Finally, they arrived – with a “ketang” as they were hurled against the wooden door. 6.45am – too late by my reckoning. I was already on my iPad for my fix…So, the iPad gets turned off and I have hard copy in my hands again. I am officially a subscriber! I get all the English-language newspapers delivered to my home – except Today, which I used to read in the newsroom. But yesterday, I found out that my neighbourhood 7/11 stocks them – under the counter. It was only when I was paying the bill, and a woman stretched out her hand from behind me that I discovered that the check-out girl was hoarding them. I asked for a copy too, and it was handed over reluctantly. Maybe it was a service for regulars, maybe it was stocked for the karung guni man. I mean, get your free newspaper and sell them…not a bad business idea particularly when you have space to store them.
Anyway, clutching hard copy beats fingers doing the walking anytime. I so totally identify with that Angus Ross winner featured in ST who said smelling a book stopped her from vomiting. My newspapers have an addded use – I use them to wrap vegetables….
The biggest news for me today was that the Hougang woman had decided to beg out having her by-election application heard in court. Of all the things that her lawyer, M Ravi, had done in the past, this was probably the most useful move done on behalf of Singaporeans. I guess they were being pragmatic, as the by-election is already called and is now fact. But hey, what about the bigger political question? So will we now never know if the Prime Minister really has unfettered discretion on whether to hold a by-election when a seat falls vacant?
In the past, when Members like Ong Chit Chung and S Balaji died, the answer from the incumbent has always been that their work of serving the residents can be spread out among the other GRC members. And when they WERE held, there were political imperatives for the incumbent – to bring in new blood and secure a mandate for the then PM Goh Chok Tong as in the Marine Parade GRC by-election in 1991. So I suppose the Hougang election is being held because it was a single-seat ward with no “cover” from fellow GRC members? Or is it again some kind of political imperative, that the ruling PAP thinks it has a chance to wrest the ward back from the WP? What happens the next time round when another seat falls vacant?
Anyway, if the courts aren’t able to decide on the matter, let’s hope that Parliament does. Nothing to stop an NMP or MP from proposing a motion in Parliament to have the issue debated fully. There are plenty of lawyer-MPs who surely know other lawyers with some expertise in Constitutional law.