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Random thoughts on the by-election

So many things happening over the past few days, so hard to keep track. Some random thoughts on the coming by-election:
a. The fuss over the son of Punggol. I wonder whose big idea it is to label PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon that way. He can hardly be sentient in those few years when he lived there as a babe. One friend who has lived in the same place all his life said he should be known as the Father of Chai Chee. I guess I should be the Punggol Pariah then since I hardly know where it is…

Dr Koh, who used the same label on himself on his FB page, rescued himself somewhat by displaying a sense of humour when he acknowledged the barrage of really crappy jokes that have accompanied his profession as a colorectal surgeon. I gather from ST reports that he is a different kettle of fish from the ebullient Michael Palmer – more serious and stoic. Of course, the grassroots leaders also added another “s’’ – sincere.

Random thought: Managed PR is a bummer and smells wrong; an image generated from the bottom up is better.
b. ST had a good interview published today with Mak Yuen Teen, a corporate governance expert, on the MND’s review of town council in light of the AIM transaction. He put forth the issues very nicely and suggested that a kind of corporate governance code like that in place for charities be put in place. But he balked at saying anything about the political nature of town councils since he is not a “political scientist’’. Town councils were started so that MPs can account for their work to residents. He asked this question: Before town councils, what were MPs accountable for then?

This is interesting. As far as I can recall, the G introduced town councils so that residents can see how their vote will have a direct impact on their daily lives and their surroundings. I have always thought that this was to blunt the lure of having an opposition in Parliament to check on the PAP government. Constituents would have to think harder about their vote. So this relatively new innovation of Singapore (like the vehicle quota system, exec condos, foreign worker policy etc) requires a re-think. Does anyone think that a bunch of civil servants in MND will be able to deal with a “political’’ question on the “fundamental nature’’ of town councils – when an academic declined to do so? Anyway I thought WP did the right thing by withdrawing its adjournment motion. Better to wait for the MND report and then tackle the report. Why waste time now? Let the civil servants dig out the details.

Random thought: The Punggol East voters should ask what would happen if their town council changes hands…The trouble is, the MND review will only be completed after the polls on Jan 26…

c. The Opposition is NOT having a party. SDP’s Chee Soon Juan’s proposal for co-operation with WP in the Punggol East BE floored me. So they campaign together and if they win – SDP sits in Parliament and WP runs the town council. Looks like the SDP, after launching its proposals on housing and health, thinks it’s better placed to be in Parliament while the WP should take the behind-the-scenes work of running the town councils. If WP says yes, I don’t know what to think! It sort of overturns the town council idea of having your parliament representative demonstrate some governing ability. (MND, please take note). You know, I think the SDP should just try to get itself nominated in Parliament as NMPs – if all it wants is a voice.

And these letters that SDP have made public on its overtures to WP….one wonders what’s wrong with making a telephone call and settling everything privately? The PAP must be real pleased with SDP’s play. WP must be real pissed – it’s been saying all the right things so far (even acknowledging that PAP has incumbent advantage in Punggol East) – and now it looks like it’s being pressured to make some kind of statement on SDP’s proposal…

Random thought: How is all this wrangling good for the Punggol East voter?

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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