalls and nasty comparisons to a streetwalker. NSP hastily backpedalled after the incident, but with the Macpherson card already a case of three’s a crowd, it looks like Cheo inadvertently just made it easier for Tin to secure the SMC.

Cheo’s not the first to be a potential nominee for AWARE’s Alamak award. In 2001, then Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang responded to Dr Lily Neo’s call in Parliament to use Medisave to cover breast screening by saying: ‘Save on one hairdo and use the money for health screening’. Tampines and 3-time contestant Desmond Choo raised the analogy that voting for the PAP was like choosing a housewife who’s really good in the kitchen. Some even call out the Cabinet for being predominantly male. While other Asian countries are seeing women take top leadership posts, we still have some in our midst indulging in old fashioned stereotypes, that women are meant to stay at home to look after their kids, look good for their husbands, cook your meals, or, in the case of the AHPETC saga, check the utility bills.

Yet, nobody questions men if they would be able to juggle their hectic day jobs with politicking, looking at the portfolio of some of our more distinguished MPs, be they directors of law firms, mega corporations or prominent lecturer-surgeons. An attractive female candidate like Nicole Seah is labelled ‘a pretty face‘, but no one doubts the abilities of PAP’s undisputed ‘selfie king’.  Neither did anyone in the new PAP Sembawang GRC team retort when they were referred to as a ‘boyband’. If you had an all-women team fielded instead and you decide to nickname them the Pussycat Dolls, you won’t be able to walk in the streets without someone sticking a stiletto heel up your groin.


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