Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ageing and willing

Just the other day, I got a lift from a person I met for the first time around a 'yusheng' dinner at a posh Chinese restaurant. We had an interesting chat around the table, from which we discovered that we shared knowledge of several people in our profession - talk of a small world.

He dropped me off at Potong Pasir MRT station. As we neared this Opposition-held ward, I casually mentioned Mr Chiam See Tong. He has been known to be in bad health since a minor stroke he sustained a few years ago. He hasn't made his presence felt in Parliament for a long time now, not like when he first got into Parliament and got ridiculed for his stuttering speeches. He spoke in Parliament again last week. His manner of speaking was again a topic of discussion. He was slow, very slow, but he spoke, nevertheless. He puts to shame many other MPs who merely put in perfunctionary speeches in Parliament. Quite frankly, I never thought that Mr Chiam would ever speak in Parliament again, but I, together with Singapore, were proven wrong.

No, he wasn't the fiery speaker, never was anyway. And yes, he was often ignored, even in his heyday. But he always came across as ever sincere, earnest and honest. Some would add naive. Probably not the type who will built up an opposition alliance of any substance, as history seems to have shown.

I am happy that he spoke. It was probably an inconsequential speech. But he is showing the rest of us that when it matters, however hard it is personally, we should make our point and presence felt, never mind the ridicule and talk behind the back. I haven't got what he has - courage and honesty. You've got to be honest with yourself, and if Mr Chiam believes in cobbling a GRC together in the next GE, I wish him well. He will probably try his best to keep his word, come what may. He's an old but willing warhorse that you'd feel confident of supporting, somehow. Instead of playing dead and living on sympathy, he has shown why he is still the MP for Potong Pasir after 24 years, in spite of the repeated assaults from the PAP juggernaut over this same period.

Source: Chiam See Tong Friendster Account

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