Sunday, April 15, 2012

I miss my President Tony Tan

Dear Mr President, I miss you very much. It’s true.

It has been a long year since last May 2011—many incidents, many were unfortunately unpleasant and unnecessary, have unfolded themselves after our fate is sealed with the outcome of the election.

And it is through these unfortunate events that I miss your voice the most. For it hasn’t been that long since you mentioned putting Singaporeans first during your presidency campaign.

For the events that took place in the aftermath of the May election, I understand that you were not in the position yet, to speak as a representation of us.

Nevertheless, you were sworn into office in September. Few months later, 3 MRT disruptions that took place in December 2011, all within a span of 4 days, affecting more than 200 000 commuters during peak hours and these are the people who rely solely on the trains for their daily commute to work. They are not what Saw Phiak Hwa, former SMRT CEO has described, who have a choice to whether or not to board the trains. Commuters who could not indulge in a private car like you do but compelled to board the trains regardless of the state and the reliability of the trains.

While a trapped passenger broke glass panes for vital ventilation in the train carriage, stranded passengers ploughing through the dark tunnel to see the light at the end of it and wasting precious family time after work trying to find alternative means to get home safely…..disappointingly, as our elected president, your voice did not come through for your people.   

You were on an official visit to the UK at that point of time to reach out for fellow overseas Singaporeans, and even though it is true that there is nothing you could actually offer to salvage the situation, however, the least you could do, as the highest head of our nation, even though the prescribed president role is ceremonious, it is neither against the constitution to use the voice in you when you have one, to express your empathy, sympathy and concern towards the grievances of your people at such times.

Your silence during such time is therefore appalling.

While appreciating the fact that you took time to grace the 2012 Countdown Event at Marina Bay and without any doubt, one should always live forward in hope, it is unfortunately a little less joyous for the fact that the hot button issues that were strongly voiced out during the May election campaign on rising living-housing-medical costs and most importantly, our immigration policy, resurfaced promptly after the election in May 2011.

CPF minimum sum was raised to $131 000 in July, electricity tariffs increase followed suit in the same month, followed by public transport and taxi fare hike in Oct and Dec respectively.

On immigration policy, it ticks like a time-bomb, as various leaders dropped hints directly or indirectly, one to the extent of blaming tertiary educated women for reluctance to start family as the underlying reason for the need of big influx of immigration. We can be certain that EVEN more foreign workers will still be washed to our shores despite our strong protests last May.

These issues that will impact the future of our nation and people gave few reasons for us to remain hopeful for our future beyond 2011.

Singaporeans first, was what you emphasized during your campaign.

How would the tsunamis wave of foreign workers at all levels, convince Singaporeans that they are being prioritized in their very own homelands? Despite threats or repeated chants from current ministers and former ones, of the dire need of foreign workers, without which our nation and economy will be doomed, people feel otherwise on the grounds.

I remain unconvinced that you can choose to be silent, again, on this “life-threatening” issue for Singaporeans, in terms of jobs, housing and education competition.

In Mar 2012, a Chinese scholar whose 8 years of education are funded by our taxes, labelled Singaporeans as dogs in public. It was only just revealed in the Parliament before this incident took place, that each of such scholarship worth of $176 000 EACH YEAR is borne by taxpayers. Alarmingly, 2000 of these scholarships are given out each year. Each scholarship granted to an overseas student deprives a scholarship for our local students. Whether local students are up to the standard of the scholarships is one matter, but the fact is that one of these locally-sponsored foreign scholars, took to openly humiliating his host country, showing nothing but contempt and ingratitude of the monies that were invested in him, out of our pockets.

Not sure if you are aware of the bottled up resentment of this preferential treatment towards foreign students over local ones. It would be reassuring if we could hear you saying “Singaporean First” again on this matter.  

But you chose silence again during a time when people seek reassurance that they will not be marginalized by foreigners. It is a wonder again, what is meant by your definition of Singaporeans First.
I know you have to allocate your limited time for gracing various ceremonies, as well as the installation as the new Chief Scout, holding receptions for foreign dignitaries, making speeches and holding tea sessions and while not trivializing your positive influence in these involvements, for I firmly believe that being appointed as the Chief Scout is of equal importance as addressing our sentiments on disproportionate investment of our resources on foreign students/workers.

It would not be too difficult to squeeze a little time out of your busy schedule for your people, to address our concerns of the issues on the grounds that impact us personally and individually even though these may appear trivial to you, for a person who is granted a life-long social security that is made only available to the few privileged political holders and certain group of civil servants, may not be truly grasp the worries of the common civilians like us, on our uncertain future against the backdrop of the never-ending influx of immigrants and stubborn rising living costs.  

In short, I miss your voice.

Hougang SMC lost its MP in February 2012 and its seat has since then been vacant for almost two months. Whether you agree or disagree on the conduct of Hougang’s former MP is a non-issue over here, as a non-partisan president, your first and foremost concern should be the welfare of Hougang’s 25 000 residents. Did you or could you have a word with our PM to prompt him to move on swiftly with the by-election? If he could move on with Wong Kan Seng’s failure of keeping Mas Selamat in prison, he could likewise do the same with Hougang. Afterall, PM has the welfare of our people at heart.

Could you lend us your voice on this matter?

I miss you so much. For your silence is indeed excruciating.