[Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” – “I am a Berliner”]
President John F Kennedy
On 26/5/12(Sat), at Blk 322 Hougang Ave 5 coffee shop, Workers’ Party supporters from all over the island congregated there to await the Hougang By-election result shared the same sentiment – “I am a Houganite!”
American President John F Kennedy in one of his famous speeches spoken in Berlin, West Germany says, “I am a Berliner!” Now why did an American President utter that sentence?
In my previous post, written here I talked about the Hougang spirit. For twenty years, that Hougang spirit was always at that old Hawker Centre and cluster of one and three room flats obliterated by HDB. But that spirit was still much in the air at Blk 322 Hougang Ave 5 last Sat night and early Sun morning.
More than 2,000 WP supporters were in or around the said coffee shop with much more spilling all over the road. Vehicles passing by were also happily honking. Many were from outside Hougang SMC. They came from all over the island. They came to join and celebrate that Hougang spirit.
DPM Teo says Hougang is different from other constituencies. Is that so? It shows just how disconnected and detached they are. Is he saying that Hougang is not made up of Singaporeans or another breed different from the rest of us? Or is it that nearly all of Houganites are from the working class unlike those well off elites? Still in self-denial mode?
One year after that shocking watershade GE 2011, the WP still has the solid support in Hougang with a 2% or 3% drop in votes. The slight drop could be due to the unhappiness over WP’s previous sacked MP (having let them down) or some commentators attributing it to the voting pattern of new citizens? It’s any body’s guess. Fact is WP won by a comfortable 62%.
I have watched most of the rally speeches on YouTube and other sources in the net. Retired PAP MP Peh CH’s oratorical skill in Hokkien was powerful and impressive. His fiery speech almost convinced me how this government has done so much for our tiny little rock of 700 sq km with nothing in terms of resources except ‘air and the sun’ which are free. Without the PAP, we would have been ‘dead!’ long ago.
I thought that line of argument was so much better than petty pecking and nibbling at WP’s internal decision & discussion minutes on NCMP or criteria of choosing the best man etc. I respect veteran retired MP Peh for his fiery emotional speech that really moved me. But that was in the 60s to 90s when PAP really did a fantastic job delivering the good life and the Singapore dream to every citizen. I still salute them especially the founding fathers for those remarkable achievements.
Those golden years where Singapore prospered by leaps and bounds with stakeholders really enjoying the fruits is gone. We still have high impressive GDP growth rates. But for who? Not for those low wage workers! Look at every angle, the bottom 20% to 30% are losing out and yet the government says otherwise. We feel it but they don’t. They are always trying to explain the problems away. I do not wish to waste bandwidth by elaborating here. My article here says it all.
When I watch WP rally speeches it suddenly dawns on me that they are also as sincere, hardworking and loyal Singaporeans sacrificing themselves to speak out for us. Why should they langgar and ruin their future? They can always opt to join the elites in the establishment enjoying super fat iron rice bowl remunerations in the first place. Opposition politics gives them no perks, privileges, directorships or rewards except endless headaches and stress with risks of getting bankrupt! Why langgar them?
When I heard MP Pritam Singh’s solid rebuttal against PM’s accusation that WP and sacked MP Yaw SL had let the Hougang residents down, I really wanted to hug him. He laid out all the facts from PAP’s first day in power till recently, listing all the PAP Ministers, MPs, Union Chief etc who were corrupted and jailed. Mind you he didn’t even attack Desmond Choo’s integrity who was closely related to that disgraced corrupted ex-PAP MP Choo. That is why I felt like hugging him. I’m sure most of us do.
Some of the WP speakers also highlighted the well known fact that common areas in their Aljunied GRC ward were given to PA to prevent them from organizing social activities. Those MPs were elected by the voters of Aljunied GRC. Why give them this sort of treatment? Why “chop off their legs and arms?” It’s extremely petty isn’t it? Did I hear “inclusive” correctly? How to be inclusive when elected opposition MPs are treated indignantly? Don’t forget that they are part of our parliament and administration of this country. They are not ‘enemies’ out to destroy our country. They are also the loyal sons and daughters of our country – not traitors.
We are in a modern era with fast instant Internet access. Do you think we are still in those days where most of us are not aware of what’s going on? We no longer live in the dark ages of those kumpung days where we dig a hole in the ground to shit.
Dotseng gives an excellent overview of the picture here. Why ‘bully’ our elected MPs who are also part of our society. Why can’t they be treated with more graciousness in a gentlemen manner?
When the DPM started the mud slinging and character attack on WP candidate in Hougang, are we not reminded of that adorable ESM scoring his own goal last year? That strategy backfired.
“SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong was asked about his earlier remarks yesterday:
On scoring ‘own goals’ with his comments during the hustings:
‘I would say that I did kick the ball in the direction of the PAP goal post, but I think the ball didn’t go in. It hit the goal post (langgar tiang) and went out, but it was in that direction.’ On his praising Foreign Minister George Yeo and his comment that ministers can be criticised or even voted out for policy mistakes such as not delivering on housing or transport or letting Mas Selamat escape…” Source.
Desmond Choo was wise enough to declare the YSL affair closed. He didn’t want to attack his opponent’s integrity. Desmond Choo is a gentlemen after all. For that he deserved praise. I applaud him. I’m sure he will have better luck if he were to stand in another SMC. This “baptism of fire” has certainly given him much life lessons. It has taught him humility. Hope he doesn’t give up. No wonder why those Hougang aunties support him all the way.
There is simply too much to analysize and speculate on the repercussions of this toughly fought Hougang By-election. Desmond – the acknowledged “underdog” was so desperate that he even shed tears appealing the voters to give him a chance. Retired MP Peh even told the voters to ‘kick’ Desmond out in the next GE if he can’t deliver! He even staked his reputation on Desmond Choo.
Hougang By-election is indeed the mother of all elections where they – only two straight fight, fought tooth and nail over the 9 day campaign. The results still remain more or less the same.
Most of the Hougang residents are from the lower income group or so called “heartlanders”. They identity with the blue WP instead of the whiter than white elites. The ballot box is the best feedback. Is it still only a local based By-election?
I say this here like what President John F Kennedy says, “Ich bin ein Hougangite” in German.
“I am a Houganite!”
PS: Title of article given by Dr Mike aka Lohcifer.