PAP MP in ivory tower, can’t see the ground

Seelan Palay

I finally got to know my PAP MP Ellen Lee for the Sembawang GRC (Woodlands), when she visited my place during her door-to-door visits last week.

A member of my family opened the door and the first question she asked was whether he was local, to which he replied with slight irritation, “Of course I’m local!”

A member of my family opened the door and the first question she asked was whether he was local, to which he replied with slight irritation, “Of course I’m local!”

Ms Lee was accompanied by a uniformed police officer, a new phenomenon that has become part of all PAP MPs’ entourage since the recent spate of physical attacks on (including punching and setting ablaze an MP) and verbal threats against them by their constituents.

She gave a glossy-coloured postcard advertising her meet-the-people sessions with her face and the PAP logo on it.

My family has been staying in the same block, which is only two blocks away from the office of a Residents’ Committee, for seven years and yet this is the first time we are seeing our MP at our door. In fact, most of us have never seen her in person before.

After asking how many people there are in the family she handed my family member:

  • Five caps with a logo and words, “WOODLANDS” embroidered on the front and back
  • Five recycled cloth bags with the same logo and words, “WOODLANDS” printed on them
  • And said that they will be back to give five printed T-shirts

Obviously, Ms Lee doesn’t know what is happening to her voters, or is simply ignoring the current situation. Perhaps it doesn’t matter because we the people, according to her compatriot Mr Charles Chong, are “lesser mortals”.

In this time of severe recession where families are having such a hard time making ends meet, where workers are retrenched and remain out of work for prolonged periods, and where people cannot even get three square meals a day, what does Ms Lee expect us to do with these caps, recycled bags and T-shirts?

Not only is this thoughtless, it is also adding insult to injury. Prior to making her rounds, did she spare any thought about how people in Woodlands are faring — the same people whom she expects to vote for her? Obviously she did not, and that’s why we’re getting these caps, bags and t-shirts.

Have Woodlanders got jobs, can the people here put food on the table, and are their well-being taken care of?

Who stands to gain from these handouts? These are promotional items, but who and what are they promoting? In times like these, in spite of our plight, we are still being made use of to promote Ellen Lee, and to support the suppliers of these items. How much did these items cost?

At an average price of $4 per item, these useless “gifts” would have cost $60 per household. Is the PAP MP so high in her ivory tower that she does not know that this money can feed a family of four for a week, or pay for their essentials?

Help us genuinely – don’t make use of us to promote yourself. Sembawang GRC does owe us, and it owes us a lot. The high maintenance costs that we have to pay, continue to fatten the Town Council’s bank accounts. Some of our money was recklessly lost in speculative investments in toxic financial products; are there further losses to come? At the end of the day, we are the ones who have to bear the increasing burden.

What we need is jobs and, more immediately, cash or food vouchers — not caps, bags and T-shirts to promote PAP MPs.

Seelan Palay is an artist and activist, he continues to blog at

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