29 April 2006

The Adventures of James Gomez

Channel NewsAsia
Saturday April 29, 6:17 AM
Elections Dept releases CCTV pictures on encounter with James Gomez

SINGAPORE : Did Workers' Party candidate James Gomez submit his minority certificate application form on April 24?

He claims he did, but according to the Elections Department, he did not.

The department felt it had to put the record straight, and has released a copy of the security camera recording and the transcript of a telephone conversation of what had transpired between Mr Gomez and the department's staff.

The department says this has to be done to leave no doubt in the minds of voters about the integrity of Singapore's electoral process.

On April 26, Mr Gomez went to the Elections Department and spoke to its staff Ricky Tan to enquire about his minority certificate.

Mr Gomez claimed he had submitted an application for the certificate two days earlier.

After checking, the department's staff informed Mr Gomez that he had not done so. But the Workers' Party candidate insisted he had filled the form and handed it over to Mr Tan, and demanded he checked again.

Mr Gomez then warned Mr Tan of the consequences and left his mobile phone number behind, asking that he be informed before lunch.

At 1pm the same day, Ms Florence Tan, another official of the department, called Mr Gomez.

In the telephone transcript, Ms Tan says: "Actually according to our CCTV, you did not submit the application form for the Indian and other minorities."

Ms Tan also told Mr Gomez that the security camera recording showed him filling up the minority certificate form.

But he kept it in his bag and went off for an interview.

When he returned to the counter, he did not take out the form and then left with a lady colleague.

Upon hearing this, Mr Gomez immediately abandoned his original account of what had happened.

In a telephone transcript with an official of the Elections Department, Mr Gomez says: "Oh I see, I'm very happy to hear your version of the story. I will just go back and check my bag because I'm outside now. I'm dealing with the administrative part. If there's any further information or if I need some information, I'll get back to you."

The official says: "But I have to let you know that the application for this certificate closed on Monday."

Mr Gomez says: "Yeah, yeah, of course. I'm very well (aware) on that. That's not a problem."
The official says: "Okay?"

Mr Gomez says: "Yeah, that's not a problem. Don't worry."

To date, Mr Gomez has yet to call back, according to the Elections Department.
Hmmm. Not sure what this is really all about. Is Gomez trying to play some funny games here? Most other Singaporeans might have short memories, but I still remember how Gomez's team effectively self-sabotaged themselves on Nomination Day in the last elections and disqualified themselves. Intentionally? That's what the conspiracy theorist in me suspected the last time round. Now it seems that we might be looking at a repeat kind of incident.

Still I can't help thinking that Singapore is an over-stickler for rules. All too frequently, the Singapore authorities fuss so much over the technicalities of rules and completely miss the real substance.

Remember when Singapore was ranked 140th out of 167 countries for press freedom? Our ministers harped over the detailed mechanics of the rankings methodology as if Singapore was ranked No. 2 or 3 and they felt that Singapore deserved to be ranked No. 1. Please lah, 140th place is already in the bottom boondocks; even if the researchers changed their methodology the way you wanted and Singapore moved up 20 spots to 120th position, you still won't be winning any prizes.

Now the same kind of over-stickling is probably about to occur in James Gomez's case. Okay, he was supposed to file some application form to prove that he belongs to a minority race. Can't the Election Department just check his NRIC? Take note of his surname? Or maybe look at the colour of his skin, and his face? Do you really need a certificate to know that this man:

....... is not Chinese? Duh.


Merv said...

Only in Singapore... where you need to be certified as an indian or a malay.....

How are they going to verify anyway? is there a panel of doctors and historians that check his blood or if his whole family line came from India?

Anonymous said...

It's called sweating over the really minute stuff...

Cobalt Paladin said...

In almost everything that we do, there are rules of the game. Filling up a form is just a small rule of the game. Is filling up a form as required so difficult?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"In almost everything that we do, there are rules of the game."

Certainly. For example - citizen volunteers shall not paste posters in public in an effort to solve crimes and reunite kidnapped children with their parents.

Cobalt Paladin said...

Mr Wang, that is a low-blow. :p

If that is the current rule and the citizen volunteers feel strongly in their mission and feel strongly against that rule, then fight it. Appeal to the MP, raise funds to pay the advertising costs of putting up the posters, negotiate with LTA, whatever. I read somewhere, "If it is too easy, usually it is not worthwhile."

This world is not perfect. I don't agree with many of the things in this world. There are two ways to deal with it: Accept it or Fight it.

For the election thingy, the rules would naturally be stickier and can't be bent anyhow. It is just a form. Just fill up the form and sumbit lah. Duh?

Jackson Tan said...

This is pretty interesting to me since he'll be contesting in my constituency. I'll be sure to ask him if I get the chance (which means I probably will not given my ongoing exams).

And this is the second conspiracy theory I've heard of late. The first was that Chee Soon Juan is a PAP agent meant to tarnish the reputation of the opposition parties. Haven't laughed so hard for a long time...

Cobalt Paladin said...

Pandemonium: First time I heard it from you. I laughed very hard too!


hugewhaleshark said...

Hey he is doing a damn good job of it, OK...

at82 said...

Actually this incident makes me wonder what is the race indication on our IC for anyway?

Anonymous said...

Aljunied GRC WP Rally on 29 April, Mr Low Thia Kiang:


Anonymous said...

To listen (and watch) Mr Gomez and judge whether he is non-Chinese, visit:


For Election Rally Videos

Anonymous said...

Why nitpick on this tiny issue when there are other more pressing issues to debate?

Anonymous said...

Why are they (the gahman) nitpicking on this tiny issue when there are other more pressing issues to debate?

at82 said...

eh anon posting the rally material:

The url too long la. get a blogger acc and link the website to a word then click edit then copy every out then paste on comments can?

Wanna do also do properly mah.

Cobalt Paladin said...

Erm... why can't he just admit that he made a mistake? This is such a great opportunity for him to show that he is different, that he is honest and with integrity. Be man enough to admit a mistake was made. He'll gain a new respect from the people.

Anonymous said...

i think this is a no-brainer. after all, all candidates fill in the same form, it's not as if the ruling party's candidates are exempted from the forms. and, if anyone is sincerely, genuinely wanting to contest in the GE, the very least he/she can do is to ensure he/she completes the application properly and on time.

besides, if i were a contesting candidate, i would view the entire nomination/application process as highly important and i would take pains to ensure all goes on well. that, to me, is not just an act of filling up forms and conforming to rules, it's about sincerity, it's about whether the person wants to contest enough.

p.s. conversely, if say they accept a person's application without the minority form, and took his dark skin to mean he's indian. and later he was found to be just v v v v dark-skinned, wouldn't everyone be pointing fingers to say why the office was so lax... just as they're saying why the office was so sticky about things?


moomooman said...

Is Gomez a indian origin name? Sounded very western to me.

Anonymous said...

Discrediting the opposition is the favourite topic now, it seems.
Instead of discussing serious issues, they discuss if the opposition should exist at all.

Anonymous said...

As much as I feel that we should show more support to opposition to bring about a balance and check to government, our opposition is putting themselves down.

Filling in forms may not be some policies that will affect our country's future. But if you can't even respect and obey the simplest version of order, how can we expect to trust you? Not to mention, he obviously made no efforts to check his own bag before making a big fuss at other people. It's the little things that count.

How about Chee and his party? One claimed he is out. In a matter of hours, Chee held a press conference claiming he is in.

Sigh. With such opposition, how can i support them?


Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, I think that minority certification can be a positive thing esp for those who are classified as "Chinese" but actually have family background, community involvement and personal identity as part of an ethnic minority community. Also I think your criticism of the Elections Dept is somewhat unfair as civil servants do not have authority to waive the stipulations of parliamentary legislation. I've written up a more detailed elaboration of my argument here.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

1. Of course a waiver is possible. All you have to do is escalate to the appropriate level of authority. Even murderers can be spared the gallows, if the correct civil servant (the President) agrees.

2. Gomez IS careless and incompetent (assuming that he didn't intentionally botch this - see my conspiracy theory). My point was not so much about Gomez's attributes, but the civil servant's response.

Imagine a situation where Goh Chok Tong failed to submit his nomination papers on time - due to a series of bizarre incidents - eg heavy rain, flood, lightning struck his car, tree fell across the road - would you say that we must foillow the rules and GCT should be disqualified from elections? Then you are a dumbass yourself. Bad weather must not be allowed to deny and deprive Singapore of a good leader.

3. Minority certification could be important in cases where the candidate looks Chinese but isn't actually. This isn't the case here.

4. Moomooman, in fact the real point is not whether the fella is Caucasian or Indian or Malay or Spanish. The real point is whether he is not Chinese. The answer, I think, is quite evident.

5. BB, in your hypothetical example, the solution is quite obvious - someone tried to deceive the public, and pass off as a minority; later it turns out that he wasn't; so I guess he he would simply be disqualified. Gomez is quite a different case; I really do not think he's Chinese. Do you? Give me a simple yes or no, please.

6. WP, agree with your views on Chee. I have long felt that he is a serious disadvantage to the Opposition. They should dump him and move on.

Anonymous said...

"Gomez is quite a different case; I really do not think he's Chinese. Do you? Give me a simple yes or no, please."

Ya, Michael Jackson has to prove that he is black because he looks so white. He should not be insulted about this if he has to prove himself. But what if he thinks it is not necessary because everyone knows that he is black. And let's say, Mr Wang is totally clueless about the music scene, and Mr Wang really thinks MJ is black (well, you cannot blame Mr Wang, right?) should Mr Wang still ask him to prove that MJ is infact black.

Sometimes, Mr Wang is so duhhhh...

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

True, true. Perhaps you really think that Michael Jackson is a white man. And I suppose it's possible, unlikely but possible, that the Elections Department is as stupid as you.

singaporean said...

Opposition parties are like a spare tyre: they are an energy sapping deadweight hindrance, until you need them.

I have trouble telling that Mariah Carey is half black, or that Illinois senator Barack Obama is half white (or is he 3/4 white?), but are you guys sure Wacko Jacko is not a white WOMAN? I find it amusing that Mr Wang as a lawyer is so chin chai about forms and procedures. He must have been one very unhappy DPP. :P

Anonymous said...

simple answer: no, i do not really think he's chinese.

i shall leave it as that coz you've already conceded that gomez was careless & incompetent in this case. [i do suspect he might have done this on purpose...]

p.s. much as i sometimes don't agree with what you blog about, you do challenge some of us to think that bit more. don't stop bloggin' here, would you please? :)


Anonymous said...

what is there for him to gain by doing it on purpose ?

Anonymous said...

For the past few days, the PAP’s lorry has been going round my housing estate with the loudhailers blaring away with the same recorded message.

Today (1 May 2006), the WP’s lorry did the rounds. The difference was, instead of just playing a recorded message over and over again, the WP candidates were standing at the back of the lorry in the sweltering noon heat and took turns at speaking through the loudhailer and waving to residents.

Is it too much to ask of the PAP candidates to do likewise?