Monday, April 11, 2011

What Tin Pei Ling really wants to say.

"In all of my 27 years, I have never left the country  and I have no life experience outside of the 647 square kilometres of my hometown, Singapore. I grew up in an environment where transport strikes, demonstrations and labour unions are banned so that foreign companies would be attracted to set up their factories here in the 70s to raise employment and economic growth.

My parents were working class and demonstrated the industriousness and hardworking attitude that Lee Kuan Yew insists all Chinese people have. They believed that if we don’t say anything bad about the PAP and just make money, we won’t be poor but we won’t be rich either.

Indeed, they have witnessed how the relentless growth of our capitalist economy has erased our kampongs and built in their place sterile, anonymous, public housing with racial quotas. From a family that humbly gave physical labour to serve food to people, I now work at a big multi-national firm and earn enough to finally improve my parents’ lives and allow them to retire.

Therefore, my story of social mobility is an exception that is hailed as the norm so that the rhetoric of meritocracy can be used to give legitimacy to the PAP who is desperate to appeal to the middle-class majority of Singaporeans. I give back to society by involving myself in community service and social work that, although being the responsibility of the state, is outsourced to the family and private sector, while imagining that I am serving the country politically. It feels good to help others but having those activities written on my academic records and CV feels even better.

I stand before you as a sacrificial target to be criticised by everyone who thinks that I do not represent the average Singaporean because I am a woman, or am too young to have any reasonable life experience, or have no idea how democracies are supposed to work.

I want to continue to perpetuate ideas that the poor are poor because they don’t work hard enough, and that charity, not the government is responsible for helping them. I want to continue helping smart students from rich families get the scholarships and awards that their affluent background has groomed them to receive. I want to continue letting the disabled and less-educated fall by the wayside. I sincerely want you to keep thinking that there is no such thing as a poverty cycle and that wealth is not linked to education.

With my naivete, I hope to be chosen because you think I am just like you. My name is Tin Pei Ling and I am from the political party that has been in power for the last fifty years and has incarcerated numerous opposition candidates under the Internal Security Act. Please vote for me because there’s only so much advantage I can have, being the wife of the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong."

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