With education and entrepreneurship at the core of everything I do, this blog serves to provide you with information from my perspective, based on my knowledge, skills and experience on various issues close to my heart namely, general education, peacebuilding, public speaking, civil society and theatre/ drama.
In my last post, I shared about how to manage pregnancy for fathers-to-be. This post is going to be about how fathers-to-be can assist with the labour itself.
Before I begin to share about what men can do about the labour, you can read about my wife’s post on labour here first.
Read it? I hope you did.
And here’s what men should be prepared for:
- LOOONG WAIT.
We were told that first borns are always a looong wait and so it was. Therefore, in anticipation of the looong wait, I’d say you try to nap at the hospital when you can, whenever you can.
I was catching my snooze in the delivery suite after my wife got induced.
- FREEZING COLD
Being in an air-conditioned room is good, but not when you’re in there for a looong period of time. Eventually, no matter how hairy or thick your skin is, you’re gonna start to shiver and wish you brought a jacket. And pack 2 – for him and for her.
- QUICK BITES
While waiting is no picnic in the park, your wife gets served food by the hospital the moment she is admitted as a patient. She’ll get her lunch, dinner and snacks served on a platter. So, you my friend, better have some food packed, prepared and ready to be eaten. Otherwise, pray hard that they have vending machines selling food on your floor.
Thank GOD it was Ramadan. So, fasting helps.
As your wife goes through her transition in labour from early to active labour, you’ll start to feel helpless looking at how you can’t do anything about her ever so frequent and painful contractions. So, since you’re pretty much helpless, be with her as much as you can, breathe with her, count with her and hold her (or you can let her hold you).
She’s in pain and she may need some decisions. Whatever you’ve planned for and discussed on, well, be prepared to cave in on that cause when you look at your wife’s face, you’re going to give in to her needs because YOU LOVE HER.
And especially for Muslim men out there, you know how we believe that heaven is underneath our mothers feet and how should a mother die in childbirth, she goes to heaven?
When you are there with her throughout her entire labour, you’ll start to see how close she could possibly be to death, and death for me at that moment, sat on a very thin line between being a emotional beauty and an emotional heartbreak.
So guys, show some love to all women out there.
Be kind, be nice, be respectful because she is either our mother, sister, daughter or lover.
“MY WIFE IS PREGNANT!”
That was how I felt when my wife informed me that she was pregnant. I also felt extremely happy to know that my man-device was fully functional.
But that was the initial phase.
What followed next was months of hard work, patience, prayers and lots of assurances that everything was going to turn out fine.
The first trimester was as how most people had mentioned – CHALLENGING.
My wife was constantly having ‘night sickness’ – feeling ill and puking when she got home from work. The only thing I knew how to help, was the one thing that always helped me when I felt pukish or whenever I puked.
RUB HER BACK
ENCOURAGE HER TO PUKE (she’ll refuse but hey, you always feel better after you puke)
LET HER PAY FOR MEALS (if she wants to, so if she pukes, she won’t feel that bad cause it was her money. heh)
But all said and done, the first trimester is one that requires the husband to provide plenty of motivation and support to ensure your wife pukes when she needs to, is given a massage when required and a tissue plus a drink of water to clear her throat for her to be comfortable enough to rest.
My brother-in-law and sister chipped in to help as well by giving us books on being prepared for pregnancy.
So, with that as my guide, off I went.
Also known as the best trimester and INDEED it was!
With the first hurdle over, this second trimester is a time to enjoy between both husband and wife *hint hint* Hehehe
It is also a good time for husband to begin working out together with your wife.
I was planning my training schedule around my wife with simple static exercises.
SQUATS (if she can’t do regular squats, do wide squats!)
And most of the weighted exercises were done, seated on the swiss ball (yoga ball).
We also signed up for a class together to learn more about the labour and breastfeeding process!
THE MOST ANXIOUS PERIOD for the both of you.
The baby is going to pop out. When is it going to pop out? How will the baby look like? Is the baby healthy? Are you growing well? Is your wife eating well? Is her mood in check?
ALL THESE AND MORE!
It’s a time where there’s plenty of questions to ask and plenty of answers that can be given but what I found most easy for my wife and me is that she was disciplined on her food intake, drinking well and ensuring the food she eats is healthy (you can read more on what she did on her blog, click here!)
My job as a husband, was clearly define in my opinion.
CONTINUE TO GIVE SUPPORT
And so, I tried to be as supportive and as understanding as possible.
She may be uncomfortable to take long walks by now, so rather than ask her to take long walks in the park which could be such a bore, I would ask her to go to the mall to enjoy a drink or to get groceries (kill two birds with one stone!).
Whenever my wife felt unsure about what she was doing, I gave her assurance of what she was doing and how much she has progressed. (It’s easy for your wife to criticize herself because she can’t see progress or is unaware of the progress she’s making. So, it’s your job to let her know that what she’s doing is helping in the process.)
Malays have a saying, “Sikit sikit, lama lama jadi bukit” (small things will always add up)
So, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, TRUST THE PROCESS!
Milestones Brought my wife for a surprise 1yr anniversary dinner at @badoquecafe. It's a few more weeks before our little bundle of joy pops out into our lives. Praying that we can raise our child in the best way possible and hope that you will pray for us, with us. May our child be a khalifah of Islam, soleh/soleha (dunno what gender yet) and be an active-positive contributor to Islam, our family, our country and community. Ameen Ya Rabb #abdillahzamzuri #family #Islam
And remember, to enjoy it. So, plan for a date together!
If you noticed, this whole post about being a husband to a pregnant wife, if summarized, is simply about being there for your wife.
Give her the support she needs. Offer her the assurance she needs. Be creative about how you want to support her.
And last but not least, as a Muslim, I try to remind myself and my wife as much as possible about prophetic stories or quotes from the Quran and of course, to zikr as much as possible because as a Muslim, prayers is our weapon isn’t it? (I do believe that even if you’re not a Muslim, you should still pray!)
Oh, I also downloaded BabyCenter app which turned out to be a lifesaver as it provided us with lots of articles for us to keep track of progress for both baby and mother.
Have you seen this movie yet?
If you haven’t then you probably should.
I don’t review movies much but since I’m writing one of this, you really have to catch it for so many reasons of which I have consolidated it down to five.
- It made me cry/tear several times throughout the entire movie. The opening scene broke me down almost immediately.
- The movie speaks to everyone. Everyone who feels they are different and have no place in society.
- The movie is a wonderful teaching tool for parents and teachers to teach your young ones on values of Hard Work, Loyalty, Friendship and Love.
- The soundtrack in the entire movie is OH-SOME! I couldn’t stop tapping my hands.
- It’s one of the best musical theatre-film performances I’ve watched in a long time!
It’s one of the few movies that I’d watch over and over and over and over again.
This movie makes me miss performing on stage – be it dancing or acting. Not quite much of a singer but I’m quite sure I can break into a few tunes.
Enjoy the soundtrack to it here
Following up from my last post, here’s a guide that you and your partner can work on, together planning for an affordable outdoor wedding.
Outdoor weddings can be pretty costly (tentages, fans, blowers, rain curtains, tables, chairs, etc) but it can also be affordable, if you know how to plan and if you are willing to cut corners! That said, if you’ve never been the type of person to plan for anything, this is a great start for you to start learning how to and to start saving money!
With that, planning for an affordable outdoor wedding is all about DOING IT YOURSELF! (well, for the most part!)
To begin, both you and partner need to be on the same page about how the wedding is supposed to look and feel like and how much you are willing to spend on it, keeping in mind family culture and traditions as well as any religious obligations to work around – if any needs to be adhered to.
Here are the 3 big criteria to talk about first before the nitty gritty details.
1 – ENVISIONING
Envision how your wedding is going to look like. Some things to keep in mind when envisioning that would add into the cost will be accessibility by public transport, special needs for invited guests, sheltered area(s), weather conditions, etc.
2 – TIME CHECK!
Some wedding functions can take up the whole day and night. The shorter your wedding, the lesser guests you’ll need to invite, the lesser food you need to cater for, the more affordable it becomes. Plus, you’ll have more energy for time at night – if you get what I mean!
3 – BUDGET
Needless to say, weddings cost a lot of money. Money that you’d rather not part with. Money that you’d rather spend on a holiday. Money that you could have used to pay off your student loan. Money for anything else except for an event that is essentially, a loss-making event.
So, set aside your budget beforehand and work around it.
Now that you’ve ENVISIONED, PLANNED YOUR TIME and BUDGETED YOUR MONEY, it’s time to get into the details of planning!
- Research & Book Venues
Having envisioned how your wedding is going to look like, the next step will be to research on all possible venues.
Singapore is a great city to hold outdoor weddings, provided you get lucky with the weather. Some venues are enclosed and air-conditioned which makes it wonderful, but could be pricier. Some venues have certain restrictions which could inhibit how the flow of the wedding runs.
Having decided on a venue, you’ll need to book it quickly once you have decided on a date. Venues in Singapore are scarce. Affordable venues could be even rarer. Some venues need to be booked a year in advanced.
We were initially disappointed when several locations we had in mind were no longer available or were out of our budget. So, we were pleasantly surprised when we found Berlayer Shades at Labrador Park to not only be available, but also fit most of our checklist for an outdoor wedding.
One of the things we wanted to avoid, was the need to set up tentage as it would be too costly and we also wanted the space to be open enough for guests to move around freely. And of course, a toilet had to be close by!
We decided on Berlayer Shades, which is not listed in the list below!
Here’s how our research panned out! (Easy to use when you’ve got Excel sheet!)
|Wedding Venues||Capacity||Per Pax||Price||Remarks|
|Pavillion @ Angsana Green||$ 800.00|
|Gurame Restaurant||1000||$ 19,500.00||(All in)|
|Void Deck||$ 50.00|
|Villa Halia @ Botanics|
|Piai Plaza||$ 421.00||(Venue ONLY)|
|Tang Tea House||$ 28.00|
|ACC – Poolside Pavillion||280||$ 25.00||$ 4,280.00||(With tables & chairs)|
|ACC – Poolside Pavillion||280||$ 25.00||$ 3,210.00||(No tables & chairs)|
|Gardens By The Bay – Flower Field Hall||$ 15,800.00||(Venue ONLY)|
|NTUC Downtown East||$ 12,500.00||(Before Catering)|
|Joyden Hall||380||$ 9,800.00||(Actual Day Rental)|
|Pasir Ris Viewing Plaza||800||$ 421.00||(Venue Only)|
|Aliwal Arts Centre||120||$ 600.00|
|Flame & Spark Event Spaces||200||$ 250.00|
|Arts House||$ 1,600.00|
|UE Convention Centre||500|
|Grassroots Club at YCK||1000||$ 19,000.00|
|Balestier JOM Ballroom||$ 2,100.00|
|Warung In The East|
- Set a Theme
This isn’t a necessity but if you’re having an outdoor wedding, typical themes normally associated are garden, rustic or beach themes.
Having a theme could help you decide on all the accessories and decorations that needs to go along with your wedding. Plus, it gives everyone helping you out an idea on how to ensure it meets the theme.
We utilized Pinterest to help us with our theme. We had a mood board of sort to help our friends know how the wedding was going to feel like. That way, everything we planned for should follow the theme.
- Book Caterer
Caterers either make or break an event, what more a wedding, YOUR WEDDING. Choosing the right caterer is essential to the success and happiness of your wedding.
Guests may not remember how your wedding was like or what you wore or what went on at the wedding, but they’ll always continue to talk about the food they ate. So, choose your food caterer wisely.
Make time to try out their food, when invited, and get recommendations from as many people as possible.
Ours was decided pretty much from the start by my wife. She knew exactly what she wanted. She had tasted the food before and dead set on this caterer, Mayura Catering. Well, no qualms about that! Food is spicy and absolutely delicious!
Side dishes/desserts were catered from my cousin, Zaqiah Yunus, who also happens to be a pastry chef! If you need to cookies or cakes, she takes orders too!
- Book Solemniser
Solemnisers are probably the key to you having a wedding. Some solemnisers are extremely popular and are booked way ahead in advanced.
Know who you want, why you want them and book them early.
We just needed an English speaking solemniser who wouldn’t take too long with his sermon. I’ve been at several weddings where the sermons took quite a significant amount of time. So, I pretty much knew who would fit the bill and thankfully, he was available on the date and time that we wanted.
- Design & Print Invitation Cards
Wedding cards are the first information anyone receives about your wedding. The wedding card, if designed to the theme provides invited guests knowledge about how to plan to dress for the wedding.
Wedding planners for some companies charge a premium for design and printing as it requires additional work. Find a good friend who’s willing to help you design the card that you’ve envisioned and go to the printers yourself. If you don’t have a friend that’s willing to help or a friend talented enough, you could learn to do it yourself. Takes a bit of time but hey, you’ll pick up some new skills along the way which could prove to be useful in the future!
Sending the cards to the printers yourself is also a better option as you’ll get to feel the texture of the cards and choose one that meets both your budget and quality desired!
We were pretty lucky with this since this was done in-house at By Definition Pte Ltd. We do design work and printing, so my wife provided with the draft of her idea and I passed it on to my business partner who did the necessary to give us the beautiful design work. Next, I brought it over to the printers which was right next to my office to send it for printing! Talk about convenience!
So, if you need some design work to be done, email email@example.com
- Wedding Outfit(s)
You could tailor or you could rent.
Needless to say about the benefits of tailoring – fits you snuggly, you can wear it again in the future and it’s designed according to how you want it to be! Downside is, it could be pricey, IF you have an ‘atas’ taste and purchase expensive material or visit an expensive tailor.
Renting on the other hand could be considerably cheaper and more affordable but it might not be the design you wanted, nor would it fit you comfortably and you could never wear it again.
AND of course, the more wedding outfit changes you have, the more it’s going to cost. So, keeping it to one outfit change would be ideal but that would also depend on how long your function is going to be.
My wife had hers tailored at Tekka Market. I had mine done in Batam, apparently its by the same guy who does it for all the tailors in Singapore. You think your tailors in Far East Plaza tailor it themselves? They send it over to Batam for less than half the price! And we decided that we only wanted and needed one outfit since our event was not going to stretch more than a few hours.
- Make-Up Artist
Selecting the right make-up artist is crucial to ensuring the bride looks gorgeous. With an abundance of make-up artists out there, how does on choose the right one?
Start asking for recommendations at the earliest time possible as they are booked quite quickly! Then, check their portfolios either on social media or request for one so you get to see how they work with past clients, who may have different skin tones and features.
And then of course, arrange for an appointment to meet up with them to have a trial so you can experience what it’s like to have their magic work on you and most importantly, to assess your comfort level working with them.
My wife knew who she wanted. She had already seen her work online and trusted this person enough without the need for a trial because even a trial will cost some money!
‘Looks Studio’ did make up for my wife but she also recommends ‘Sue Afad’
- Book Entertainment (if required)
Entertainment come in different forms; a live band, a DJ, an emcee or some other live performances that may require not only a space but also a sound console and speakers which may require a power generator if electricity is not readily available.
All of which, could add on to your cost significantly!
So, if you’re having it only for a few hours and don’t require such a technical set-up. I recommend going wireless on bluetooth stereo as how I did with the Audiobox 500. It comes prepared with a wired mic and can be wireless connected via bluetooth to a laptop that has my songs downloaded into a playlist on Spotify (another great recommendation to save cost on songs!)
Our venue was a bit unique as they didn’t have electricity available for us to tap into and bringing in a generator for a short few hours wasn’t feasible so we worked around it with a Bluetooth stereo speaker, AudioBox 500 courtesy of By Definition Pte Ltd and Faiz. We had one system hooked up to my laptop which had our songs all downloaded on Spotify and the other was for our Emcee to move around to use.
We had a ‘live band’ performance as well by my dear friends from poly who also happens to work with me at By Definition Pte Ltd. Guitars were hooked up to the speakers and voila! We had a live band performance going on. Unfortunately, while music is great to be played from laptop, it doesn’t sound as good once you have music equipments plugged in. But well, while it’s not an amp to begin with, the show’s not for a concert anyway!
If you need to know who they are, well look out for Reyza Hamizan, Jeffri Natawate and Irsyad Marican!
- Book Wedding Car(s)
If you need to travel between locations, then a wedding car is needed. Booking a luxurious wedding car could be costly, not forgetting the cost to decor the car as well. And since most weddings are held on weekends, that also means you’ll need to book the car over the weekend and if you only need the car for a day, it’s going to be money not well spent.
So, try to check around for a friend who drives who don’t mind helping you out!
I was lucky with this. I had my groomsmen who for the most part, most had cars. So, we had 4 cars available on hand to help me out including the car for the bride and groom. So, I guess we were lucky with this. Many thanks to my wonderful groomsmen from The Good Boys Club (a gentlemen’s club made up of professionals from different background but with an interest for the community).
- Book a Hotel Room
If you were holding your wedding in a hotel, usually it comes in a package but if you’re booking an outdoor location, you might want to consider booking a hotel room for your after-wedding rendevous.
Great deals are available online these days and you should totally make good use of it!
My wife decided to use Booking.com to book for us a room. She got a great deal for 2 days 1 night at a hotel. We got a free upgrade and we were given first class treatment from the moment we arrived!
- Book Transportation (if required)
If your wedding location is not easily accessible by public transportation, then you might want to consider booking transportation to ferry your guests to and fro to the nearest public amenity.
Because our wedding venue was a bit out of the way. Guests would need to walk about a good km or so, we decided that booking 2 mini-buses over a 5hr period would be great. And well, I guess it helped most of our guests!
I highly recommend Poh Lee Bus Transport Pte Ltd. Great service and affordable too!
- Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are not like birthday cakes, although they can be if you want it to be. Most couples would prefer a proper tiered wedding cake though so if you have a theme, planning for the type of wedding cake to have will be easier.
Finding the right baker is just as important as the rest of the items above – it must be a good match. Get recommendations from people about bakers who are able to bake the type of wedding cake you want. View their portfolio and read reviews about them. Get in contact with them and meet up with them. You must be comfortable to work with them.
If all is good, then work with them on the type of cake you want and work out the deliverables. I’ve been to weddings where the wedding cake became the cause of the disaster of the entire wedding – either it didn’t come out right according to specifications or it was delivered late or not at all.
For some couples, no cake means no cake cutting ceremony. So, decide on this together.
We had our wedding cake done by a great friend of mine. If you ever need a wedding cake or a birthday cake done, I strongly recommend you check BakesByMun out! Tell her you got the referral from me.
Another list on the item that could make or break your wedding. Mementos from your wedding are important keepsakes that you want to have, to share with your friends and family.
Finding the right photographers/videographers also requires good recommendation. Things to keep in mind will be how well can they deliver what is promised – especially the turnaround time.
Most photographers/videographers would require about 1 – 2 months to work on your photos/videos, edit/print and have them ready to be delivered to you. Most couples want to get their photos and videos fast to show to friends and family, so make sure you have deadlines agreed upon beforehand.
Most importantly again, be sure you are comfortable with them so meet them with them, have a chat with them and view their portfolios! Each photographer/videographer have their own style and treatment, so learn as much as you can!
We placed our trust in my poly juniors, Filzah and Safiah also known as Qitareqa. They gave us a great package price for 2 photographers and to have it printed in a book. The photos were passed to us in a thumbdrive and I brought them over to Batam to get one of the photos printed and framed up for my parents home. And it looked wonderful even when blown up!
Decor is perhaps one of the first things you had in mind the moment you envisioned how your wedding is going to look like and decor could eat up into your budget, BIG TIME. If you’re thinking of fresh flowers to be propped up all around the room and on the table, probably curtains draping from the top and the sides – all that is going to cost A LOT.
The more items required, the more items needed to be hung up, the more manpower and equipment needed = more cost to pay for.
So, this is probably one of the few things that you may not want to DIY too much as it may take significantly a lot of time and energy. My suggestion is for you to work out a deal with the caterer. Most caterers already have contacts for decor and keep in mind that before the food arrives, the decor must be ready.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense for you to have the major part of the decor done by the caterer’s affliate which helps you save time and energy, and possibly money too! While its entirely possible for you to engage your own decor team, it may not be wise to have to juggle coordinating between two different groups of people who have different goals in mind.
So, get a caterer and decor person under one person whom you can liase with and make your life easier.
For the smaller parts of the decor, you can order those online and have your family and friends help you out with the decor.
We engaged our decor through our caterer mainly for the rain curtains, dais, tables and chairs. The accessories to spruce up the wedding were purchased online via Ezbuy (before it had problems with Alibaba) and of course, were also prepared by By Definition Pte Ltd and the set up was done by The Gentlemen’s Club (groomsmen) as well as the bridesmaids who helped make the event a success.
Last but not least at No 16 – HENNA
Brides at Malay and Indian weddings are usually spotted with henna designs on their hands. The darker the shade of the henna, the more the wife loves the husband and for the Indians, hennas also serve as an ice-breaker for your first night!
We didn’t have to look far for someone we trust to do my wife’s henna as her very own sister is a henna artist!
So, if you’re looking for a henna artist, lookout for HennaBySharifah!
All said and done, the biggest takeaway towards having an affordable wedding if you haven’t already noticed is actually to DO IT YOURSELF!
It’s not that difficult to plan it yourself and hopefully, with whatever has been shared, you can save a lot of cost on hiring a wedding planner!
“WEDDINGS ARE EXPENSIVE!”
How many of us have heard of that phrase before? I’m sure most of us have and damn right you are.
‘The global wedding industry is now a $300 billion dollar industry. $55bn of that is the US wedding market, according to an IBISWorld report, and includes over 500,000 businesses, putting 750,000 people to work.’ – THIS WAS IN 2015. Imagine how much more the industry is worth today.
That said, that industry is one that is overarching and differs between places and customs.
An Indian wedding, for example, is traditionally paid for by the bride and her family. And the weddings are extremely elaborate consisting of not just the ‘extravagant clothings and jewellery but also because it lasts between five days and a week. The average Indian couple will spend one-fifth of the money they make in their entire lives on the event’.
Chinese weddings on the other hand, usually have two key events – the traditional ceremony in the morning and the wedding banquet which takes place usually in the evening on a weekend. For two years as a young teen, I worked at a hotel on weekends as a banquet waiter serving guests for wedding banquets. So, I often gawk in awe at how much it’d cost to hold such a wedding there.
So, how much?
What do you get for paying that much?
An 8 course dinner and a 1-2 nights’ stay at the hotel is quite the standard. And the price for inviting 500 guests in 2015 at a top hotel is about $112, 396.
So, if you don’t get invited to a Chinese wedding at a hotel. I don’t think you’d beat yourself too badly for it cause you’d need to put in about $200 for the red packet to pay for your meal.
So, what then of Malay weddings?
Are they really ‘$50 void deck weddings’? A term famously coined by one Ms Amy Cheong.
Malay wedding invites are typically for 1000 guests on each side of the wedding couple. So, when you put two families together, average guest list for a typical Malay wedding is 2000 guests. Having 2000 guests to be seated at the hotel is a crazy affair and if we’re going by the same rates as how the Chinese community pays for it, for 2000 guests at about $2000/table, it’s going to cost the both sides of the family a total of SGD$400,000!
Thus, void decks are a more sensible option to accomodate the large number of guests invited. That said, the cost for void deck weddings aren’t $50.
Perhaps, what is more appropriate is that $50 is the amount that should be paid by a couple attending since the price range of a void deck wedding ranges between $14,000 to about $20,000 depending on the range of food served, the type of entertainment engaged and the other professional services that accompany it.
Regardless which culture you belong to, weddings are typically an expensive affair but they can also be affordable IF you’re willing to scale down the pomp of the whole event or to just stick to, what’s necessary only.
If you’re planning towards an outdoor wedding, I’ll share with you in my next post how you can go about it and save money along the way.
Singapore’s PM, Lee Hsien Loong’s battle with his younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, has grabbed Singapore and the world by storm, and now, the whole country awaits for his Ministerial Statement when Parliament sits on July 3rd. It is the day when PM Lee has announced to Singaporeans that he has lifted the party whip and has allowed Members of Parliament to question him and the Committee which has been looking into the deceased, Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.
The final will, of which probate has been granted is suddenly deemed to not hold any legality, which is the point of contention made by Lee Hsien Yang and the cause of this whole national and international fiasco.
The specific portion of the will being debated being:
Mr Lee Kuan Yew wrote in paragraph 7 of his will: “I further declare that it is my wish, and the wish of my late wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 (‘the House’) be demolished immediately after my death or, if my daughter, Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out. If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the law, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants. My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private.”
So we understand a few things from Lee Kuan Yew’s will:
- He wants the house to be demolished immediately after his death or, if Wei Ling wants to stay, to be demolished after she moves out.
- If there are changes to the law, and rules & regulations bind the 3 children, then Lee Kuan Yew doesn’t want the house to be opened to anyone else except his children, their families and descendants.
Based on the above, the main point of debate by Lee Hsien Yang is:
- Why is there a need for a special committee to discuss on this matter before Wei Ling is even dead or moves out?
- Is there plans by the special committee to change the law or to enact new rules & regulations to ensure the house cannot be demolished? (This brings into question PM Lee’s abuse of power allegations)
Now, we have many other MPs who have joined in the fray against Lee Hsien Yang mentioning a few things:
- Who drafted the final will?
- Did Lee Kuan Yew had the mental capacity to understand his final will?
- Did Lee Kuan Yew have enough time (5 mins) to fully comprehend his final will?
Above and beyond what the issue is about, I would like to bring your attention to the upcoming Parliamentary sitting on July 3rd whereby PM Lee will address questions regarding this issue, thereby possibly invoking his Parliamentary Privilege.
For most of us who are unaware of what Parliamentary Privilege is, the statutes clearly state the following (I’ve selected several important paragraphs to ponder):
—(1) It shall not be lawful —
while in attendance on Parliament or any committee, to compel such person to attend as a witness in any court or tribunal or at any commission of inquiry or committee of inquiry or before any like authority empowered to summon witnesses.
—(1) No public officer shall be required —
—(1) For any dishonourable conduct, abuse of privilege or contempt, on the part of a Member, Parliament may —
direct that he be reprimanded or admonished in his place by the Speaker.
(2) Where a Member has been found guilty of abuse of privilege in respect of anything said in Parliament by him, Parliament may, by resolution and without prejudice to its powers under subsection (1), suspend him for such period as may be specified in the resolution from the privileges and immunities conferred by sections 3, 5 and 6 in so far as they relate to liability to civil proceedings.
(3) During the period specified under subsection (2) such privileges and immunities shall cease to apply to the Member who shall be liable to civil proceedings in respect of anything said by him in, or any written statement made by him to, Parliament.
(4) For any contempt on the part of a stranger, Parliament may —
- Whatever is being discussed in Parliament, cannot be tendered in court. This thereby puts Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling at a disadvantage.
- If PM Lee puts forth any evidence in Parliament, it cannot be used in court.
- It is going to be very difficult to find PM Lee guilty of abuse of power because if he was found guilty of abusing his power as alleged by Lee Hsien Yang, then Cabinet Minister who are sitting in the committee reviewing the Oxley Rd house may also be liable to the same offence and well, you think anyone in there gonna let that happen meh?
But the overarching question here is, and this is where I believe most Singaporeans are concerned with:
- The legality of the will – not in question.
- So, why not debate it in open court where the court can issue rulings on it when evidence is presented.
- If, this issue is debated in Parliament and nothing debated in there can be used in court, does this mean that Parliamentarians can be above the law? That exercising Parliamentary Privilege is a loophole to be above the law or to avoid actions by the court because if it can, then I don’t see how Singaporeans or the rest of the world can hold our Parliament and its Parliamentarians in high regard.
Water has always been a sticky issue for Singapore from the time of independence to today. In the past, the government had successfully conducted water rationing exercises which all Singaporeans were happy to partake in.
I remember my own experience in the 90s where my family kept enough water for our daily necessities. Unfortunately, the government of today is different from the government of yesterday. In the recent budget sitting, it was announced that the government will be raising water prices by 30%.
There wasn’t any lead up to it, no public education or campaign on water conservation (if there was, it certainly wasn’t successful) and then suddenly, Singaporeans are given the news that you are going to ‘need to bite the bullet’ and ‘bring up awareness of the importance of water’ by raising water prices.
This is of course, in contrary to a statement made by the previous Environment and Water Resources Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan who said, “I told them that I would consider it (water rationing), but at this point of time, fortunately, we don’t need to do it (water rationing). Our backs are not against the wall and we are not going to rush into a thing like that. Let’s focus on education, on passing the message (on conservation) and all of us doing our own part. That would be sufficient for now. I can give an assurance to Singaporeans that no matter how long this goes on, whether in the next few weeks or next few months, we’ll be all right.”
Of course, that was in 2014.
But here’s a statement from the current Environment and Water Resources Minister, Masagos Zulkifli in May 2016, ‘It is not necessary to conduct water rationing exercises for households at the moment, as there are already other outreach programmes to educate the public on water conservation’.
In the timespan of less than a year, Singaporeans are suddenly given the shocker. There was no water rationing exercises conducted nor was there any proper public education/campaign conducted and now, Singaporeans are told to feed the bill.
Lee Bee Wah also made to mention after the budget speech, “… but I am sure there will be families who need help so it is a good gesture to help” but I guess the Environment and Water Resources Minister had something else to say about it because according to him, ‘Handing out rebates to people who save water would be “counter-intuitive” to ensuring they pay for the cost of producing water’
If it is counter-intuitive to give rebates for saving water, it is similarly counter-intuitive to raise water prices if the reservoirs are not meeting our current demands. Because our money cannot raise water levels.
The government of yesteryears conducted water rationing exercises, which was extremely successful. (Because when you ration water, you store more water, isn’t that the primary objective?)
If your reason to raise water prices is to build future desalination plants or water treatment facilities, then Singaporeans would like to see the papers and the timeline in place. (If you want to borrow money from banks, they’d like to see your credit rating too right?)
At the moment, there is none and there is therefore no justification for an increase to raise water prices.
Several reasons have been given by PAP MPs but they have all been nothing but rhetorical, without any proper justification in place.
PUB needs to present concrete evidence of current levels of water consumption by homes and businesses separately, and the income generated from these as well as the expenses involved in maintaining the facilities including the salaries paid to the staffs.
And, what happened to ‘study the data collected to explore the potential for water efficiency benchmarks and good practice guidelines for the different sectors’ mentioned in 2016? Where is the data? Why wasn’t this data made public?
Public services, and its books, needs to be made transparent because the public have a vested interest.
“All of us have to do our part to conserve water. This way, our water resources can last longer. Every effort counts, and collectively, the amount of water saved will be significant.” – Minister Masagos, 9 May 2016
I guess it should be, ‘All of us have to do our part to pay for water. This way, we can buy more water and build more water desalination plants that currently we have no immediate plans for. Every effort counts, and collectively, the amount of money collected will be significant to pay …. ?
But you know what’s the easiest way to reduce water consumption. Immigration. Higher immigration = higher water consumption. So, slow down on immigration and we slow down our use of water. Move towards less labour/water intensive economies/industries. But that’s for another time to discuss.