[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

[Online Government feedback forum]
Hearing the plans that the Government will review the way it manages new media such as the Internet and podcasts made me go 'wow'.

But then again, Singaporeans have spoken and that is how they have decided to be engaged.

Perhaps, an online feedback forum with specific out-of-bound markers laid out could be set up to hear the view of fellow Singaporeans to engage and talk about anything under the sun with room for freedom of expression.

Nearer the elections, this blog could be accommodated to allow views on the elections.

For one, Singaporeans unhappy with the Government can share their grouses or give constructive feedback. They can discuss housing issues, job and employment issues or even freedom of expression for the youth or the lack of it.

Senior Government officials could read these forums and reply to certain issues and share views on why such a thing was done such a way and not vice-versa. They can provide instant feedback and suggest ways to solve the problems that residents have.

In fact, some who have problems have already called me up to seek help on paying the fees for upgrading their flats.

While this may be a good way to reach out let's hope with the anonymity of the Internet will not be abused to post hurtful remarks and untruths about issues - no nude photos, hurtful comments - I've been through that.

So while the light-touch will be given as spelt out by Information, Communication and Arts Minister Lee Boon Yang, responsibility still plays an important part.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I will be going to the Istana tomorrow. I am so happy that I'll be going to the Istana tomorrow. I am so extremely happy and excited to go to the Istana tomorrow.

And it is for a good cause.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm getting flabby.

Ever since the elections, I haven't been doing my exercises. Haven't been going for my gym and runs and swims.

And to add to that, all the election appreciation dinners are here to stay - but not for long.

I went for one such dinner last weekend at the Marina Country Club and there's another one this week.

The great thing about elections for People's Association staff is that the elections are platforms for promotions and are times for reflection. And recently, many people have left, of course, after they have gotten their at least three month performance bonus.

It's the start low-key days in Hougang - the residents have spoken.

After the visit of so many people. the list here:

But well, sometimes, things turn out better like this.

And so back to promotions. Next week, I'll be going for a promotion interview. (Insert cheers here).

How cool is this: Ephraim Loy, Assistant Manager. Wish me good luck.

And if all goes well, I'll move to a new office and say goodbye to my friends in Hougang.

But I promise, I won't be the only one leaving Hougang. There's more to come. Till then.

Friday, May 19, 2006

[Of elections and chikus]
I used to recall that sometime ago, a reporter from the Chinese newspaper called my office and asked if I knew where the chiku tree was.

I asked my colleague (in mock exasperation): "We got chiku tree here meh?"

She said: "Dunno"

Then my cleaner auntie pointed outside to the porch and said: "There. You see. It is there."

But then, chikus were not so much hot topic. So I didn't bother.

You must be wondering why I am blogging about chikus. I shall transport you back in time to the days of the 2001 General Election.

Eric Low, who was the PAP candidate for Hougang at that time, used to joke that the chikus are ripe for plucking. And his opponent Low Thia Khiang used to make fun of PAP's Eric Low saying that the chikus are not ripe for plucking.

In reply, Eric Low said that he would keep the unripe chikus in a rice urn until they ripen.

Needless to say, my adviser loves chikus so much that he has a chiku tree in his garden at home and there are even chiku trees at the Hougang Community Club.

And during the last one year at my current workplace, I have heard that chikus have been rarely sighted on the trees.

Curious, I went outside a few days ago to take a look to see if I could get a glimpse of the legendary chikus.

So I circled each tree a few times scanning each tree from top to bottom. There are altogether three trees (don't get tongue-tied). I look up, look down, turn around just like how they do it for those nursery songs. I look at the leaves and hope to see a colour other than green.

But, no. There is not a chiku in sight.

So where have the chikus gone? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Imagine once the election results are announced.

How will you react? Will you cry? Will you shed tears of joy?

When Eric Low lost, he remained just like a calm blue sea.

And for the first time, I saw reporters from all types of media run towards him clamouring for an interview.

Oh boy, it was an interesting sight.

Monday, May 15, 2006

[One stop information centre]
Sometimes I wonder, if I have that sign on my forehead
That says: Ask me anything
So as I go upstairs on the public bus
A question, this woman asks
I reply
It goes on and on
Can't you stop
I say in my heart quietly: Please give me a break
Too late, too late
Once I reply
She keeps buzzing like an irritating fly
Oh no, oh no
When will I ever enjoy my ride in peace
Oh, once again, oh please
I can't understand
What makes them want to approach me
It's just that I look friendly

Monday, May 08, 2006

[A new beginning]
For the announcement of the results yesterday at the Serangoon Stadium, I didn't don my party colours. And boy, I was outstanding in a sea of white with my black Nike tee and Levis jeans.

Supporters from all over Singapore, from East Coast GRC to Tampines GRC, were at the stadium waiting for the announcement of the results. It was my first time taking part in this segment for the General Elections.

I digress.

When I was young, I used to recall the year when my constituency, the then Cheng San, was a hotspot. I used to think that the voices in lorries rallying for support were done "live". How naive I was then. Now I know, it is all pre-recorded and no, it didn't take me five years to find out.

One of the earliest PAP candidates that arrived at Serangoon Stadium was Minister Raymond Lim, representing the East Coast GRC. And minutes after his arrival, I decided to take a walk around the stadium.

Then came the arrival of the rest of the East Coast GRC team. When DPM Jayakumar arrived, the team assembled at the carpark area and had a short chat before going through the gate where photogs and journalists were standing by.

Moments later, the crowd cheered and euphoria was in the air.

A click. A flash. And then the group was surrounded by some 30 supporters. There was even a cheerleading team from Temasek Polytechnic to welcome them. Dressed in red tees, the team was armed with loudhailers and strutted their nifty dance moves in the heart of the stadium.

Nearer the right of the stadium was the Channel NewsAsia camera under a huge nondescript umbrella. Several red and white chairs were strewn beside the camera and seated on the chairs were reporters from CNA, Channel 8 and Suria who were armed with pens and notebooks. They sat there all ready to go on-air observing the hustings of Singapore's 10th General Elections.

Then slightly to this makeshift news studio were the supporters from Potong Pasir SMC waving their flags as the reporter speaks in front of the camera. A step back were the Hougang SMC supporters standing in front of a backdrop mosaic of PAP flags. And beside them were the team of supporters from Tampines GRC.

On the extreme left were the supporters of Aljunied GRC, one of the bigger groups, armed with banners, heart shaped cutouts (no white elephants as the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC supporters were not present), whistles, flags and interesting messages on placards. All complete with their big lungs and voices.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

[Meet the fans session]
Rallys are not complete without the fans. And they are the ones that make or break a rally.

Like those that shout "I love Sylvia Lim". And those that chant "ole ole ole" (warming up for World Cup).

So I present the Aljunied cheerleading team. Comprising mostly females and a few males, their theme is "I love the PAP". Formed some few days after the mid-election period, this group of supporters comprise mainly youths and those that are "young at heart".

Without fail, this group of dedicated supporters wave their shiny red hearts in the air and are armed with whistles. They fly the PAP flag and chant slogans before and after each speech. Needless to say, they support every PAP rally in Aljunied.

And just like superstars, the idol politicians meet their fans always, after the performance of course. But they still keep their distance - surely security must not be compromised.

So you ask what will happen to those nicely designed placards and hearts? Most have been autographed by the candidates themselves and will be kept as souvenirs or placed in the respective PAP branches for remembrance. And so, till tomorrow when I give my take on the announcement of the election results.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

[Polling for the first time]
I marked my ballot paper just a few minutes ago. And the process was very quick. Within a few minutes I was in then out of the polling centre just below my block.

The first thing that greets you when you reach the centre is a green plastic tape-ish thing (like those that the police use to cordon a site).

And after walking through the opening pathway, a policeman greets you. You show him your identity card and poll card. He scrutinises your facial features and you are on your way.

The next phase is the issuing of ballot paper and the shouting out of your serial number.

You proceed to a metal fixture that has a pen attached. And place your paper on the structure to mark a cross beside the names of the candidates. Next, you fold the ballot paper and walk a few steps mid-way to where you started out and drop the slip into the box.

After all of that is done, you are ushered out of the polling centre as you follow the arrows on the floor.

Friday, May 05, 2006

[Just about rallies really]
As I said previously, rallies are like going for getai.

But instead of singers, old folks and sexy sequins, you have people dressed in white, prim and proper. But the setting is pretty much the same.

And instead of singing, you hear lively, captivating speeches from politicians.

No "lao shu ai da mi" song, nor tie a yellow ribbon round the old chiku tree.

A plus point if the rally is in a very "hotspot" yes, I hear you mumble Hougang and Potong Pasir. Then you get special appearances by Fann Wong. Nope. Just pulling your leg. I was going to say SM Goh.

But the most important people are the audience. With no audience, it is no use as no one will be there to listen.

And so, I present the sights and no sounds (oops, sorry podcast not allowed) of the audience at the Hougang rally.

The centre of attraction

Expose them while they are young - kiasu Singaporean parents who want their kids to end up as politicians in future?

Rallying support - a family that goes to the rally together stays together?

Rallys - for the young and the old

Getting a grip on real rally issues?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

[Hougang surprises]
Yesterday, Senior Minister Goh called a press conference and unveiled a 100 million-dollar plan for Hougang.

And two points that I have been pondering about were mentioned.

One, was the strategy of giving Eric Low a chance.

The plan I have been thinking about is to let residents give Eric Low a chance and vote him in. But most who are voting may be scared that the constituency would be absorbed. Anyway, Eric Low asked voters to give him a chance during the press conference yesterday.

And part two was delivered by SM Goh just now.

The Senior Minister promised that Hougang would remain as a Single Member Constituency.

And this indeed was what I though about. Keeping Hougang as a SMC will allow voters to vote the PAP without fearing that it would be absorbed into a GRC. So it is unlikely that we would see a similar case as in the absorbing of the Cheng San ward two elections ago.

So there you have the tow points that I have been thinking about.

It is all up to the voters now: choose what you want with your heart.

Has Eric Low done much to serve you? Are you touched by Low Thia Kiang's visit to every funeral in the ward? What are the chances this time? What margin will each candidate date get? But most important, who will the winner be?

All to be revealed on May 6.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

[General elections in progress]
The time is now.

And as I am blogging, the support PAP (and yes, PAP stands for the People's Action Party and not peace and prosperity) lorry is blaring downstairs.

But that is not the point. Point is, Mr Miyagi quoted me in Today and mentioned that I am working with the PAP team in Hougang. It can be said this way, but honestly, I am shuffling between the two wards that the WP is contesting in - volunteering in Hougang and supporting officially in Aljunied.

For the last few days, it has been a whrlwind adventure. You bet.

I have been up early everyday since nomination day - helping out in walkabouts, visiting residents with the candidates, attending rallys and observing the whole process. But all done quietly and not in media spotlight - until Today (so corny).

And so because some of you are eager to find out, perhaps I shall document what I have been doing so far.

The prelude to nomination day were the visits by SM Goh to Hougang (he has visitied Hougang more than three times already). And yes, you can see how much the PAP wants to win Hougang residents over.

And for nomination day I was supporting the Aljunied team at the nomination centre in Toa Payoh.

Holding placards, doing the walk-in to the centre with the candidates, waiting for the announcement of contests, rubbing shoulders with WP supporters side by side and seeing poor PM's expression after the PAP was not returned to power.

In Thailand, elections come with protests, overturning of cars, fire, unruly mobs, shouts and shrieks but compare that to Singapore elections it is a totally different ballgame altogether.

In Singapore, elections are suppressed events. You see smiley faces, friendly handshakes, a few flags here and there - all in an orderly manner. Perhaps that is why Singapore is a First World country (yes MM, I agree) and look where Thailand is.

But all this effort put in is fun, exciting but really tiring too. The last few days I have been getting up early in the morning and ending very late at night. But heck, only two days more. And besides, I am young - can tahan lah.

What's most interesting was backstage at the rally in Hougang attended by SM, FM, MOS Zainul and MOS Lim Hwee Hua, and other PAP candidates Eric Low and the newbies like Hri Kumar. It's like the seventh month getai you know. Throw in the bright lights, colourful backdrops and mamasans and viola - your getai for the future.

What was most dampening was the rain. But then you get to see the real turnout, those who are really keen to be engaged, those who want an alternative voice in Hougang.

Then the friendly waving of the hand to residents while on the PAP lorry. The clenching of the fist punched in the air. Good thing there was no lighting bolt striking the ground at rally sites to give god's approval.

Well, photos, you ask, will be available after the big day. Hopefully by then, election advertising be the hot topic no more.