Fresh-faced Nicole Seah was my favourite new political star in the Singapore 2011 General Elections. Not because she was pretty, but because she spoke sense.
There are Singaporeans from the pioneer generation and those born before the 80s who personally witnessed and went through the narrative of our late founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore Story – from third world to first. Their lives improved significantly and they give the PAP their stamp of approval.
Then, there are those like me and younger ones like Nicole and Kevryn Lim who grew up with a different People’s Action Party (PAP) – led by our second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, followed by our current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.
As the population becomes more educated and affluent, the next levels for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs set in. Now, we want freedom of speech, human rights, among other less tangible wants compared to a shelter over our head and three meals a day. In this respect, the PAP of the past falls short and the new PAP team of today still falls short.
For those of us born after the 80s, what we saw was a decline in the standard of living, particularly during the previous five years leading in to 2011 when Singapore spread it’s legs wide open like a loose prostitute, welcoming truckloads and planeloads of foreigner from all over the world to achieve PAP’s goal of a 10 million population. This was done without care for housing, transport and other infrastructural improvement to accommodate the large influx, creating lots of tension and anxiety with the resident population. This is the Singapore youths like Nicole Seah and Kevryn Lim grew up in.
This was probably what led the fire in the belly to grow.
Yet I do not think they are the same.
I was looking forward to Nicole contesting in the upcoming election again, but it seems she has ruled out the possibility. At just 28 this year, she is a political veteran who has taken on a GRC led by an ex-prime minster and actually came close to winning.
Kevryn Lim, 26, on the other hand, is a newbie like Nicole was in 2011.
However, one thing many failed to note was that Nicole’s support drew very much from the hatred against her perceived rival in the PAP, Tin Pei Ling. Whatever Pei Ling’s failings then was Nicole’s gain and Pei Ling was an epic fail for a new candidate.
During the 2011 election, the National Solidarity Party (NSP), was often jokingly referred to as “Nicole Seah’s Party”, reflecting the level of national support she enjoyed.
Since then, after PAP won the Marine Parade GRC, Tin Pei Ling had matured a lot and to be fair to her, she is probably one of the most prolific and hardworking MPs in the rank and file of the PAP. So much so that it seems the PAP is confident enough to put her in a SMC to compete on her own.
For Kevryn to reach that level of support for Nicole in 2011, she needs a nemesis like Tin Pei Ling, of which there isn’t one at the moment.
There seems to be a lot of comparisons between Kevryn and Nicole for the sheer fact that they are pretty and that Kevryn does part-time modeling. Please look beyond this. We are electing a member of parliament, not Miss Singapore Universe.
While looks are an advantage, there must be substance and political will and convictions to back it up. If it’s just about looks, go vote for PAP’s Baey Yam Keng or Teo Ser Luck.
In an interview with CNA, Kevryn cited the book Can Singapore Survive by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, as well as the American political drama House Of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey, as sources of political inspiration and influence.
Err…. I hope she realise the latter is fiction.
Nicole on the other hand, was very candid about her political outlook and upbringing from the beginning, sharing about the volunteer work she does and how her encounters with the less privileged motivated to stand for election.
Kevryn also spent many of her formative years abroad in Hong Kong and Australia, unlike Nicole who studied locally and worked locally before she contested in 2011. Kevryn moved to Hong Kong after her O-levels to study fashion design, and juggled part-time work as a model, actress and radio deejay while she was a student. She only returned to Singapore to start her own events management and digital marketing company, after earning a Master’s degree in Professional Communication at Curtin University of Technology in Australia. As such, she might not have personally witnessed or experienced some of the changes in Singapore in the past years.
Nonetheless, I still think it’s admirable for Kevryn to stand for NSP. I will prefer candidates like her and Nicole or even Tin Peiling over some of the old ones like Goh Meng Seng who keeps playing switcheroo, moving from one party to another like flipping roti prata. I often find the older politicians, whether from the PAP or the opposition parties to be very jaded and non-visionary. They just like to keep to the status quo.
For Singapore to progress, we need fresh ideas, new visions and an injection of young bloods. This is what will keep Singapore going for the next 50 years or 100 years. What do you think?