Sunday, 1 May 2011

5 questions with: Tin Pei Ling and Nicole Seah

The full Q&A with the rookie PAP and NSP candidates for Marine Parade GRC
by Sheralyn Tay and Tan Weizhen
Q1. What is the single biggest concern you have about Singapore?

Ms Tin Pei Ling: The single biggest concern I have for Singapore is the long term sustainability of the development of Singapore. I think there are a few dimensions to it. First and foremost while we don't want to just focus on the economy, I think it is very important because without the overall success of the economy, we won't have jobs for our people. Without jobs, without income, it is very hard for Singaporeans to lead a good quality of life or to even survive. If you ask me what is the biggest concern, it is the survival of Singapore; not just domestically, but regionally and internationally. It is about ensuring there are jobs and a future for Singaporeans - for us, our children and our children's children

Ms Nicole Seah: I think the single biggest concern I have about Singapore, and this is the same concern that propelled me to join the Opposition, is the fact that we are growing so fast economically as a nation and in the process we are leaving many Singaporeans behind. I think that the aim of a government is to look out for the welfare of the people. I'm not advocating a welfare state where people become overly dependent but I think the current approach to taking care of the disenfranchised in society is minimalist, and I think that a lot more can be done to at least ensure that their basic needs are being met. 

Q2. At what point would you draw the line between useful online criticism and ranting you would ignore?

Ms Tin: For online discussions, if it is for personal stuff, then I think these can be put aside. What is more important is the discussion of issues. There is a lot of space and potential to do that online. Many of the younger generation spend a lot of time online, and this is an avenue whereby it would be useful to engage the younger ones. Because online is anytime, anywhere you have connection - 3G for example, you can do it anywhere. I think it is an important area that we should not neglect. At the same time what is on the ground is very important. Physically we are here, the problems municipally are here. We see for ourselves, we hear for ourselves, we talk to residents. I think that is very important, so I would not say online is the sole important avenue.

Ms Seah: I am very mindful of all the comments I receive online. I know that a lot of them are quite positive, but at the same time I do pay very strong attention to the neutral or the negative comments because I feel they have identified my gaps and that is how I can improve. However I draw the line at personal attacks; I draw the line at comments that doubt my capability based on very personal things such as the way I talk, the way I dress, the way I look. These are things that I do not entertain as constructive feedback. 

I would not respond to such comments at all. I haven't had the time to respond to all the comments but I do take note of the constructive feedback, and I do work it into the way I present myself. For example, there have been quite a few comments saying, 'all of you have correctly identified the problems facing Singapore today as a result of the policies, but what are the proposals to counter this?'. This is something I have been trying to formulate - we already have a manifesto in place but I need to share more of our manifesto at the rally so as to let people know what our solutions are, and that alternative parties do have viable solutions to be presented.

Q3. Should the voting age be lowered?

Ms Tin: It is a matter of calibration. Where do you draw the line? For now it has always been set at 21. Perhaps we can commission a study and see at which point - from a human development point of view - is a person mature enough to decide for the long term. As long as you are clear about what you want in the future, that is the right age. Twenty-one is probably an arbitrary criteria, in my view. If you ask me whether it should go up or go down, I can't say for sure until there is a study done.

Ms Seah: I think it's a pity that even at the university level there are many who are still quite politically apathetic, or at least that was the feeling I got from my time at NUS. I think in other developed democracies there are a lot of kids who take an interest in politics at a younger age. But I think the tide is changing, I think this elections there are younger Singaporeans who are not eligible to vote but they are already concerned about the issues at hand. They are taking the time to read up and find out more. That's a very encouraging sign. 

I feel that in junior college and polytechnic level, the kind of learning they go through is based on a lot of questioning, a lot of reasoning, a lot of critical thinking. I think by then they should be able to develop their political views already. It would be a pity if at age 18 they are mature enough to think critically about other things but yet politics is still off limits to them. I do think that the voting age should be lowered to 18.

Q4. What do you think constituents above the age of 50 are most worried about?

Ms Tin: There are two things. One is in terms of the infrastrucure. The elderly are physically older, so the way they move is slower and they need a lot of care and attention. We need to make sure that their access to amenties and facilties is easy. In Macpherson we have done a lot of upgrading in the past years, and we have almost completed all the barrier-free access across Macperhson to help our elderly move around, interact with people and better use the facilities and services. The other thing is to help them cope with the cost of living. Many are retired or retiring. Especially those who are retired, they have no source of income. A lot of them come from lower income families so they are also struggling to make ends meet. So financially, it can be a challenge. I think these are the two areas of concern. It is not just in Macpherson, but nationally as well.

Ms Seah: After doing our rounds the feedback we have gotten is that old people are very worried about falling ill. I think they are starting to recognise that healthcare costs are getting more and more exorbitant in Singapore. As a result they are very afraid to fall sick and be a burden to their families. On top of that the rising cost of living is another issue. This eats into their daily expenses for their very staple necessities, like the food they need to eat at the hawker centres, things like that. So I think that they do feel the pinch that has arisen from the recent inflation and tax increases.

Q5. (To Ms Tin) What do you appreciate most about the Opposition today?

Ms Tin: I think they are definitely more more courageous today. I can see that out of the 87 seats, 82 are contested. I think that is a good sign. Having a contest is something we should encourage. At the end of the day it is a contest of ideas. We should definitely give the option to Singaporeans. It is also in a way a report card of the party as well, to see if we have done well in the past years. I think it is something that is valuable and important

Q5. (To Ms Seah) What do you appreciate the most about the PAP today?

Ms Seah: I think one thing we cannot deny - they have developed Singapore from a small fishing village to a robust economy. And I think they have done a good job putting Singapore on the world map, so events such as F1 have drummed up a fair bit of interest overseas. I do feel the spillover effect as a result of this, where you have tourists coming in, making use of the amenities. I do still feel that more can be done for the local merchants during this time, as there are some people who still complain traffic to their shops remains slow during this period and it affects their business. So I think more measures can be put in place. But overall, events like F1 have done well to raise the visibility of Singapore as a country.

The interviews were conducted separately and face to face.


No comments:

Post a Comment