Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dr Tony Tan leaves Sembawang

Old Chong Pang RoadDr Tony Tan, erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister and long-time Member of Parliament for the Constituency of Sembawang / Sembawang GRC, will not contest in the next General Elections. He gave a poignant interview which was reported in the Saturday edition (1 April 2006) of the Straits Times. Reading those interviews brought back many memories for me. A photo (not the one above) of the road leading up to the old Chong Pang village (which is very far from its namesake in Yishun Town today) reminded me of days past when I would go up that road on Sunday mornings and have breakfast of fishball nooodles at the corner coffeeshop for 30 cents a bowl. All of it is now gone, replaced by spanking new HDB Apartments.

I first met Dr Tony Tan in person one Sunday morning, around GE time in 1979, when he came by my Church in Sembawang and shook hands with the congregation departing after Sunday worship service. I was too young to vote then, but he shook hands with one and all regardless. Over the years, he has proven to be a good MP and able Minister. Candidates aspiring to become MPs should take a couple of leaves out of his book of wisdom and experience garnered over 27 years, particularly his fair-mindedness. While it is normal for the ruling party to reward its supporters first, it doesn't mean that the government must make it difficult for those in the opposition. The opposition, after all, serves the people. Speaking on the issue of upgrading, he said,

...eventually, all the estates have to be upgraded because I think it would be bad for Singapore if we had some areas - whether it's Potong Pasir or Hougang or some others - where it degenerates - Straits Times Interview, 1 April 2006

While HDB may have its rules, those same rules are set by the incumbent government. So I am dismayed that HDB keeps pointing to prevailing policies and policy changes to defend itself on why it disallowed Hougang's opposition MP to upgrade its residents' homes. One can argue that HDB is following the rules, but who set those rules in the first place? At the end of the day, it may have right on its side, but it would have lost the hearts of the people.

Well, time has really past us by, too fast we always tend to feel. For all the good that Dr Tan has done for the country, I wish him well. He is still relatively young. God willing, I hope he will continue to play an active part in the development of Singapore as a nation.

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