EDITOR’s NOTE: The following is a conversation that Kenneth Lin recalled having with RAdm(NS) Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts and an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.
NOTE (added 09 Jan): This is reproduced with permission from Kenneth Lin. All those who wish to reproduce this MUST seek Kenneth’s permission.
By Kenneth Lin (Source: Facebook)
08 Jan 2011
I was invited to a “Scholarship and Bursary awards” ceremony organised by CDC and CCC at Catholic Junior College to receive a $650 cheque for being one of the Top 5 in my class. I was reluctant to attend it, but then decided that the money could be put to good use for others. After the entire ceremony was over, I waited for the crowd to disperse before approaching Mr Lui Tuck Yew. Up front, he seemed polite and gentlemanly, with a friendly attitude.
“Hi Mr Lui, I’m Kenneth. You know, I’ve stayed at Tanjong Pagar GRC all my life – 16 years – but this is the first time I’m meeting you!”
“Where do you stay?”
“I’ve visited that area quite recently you know. A few months back…” Mr Lui turns to his adviser and bodyguards, and they shook their heads in response.
“What school are you from?”
“St. Andrew’s Secondary.”
“Do you take any sports? What’s your CCA?”
“Were you from the Junior School as well?”
“So you were from the Junior School choir as well?”
“You know, the Junior School choir is very good, I went to hear them sing before, really good. Like the Vienna Boys Choir. The coach is very good. What’s his name…..”
“Mr Francis Liew”
“Oh ya ya! Very good.”
He goes on talking about how magnificent the coach is and asked me about my trips, etc…
“And how is the secondary school choir? Are you all doing well?”
“You all have the Youth Festival this year right?”
“Oh I see.”
At this point, I realised we side-tracked too far.
“So Mr Lui, I actually tried to visit you at your Meet-the-Peoples’ session last year. Because I read an article in the papers that said that Singaporeans do not know how to engage their MPs on political issues. The author suggested we make use of the Meet-the-Peoples’ Session to do so.”
“What did you see me about?”
“Since you are the Minister of Information, I assume you’re in charge of censorship and all that in Singapore. So I wanted to ask why certain videos online, such as Lim Hock Siew’s video, was banned.”
“We banned it because we don’t want these people to re-write history. You know he was charged and detained?”
“Yes, but he wasn’t ever tried in a court, he was detained under the ISA, which allows for detainment without trial.”
“Yes, the ISA. You know after the September 11 attacks, countries such as the US now don’t question the other countries’ use of detainment without trial? Because they themselves need such an act, because they can’t charge prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, can’t just release them into the streets. So we need the ISA.”
I didn’t want to debate about the ISA at this moment, so I moved on.
“So anyway, I waited for about 1-2 hours at the Meet-the-Peoples’ session before being rejected and told that you only attend to people with Bread-and-Butter issues.”
“Well, yes, I only have time for those issues, because there are many cases and we normally have to say until very late, like 11pm. So you have to ask yourself, which is more important, the peoples’ issues or just normal questions.”
“So, the author of that article was wrong?”
“So, is there a platform for Singaporeans to engage their MPs in political issues?”
“Well, you can organise a forum or function and invite us, and we’ll attend IF WE SEE IT’S WORTHWHILE“(emphasis added)
I went towards my classmate to ask which way he was heading home, and took out my iPhone to check my email. I noticed Mr Lui’s adviser telling him something in private, and was just about to leave when Mr Lui approached me again, only this time, looking quite angry.
“Did you take a recording with your phone(of our discussion)??”
“No, you want to check?”
“I don’t need to check. Are you a member of the SDP?”
“Cause you were in one of the SDP videos. Don’t go one big round, just come out with what you’re doing.”(The last sentence was a bit incomprehensible, so I only post snippets of what I remembered him saying.)
All this time, I just stood there and smiled. The impresssion of a polite and friendly Mr Lui I got when I met him disappeared, as he showed me how threatening he really was. As I turned to leave, all his bodyguards were dangerously looking at me.
DISCLAIMER: I did not at all take a recording of the conversation I had with Mr Lui. All these words were recalled by me, and are therefore subject to error. However, the meaning and message of each sentence is still fairly accurate.