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My quick comments on catherinelim.sg » After GE 2011, some crystal-ball gazing May 15, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Singapore.
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Found Singapore’s popular author Catherine Lim’s site and see an interesting thread on the Singapore Election. Quickly posted my thoughts about the thread. Night for now. I am, for one, an official night owl…. but it is always a very good evening of thougths with lots learnt. This is what I’ve posted on her blog :
‘Love your site. It’s full of wit, humour and lots of insight. Your crystal ball is blazing! I have been thinking of the election and posted my more-in-detail thoughts there: https://daringtochange.wordpress.com/tag/singapore-elections-2011/Basically I do not agree with the departure of MM Lee in particular though he clearly has his iron fist and autocratic rule; simply because his political insights are usually well sought after even by those who do not like his style of government. Whether the person is from the ruling party or the opposition party, what we eventually need is a thoroughly capable person. I think MM should stay. I like Nicole Seah a lot. For her calibre, she has the potential to become very formidable politician and social activist in her own right.  Other likes are Pritam Singh and Chen Show Mao. The former a powerful orator with an energy to move crowds. The national pledge recited in that kind of thunderous unison is like no other. The latter, a seemingly quiet politician. But nothing less than giant. With that kind of ‘A’ team, what we’ll see is a good opposition in parliament. The crack in WP is their loose cannon about NCMP issue. Make it loose, that would be their internal crisis, which may have the potential to rip open like SPP and RP. Apart from that, they should set themselves an excellent start. Team Singapore is about all the elements in the flag. Not just white and white or red and white. Its also includes the crescent and the stars too. Cheers for now, Karen Fu’

Voice of the People in the name of the Flag May 12, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Singapore.
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Just watched ‘Focus 30’ over at Channel 8. Zheng Yueli spoke in Mandarin about the aftermath of the Singapore Elections 2011 and I was left thinking what we have learnt so far. The lost of Aljunied GRC appears to be a wake-up call to many. PM Lee has stated that the government has heard the people and will look into improvements. The impact of change after the election is there; and I believe during the campaigning, it has already been recognized.What’s more important is the graciousness of the candidates who vow in unison to make this tiny dot of ours a better place to live in.  I hope all these will be materialised.

So what have I learnt ? Apart from thinkiing about our nation building and the problems we are facing, we need a lot of work. It is not just the politicians at work but I feel all of us need to figure out our new role in a changed Singapore. Fundamentally I think we need a change in the way we think about our lives– philosophically and materially. The concept of success needs to be challenged. I think on many levels, it has actually eat us up. The quality of living is far more than measuring how much we have. It is really about sharing with those who do not have. Basic as it seems, we often forget that a peaceful and prosperous life is mainly reliant on being generous and kind. Countries that promote solely on the basis of monetary success are fraught of crimes of varying types. That’s another issue. I too think that we need a real flip in our way of thought. We are far too linear and too pragmatic. There is plenty to say about how a redesign of thought could change for the better. But for now, I think it would be wise for me to just focus on the voice of the people.

[A] Voice of the People

The election may have been over but the fevor from it all has not exactly subsided. As I flip through vidoes on Youtube, blogs on the internet; there is a clear message that comes out from all these. There ideas on Facebook, from votes to open letters, it’s easy to see the true sentiment of the people. The rallies have spoken for themselves. Clearly the tide has changed. To fail listening to these voices will be a big mistake.

Of the many candidates, the opposition has actually fared better this time with a far greater unison than in any other election before. I really like Nicole Seah and Pritam Singh, though I still prefer Nicole Seah for her guts. Pritam Singh has a strong voice which could drive the lungs out of his opponents in sometimes colloquial humour.Anyone who listened to them would know how much they would want to serve the people. I told myself there was  strong zeal in these people. There is little benefit for them to join the opposition, which makes their cause even more convincing. The reason why they can move crowds because they resonate with the people, feel for the people and seriouosly committed to the people in need. Surely they have not lived the times of the last century in the 50s or the 60s when riots, poverty and hunger were at its worst. MM Lee Kuan Yew, then a young and charismatic leader, fought through the crowds with convincing thunderous tone that got his supporters moving. I wasn’t any where then but I read through history and heard from predecessors how the word ‘Merdeka‘ resonated through the supporters. The unmistakably roar got Singapore into the making that everyone now knows. The current problems are of a different nature. Though they cannot see what was then, they can see what is now; and they have earnestly voice what they feel & how they want to help the people. The cause is just as convincing. Had their voices were completely wrong, they would not have garnered so much support, not only from their peers but from a large general public,that also includes their seniors. I think there is a common calling here. And I am glad that this calling is being recognized.

The whole meaning of listening and seeing what is beyond the context of the problem and recognising there is a lot of hard work to do to help, is what people really appreciate. Money cannot buy a lot of things –typically the emotional needs of people and the desperate need to be heard and be appreciated.

On the ground, the micro problems of people and their lives are the fundamental and most crucial in maintaining a nation’s prosperity. I see the stability of people’s lives as the basis of maintaining a nation’s peace. The problems must be addressed. But how do you get the relevant help? effectively? Politics?  Economics? Design? Or plough your way to give whatever you have to people.  I think its a combination of politics, economics and design. Designing of systems — be it physical structures or philosophical structures, our sense of thinking must be formed on the basis of helping the people.  I have been thinking, which is the best way to implement all these? In essence, we are for the people.

[B] In the name of the Flag


Now why would I want to bring in the flag? Firstly, I like to look at my country’s flag. Secondly, its because this election has been more than patriotic. Finally, because there were a few politicians who had mentioned about national unity, makes me look at our flag more. From a symbolic point of view,its got red that represents the common blood of all people to stand as one. And the white renders the purity and virtue of the people in the face of adversity. The 5 stars represent the ideals of democracy, chiefly democracy, peace, progress, equality and justice. The cresent represents a young nation on the rise.

I recall the issue on collecting the best people for the team and I quote Chen Show Mao on the note on ‘Team Singapore: ‘The team that was sending to the world cup is the national team. The team that wears red and white, not white and white.’

I would like to add that within the red and white, there’s the stars and the crescent. And beyond the red and white there is the blue skies. There are always other elements that make up a fine team apart from the 2 colours or so. Just like the twinkling of stars that lit the dark skies and the crescent of the moon that shows its rising potential. We should never forget that there are other laws of nature that will oversee us all. The law of nature never allows just a singular component to over shine or to over rule. It is always a harmony of all elements that make up the beautiful world. : )

Its almost 2:30am again. But before I log off, I would still like to put this famous video up for now. I think it has been left on several people’s blogs whether they have supported the ruling party or for the opposition. It is simply a fiesty roar from our fellow citizens. Be moved by the voice of the people. ‘cos I do. I don’t know how others feel, but I think it’s good voice to hear, to think and to change ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ for now.- Karen Fu

Late night thoughts on Nicole Seah & what she represents for + other thoughts on the coming election. April 27, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Singapore.
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Coming back home sitting in front of my PC and re-reading Nicole Seah. I feel she has proven a couple of issues:

{A} Singapore does have talent — polical talent.

Those who are willing to stand up and fight for their cause in the most civilised way that is of integrity as well as intelligence. We have people who have the guts to do real change. Nicole seems to understand the machanics of politics as well as understood the ground level of the poor.

[B} The Issue on Elite education

She claims she is not a scholar from a coveted foreign universtiy. But then again, the local university has grown leaps and bounds to be one of the best in the world. She was also a scholar under the University’s scholar programme. So I don’t know if we can exactly say she is not an elite. Then again the real problem about ‘elites’ is not so much because of the scholarship. It has a lot to do with the over confidence and ego that tag with it. If you are great at your studies, you would naturally come to be a scholar. I don’t think being a scholar is a problem. Neither does scholar from elite schools is a problem. But in today’s materialistc and pragmatic environment, going to the top and be materially well off are seen as successful. What she has shown so far is her staunch sense for justice. The kind of earnesty in her tone is what attracted me. That would most likely be attributed to your young age and for that matter people who are idealistic tend to be far more attractive. She speaks out with a very convincing and logical tone that would make people sit up and listen to her. This is one of the most important traits of a successful politician. For this is the kind of tone that will gather and motivate crowds. If she could continue delievering this kind of assurance in her words, honor them with convincing action and not mere rethoric; I am sure she will win big in this coming election.

[C} Humility

I am definitely impressed by how she handles questions right in the face. It is no small matter that people are following her on facebook.  and due to her humilty, people are genuinely giving her their advice. She will certainly stand a great chance learning a lot within the next 10 days. No one knows how she will perform; but I know from experience that when someone who has serious thoughts on certain issues, they will fight for their causes. Such a motivation grows a kind of charisma that can move mountains. The voice of hope must be accompanied by detailed plan of action. When one is able to show that credibility, you will be sure that a fine leader is born. I like people who can strike out on their own merit. In this very respect, I do not underestimate her latent abilities. Whether she will progress ahead, we shall see her real abilities in the near future.

[D] Other thoughts on the coming election:

Today we have most of the successes in place but there are areas where I personally feel need changing. When I read through the news, though I have not managed to cover all, I have the impression that many lack life experience. The kind of life experience that entails living through hardship and experience what commoners suffer seems lacking. Even with Nicole Seah.

I do not have any political affinity for many reasons. The most pertinent one is that I don’t even like politics. But politics is a fundamental part of our lives whether we like it or not; as it is very much alive in our daily living. So I have to be at least aware. My hopes is that whichever political party is taking over the baton to govern this country has to enrure or at least solve immediate problems, probably not obviious to some but visible to many.

There are problems in different dimensions. Perhaps the real issue in this coming election is about pockets of loopholes in the policies that look great. We have world class education, but we have sky high fees. It may look low when compared with other countries; but if you were to really ask people from the ground, a lot of lower middle class and working class folks say they cannot afford fees at some of the coveted top schools. I am not perfectly sure why this is a problem when I’ve thought that there are scholarships lying around. Very often, we need to see the reality.There are people who cannot pay medical bills despite medisaves, medifunds and medicares. But the third dimension of this sort of problems really links to income and the proportion of these earnings that is spent on bills. Foreign talent has always been a topic, not so much because Singaporeans do not welcome them but because some of  these talent are not really talents but workers who come in at the expense of locals of similar calibre. Foreign talent can stimulate our economy by giving us the technical expertise that we may or are really short of. A progressive country is one that attracts the world’s best and tap on their expertise to benefit our society; allowing the locals to further their knowledge and skills to improve their innovations in both product and service. However foreigners can be a double edged sword if we do not have the tact to do so because we are a very tiny nation. Some issues are mainly about the difference in cultures. Some on the unwillingness to conform. There are many. Any unrest between local and foreigners can be dire. And because we are a small country, many things are hard to tackle.

This coming election has cooked up a lot of issues. The quality of candidates for the opposition parties has shown marked improvement. Former government scholars like Chen Show Mao joining to opposition parties is getting popular and more accepted than in the past. What I am worrying now at this point of writing is that of a chaos that might come in. This election is different from the past. It is even different from the one 5 years ago. I have never seen polarising situation such as this. But I hope I am wrong

Indeed there is plenty of room for improvement. The nature of issues today are far different than it was back in the 1950s, 60s or even till the 70s. I wasn’t born then, but to hold some of the past in the present, I have learnt a great deal from my grandparents and teachers who most of them are already deceased. In their memory, Singapore suffered through being a small country, where poverty existed. Then there was a line of unrests, social and racial riots. Jobs were unstable and chaos was rampant. The way we rise and the way we fall are very closely linked to the dynamics of the social and economic costs. I hope whoever is taking up the future debates of this coming election will address these costs seriously.— Karen Fu