Text of my third rally speech – Sengkang Open Field 3 May 2011


(Chinese) Good evening, everyone. I am Yee Jenn Jong, the Workers’ Party’s candidate for Joo Chiat SMC.

(English)

This letter (show letter of complaint re Pub at xxx Joo Chiat Road) was recently sent to The Workers’ Party  HQ, attention to me. It is attention to Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, complaining about the underground and vice activities in a pub along Joo Chiat Road.

If you read the comments on my blog and posts on my facebook page, you will find many complaints regarding parking problems and vices in Joo Chiat Road.

My standard reply to all is to refer these matters to SM Goh Chok Tong or give your feedback to the NSP. This area is now under the Marine Parade GRC. The PAP believes that SM Goh’s chilly crab franchise is capable of solving many problems.

PAP says there’s no gerrymandering. Well, the people in Joo Chiat are confused why Joo Chiat road is not in Joo Chiat and those in Siglap who have never been under Joo Chiat before now are. The entire Siglap is now in Joo Chiat but nothing of old and historical Joo Chiat is.

PAP gerrymanders so well that it confuses themselves too.

My esteemed opponent, Charles Chong of the PAP said in a Channel News Asia interview on 9 April that if elected, he will continue his predecessor’s work in preserving the area’s heritage while modernising its infrastructure. I wonder which buildings and heritage he wants to preserve, because all but 2 small buildings under conservation are now in the Marine Parade GRC! Joo Chiat SMC has 99% private houses which is impossible for you to preserve.

I am sure Charles Chong can share his plans with SM Goh.

I like to thank the PAP for gerrymandering in Joo Chiat.

They have put my parents’ home in Opera Estate where I lived for 28 years into Joo Chiat. My home next to Siglap centre is right at the centre of the Joo Chiat SMC. So are the schools I studied in, St Stephen’s and St Patrick’s, while Temasek JC where I have served for 20 years in the alumni EXCO is just across a road.

With the PAP’s habit of gerrymandering, what do you think will happen to Joo Chiat SMC if Charles Chong wins and he steps down at the next GE?

Gerrymandering is not the only unfair practice that the PAP uses.

  1. Upgrading tied to votes turns me off even though I am not living in public housing. It goes against our nation’s pledge of equality for all citizens. It is outright vote buying. Well, in Joo Chiat SMC where it’s 99% private homes, the PAP cannot use this threat.
  2. Opposition cannot use the community centres while PAP has the PA and PCF, which obtains facilities at heavily subsidized rents, competes against private preschool operators while providing facilities for PAP activities. Mr Chan Soo Sen, outgoing MP for Joo Chiat SMC conducts his MPS at PCF at Lor K.

We are the hammer party. The Wikipedia definition of hammer is to deliver a sharp and hard impact on an object. Don’t worry; come 7 May, we will deliver a sharp and hard impact on the PAP so they have to stop all these nonsense! Vote The Workers’ Party, towards a first world parliament.

People have asked me if Joo Chiat will be well maintained if I win.

Why not? Roads are maintained by PWD, trees by NParks, garbage collection is managed by NEA and outsourced to private companies. Public transport run by privatised companies will continue to run. Charles can’t do anything more than I can.

I can do more, because I live in Joo Chiat and if things are not well, I will be affected and I will jump on these agencies or companies much faster. I live in Joo Chiat 7 days a week.

Mr Chong was quoted by the press as saying that I will have difficulties managing the 4 blocks of public housing as these are now handled by East Coast Town Council. Why is he assuming we cannot win East Coast or Aljunied or even both GRCs? In any case, why should I be afraid to oversee the maintenance of just 4 blocks of flats?

Minister George Yeo said the WP is asking voters of Aljunied GRC to give a blank cheque to us. The word “blank” has a special meaning to me.

(Show blank paper)

Entrepreneurs start from blank. I started my business that way too. It was with a blank piece of paper like this that many years ago I wrote my business plan, executed the plan, adjusted the plan, overcame whatever obstacles along the way and built a tangible business that continues to run after I have sold it off.

Leonardo da Vinci painted the famous Mona Lisa painting from a blank canvass.

The late Lien Yien Chow came to Singapore at age 14 on a boat with just a few coins in his pocket. He built up the OUB bank, which is now merged with UOB. He started from blank too.

Our founding fathers built Singapore together with you from blank . We had no military, a weak economy, no public housing, and so on. The current leaders , though seemed to have lost their way. They have forgotten the passion and sacrifices made by the first generation of leaders . They have lost the passion and are focused more on driving GDP growth so they can pay themselves well. SM Goh said most of us are not concerned about high ministers’ pay. Is that true? Perhaps he should attend a Workers’ Party rally.

Our Secretary-General, Mr Low Thia Kiang became Hougang MP in 1991. He was not given the use of the town council. He built a new town council facilities from an empty void deck in 45 days. He had no grassroot organisation to count on. Today, Hougang is growing stronger everyday.

I have built organisations up from blank. The Workers’ Party has built Hougang from blank.

Singaporeans, we must have confidence in ourselves. We were once an entrepreneurial people. Our forefathers came here with nothing. We built a nation. Why are we now so afraid to start from blank?

I have stated that I will be a full time MP. I know the challenges of building up something from blank and have proven myself to be able to do so. Have faith in me for Joo Chiat. Have faith in my fellow candidates in the constituencies they are stand in. Don’t let the PAP frighten you with blanks.

Today, my speech is about the heart.

In my campaigning over the past 2 months, we have walked every corner of Joo Chiat where we were allowed to walk in. My wife walked with me, my brother walked with me, friends and ex-colleagues walked with me. Friends of friends came along, and then strangers came along often even taking leave to campaign together. Those who could not go on the walkabouts sent out emails or called their friends to get them to support me.

But I was most touched when my father, 78 years old, insisted one day he must walk with me around his Opera Estate home. So one hot morning, he walked with me to all the neighbours he knew to introduce me to them. Later, when I went to the Jln Tua Kong coffeeshop, the owner told me my dad had already gone there and now the coffeeshop owner is also telling his customers to vote for me. I went to the Hainanese coffeeshop yesterday at East Coast road and found that my parents had told them too.

A Mr Mustaffa whom I don’t personally know in Opera Estate took down my poster and hung it on his gate. My father drove by and he flagged my father’s car down and told my father to vote for me. My father said, “Hey, that’s my son!”

Amongst my assenters are 3 former members or immediate family members of grassroot members of Joo Chiat. They came forth only after I started my campaigning.

All of you have given me confidence that starting from blank is nothing to be afraid of. We can build a new grassroots, we can overcome any problems that come to us. For all my helpers and supporters, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We don’t always have to always focus on the hardware, the infrastructure and facilities. We can focus on the heart-ware, the soul that should make Joo Chiat, Joo Chiat.

We can encourage social entrepreneurship.  We can look at organizing activities for neighbours. What activities these will be should be driven by the residents. People must want to come forth and take ownership of the programmes and I will be happy to support and push for them if they are themselves prepared to commit time to the programmes. The news reported that I said possibly a place for dog run because a resident had told me he was prepared to mobilise a group of people to pay for and construct a fence in an empty plot of state land for temporary use for dog run. It can also be another programme, but residents must initiate and own these.

I cite an example of Mr Yap Keng Ann from Telok Kurau. His son was admitted to Taonan school when he discovered he had ASD, a form of autism. He quitted work to coach his son and started an online forum to support parents of children with ASD. My company recently ran a programme for some of these children. This shows that active citizen participation can move things. It does not have to come only from the PA and it doesn’t always have to be in a building.

This also brings me to another topic, that of building up values in our society. Yap Keng Ann sacrificed his career for his son. I met my former MBA classmate Mr Seow too, while campaigning. He was a high flying corporate person but gave up 10 years of his career to groom his son. I salute them because they have placed family values above material things.

I met Father Simon of the Novena church at his seminary located off East Coast Road. He shared what he felt was wrong with our society – The erosion of values. There are over 10,000 abortions a year, increase in teenage violence, increase in divorce rate, a suicide a day and so on.

I totally agree.

Our society has been too caught up in economic development and material pursuit. There’s a need to remind people of the importance of family values and I hope to see it happen in Joo Chiat as well.

Another matter of important concern to Joo Chiat residents in healthcare, especially because there is a big group of retired elderly like my parents, who have lived there their whole life. They bought the property when it was cheap decades ago. Some have retired for 20, 30, 40 years. They are asset rich but cash poor. They do not have enough if they fall seriously ill.

Our government healthcare expenditure is about 1% of GDP. Our government spends far less in healthcare per capita than any other developed countries. Those in private houses get little subsidies while healthcare costs are rising rapidly.  A man in his 70s living in Jalan Baiduri in Telok Kurau said, (in Chinese) “I have been to many countries. Singapore is ok for everything, but in healthcare, it is too expensive. Once you are sick, you are dead.”

We must review the cost for elderly patients. We must look at a universal insurance coverage for those above 85 years old and children born with congenital conditions.  We must look at how to provide for the social needs of elderly, which forms a big group in Joo Chiat.

I have spoken about things of the heart. I want to run Joo Chiat with my heart. I want to serve in parliament with a heart.

I like to end with a story about Mrs Chen, a retired teacher in Opera Estate. She called me a few days ago after receiving my calling card. She said, “People of my generation have voted for the PAP out of fear for so long. They are afraid that their vote is not secret. They are afraid for their jobs. They are afraid of what will happen.”

It is so sad that in Singapore, a democratic society built by our forefathers and built by us, we should be afraid to vote who we wish to vote. Your vote is your sacred right, you need not be afraid.

Mrs Chen ended her conversation by telling me, “I have been voting for many years with my head. I now believe I must be true to my heart. I am a retiree. I wish to give you something but I have nothing to give. I can only give you my vote. I will vote for you.”

Thank you, Mrs Chen wherever you are. I am truly humbled by your support.

On 7 May, vote with your heart. Vote for the Workers’ Party, towards a first world parliament.

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6 comments on “Text of my third rally speech – Sengkang Open Field 3 May 2011

  1. Good morning! I took sometime this morning to browse your blog so to read your speech and get to know you better. (as I don’t get to read much of you on press). Your latest speech is indeed a heartwarming one and agree that you do know the needs of the Joo Chiat residents well (having to lived here for long time really matters).

    However, you do realise that Joo Chiat estate, esp the Telok Kurau Area (where I lived) the landscape has changed over the past 4 years, with more mid class cluster condo estates. These condo typically have about 25 to 40 units residing in each project. The key message is that most of us DO not grow up in Joo Chiat estate, hence has no heritage similiar to you. We are not familiar with the place, nor the culture. We are typically a ‘sandwich’ class citizens, and not a CEO, high flyer banker, self businessman, i.e. not the circle of friends that you have known in Joo Chiat.
    We earn our wages and work up to own a tiny piece of estate in Joo Chiat, after knowing how wonderful this place is to lived, flanked by nice people, clean air and quiet area.

    What I have not seen or hear from you about reaching out to people like myself and my family. The main gate locking up the estate cannot be seen as a physcial block to you in approaching us.

    For your information, neither the PAP has come too! (even though their office is located on the same street) Today is the last day of your campagin and if your time schedule permits, you may want to consider to ring the bell on some of these condo estate. I believe some residents are happy to open up the gate for you to visit them. I lived in Telok Kurau Lorong K. Come to this lane and you will see how many condo line along this tiny stretch and how many more residents you can reach out to.

    All the best to you & your party in the coming election.

    JL

    • Hi JL

      I grew up with a humble background. My patents were Chinese teachers earning a few hundred dollars a month supporting 4 children.

      I started my career working in the university. My first house after marriage was a small apartment in Telok Kurau. I bought it because I waited 2 years for my HDB but failed every time and I had to be married already. Moved to siglap 6 years ago.

      I am not a big businessman just someone who built my biz with lots of sweat with just a small team when i first started my biz.

      You can email me your contact at yeejj@yeejj.com and I can visit you. I have been to Lor K twice already but as with most areas owners are often not in.

  2. Jen Joong,

    Wish you success in your coming election. This is your home ground and people know you. I’m sure you will make a good MP as good as Mr. Low Thia Kiang when he was in Hougang (his Teochew territory)!

  3. I love living in this area. What I am afraid of is that Joo Chiat SMC will be cut out if PAP wins this election. They may do the usual gerrymandering and there will be no more Joo Chiat. History shows that all opposing SMCs get cut up and put into the surrounding GRCs (e.g. Marine Parade or East Coast). While we have a perfect opportunity now, let us vote wisely to have more debate in parliament on important national issues, but also to keep our Joo Chiat identity.

  4. Bravo, Mr Yee.

    Before, I was torn. Now, no longer. You have my full support. I wish you all the best on Saturday and it might not mean much, but you’ve won one vote already 🙂

  5. Hi JJ,

    I have been following closely your blog and facebook postings. I can identify with JL in his posting. As I have brought up earlier in my posting to your plan for Joo Chiat, Telok Kurau has changed a lot. Now, it is a lot more compact than previously (10 years ago when I moved in). I was also a long time Opera Estate resident, having grown up in Metropole Drive.

    I feel that a lot of us now do not have a kampong spirit anymore like when we were growing up (hehe just one year older than you). I have to admit that now, I do not interact with my neighbours, being happy to keep to ourselves. Hence, I like your plan about how to re-build the kampong spirit again. Your intent to serve as a full time MP also touched me and I strongly believe that you can do something good for us here. Of course, please also champion the cause of the poor, the underprivileged as well in parliament.

    And to all my fellow Singaporeans who will be voting:

    I am not sure about the rest of Singapore but I for one, feel that I have been awakened from my apathy. I proudly stated that I am apathetic in my facebook profile when answering about political views. After having heard Nicole, Jee Say, Paul Tambiah and JJ in the recent days, they have all shook me out of this apathy! I am a bit less cynical now – opposition candidates risk losing SO MUCH but still step forward, to speak up for the people who are unable to help themselves. I really believe that Singapore can be a better place.

    So, during this cooling off day, I hope that all of us will take time to reflect, weigh the situation and vote responsibly and without fear.

    All the best!

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