Saturday, 19 January 2013

CHANGE: Koh good as Welfare Committee Chief?

<Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was one of the rally speakers, said he intends to appoint Dr Koh to the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council’s Welfare Committee, “to look into how we can better assist those residents who are facing financial difficulties”.>
- Today 19 Jan 2012

Comparing to the previous parliament speaker Palmer, the new PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon, is unlikely to make any impact in the Parliament or raise any national issues.  Instead, he is likely to chair a Welfare Committee in a town council.

Perhaps, PM Lee realises that it is not enough to attract Punggol East voters.  Just one night, less than 24 hours, the PAP has improved the offer. Now, PM Lee sees him differently and intends to appoint him to a suitable political office.     
<He has told Dr Koh that his first priority is to fight and win in Punggol East. “But I think that he can make a contribution not just in Punggol East but more broadly.” If he is elected and when he is ready, PM Lee said that he intends to appoint Dr Koh to a suitable political office.> (

What is the meaning of “a suitable political office”? Is this a promise or just a by-election promise? After a good night sleep, Dr Koh has his potential moved up to a higher level. By the end of short campaign period, not to be surprised, the PAP may claim that Dr Koh has the potential to be a minister.

Hope, Family, Action – the limitation to change

The theme of Dr Koh’s rally speech last night concentrated on hope, family and action. These three values, in fact, have very strong link with the housing problem. We may use this as an example for discussion. 
<National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says "plenty" of housing units are coming on stream, with about 200,000 units to be built by 2016.
Of these, about 80,000 are private properties, 10,000 are Executive Condominiums and 110,000 are HDB units.>

The 200,000 new homes are 40% private properties, 5% EC apartments and 55% HDB units.  In Singapore, about 85% of the population are staying in HDB flats.  The newly built HDB flats by 2016 are only accounted for 55% of the total new homes.

What does it mean? Income of Singaporeans will continue to go up in the next few years so that they can afford to buy private properties and ECs.  Or the 40% private properties are for investors, local and foreign. From 85% down to 55% of HDB flats (supply), will Dr Koh raise the issue and help to break the poverty cycle?

No. These are national issues. Hope, family and action are all national issues and there is a limit Dr Koh can change them.  As an ordinary MP if elected, there is not much he can do in a national level.  

Hence, if he is elected, he will perform the job of welfare committee chairman. 
<"As your voice in Parliament, I will speak on issues that matter to you. I will push for more help, for our fellow citizens in need, the poor, the vulnerable and especially the elderly who have done so much for our society to make it what it is today. 
"I will bring up practical issues that families face, on education, on childcare, on the cost of living. I will do all I can to push for policies to help more individuals and families to stand on their own two feet. I want to see more opportunities for all to succeed, the same opportunities given to me.">
Punggol East voters should assess and evaluate Dr Koh’s ability and limitation. Do they really need a person to just in charge of welfare, and not to make changes to society?    

PM Lee likes SDP

PM Lee questioned the performance of Workers’ Party in the Parliament.  Perhaps, he likes the idea of Singapore Democratic Party. SDP’s proposal to WP was to speak in the Parliament and left the town council management to WP.  May be he prefer a SDP candidate to stand in the Punggol East by-election.  Unfortunately, his sweet hope was not materialised and he felt disappointed.   
<"I don't see any strong views or alternatives being presented by the opposition, whether it's the NCMPs or the elected MPs," said the PM during a morning walkabout in drizzling rain.
"We are doing things on a national level," he added, building on the same vein as several other People's Action Party speakers during a rally the previous night on Friday.>

However, WP thinks they have made contributions in two areas.
<One, ordinary folk now have more say in governance, an improvement from when the country was run by an elite class under the People's Action Party (PAP), with little accountability and transparency, he said.
 Two, the WP has championed a more humane society, where a First World nation extends beyond materialistic and elitist goals. "We have seen some changes in that direction," said Mr Low without elaborating.>

Anyway, PM Lee moves the debate and campaign in Punggol East by-election to national level. This is certainly different from the job of Welfare Committee.  Then, voters have to judge Dr Koh’s ability to voice out in Parliament too, not just local issues and welfare.  In addition, voters should also judge the two contributions that WP mentioned are valid or not.  

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