Friday, August 17, 2012

The Death of a politician and the birth of a new politics

Christopher Neo Ting Wei, NSP candidate for Jurong GRC in the 2011 general elections, passed away on 14 August 2012 at the age of 49. 

Condolences have been expressed by various politicians from opposition parties.  I was pleasantly surprised to read DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam's Facebook update a short while ago.

Paid last respects to Christopher Neo this morning, before the last rites. He left us early, at 49.

He led the NSP team in Jurong GRC in GE2011, and fought admirably. I regarded him well - he had an unassuming style, and was concerned for poorer citizens.

His wife Amy told me about the four wonderful kids he had left her with. They always helped each other. The eldest, her O-levels soon, helped the second girl; the second helped the third girl; the third played with the little boy aged 4. The girls were doing well in school.

His parents were elderly but sturdy. They were Chinese-educated, but spoke with me in English. Christopher left many siblings. His elder sister had been with him from his first GE in 1997 as his Election Agent, and we chatted about meeting at last year’s GE in Jurong. Christopher had taken after his father, who contested in the 1963 General Elections with the Singapore Alliance party, more than three decades earlier. Christopher contested in four GEs. He had stamina.

Every river, whichever its path, winds its way safe to sea.

Rest in peace, Christopher Neo.
It is good, and certainly refreshing, to see a PAP politician coming forward to express his condolences in this manner.  This may just be a small and tentative sign of change.  But, I see the possibility of political growth in this country.  Little by little, PAP politicians appear to be realising the need for a more concilliatory style. 

Recently, when Dr Lim Hock Siew passed away, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan gave a tribute on his facebook which was commendable:

I remember meeting him 24 years ago at a party hosted by my mentor Professor Arthur Lim. They were classmates in medical school and life long friends.

He introduced himself as “I am Lim Hock Siew, and just came out of prison a few years ago!”

We had a good chat and he freely shared his life experiences. I was struck by the absence of bitterness despite all his sacrifices. I think he knew in his heart that he was a patriot, and was proud that he never gave in.

I consulted him before I entered politics. He did not discourage me. On the contrary, he told me to focus on doing the right thing. He told me he did not bear any ill will to the current leaders. He reminded me that he was a founding member of the PAP.

We met from time to time socially. Whenever we discussed politics, it was obvious that he was still a conviction socialist. There were times, we agreed to disagree.

Singapore has lost another member of the founding generation. We must all be deeply grateful to him and his family for all their sacrifices. He was a good and honourable man.
Considering that Dr Lim Hock Siew was a political detainee, such words from a Man in White is commendable.  I hope that this kind of refined attitude amongst politicians continues.  My sincere wish for Singapore is that PAP politicians would stop treating opposition politicians as 'the enemy' and see these fellow Singaporeans for what they really are:  countrymen; patriots and concerned citizens committed enough to their principles to stand up for Singapore even when it might be unpopular or even dangerous. 


Anonymous said...

Now if only these 2 MIW and the rest of the House remember that pple who are alive and raise questions in Parliament are also citizens who are very concerned about the future of Singapore.

I'm far more cynical than you about the magnanimity of the 2 displayed online. Reeks of an effort to improve their image.

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