21 April 2006

The Students Conference

I thought that on the whole, the event went well. Alex Au (Yawning Bread) spoke, and then I spoke, and then we had a Q&A session. Judging from the questions asked, I think that the students had found our speeches quite thought-provoking. Questions came thick and fast, with students actually having to form a queue at the mike to get their chance to ask a question.

For me, one memorable part of the session was when a Malay student stepped forward and asked us whether we thought racism is a serious problem in Singapore. This led to a lively discussion with other Malay, Indian and Chinese students coming forward to ask more questions and relate their personal experiences in multiracial Singapore. They spoke with a lot of frankness and honesty and at the end of this, I could not help wondering whether the government has done the right thing in making race & religion such a taboo topic in Singapore. Maybe what we really need is more open, frank engagement and discussion on race and religion.

I kept my main speech quite safe, but during the Q&A session, could not suppress my true self and my mouth kept opening to utter politically incorrect things. Someone asked, "Do you think that Singapore's youth are adequately represented in Parliament?" and I replied, "How can that be, Parliament doesn't even adequately represent the people of Singapore." The student then said, "But isn't it important for the government to take note of youth issues?" and I replied, "Yes, but Parliament isn't really "government". Parliament is just a collection of 84 people in a room, and most of whom are there by walkovers."

Heheh, I really know how to amuse myself. If no one else.

I hope everyone had plenty of food of thought, because I myself certainly did. Not just about the actual subject-matter of discussion. After the event, I found my mind drifting into more philosophical kinds of questions as well. In a very odd way, I suddenly felt more sympathetic to Lee Kuan Yew. The generation gap is not an imaginary thing, it is very real, and sometimes you really have to make some major leaps inside your head to see things the way another generation sees them.

Lee Kuan Yew tried, he failed, he's out of touch, and maybe we shouldn't blame him. If anything, blame it on Father Time. It's tough. I had some problems today myself, and unlike LKY, I don't even have any personal or party ideology to defend.

Oh, it was fun meeting Alex Au. Based on his blog, I'd expected to see someone a little aggressive, a little forceful, a "no nonsense" sort of personality. In fact, the real Alex is warm, friendly, humorous, humble, genuinely nice, no airs. Oh, and articulate, intelligent, very knowledgeable, but that much you can tell from his blog already.

Might blog more about this event later .... or I might not. That's it for today. See ya!

Update: Alex Au blogs in detail about his own speech.


Anonymous said...

PAP may sue SDP

SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are demanding an apology from the Singapore Democratic Party's Central Executive Committee for remarks made in the latest issue of its party newspaper, The New Democrat.

These were contained in an article - both in English and in Chinese - on the National Kidney Foundation issue.

The letters of demand were also served on Friday to the printing company which printed the newspaper.

The article in question is headlined: "Govt's role in the NKF scandal".

A captioned photograph in the same newspaper, which showed a group of protestors outside the CPF Building, was also singled out as having caused offence.

The photo showed the protesters holding a placard and wearing T-shirts with the words "HDB, GIC, NKF and CPF".

Acting for the Prime Minister, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh says that in their ordinary meaning and innuendo, both the words and the photograph had alleged that Mr Lee Hsien Loong is dishonest and unfit for office.

The SDP had also alleged that as Prime Minister, Mr Lee has perpetuated a corrupt political system for the benefit of the political elite.

These allegations were based on the premise that the government had access to the information which has now been unearthed about the NKF, but concealed it to avoid criticism.

They also implied that the Prime Minister condones or permits corruption in institutions such as the Housing and Development Board, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and the Central Provident Fund.

As for the photograph, Mr Davinder says the Chinese words that accompanied it were published maliciously, and calculated to gain political mileage by disparaging Mr Lee Hsien Loong and impugning his character and integrity.

Similarly, in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's letter of demand, it was stated that the words and photograph also implied that, like the Prime Minister, the Minister Mentor is also dishonest and unfit for office.

And if the defamatory allegations were true, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was guilty of corruption, nepotism, criminal conduct, dishonesty, had advanced the interests of his family at the expense of the needs of Singapore, had misled Parliament and had covered his tracks to avoid criticism.

Another allegation was that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had managed the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in a corrupt manner.

In the Minister Mentor's demand letter to Dr Chee Soon Juan, the SDP Chief was also reminded that he had defamed Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 28 October 2001, and had published an apology a few days later.

Then, he undertook not to make any further similar allegations or statements.

However, Mr Davinder noted that Dr Chee has deliberately and maliciously breached this undertaking.

The SDP, its 12 members and its printer, Sum Kwai Lum trading as Melodies Press Company, have till 10am next Tuesday (April 25) to respond to the demands for an apology.

This apology, according to the text set out in the letters of demand, is to be published in two local dailies on April 27, failing which both leaders will sue all parties involved. - CNA/ch

Kevin said...

Well summerized Mr Wang! The last time I was at the Youth Conference in Ngee Ann (2005), many students asked about "entering the grey areas", that is, the cost of making unpopular but much needed points heard. The common response from the media panel: "Write into Straits Times".

Since I don't get to read the local papers much, has there been a trend of more "open" discussions in Singapore? Is the media serving the people yet?

Anonymous said...

PAP threatening to sue SDP! Just so typically s'pore and PAP isn't it? Whatever sympathy i may have for lky is absolutely gone, zilch, zero, nada.

Anonymous said...

I think you should blog about it Mr Wang. It can give us readers how and what are the younger ones are thinking about, whether they are different from the 20/30 something age group.