The Chee Siok Chin I know, then and now

Jaslyn Go

I first met Siok Chin at SDP’s annual dinner in 2007. That was also my firstencounter with Dr Chee Soon Juan.

When I saw this supposed “feisty lady” in person, she gave me a very different impression as compared to her public persona portrayed by our local media. She struck me as rather personable and humorous, certainly not the kind of ”
siao char bo” (mad woman) some people describe her to be.

A friend who stays in Woodlands told me that she did not vote for the SDP in the last elections because she was afraid that the parliament would turn into a circus if its candidates got in. Though I did not agree with her comment, I could not fault her because at that time that was my opinion of the SDP as well.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog posting, my friendship with Siok Chin started to develop after the World Consumer Rights’ Day/Tak Boleh Tahan! protest on March 15 this year where 12 protesters were arrested and brought to the Cantonment Police Complex.

Siok Chin was the first person I bailed out that night. I was later charged as well and because of that, we kept in touch through emails, phone calls and meeting up in person.

I came to realise that Siok Chin and I have a lot in common: We are both left-handed, we both love chocolates, and we both possess a wry sense of humour.

We worked together on the recent Democrats Go Hawaiian dinner and even though it was hard work, we rather enjoyed ourselves. Even when the manager of the originally venue cancelled our booking at the last minute, it did not dampen our mood. We just went on a search for another venue.

We were meeting like every other day, sometimes from morning till evening. Siok Chin even accompanied me to pick up my kids and sent them home before continuing with our chores.

That was when she visited my home. My dad, who was all along against me getting too close to SDP members, met her for the first tme. Siok Chin was the ever respectful type, greeting my dad warmly with “Hi Uncle.”

The next day my mom (who was won over by Mrs Chee and Siok Chin when I took her to the first Tak Boleh Tahan! campaign in Toa Payoh) called to tell me my dad told her he met Siok Chin and she came across as a nice lady and not what he read from the newspapers.

Of course, some supporters like to describe Siok Chin as an iron lady. But behind this iron lady’s mask, there is the gentle side of Siok Chin. For one thing, she truly loves kids. She makes it a point to know my children’s names, and chat and play with them. And she never fails to prepare sweets and chocolates whenever she knows she is going to see them. My children, especially my daughter has taken to her, affectionately calling her “Aunty Siok Chin”.

Once my little gal called me while I was out with Siok Chin and wanted to come along. She insisted that I came home to take her out for a “girls’ outing” with her Aunty Siok Chin.

We had a good time shopping for stuff for the Hawaiian-themed party and realised that we have one more thing in common – we were both good bargainers. Notwithstanding the need to count pennies, Siok Chin made every effort to ensure the guests got the best out of the $25-dinner ticket.

I did ask Siok Chin and other members why not charge more as I believed that people would be willing to pay more to support the event. They told me that times are bad, and that they wanted to do something to show their appreciation to these supporters.

Siok Chin is one lady with strong convictions. The sacrifices she has made for her beliefs – from being jailed to being made a bankrupt and not given permission to travel – is admirable.

The way she handled the officials from the Media Development Authority at the screening of One Nation Under Lee, the only protester who kept her Tak Boleh Tahan t-shirt after being arrested, and questioning Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong, shows an individual of substance.

She is a good friend whom you can rely on, a sister you can share silly jokes with, and a good role model that I hope I can keep up with. She is an inspiration.

Keep up the good work, Siok Chin.

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