Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 03:40:50 GMT
Local: Tues, Jul 14 2009 11:40 am
Subject: Calvin Cheng is a disgrace to Singaporeans
Written by Ng E-Jay
14 July 2009
New Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng has written an
atrocious letter to TODAY newspaper betraying not only his absence of a
sense of accountability, but also his complete lack of political acumen. I
am truly shocked by his letter.
In his online letter entitled "I am curious all the time", Calvin Cheng
attempted to rebut TODAY journalist P.N. Balji's assertion in a column
published on 11 July that he had joined the YPAP in a rather cavalier and
whimsical manner in 2006.
Calvin Cheng had earlier confessed to joining the Youth Wing of the ruling
party three years ago out of "curiosity". These were his exact words as
quoted in a TODAY article: "I joined YPAP in 2006 when I visited the Teck
Ghee PAP branch with a friend, and I signed up out of curiosity. Due to many
reasons, I never returned."
This prompted journalist P.N. Balji to ask if this "curiosity episode"
should be dismissed as a case of boyish candour, and to assert that the
burden is now on Calvin Cheng to prove to Singaporeans that the decision by
the Special Select Committee to pick him was not misplaced.
However, Calvin Cheng ended up shooting himself in the foot in his response
to P.N. Balji's missive.
To start off, Calvin Cheng tried to deflect scrutiny from his YPAP
membership by claiming that he had intended to resign from the party last
Tuesday after the new NMP list had been released, and not only after his
YPAP membership was exposed by TODAY newspaper.
Mr Cheng is missing the point. If NMPs are truly supposed to be
non-partisan, he should have resigned from the party upon submitting his
application to become an NMP, not only after the results are out.
That the Select Committee would entertain applicants from current members of
political parties also makes a mockery of their claim that NMPs are meant to
be non-partisan voices in Parliament.
Even an aspiring Elected President must resign from any political party
which he is a member of before submitting his candidacy for consideration.
Next, Calvin Cheng launched into a long-winded thesis about the nature of
human curiosity that would have made for good bed time reading had it not
been so utterly constipated.
Mr Cheng is completely missing the point again. TODAY journalist P.N. Balji
was not questioning the virtue of being curious or having the drive to seek
out new knowledge. He was questioning Calvin Cheng's motivation to join a
political party and what that said about his character.
Besides, what kind of curiosity would drive a man like Calvin Cheng to join
an organization only after one visit and then fail to even pick up his
Does this not speak volumes about Mr Cheng's ability to sustain a new
interest or to see things through to the end?
I am truly amazed at Calvin Cheng's lack of a sense of accountability as
well as his almost complete lack of political acumen.
The current batch of new NMPs is truly disappointing. People like Siew Kum
Hong who really provided alternative views and were hard hitting when they
needed to be are now gone, replaced instead by people are not ashamed to
parade their PAP affliations and say that they look up to MM Lee Kuan Yew
whilst trumpeting the tired refrain that they are non-partisan.
If the ruling PAP is willing to hold free and fair elections, we would not
need to place so much increased emphasis on schemes like the NMP and NCMP to
provide alternative voices in Parliament.
It is time to stop the charade about Singapore being a democracy because the
PAP allows non-party members to enter Parliament on terms which it sets. If
Singapore is a real democracy, we would not need such gimmicks, and neither
would the media feel the need to trumpet such propaganda over and over
I am curious all the time
Letter from Calvin Cheng, published in TODAY Online
13 July 2009
I refer to Mr P N Balji's piece "My, My. Mr. Cheng" (July 11-12).
Firstly, I would like to clarify that I did not resign as a reaction to
TODAY's reporting, as the statement "only after a TODAY report highlighted
the issue on Wednesday" seems to imply.
As I told TODAY, and as TODAY reported, when I was called on Tuesday night,
I was already going to resign; shortly after, on the same night, I verbally
told Mr. Teo Ser Luck, Chairman of Young PAP of my intention to resign.
Due to the fact that offices were already closed, and also a technical issue
about the exact status of my membership (whether I was a member of the
General Branch or of the Teck Ghee Branch), I was only able to email my
resignation the very next morning on Wednesday. This, including my verbal
resignation before the article was printed, was conveyed to TODAY's reporter
the night before Wednesday's report.
Secondly, Mr Balji was right that I sincerely believed, and still do, that
being completely upfront to the Select Committee of my party membership was
sufficient. This is because as I was inactive, I was confident that it will
not in any way affect my ability to be impartial, objective and
non-partisan. I have now resigned to remove any residual doubts of this.
Thirdly, I do feel the burden to prove to Singaporeans that my selection was
not misplaced, a burden that I would feel regardless of this issue.
I am however writing most of all, in response to Mr Balji's assertion, that
my initial decision to join the Young PAP out of curiosity, was "cavalier"
and on a "whim".
I am curious how curiosity could be construed to be whimsical, and how
something which I believe to be one of the most important faculties of the
human intellect, could be seen as cavalier.
I am curious all the time. I am curious because curiosity, to me, is the
basis of all human inquiry, the foundation of any quest to seek knowledge. I
am curious because I want to learn new things, to find out things that are
unknown to me, to quench a thirst for new information.
I am curious because I believe that curiosity must form the foundation of
education, and it is the one thing that formal education can sometimes kill,
and which Singaporean educators must avoid.
I am curious because it was curiosity that led Ferdinand Magellan to lead
the first expedition around the world, of Albert Einstein to seek to unravel
the mysteries of the universe, to inspire the Wright brothers to ask and
answer the question of whether man could fly; it was curiosity that led to
mankind going to the moon. And even if an explorer, a scientist, an inventor
or an astronaut I am not, I hope any child that could still be, would
cultivate curiosity in their minds.
I am curious whenever I meet any new person, as he could perhaps become a
lifelong friend; getting to know this person is the only way I can tell. And
perhaps as a single man, I hope upon hope that Casanova was right when he
said that 'Love is three quarters curiosity'.
I am curious that Mr Balji does not hold curiosity as a more precious value,
especially because in journalism, it is the yearning to keep questioning
that should be the motivation of any good journalist. The French journalist
Anatole France, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921, said 'The
greatest virtue of man is perhaps curiosity'. I hope he is right.
When I signed up with the Young PAP out of curiosity, I genuinely wanted to
find out more. By no means was it cavalier, or whimsical; unfortunately,
circumstances prevented me from doing so. I am curious about what may have
happened, if they hadn't, but on the other hand it was no bad thing that I
got busy with civic groups instead; civic groups that initial curiosity led
to eventual involvement (with).
It is this same curiosity that I hope I will bring with me to Parliament as
a Nominated Member, to question things as often, and as impartially and
objectively as I can.
EM Foster wrote, "The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free
mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race." Some of my
friends would say my taste is suspect, but I sincerely hope I have the other