The Choice – Open Electricity Market Retailers


With the Open Electricity Market or better known as OEM, Singaporeans can now make a choice of who they’d like to engage to provide electricity service to their homes.

At first glace, we’re all baffled at how these retailers have been able to charge much lower prices and/or offer discounted tariff rates against the SP Group prices. We’re being cheated is amongst those chief arguments that I’ve read and heard of, but does it really matter anymore now that there’s choice(s) for a change just like how the political scene is with Dr Tan Cheng Bock making a comeback.

I’m not one to jump into making decisions, not especially so when there’s a contract (tied down) and when there are significant costs involved.

So, I took my time to review majority of the retailers for their Fixed Price deals and came up with a chart.

oem comparison

Open Electricity Market retailer comparison

The above comparison is very simplistic but provides a good enough comparison between several retailers.

Based on the above, in terms of overall costing, ESPower provides the best value but you do need to pay a security deposit and there’s also an early termination fee which if you do decide to terminate before the end of your contractual period would mean an additional $140 to be added into the overall cost.

The next best value retailer would be GENECO. Whilst there’s no security deposit required, an early termination fee of $130 is still cheaper than ESPower resulting in an overall lower cost on the whole over the contractual period.

But the big difference between the two retailers is GENECO has a tie-up with NTUC which gives you 4000 points. There are, of course, other retailers that have a tie up with NTUC but none gives you an instant 4000 points.

I didn’t review some of the other retailers because using the OEM calculator, these were the retailers that were on the top in terms of pricing. iSwitch no doubt offers really low prices but on the whole, they seem to be much more expensive.

I’m not sure if the other retailers charge a service fee as it wasn’t available/listed in their factsheet unlike iSwitch but even so, the termination charge for iSwitch is quite a headache to deal with.

If you were wondering on meter readings, I wrote in individually to all the retailers and SP Group is still in charge of meter readings and submission of your monthly meters is still to SP Group.

So, end of the day, the biggest player is still the biggest winner from a business perspective. All they have to do is to decentralise their work and give it away to others and they still profit from it.

It sure feels like even if the ruling party loses, they’ll still be in control.

SPIZE UP NEA


The recent passing of Mohamad Fadli Mohd Salleh as a result of consuming tainted food catered by Spize River Valley outlet is not one to be taken lightly and one that is pretty close to home.

The deceased is a relative of my wife’s grandaunt.

My wife’s grandaunt was feeding my baby when she got the call about his passing, I was seated right next to her.

This post is not about who he is. I’ve never met him before but this post is about the possibility that such an incident could have been prevented.

About a week or so before the unfortunate incident on Nov 6 where 81 people had become ill having consumed food catered by Spize, my wife had ordered food to her office.

She too fell ill having consumed food ordered from there and the victim could have been her.

A report was lodged on NEA’s online platform and an officer subsequently called my wife back later to inform that they had conducted checks and informed that everything was in good order. No lapses were discovered.

But I have my doubts now that I’ve read the news report from TNP. It was reported by TNP, ‘Several hygiene lapses were found, including leaving food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing and slotting knives in the gaps of food preparation tables.’

Now, these lapses are operational lapses.

Lapses that were committed as a result of habit by the staff, and failed to be enforced by the management on duty at the outlet. A team of individuals who have utter disregard for cleanliness and safety in preparing food to be served to paying customers.

I don’t want to cast doubt on the ability of the NEA officer who went down to check after our complaint or to cast doubt on the ability of NEA as an organisation but to have a major incident occur within a short span of our complaint for a similar case is too close of a coincidence.

Questions continue to linger in my head because I honestly believe that such an incident could have been prevented.

Learning from the 2009 incident that occurred to Geylang’s rojak stall, word on the ground from that incident that because the shops are so closely placed to each other, one man’s lapse could have affected the other. In that case, it was widely speculated that the cause of death was rat’s fecal matter (pee). The rat, wasn’t from that shop, but had traveled from another’s.

I’m of the opinion that in this particular case, beyond just Spize, NEA should, whenever a food poisoning case is reported, to also check on neighbouring food outlets to ensure the entire vicinity of food outlets is clean and safe from such lapses.

It will no doubt cause inconvenience but in such a case where life and death is at stake, and with such a precedence from 2 cases, I believe it’s high time that more stringent action is taken.

Singapore’s Class Divide


Have you watched Channel News Asia’s latest ‘Regardless of Class’?

The show attempts to discuss social class differences and how Singaporeans classify one another with the end product being – class is a huge divide between society.  This, on top of Language, Race and Religion.

Watching the show, I was able to connect at a very personal with pretty much, almost everyone on the show; from the LOW SOCIAL CLASS to the HIGH SOCIAL CLASS. But before you begin to draw conclusions on me, I’d like to point you towards why I feel family upbringing is important to address this socio-economic class issue.

  • Based on the interview conducted with young children in the documentary, it is parents who paint the world for the child. Therefore, what parents say and how parents choose to react/respond/act to what happens around them will affect their child’s perception.

    And this is beyond just classification of individuals into socio-economic status, but more importantly in how the child chooses to interact with someone of a different language, race and/or religion.

That’s probably like a huge DUH, but more often than not, parents are the ones to be blamed for how children grow up to be.

Malays have a saying, “Melentur buluh dari rebungnya” in its’ literal translation means ‘To curve a bamboo, start from its shoot’. It’s meaning – the shaping of an adult begins from the time when he/she is still a child.

Now, back to the documentary.

Having had the opportunity to hang around high social class individuals whenever I attend events, one of the things I tend to notice when I engage in a conversation with them is the flow of questions follows as such:

– “What do you do for a living?”
– “What did you study in school?”
– “Which university did you study at?”
– “Which JC did you study at?”
– “Which secondary school did you study at?”
– “Do you drive?”

These questions seem to be the norm of conversation and I don’t blame them because as humans, we naturally want to form a connection with another person and so, we try to find commonalities with each other.

And it’s not just in Singapore that I’ve encountered such a line of questioning, even overseas when I’m visiting my parents or on holiday visiting friends.

So here’s the thing, social class is not a determinant of how a person is like, as a person. Social class is, for me, simply about how God dealt our cards in life.

So, how can we eradicate or minimize the gap between the classes?

I can only think of – SHARED EXPERIENCES and ATTITUDE.

What do I mean?

When I watched the documentary and it talked about cleaners and security guards. I could immediately connect with both occupations having worked as a cleaner when I was younger and being somewhat chatty, I tend to enjoy having chats with the first person whom I would usually come across whenever I have to enter a building.

That’s right, the SECURITY GUARD!

And yes, not all security guards were once security guards.

I’ve spoken to quite a number and they all have reasons for why they chose to be security guard.  I’ve met one security guard who chose to be a security guard because it was 5 minutes away from home which saves him transportation cost and he used to be a flight steward for 25 years.

And what about cleaners?

My next door neighbour was an estate cleaner (before Town Councils began hiring foreigners en masse). I grew up in his house, playing with his grandson and I often saw how hard he had to work being an old man. But he enjoyed his job and always had a smile on his face.

That experience taught me not to litter on the ground because someone’s family member was doing the cleaning. So, I learnt how to care for the environment through that experience.

And what about my own experience as a cleaner?

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I took time to talk to people I met to learn about their job while I was doing mine. For me, it was a lot about understanding what I had to do for them to make sure their job could be done easier.

I still enjoy talking to cleaners.

It could be as simple as just asking whether or not they’ve had their meals or what time they knock off from work. These things make their day. It makes them feel human.

The show also interviewed students from different streams and how it was challenging to interact with one another.

This was an issue on the show that I found it hard to understand because when I was a student, regardless of our streams, we were all hanging out almost always together. Exp, NA or NT, we were all playing soccer together and committing mischief together. And to a lot of peoples’ surprise, the express students in my school were almost as naughty or even naughtier than the NA or NT students!

The popular students in my sec sch were the gang members and since my exp classmates were gang members, they were popular for that. Not for how smart they were, but simply because they were ‘cooler’ as a gang member. These days, it seems that having branded good is a pre-requisite for being ‘cool’ rather than the personality and vibe that a person has.

Nonetheless, I never saw the divide growing up.

Up till today, I don’t feel the divide in class. Maybe because my friends who are more well to do than I am tend to share what they have in excess to ensure we can all enjoy the experience together.

But surely, it is just me. It was how I was raised and how I chose to live my life and live my experiences. And maybe, that’s why I often get mistaken to be a graduate or someone who is rich (money) but I’m neither, I’m just a guy who’s happily living life to the fullest within my means.

And no, I don’t come from a rich family either.

Born in a rental flat, grew up in a 3-room flat.

One thing I do agree about the show, luck COULD BE a determinant and that’s a HUGE COULD BE. Being connected to the right people is just as important too, this I would agree. Hence, networking opportunities are important. Even if you consider yourself to be from the low social class, there would be networking opportunities available.

As simple as participating in events in the community or attending courses or joining a group for a health activity.

So for me, the roadmap towards social mobility from LOW SOCIAL CLASS to HIGH SOCIAL CLASS is a stroke of luck, ample networking opportunities and of course, having good health. When you don’t have to spend on staying healthy, you can focus on working hard consistently without falling ill, saving up, spending within your means and wait for the right opportunity or luck to come knocking your way to send you up the ladder towards a different social class.

A change of health condition and luck could similarly send someone from a high social class down to low social class.

But what’s most important above it all, a positive attitude and a good outlook on and in life and having good manners. Having those things is true high social class and if you don’t have it, chances are, you’ll pass it down to your kids and no matter how wealthy you are, you’re just not classy.

Parliamentary Privilege, A Loophole To Being Above the Law?


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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Why is there a need for a special committee to discuss on this matter before Wei Ling is even dead or moves out?
  2. 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:

  1. Who drafted the final will?
  2. Did Lee Kuan Yew had the mental capacity to understand his final will?
  3. 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):

Freedom of speech and debate and proceedings
5.  There shall be freedom of speech and debate and proceedings in Parliament, and such freedom of speech and debate and proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court, commission of inquiry, committee of inquiry, tribunal or any other place whatsoever out of Parliament.
Exemption from liability in certain cases

6.

—(1)  No Member shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of any matter or thing which he may have brought before Parliament or a committee by petition, bill, resolution, motion, or otherwise or may have said in Parliament or in committee.
(2)  No person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of any act done under the authority of Parliament or the Speaker and within its or his legal powers or under any warrant issued by virtue of those powers.
Exemption from certain duties

9.

—(1)  It shall not be lawful —

(a)
to require any Member or officer of Parliament to serve as an assessor on any tribunal; or
(b)

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.

[43/2007 wef 01/11/2007]
(2)  The production of a certificate signed by the Speaker or the chairman of the committee shall be deemed sufficient proof of attendance on Parliament or the committee.
Privilege of witnesses

16.

—(1)  No public officer shall be required —

(a)
to produce before Parliament any paper, book, record or other document; or
(b)
to give before Parliament evidence on any matter,
if the President certifies that the paper, book, record or other document or the evidence relates to affairs of State and that the public interest would suffer by the production thereof.
(2)  Every person summoned to attend to give evidence or to produce any paper, book, record or other document before Parliament shall be entitled in respect of such evidence or the disclosure of any communication or the production of any such paper, book or record or other document to the same privilege as before a court of law.
(3)  Sections 125 and 126 of the Evidence Act (Cap. 97) shall not be applicable in any case where a public officer is so summoned to attend before Parliament.
Immunity of witness in respect of evidence

17.

—(1)  Without prejudice to section 16 and subject to subsection (3), no person who gives evidence before Parliament or any committee shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of anything which he may have said in such evidence.
(2)  Except in proceedings referred to in subsection (3), no statement made by any person in evidence before Parliament or any committee shall be admissible in evidence against that person in any civil or criminal proceedings or in any court.
(3)  Nothing in subsections (1) and (2) shall prevent or be deemed to prevent the institution or maintenance of any proceedings against any person for an offence under section 191 of the Penal Code (Cap. 224) or for any offence under this Act in respect of any evidence given by him before Parliament or any committee.
Punitive powers of Parliament

20.

—(1)  For any dishonourable conduct, abuse of privilege or contempt, on the part of a Member, Parliament may —

(a)
commit him to prison for a term not extending beyond the current session of Parliament;
(b)
impose upon him a fine not exceeding the sum of $50,000;
(c)
suspend him from the service of Parliament for the remainder of the current session of Parliament or for any part thereof; and
(d)

direct that he be reprimanded or admonished in his place by the Speaker.

[23/86]

(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.

[23/86]

(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.

[23/86]

(4)  For any contempt on the part of a stranger, Parliament may —

(a)
commit him to prison for a term not extending beyond the current session of Parliament;
(b)
impose upon him a fine not exceeding the sum of $50,000;
(c)
exclude him from Parliament and the precincts thereof for the remainder of the current session of Parliament or for any part thereof; and
(d)
direct that he be reprimanded or admonished at the Bar of the House by the Speaker.
Okay, so that’s about it from the statutes about the Parliamentary Privilege.
So, what it looks at the moment is that PM Lee may be exercising his Parliamentary Privilege rather than to take this issue to court because:
  1. Whatever is being discussed in Parliament, cannot be tendered in court. This thereby puts Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling at a disadvantage.
  2. If PM Lee puts forth any evidence in Parliament, it cannot be used in court.
  3. 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:

  1. The legality of the will – not in question.
  2. So, why not debate it in open court where the court can issue rulings on it when evidence is presented.
  3. 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.

Lumba Bahasa & Budaya Gerek!


Lumba Bahasa & Budaya Gerek! – a Malay Language & Cultural Amazing Race conducted in conjunction with Bulan Bahasa was recently held on 3rd September 2016. The race, a first for Bulan Bahasa and also a first for By Definition Pte Ltd attracted 10 teams; 3 teams from Ping Yi Secondary School, 1 team from MENDAKI, several teams sign up online as well as an all-Chinese team.

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FLAG OFF at Cairnhill CC

The unique mix of participants and station masters (5 Stations Masters were students from Northland Secondary School) made this event an extremely memorable one.

Teams were tasked to complete a mission of completing a Mystery Quatrain by accumulating missing letters at each station they complete. The race begins with a location of the photo they are supposed to head to. These locations, were carefully chosen, as they were a reflection of Singapore’s past and Malay history, and are locations that not many Singaporeans visit today.

Having successfully made their way to the locations, each station requires teams to complete a 3-stage activity:

  1. Photo/Videovity
  2. Infovity
  3. Activity

Photo/Videovity

Participants are required to strike specific poses or to re-enact a scene from a movie, reflective of the golden era of filming in Singapore in the 50’s. Participants were then tasked to upload the photos and videos to their Instagram account (who doesn’t have one right?) and to include the hashtag, #LumbaGerek.

Having successfully completed this, Stations Masters will then allow them to proceed to…

Infovity

Teams will be posed questions about the locations they are at and they will be required to search for the answers either through using their mobile phones (why not capitalise on technology anyway!) or to search information boards located close by.

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Once they get the correct answers, they proceed on to…

Activity

This is where fun part is.

Because the activities are all about the Malay Language & Culture, it requires participants to be adept at different aspects of it including but not limited to quatrains, poetry, food, games and many more!

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Eventually, all participants did complete the race and reassembled back at National Museum of Singapore, the location of Bulan Bahasa launch for the prize giving ceremony.

Impressively, our all Chinese team came in 2nd place!

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Runner-Up with Ms Julina Khusaini, General Manager, Malay Heritage Foundation

Now that this event is over, we’ve already started to receive plenty of word from participants whom most were first time participants in any Bulan Bahasa event that they enjoyed themselves, learnt a lot through the race, felt connected back to the Malay community and can’t wait for the next edition!

We’d also like to give our thanks and appreciation to Malay Language Ambassador, Riz Sunawan for joining us to receive participants at the final pit stop and of course to all our sponsors and supporters, Malay Language Council, Malay Language & Learning Promotion Committee, People’s Association Family Life Champion and Krave Cafe.

To view the official event photos, visit By Definition’s FB page here.

To view photos and videos of participants, search #LumbaGerek on Instagram.

For enquiries, feedback and collaboration, you can email info@bydefinition.net or drop us a FB message.

Thank you once again to all participants, sponsors, supporters and partners.

 

Singapore National Day 2016


HAPPY NATIONAL DAY SINGAPORE!

imgsingapore-national-day-parade-2016

Another eventful year for Singapore as we cross into 51 years of statehood independence and what a journey it has been for Singapore. Our forefathers have toiled this land to make this country a safe and prosperous one – a place where everyone can live, work and play (Pokemon GO) safely.

I am no doubt happy to be a Singaporean, as much as Singaporeans continue to remain in search for our unique identity. The debate between Singlish and English continues, and what do we make out of the strict ethnicity quota that hasn’t changed much as well as battling the evils of what globalisation has led us to (indiscriminate racism on social media and acts of terrorism through proxy funders).

But beyond the constant search for our Singaporean identity and mine (being of mixed ethnicity can get extremely confusing), the safety and security that this country has provided us all remains at the forefront of envy among others in the world. That is something that we cannot take for granted. We continue to be a place that is safe for our young and old to walk the streets at night compared to most countries regionally, our education system continues to be extremely rigorous in producing scholars and we continue to be a place where everyone can have freedom of worship.

True that there is a lot more that we could work on to become better than what we are today – a better pace of living, better work-life balance and to be a more affordable place to live in with better living wages to enjoy some of the best things in life when we choose to retire.

But as the National Day Parade yesterday has shown, we frequently still do travel back in time to revisit our historical past. We are a country of people that remains sentimental at heart, fillial to our ancestors and elders, and that helps to keep us grounded to who we really are.

Of course, while there were comments about the Badang narrative that was potrayed, I felt that what was more important is that there were those of us who knew the story and were trying to put things right to it. We believe in the right to potray what is truthful. There were contentions about Badang having tattoos, being a bit too muscular and flying at that but none of us were arguing about the legitimacy of his story because we know and we understand that Badang did exist.

So, I am proud and I am happy that Singaporeans were stepping up to defend Badang’s authenticity (looks, storyline, etc) and I wish that more people would step up to talk more about the other stories that we have in Singapore because the Singapore narrative is so much more beyond Sang Nila Utama and Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore holds stories to so much more history that if one decides to venture out in search for it, you will be amazed at how much history there is (if you’re really keen on venturing out to these places and learning about them, give this a try Lumba Bahasa & Budaya Gerek).

More than just stories about Singapore, the stories that one can discover will make you realize how connected we are to our closest neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia, and how much we actually share our history with theirs. It’s a lot like the prequel begins in Indonesia, then the plot thickens in Singapore, with the sequels in Malaysia.

But moving beyond our history and shared history, we need to create new stories, we need to create new heroes or have people stepping forward, we need to create new figures or have figures that we can all stand together behind and support. And I’m not talking about politicians or figures of state, but it’s the story of the everyday Ali, Muthu, Ah Tan or John that we can all connect with – the story of how a young Singaporean saves his country like the story of Hang Nadim, or the story of an immigrant who roots himself in Singapore and puts Singapore on the map like Badang.

We need this to move forward and to do that, we need to stop arguing endlessly over the small things, agree to disagree and start looking at the big picture, of how we are positioned in relation to the world and work together hand in hand, locals and foreigners, putting aside our differences but align our commonalities for what is most important to us all – and if you ask me what that could be, I’m guessing it’s HAPPINESS.

True to the words of Pak Zubir Said when he composed our National Anthem,

‘Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia’

Let us all, Singaporeans head towards happiness

because if we aren’t happy, then really, what do we want?

PREPARING FOR THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTIONS – ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES


This past General Elections provided me first hand, on the different roles that are crucial to the success of any candidate or party. Let me break it down for you in terms of the roles and responsibilities:

Campaigning

Campaigning

ELECTION AGENT

The right hand man of the candidate. The election agent plays an extremely crucial role and you need to have the following:

– GOOD ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS

– GOOD COORDINATION SKILLS

– GOOD INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

– RESOURCEFUL

– GOOD ADMINISTRATION SKILLS

Your job is basically to manage all expenses of the candidate which needs to be kept properly. To help organise the schedule as well as plans for the candidate. To coordinate the schedule that has been planned. To manage people that the candidate needs to be in touch with such as media. To be adept at finding resources and be good at negotiating to get the best deal out of it.

PRINCIPAL ELECTION AGENT

Same as above but this person is the OVERALL IN-CHARGE of ALL THE ELECTION AGENTS in the team. In the case of Singapore, we have the GRC. So, the Principal Election Agent’s job is to manage the other Election Agents and ensure things run smoothly and according to what has been planned.

Besides the ELECTON AGENT and PRINCIPAL ELECTION AGENT, the other roles which will go towards the success of the candidate and help ease the candidate’s stress level, as well as help the candidate conserve and focus his energy on the campaign are the following roles.

MEDIA MANAGER

Each candidate should preferably have a media manager. It is basically someone who will help to manage the media for the candidate. This person should help the candidate receive as much media coverage as possible and to ensure content on released by the concerned media is favourable to the candidate. Media forms include mainstream media as well as social media.

Preferably someone with experience from the media industry with friendly connections.

PHOTOGRAPHER

Each candidate should also have a personal photographer tagged with him. The job of the photographer is to take photos that the media would have otherwise missed as well as to ensure that photos uploaded to social media pages of the candidate are favourable and provides an alternative to photos that other media outlets may upload that may jeopardise the candidate.

SPEECHWRITER

The candidate is busy campaigning during the day and may not have time to prepare his own speeches. The speechwriter helps the candidate by going through the news first thing in the morning, updating the candidate on the news that may be of concern and preparing the speech that the candidate needs to deliver at the rallies that will address issues highlighted in the news by the opposing candidate or information highlighted by residents/constituents.

RUNNER

Each candidate should preferably have at least 2 runners. The job of the runner is basically to assist in any other duties that is required by the Election Agent or the candidate. This could be as simple as buying meals or being the advance party in block visits, to prepare constituents to meet the candidate.

CONCLUSION

With all these that is required for a candidate. Where does one learn and hone his skills in being an ORGANISER, COORDINATOR, MEDIA PERSON, SPEECH WRITER, RUNNER?

That’s where being in Grassroots Committee helps you hone the skills.

Being in Grassroots, you’d need to learn to be a runner, you’d also need to learn how to coordinate and organise events and if you’re really good with people and with words, you get to hone your skills to manage the media and be in the contact with the media frequently.

If you’re good with language, very likely you’ll get to the opportunity to write Press Releases and this is where you get to hone your skills as speech writer as well. Well, not exactly, but at the very least, you’ll know what kind of information the media needs and the knowledge to craft proper words is important as well.

And the photographer?

Well, the more events you’re used to, the more you’ll know how and when to position yourself to take those good shots that could tell the story for the candidate without any need for words.

So, when someone says preparation for the next elections begins now, it really does begin now. If you’re really keen to get started and prepared for the next elections in any of these roles, let me know!

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2015 – MY REFLECTIONS


If you believe in something, stand up and fight for it.

I’ve always been the kind of person with such a strong conviction in my beliefs. Like how when I was 5 years old and all my cousins said that it was impossible to go down a flight of stairs with two bicycles, I believed I could and I tried. It worked for the first 2-3 steps before I took a tumble and landed at the bottom of the stairs with two bicycles on top of me.

Stupid? Maybe or perhaps I just hadn’t figured out the right balance to do it back then.

Or perhaps like how someone once told me that I could never go to University of California Los Angeles. Well, I didn’t end up there as a student but I ended up in University of California Irvine as a teaching assistant and advisor to a student group. What made it even more sweeter was that it was on a fellowship by the United States Department of State.

So, now that the dust has somewhat settled on the recent Singapore General Elections, while my team nor party won any seats in parliament, I am certainly proud that we took a huge step to stand up for what we believed in – in Democracy, in speaking up for the voices of Singaporeans and in competing as fairly as we could, even if the decks were stack against us.

I remember when I was in Secondary School, my friends used to say, “Cakap tak guna, tembak tak kena” (No use talking, won’t hit the target when you shoot) or perhaps an easier term more familiar with most Singaporeans would be “No Action, Talk Only”. I always believed that if you wanted to make a change, you’ve got to be the one to make that first move. It has to be an action and not mere words.

Looking back on this experience, I am happy with my performance. I am happy with my team’s performance. In fact, I am happy with the performance of most, if not all the parties that came in to give the People’s Action Party a good fight. We gave options to Singaporeans and we let Singaporeans hear their voices.

Of course, the loss could be attributed to many factors as many have already mentioned, the sympathy over Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s death, SG50 celebrations, pay raises for the civil service, SG50 handouts and the ever controversial, New Citizens voting.

That said, I also realise that Singaporeans are perhaps a group of people that would choose safety and security – a believe that perhaps only a minority would disagree with (especially entrepreneurs) because businessmen like myself have the belief that in order to achieve greater things, one has to be willing to step out of their comfort zone.

Like how, if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs didn’t drop out of school to work on growing their projects, we wouldn’t have seen the Personal Computer or Apple products in the last two decades. But these are things are most Singaporeans aren’t willing to pursue because these are ideals from the west, not an oriental culture.

Most Singaporeans are comfortable with their full-time jobs and as long as they can come home, put food on the table and take well-deserved holidays once in a while, cafe hop and receive pay increments, they are a satisfied lot. Inconveniences like having more people living in Singapore, frequent train breakdowns, raises in GST/ERP, language barriers with service staff are minor inconveniences which most Singaporeans can live with by posting their rants on Facebook.

Moving forward, while most of my friends are devastated by how Singaporeans have voted, I hope those who turned up in support for Workers Party or Singapore Democratic Party rallies in huge numbers would look towards volunteering for these parties because without good ground support, every elections will remain the same.

People speak of machinery and they don’t realise that machinery comes from people. The PAP has a good machinery in place with mainstream media, PCF Kindergarten, People’s Association and PAP branches, all of which are activated the moment General Elections is called and which constantly engage the public throughout the entire 4-5 years prior to the next General Elections.

So, unless the opposition parties is able to build their alternative grassroots to counter what People’s Association has and to begin developing their own Kindergartens which also acts as a party branch, opposition parties will remain on the fringes and will never be seen, no matter how hard they work the ground because they won’t be seen at events and the mainstream media won’t cover their events.

The future of Singapore is really in the hands of Singaporeans, not the PAP nor any of the other political parties.

My suggestion is really for Singaporeans to take an active role in shaping Singapore to be what they want it to be through activism. Volunteering for causes they believe in and standing up for what they believe in beyond just simply expressing them online because clearly, online noise is only rants if it doesn’t translate to what is being seen on the ground.

So, take action for your own future, for the future of your children.

As how George Bernard Shaw put it, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.

Political Reform For Singapore


The National Day Rally is going to be held this coming 23rd August. I have no doubt for sure that perhaps in the week after or so, parliament will be dissolved and we will begin to see political parties campaigning to win the hearts of the voters to put them into parliament for the next 5 years.

All parties have been working hard at looking for new candidates whom they feel can best represent the party and the people they seek to serve at the respective wards that they are contesting for.

And as how the last elections has shown, Singaporeans are less interested in the affairs of the Town Council but are more concerned at what happens at the national level. Elections, is no longer just about municipal issues but national issues.

More than just that, we need the right candidates who can represent the people at the national level.

If anything, I believe that we need to have a political reform in terms of how elections are held. It should no longer be about representing wards alone. It should be about representing the people. What we need is a parliament that works like council members, elected not by wards but by the entire nation or by the community that they seek to represent.

For example, to have a good representation in parliament, we should perhaps try to work on this:

ALL Singapore Malays vote for a selected number of Malay Candidates who have been nominated by their organisations or have chosen to step forward to represent the community.

For instance, AMP, MUIS, MENDAKI, PERGAS, PERTAPIS, etc.. each nominates one member from their organisation whom they feel can best represent the Malay community. If these guys accept the nomination, then they go on to campaign to win votes of the Malay community for the available number of seats and these guys will represent the Malay-Muslim Community.

Let’s say there are 14 seats available for the Malay-Muslim Community and there are 30 guys contending for the seat. Voters can mark the ‘X’ on 14 of these names/faces who they want to represent them.

This way, no candidate shall be subjected to party politics and will truly represent the people and they can represent the people best because there will be diversity in terms of opinions and alliances. These guys, are then the Malay Members of Parliament.

For those individuals who are not nominated, they can campaign as well to win votes. Campaigning can be managed by the Election Department who will organise the ‘Campaign Tours’ to the different neighbourhoods to allow candidates opportunities to speak. Each candidate given a specific amount of time for their speeches. This puts additional pressure on candidates to be concise with what they want to campaign for and not beat around the bush.

Now, after they win and what about the choice for a Minister of Malay Muslim Affairs. The candidates representing the Malay Muslim community can discuss amongst themselves as council members and elect a person whom they feel best fits the job.

What about Town Councils?

Leave the Town Council management to private firms who have no political affiliation or interest. Town Council managers will have to submit their bids and proposals on how they wish to improve the town to the Ministry for National Development who can issue tenders.

In assessing the suitability of the Town Council to be issued or recontracted, MND can have a KPI or checklist or even conduct household surveys to assess performance of each Town Council. Town Councils that fail to meet a certain percentage gives a good red flag that they are perhaps undeserving of a contract extension.

And what then of the People’s Association and it’s CC Advisers?

Leave that to the staff and passionate volunteers of People’s Association. In doing so, we can eradicate party lobbying where volunteers feel obliged/indebted to help/vote their Advisers/MPs or are interested to volunteer because they’d like to be able to receive benefits (whatever that may be). 

I know I’ve only mentioned an example for the Malay-Muslim community but this can be replicated for the rest of the communities and causes as well because at the end of the day, we really want to vote for someone who knows the community really well, is committed to serving the community WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR, FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY (Borrowed this from the Singapore Police Force pledge).

I certainly do not want to vote for someone whom I know eventually is bounded by party politics and has their hands and mouth tied from speaking up, when that is exactly what they should be doing.

MAJULAH SINGAPURA – GOLDEN JUBILEE


5 years ago, around the same time, I blogged about my hopes and dreams for Singapore as part of the National Day Celebrations (‘Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag’).

In case you missed it, here’s what I wanted:

“As a Singaporean, one of my dreams is for us to be able to experience a state which encourages the following:

  1. FREE DOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION BEFORE AND AFTER SPEECH & EXPRESSION HAS TAKEN PLACE
  2. A MORE ACCURATE AND MENTALLY PROVOCATIVE REPORTING OF NEWS BY MEDIA THAT IS IMPARTIAL and
  3. FOR THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT AND IT’S AGENCIES TO BE MORE ACCEPTING AND OPEN TO CRITICISM FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTAND THAT CRITICISM, WHEN CONSTRUCTIVE SHOULD BE SEEN AS A MEANS TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT

I also have a dream for all Singaporeans:

  • TO STAKE A CLAIM IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE STATE AND NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO THE POLITICIANS WHOM WE HAVE VOTED FOR”

How different have my views been over the past 5 years?

Not much really. I still believe in each and every single one of those hopes and dreams that I spoke of. More than just that, I actually have one more to add.

I would really like to see Singaporeans learn more about one another, our cultures, our ethnicities, our faiths, so that we can better engage foreigners who come to live, work and play in Singapore and make this country a better place for not just Singaporeans, but also for them as well.

Government policies aside, we can exercise our vote this coming General Elections, but as a community, a nation, we need to show the rest of the world that we are loving, caring and have the ability to accept people of all backgrounds.

Why am I so focused on this?

Because over the past few years, Singapore has had to deal with many issues related to conflicts arising out of Interfaith-Intercultural misunderstanding or miscommunication (Amy Cheong, Anton Casey, Cook A Pot of Curry). But these issues are not just exclusive to Singapore.

This issue affects each and every single country, globally, all around the world.

In the US, you have had a non-white Miss America winner which caused a huge ruckus. To quite a significant number of ignorant Americans, the typical American had to be blonde and white, which in my personal experience, is far from it. And even for those who have been living in America for a long time or are even Americans, they still face issues that recur time and again (Blackface).

These are issues related to ethnicity, culture and to some extend, faith.

Since 2014, I have been actively trying to engage the community through my own personal endeavour to spread the importance of interfaith-intercultural understanding, a personal commitment arising out of my fellowship in the US. Nonetheless, an issue I strongly believe in and champion for.

Achieving Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Through Games

“Achieving Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Through Games”, National Day Celebrations 2015, Hwa Chong Institution

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have been given to give lectures and talks on this issue. More than that, I hope that the audience I have engaged in, have a better understanding of the dangers of what social media can do to them. Going forward, we all need to learn how to “RESPOND, NO REACT” to situations that invoke our emotions. We need to rationalise the situation and provide the best response that will create positive outcomes not just for us, but for everyone.

In the words of Zubir Said,

“Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura, Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia”

(Let us all, the citizens of Singapore, move towards happiness)

“Cita-cita Kita Yang Mulia, Berjaya Singapura”

(Together with our noble dreams, hopes, ambitions, success Singapore)

“Marilah Kita Bersatu, Dengan Semangat Yang Baru”

(Let us all unite, with renewed hope/energy)

“Semua Kita Berseru, Majulah Singapura”

(Let us all proclaim, Onward Singapore)

We all need to internalize the lyrics of our National Anthem and work towards it. The lyrics resonate with us even today as we struggle with issues and as we seek to find renewed hope/energy. But we can only achieve success and happiness, if our ambitions, dreams and hopes are noble.

So, my dear Singaporeans, this National Day, let us focus on these lyrics. Let’s remember this lyric as we enter the General Elections and vote for the candidate/party that will be able to bring everyone together to achieve our noble dreams, ambitions and hopes for our success and happiness, and most importantly, to bring Singapore forward.