Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rally locations for 04 May 2006

There are 5 PAP Rallies, 3 SDA Rallies and 1 WP Rally on 4 May 2006.

Why the u-turn in response?

First, Mr Mah challenges Edmung Ng to build flats:
Mah to SDA: Want to build flats for me?
SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has reacted strongly to statements by a Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) candidate that the Government is excessively marking up the prices of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.

On Sunday night during the SDA rally in Yio Chu Kang, its candidate for Tampines GRC, Mr Edmund Ng Say Eng, said that he estimated, based on various tender reports, that the building cost of a $250,000 flat was only "$70,000 to $80,000".

This drew a firm response from Mr Mah, who is heading the PAP team in Tampines and will do battle with Mr Ng's five-man team at the polls this Saturday.

"Maybe I should invite him to come build my flats for me. It's certainly very misleading for anybody to quote figures just like that, so the onus is on him to tell me how to do it. If he doesn't, I'll ask HDB to subcontract all our building to him for $70,000 to $80,000. Maybe I'll give him a little bit more than that to cover his costs," challenged Mr Mah.

Speaking during a morning walkabout with his fellow candidates at Tampines Street 21, he told reporters that the actual cost of a flat depended on various factors like location and land prices, in addition to the construction costs of the flat.

Just metres away, the SDA team was doing its own rounds meeting residents though, unlike on Sunday morning, the two sides did not cross swords. When asked how he derived his estimates, Mr Ng, a 33-year-old businessman, explained: "This is based on reports that we have, some tender information and results, and our own calculations of building a five-room flat. The HDB has not been transparent in telling us what's the cost price of building a flat. We don't assume (our estimates) are correct, but we hope the HDB can clarify."

One other election rally issue that Mr Mah addressed was that of the vast amount of money being spent now on lift upgrading.

Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang recently blamed the Government for a lack of foresight in not building flats with lifts stopping on every floor to cater to the current ageing population.

Mr Mah explained that it was "not a mistake" on the part of the Government. He said: "The flats built in the earlier years did not have lifts on every floor (because) the cost of the flat and the affordability to the people were very important, so we built as cheaply as possible."

He added: "Then gradually, the standard of living and cost of living increased, and flats became more sophisticated. So we started, from 1990, to build flats with lifts on every floor. Now we have to go back and retrofit (the older) flats, and we will do it within the next 10 years. That's the promise we make and we intend to keep it." - TODAY /dt

Then he changes his mind when Edmund takes up the challenge:
SDA's Edmund Ng takes up PAP's challenge to build HDB flats

SINGAPORE : Singapore Democratic Alliance's candidate for Tampines GRC, Edmund Ng says he is taking up the challenge by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan to build HDB flats at lower cost.

Mr Ng says he has written to the Housing and Development Board requesting for costing information.

But Mr Mah, who is leading the PAP team in Tampines GRC, says the SDA candidate is just 'fishing' for figures and he has asked the HDB not to entertain him.

At a recent rally, Mr Ng had said it costs just $70,000 to $80,000 to build an HDB flat priced at $250,000.

In response, Mr Mah issued him a challenge, asking the HDB to subcontract building projects to Mr Ng.

When asked about Mr Ng's letter to HDB asking for cost details, Mr Mah says the onus is on the SDA candidate to back up his estimates.

Mr Mah says: "He is fishing for figures. He's got absolutely no clue what is going on. He just makes this allegation, just shooting from the hip. I've asked HDB not to entertain him."

He says HDB flats are heavily subsidised and that its prices are based on market value.

Mr Mah says: "The market value of the flat includes construction cost, land cost, infrastructure cost, providing lifts on every floor, and it varies from place to place."

So what is Mr Ng's next move?

Mr Ng "We have better things to do. We are currently very busy with the unemployment job portal. We don't run the HDB. It's up to them to disclose the figures."

As for the SDA employment website, Mr Ng says it has so far received 50 applications from Tampines residents since it was launched on Labour Day.

Mr Ng says it will kick start phase two of its employment initiative by linking up with companies situated in Tampines, Changi, Bedok and Loyang to help residents find jobs nearer to their homes. - CNA/de

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

First They Came....

Interesting poem found on a local forum:
First they came for James Gomez,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a minority,

then they came for Tan Wui-Hua,
and I didn't speak up because I didn't live in Aljunied,

then they came for Goh Meng Seng,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Worker's Party member,

then they came for Rahizan,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim,

then they came for Sylvia,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a lawyer,

then they came for Low Thia Kiang,
and I didn't speak up because I didn't want to get into trouble,

then they came for me,
and there wasn't anyone else to speak for me.....

Someone pointed out that this is a reference to the original First They Came poem, which was translate from German to English as:

When they came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Rally Locations for 03 May 2006

There is a lunch rally between 12noon to 3pm at Boat Quay and the rest of the rallies are from 7pm to 10pm.

See this link for the bookmarks to the maps.

Locations for Rallies

I took some time to bookmark the Rally locations in See for the list of rally locations for tonight. If time permits, I will update my bookmarks with the rally location everyday up to polls day, simply change the last parameter in the URL for the day you are interested in.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Email to the Elections Department on graphic examples of voting

I thought it wierd that in the TV announcements this time round, there was no graphical example of what constitutes a valid vote and what constitutes an invalid vote. I wanted to be sure, since I am a first time vote. Being kiasu, I checked and also found only text explanation. As such, I wrote the following email to the Elections Department:
In the "How To Vote?" section of your website, under step 6, is it possible to include graphical examples of the Do's and Don'ts. In particular, images showing cases where a vote is considered valid and images showing the cases where a vote is considered invalid?
I remember from memory that the TV announcements on voting instructions used to include such examples, but I did not notice it in the current round of TV annoucements. Is it also possible to educate the public on this so as to reduce the possibility of spoilt votes?

I wonder if I will get a response??

Note: After I clicked on submit in the feedback form, I only received a javascript popup saying "Thank you", and I was returned to the same page with the feedback form. Not sure whether this means the message have been sent. I think I will wait until the end of today, if I don't get a response, maybe I can call the toll-free line.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hougang Crowd

I woke up to a Straits Times that spent 2 full pages on the Gomez issue, and only half a page for Worker's Party and SDA's rally combined. Really, I think there is some truth to how our beloved ST deserves to be rank 140th.

With the mainstream media not reporting everything, I turned to the Internet, and boy, was I surprised at the photo I see at yawningbread's account (scroll down to see the photo) of the Hougang WP rally last night. While I thought the crowd at Yishun East was large, this crowd is at least 5 times large, to be conservative.

My second rally

After the first rally I attended last night held by the opposition party, I decided that I should balance it up with attending one from the ruling party.

My grandmother and aunts live in the Potong Pasir constituency. We had a family dinner and walked to the rally point as a group. When we reach the field, a first time candidate Josephine Teo was speaking. Honestly, whatever that was the content in her speech was lost in me, because it sounded like the constant droning of repeated themes in the campaign that I had heard many times. The only conclusion I had from her speech is that her mandarin public speaking needs polishing, and she is very far away from proving to be a bi-cultural talent, at least to the man-on-the-street like me.

I spent the time that Josephine Teo was speaking to observe the ground. The PAP setup is more professional, with good concert-like speakers that project the words of the speech in a hi-fidelity quality. This compares to the trumpet-like speakers I saw at the WP rally last night, which did it's job well but was a tad on the deafening side. In the middle of the field in front of the stage, platforms were placed on the ground in anticipation of a muddy field. These are the same kind of platforms we see placed on the ground for funfairs or carnivals. Well thought. :) However, if it rained today, the platforms would not have been enough for all that was there.

The MC for the PAP rally sounded like professional MCs, and this again compares to the WP using one of their own candidates to introduce speakers. All-in-all, the PAP rally set-up spoke of their consistant image of bringing professionalism to everything they do.

The crowd was not as big as the one for the WP rally. I estimated the size of the crowd [second photo] tonight to be about 1/8 of the crowd there was last night. Both tonight's photos and last nights photos were taken when I was standing at near the perimeter of the crowd, so the relative size of the stage tells you the relative distance I was standing from the stage, giving you the relative size of the crowd.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister Lim Hng Kiang took to the stage, both giving their side of their point of view on why Mr Chiam See Tong's previous night's comments about an economic union is not a good idea. Vivian made a slight boo-boo when he attempted at talking about Sitoh Yih Pin in hokkien, because what my father (a teochew) heard was something to the effect of 'See-dor he peng' - translated to mean 'die at that place'.

Sitoh Yih Pin took to the stage after this, and his speech was something that caught my attention. He sounded sincere and genuinely wanted to serve. My previous impression of him being just the 'abalone-porridge-supplier' was changed when he claimed on stage that he was in touch with the ground. I confirmed immediately with my aunt on the spot, she told me that while previous challengers to the Potong Pasir ward were never seen around the ward, Sitoh Yih Pin is consistently seen at coffeeshops talking to people at least twice a month on Sunday mornings.

Sitoh went on to list out some of the things he did for the residences, of which there are some items that are genuinely beneficial. The one thing that oppositions can learn from Sitoh is that, while you are not the MP for the ward, you can still try to work your way into the people's heart by spending enough time with them. Granted that there are a lot of things that cannot be done through this channel, but small things will add up to what the residents can collectively remember you of. And of course, you can score points with listing out the things you have done while not being their MP.

The highlight of the night was SM Goh's presence and his speech. In his usual light-hearted manner, he gave a speech that was convincing and I believe could have helped some residents made up their decision. In the middle of the speech, the flood lights that were trained on the crowd suddenly went off one by one, until only the light on the rostrum was visible. SM Goh was unaffected throughout the effect, only a slight pause upon the initial blackout, and continued his speech (luckily the sound system was still working). Does show the class and style he has. One more thing that won my respect for him is that he did not harp on the Gomez issue like the other PAP candidates had. (In fact on TV news later he was seen talking a little on the issue, but closed with the comment that we should all move on to discuss bigger issues).

SM Goh give his vote of support for Sitoh, and a list of the reasons that the people should vote for Sitoh. Very convincing, I have to repeat, and very well delivered messages. The only thing that I was looking out for, which was not mentioned, was the earlier promised of raising the party whip for Sitoh.

SM Goh's speech was the final speech, and the MCs ended the rally with a series of cheers for PAP and Sitoh. Sad thing to say that in this respect the crowd does not respond too well, leaving one MC to start the cheer and often the other MC to respond.

The crowd dispersed quickly. I did not stay to see whether there was any sending-off like in the WP's case, but from the response of the crowd, I doubted it.

One WP rally followed by one PAP rally. Quite a good balance for a first-time rally-goer and a first-time voter. However, seeing that local issues concerning the constituency are being brought up in both rallies, my wife and I decided to attend to WP and PAP rallies for our own constituency when they come around to our place. More rallies to attend. :)

[One final point: I think the decision to ban podcast for this elections is really a bad decision. With between 5-7 rallies held each night, there are sometimes more than 1 rally that an individual is interested in attending. With the rallies all being held at the same time, there is no way physically a person can be in two places at one time. If podcast of verbatim recordings of the press conferences for all parties is allowed in the media, why don't the media also provide verbatim recordings of rallies everyday?]