17 most memorable quotes from 17 first-time MPs

Dec 30, 2016 07.30PM |

by Kwan Jin Yao

WHAT were some of the most memorable quotes from the 17 first-time MPs? Let’s take a look.


1. Dennis Tan Lip Fong (WP, NCMP) 


Image from the Workers’ Party website.

“If our children are afraid to fail, they are less likely to be adventurous. We can forget about Singapore having the next Sim Wong Hoo, not to mention Steve Jobs.”

During the Budget debate, Mr Tan dedicated the third part of his speech to policies for children and young people, emphasising the need for “latitude” in the education system and for more to not fear failure, so that more young Singaporeans will, for instance, appreciate innovation and entrepreneurship.

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2. Leon Perera (WP, NCMP)


Image from the Workers’ Party website.

“Singing with one voice is neither proof of unity nor is it conducive to real unity.”

Starting his speech at the debate on the President’s Address by referencing the results of and the reaction to the general elections of 2015, Mr Perera first argued that “casting the election result as a badge of national unity is deeply unhelpful for our nation-building”, and later stressed the importance of diversity.


3. Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (WP, NCMP)


Image from the Workers’ Party website.

“Innovation is not an aspiration, it is a survival imperative.”

Policies related to innovation, research, and education have been central to Prof Goh’s parliamentary contributions throughout his first year. During the Budget debate, he highlighted Singapore’s emphasis on innovation, further raising the issues of accountability, the Singaporean core, and the innovation enclave.


4. Yee Chia Hsing (PAP, Chua Chu Kang GRC)


Image from Yee Chia Hsing’s Facebook page

“Are we going to be like a pack of cards with just four aces? Are we going to be faced with slower growth?”

Singapore has had, historically, four engines of growth: its location as a trade hub, the development of manufacturing, Singapore’s growth as a regional financial and wealth management centre, and tourism. Mr Yee then highlighted the common threads of globalisation and connectivity, but provided little insight for the future.


5. Dr Tan Wu Meng (PAP, Jurong GRC)


Image from Dr Tan Wu Meng’s Facebook page

“Sometimes, you can see a universe in a raindrop, or sometimes, you see a world in a grain of sand. But it is in the little details that we see deep lessons about the broader firmament.”

Dr Tan received applause for both his speeches at the debate on the President’s Address and at the Budget debate, but he was only one of two first-time MPs to move a motion. His motion on “ensuring people-centric design in pedestrian linkway planning” was a neat synthesis of on-the-ground municipal concerns and broader policy considerations, bringing attention to the importance of policy implementation. “Whether in the public or private sectors,” he added, “policy and implementation are about the big and the small.”


6. Saktiandi Supaat (PAP, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC)


Image from Saktiandi Supaat’s Facebook page

“I see it as a call to action… to take action to further enhance the talent pool or capability of future minority candidates, and encourage them to step forward.”

Of the proposed changes to the Elected Presidency, the issue regarding safeguards for racial representation was touched on by many MPs, including Mr Saktiandi. For him, ensuring an available pool of suitable talent was of utmost importance. This call to action, moreover, is for talents from the minority races “to gain relevant experience from their careers and when they are in influential positions within the corporate world.”


7. Sun Xueling (PAP, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC)


Image from Sun Xueling’s Facebook page.

Can we continue to keep that openness and generosity of spirit so that Singapore can continue to achieve success as a hub for people and ideas and help to power and shape the region and the world?

Turning her attention to geopolitics and Singapore’s role on the international stage, and further referencing China and Taiwan’s first historic leadership talks in Singapore as well as Singapore’s history as a free trade harbour, Ms Sun urged Singaporeans – at the debate on the President’s Address – to remain open and open-minded.


8. Rahayu Mahzam (PAP, Jurong GRC)


Image from Rahayu Mahzam’s Facebook page.

“We do not want the selection to be a symbolic one only.”

In a maiden speech which drew applause, Ms Rahayu – at the debate on the President’s Address – said that although the Malay community wanted to see representation, a Malay representative should be selected because he or she is the best person, not because he or she is Malay.

During the debate on the proposed changes to the Elected Presidency, she conceded that although she was apprehensive when the review was first announced by the prime minister earlier in the year, she came to support the bill after discussions and conversations.


9. Melvin Yong Yik Chye (PAP, Tanjong Pagar GRC)


Image from Melvin Yong’s Facebook page.

“Tripartism has served us well. It is a powerful weapon in our economic defence.”

The director of industrial relations at the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Mr Yong devoted much of his speech at the debate on the President’s Address on the importance of tripartism, and how it should be shared with young Singaporeans. “I would urge for tripartism to be included in our national education,” he said.


10. Louis Ng Kok Kwang (PAP, Nee Soon GRC)


Image from Louis Ng’s Facebook page.

“I have stories to share about the journey my wife and I have embarked on and personally, I will walk to the talk. I will help increase the TFR by having another child soon, I hope.”

Mr Ng first shared at the debate on the President’s Address that he will help to increase the total fertility rate in Singapore by having another child soon, and later during the debate on changes to the Child Development Co-Savings Act, he announced that his wife was expecting a set of twins. He drew applause on both occasions.


11. Kwek Hian Chuan Henry (PAP, Nee Soon GRC)


Image from Henry Kwek’s Facebook page.

“Without opportunity, our society will be one of permanent class and stifling glass ceiling.”

In his maiden speech, at the debate on the President’s Address, Mr Kwek – latching onto President Tony Tan’s remarks that Singapore had to upgrade its economy so as to sustain growth, and the need to restructure in the face of global competition – focused on the need for both inclusive growth and social justice. “Without growth,” he explained, “our society’s wealth will be more commonly inherited, and less commonly created.”


12. Joan Pereira (PAP, Tanjong Pagar GRC)


Image from Joan Pereira’s Facebook page.

“Volunteering for a common cause is the best way to get people of different backgrounds to realise that beneath the labels of race and religion, we have a lot more in common as Singaporeans.”

In addition to funding, Ms Pereira – at the Budget debate – called for active volunteering among seniors, for them to be more actively involved in the community. “While these initiatives may, sometimes, feel unnatural or contrived, we must persevere and resist retreating into our own cliques,” she added.


13. Darryl David (PAP, Ang Mo Kio GRC)


Image from Darryl David’s Facebook page.

“It would be useful to explore how we can make it mandatory for potential new citizens to attain a basic level of English language proficiency before they are given Singaporean citizenship.”

A core part of his speech at the debate on the President’s Address was the recommendation for a basic level of English-language proficiency and compulsory community service hours for new citizens. Mr David said this was a challenge of integration between Singaporeans and new citizens, having observed at a community event that “there were quite a few new citizens who had trouble communicating because of their inability to speak basic English.”


14. Cheng Li Hui (PAP, Tampines GRC)


Image from TMG file. 

“To our seniors, I say, ‘You can retire from work but please do not retire from our community’.”

With an ageing population in Singapore, Ms Cheng drew examples at the Budget debate from her own constituency, bringing attention to the importance of healthcare and social care for the elderly. Through different policy initiatives and recommendations, she also called for older Singaporeans to stay active in their communities.


15. Chong Kee Hiong (PAP, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC)


Image from Chong Kee Hiong’s Facebook page

“If you want to take on projects in unchartered grounds, ‘Do not ask for permission, ask for forgiveness afterwards’.”

“Is it possible for us,” Mr Chong asked rhetorically at the Budget debate “with a rapidly ageing population and a workforce better known for reliability and efficiency, to become creative and innovative?” Elaborating that creative ventures and entrepreneurship require guts, he called for a change in culture in Singapore.


16. Desmond Choo (PAP, Tampines GRC)


Image from Desmond Choo’s Facebook page.

“Perhaps what is most critical, beyond good school-to-work preparation and apprenticeship systems, we need our millennials and generation Z to have that sense of adventure and gumption to take on the world.”

The focus on millennials and young Singaporeans is consistent across Mr Choo’s speeches and questions in Parliament, and in both speeches – during the debate on the President’s Address and the Budget debate – he not only called for more support from the G, but also for young Singaporeans to seize opportunities, especially since talent and conscientiousness will be vital in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.


17. Cheryl Chan Wei Ling (PAP, Fengshan SMC)


Image from Cheryl Chan’s Facebook page.

“To ensure that social support will be sustainable, it needs like a balloon to have more than one party adding their lung capacity to keep it afloat.”

In the face of rising costs of living, families cannot rely on the G for support. During her speech at the Budget debate, Ms Chan spoke about the importance of early planning and community involvement.


Featured image by Sean Chong.

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