A quick interview with Seah Kian Peng.
I live in the Bartley area which is in the Marine Parade constituency. I don't know THAT much about politics to be honest but enough to know that Seah Kian Peng is my MP... largely because we attended quite a few meet-the-people sessions. (I feel quite embarrassed to say this since our MP is not supposed to be our Chief Social Worker - but we had gone to see him cause we had some issues when renovating our place and we wanted to get the drains behind our houses covered and fenced up... he SO SUPER DUPER helpful about it!)
So anyway, here's my quick interview with the man himself.
Since your entrance into politics 10 years ago, how do you think you've improved the lives of the residents in this area?
The Braddell Heights estate today is a living example of a vibrant environment to live, work and play. I initiated WeCare@Braddell Heights outreach programmes to assist families in need, championed several upgrading projects, play grounds and fitness parks as well as converted the old bus interchange into an integrated social facility, Braddell Heights Community Hub. Overall the built environment is much better now where residents’ daily lives have been impacted positively.
One thing about our area is that there is a very different mix of private houses, HDBs and condominiums. How do you ensure that no one's left out when it comes to infrastructure upgrading?
In my walkabout or attending various events at private houses, HDBs and Condos and meet the people's session or through FB and emails, , I attend to, hear out and seek to find solutions to request from the residents. Every request is important, regardless the differentiated housing in this area. For the private estate, I am glad that they too are being upgraded - thanks to the Estate Upgrading Porgramme [EUP]
Why Braddell Heights? Do you think there is anything particularly unique here to us as a community?
A community is a place where one beholds a sense of belonging, and this inter-personal bond, trust and respect do not present itself overnight. Through these 10 years, my team and I have worked hard to engage residents, hear their needs and help them. We also aim to build a culture of neighbours looking out and taking acre of neighbours. I am heartened to have friends, residents and community coming together to provide for the food rations scheme, or for a local kopitiam owner to provide free weekly meals for needy households, or for a local hair saloon owner arranging for free haircuts for Pioneers, or lawyers providing pro-bono legal advice for residents and the list goes on. Building a caring community, gracious people is something we hope to see being realised in Braddell Heights.
In your numerous years with us, what are one/ some of the most fulfilling stories you've come across?
I have an Indian grassroot leader, Giriesh, who has been patronising the hokkien mee stall at Blk 237 Serangoon Ave 3 since he was a little boy. When I first visited the coffee shop, the hokkien mee lady was telling me stories of how Giriesh as a short little boy transformed into a fine young man just by eating her hokkien mee. And of course, the hokkien mee is one of the best in Braddell Heights [a little plug for the stall owner] :)
Beyond your work in Braddell Heights, what are your aims for Singapore as a politician? What do you hope we together as a country can achieve with the PAP?
I would like to develop a working model of political system that harnesses the best talents in the country to work for the people. The state of the U.S. Electoral system, its money politics, the blatant emotional manipulation of voters show that there is a high cost to a crude understanding of "democracy" as meaning only one man one vote. The scholar Daniel Bell wrote recently of something called "political meritocracy" where political positions are a matter of long training, sustained performance and rational deliberation. Singapore has some elements of this - we need to work harder to build an inclusive, rational political culture - one that may see more opposition but less of the toxic craftiness that is so pervasive today.