RONALD LEE: A picture paints a thousand words, which is more than what could possibly be said about the fight between Sitoh Yi Pin and the Chiams in Potong Pasir. Longstanding “foes”, Sitoh had been fighting for control of Potong Pasir since the 2007 General Election, winning by a slim 114-vote margin in General Election 2011 over Lina Chiam.
I remember throughout both elections, there was never an ill-word said by Sitoh about the Chiams, and vice versa, even though the two sides were very much at odds. This is totally in contrast to Khaw Boon Wan’s constant attacks on WP-held Aljunied GRC, or Benjamin Pwee’s empty and untested boasts that his “candidates are better than yours, so make way” to the rest of the opposition in the event of a 3-cornered fight.
It must have been heart-breaking for Chiam, losing Potong Pasir after more than 20 years of leadership. Similarly for Sitoh, it would have been easy to brag how he’s now in charge and Potong Pasir is better under his stewardship, with more amenities such as ATMs and the upcoming lift-upgrading scheme about to be rolled out.
Still, all I’ve felt between the rivals throughout their decade-long battle is mutual respect, and “we give our best and let the voters decide” attitude. Even now, as you can see in this picture, it is heartening to know that outside of the dirty arena of politics, there can be friendship and humanness. This is very heartwarming and I think Singapore politicians can take a leaf out of their books. Instead of always going on the warpath, it can be better to show care and empathy.
I am impressed by Sitoh’s doggedness, while at the same time awed by Mr Chiam’s dedication and concern for his “people“. I don’t envy the position of Potong Pasir residents, having to choose between candidates who show this heart for the people. May the best man (or woman) win.