5 observations of Tin Pei Ling and MacPherson SMC, four years on

Seems she knows both what to say AND do this time.

Martino Tan |Jeanette Tan | August 22, 2015 @ 07:07 am


Photos by Edwin Koo unless otherwise stated.

This was 27-year-old Tin Pei Ling, four years ago.


This is Tin, now a mother of one, today.

20150821-PAP-Tin Pei Ling-07
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg

Tin, now 31, who on Friday made her first public appearance since giving birth, is formally confirmed as the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate to defend the MacPherson Single Member Constituency (SMC) at the upcoming General Election (GE).

The announcement was made at a PAP Community Foundation Education Centre in MacPherson.

Here are 5 observations of Tin Pei Ling and MacPherson SMC, four years later:

1. Tin is not the best communicator in the PAP, but she has shown that she is a savvy organiser and mobiliser.

Tin may not be the most eloquent political communicator. She doesn’t provide the media with the best sound-bites or the most insightful comments.

But she shows that she is a savvy organiser. Many things could go wrong in introducing oneself as a PAP candidate in an SMC.

She managed to avoid making Sitoh’s mistake, for instance:

forever alone sitoh
Interestingly, she didn’t play it safe, the way several other SMC MPs did.

She could have introduced herself together with a larger, neighbouring GRC (Exhibit A: Radin Mas MP Sam Tan with Tanjong Pagar GRC;

PAP-Tanjong Pagar GRC Unveiling-Edwin Koo-Singaporeson-06
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg

Exhibit B: Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min with Ang Mo Kio GRC;

Photo by Martino Tan
Photo by Martino Tan

Exhibit C: Bukit Batok candidate David Ong with Jurong GRC)

Photo by Lim Weixiang for Mothership.sg
Photo by Lim Weixiang for Mothership.sg

… but she didn’t.

Instead, she decided to showcase her grassroots volunteers. And it was an inclusive mix of volunteers of all ages, races and genders.

Photo by Jeanette Tan
(From L-R: Balakrishnan s/o Veerasamy, Eunice Wang, Tin Pei Ling, Mohammed Fawzi Bin Ali, and Rosemary Lim) Photo by Jeanette Tan

To hint to the media that she is her own (wo)man, she politely explains that it will be “inconvenient for them (Marine Parade GRC MPs) to come all the way” to MacPherson, especially since she was already confirmed to be standing there by our election breaking news source Goh Chok Tong.


2. Tin spent an hour with the nation’s media, by herself, and nothing happened.

Photo by Jeanette Tan
Photo by Jeanette Tan

No gaffes, no mistakes, no embarrassing moments.

We only have to recall how the media burst National Solidarity Party member Kevryn Lim’s “Nicole Seah bubble” in just one interview earlier this month.

Or she herself, four years ago, and “her greatest regret” quote.

Experienced former Straits Times editor Bertha Henson had a go at her with three questions. Tin said nothing embarrassing.

Despite being asked multiple times about the vote result she is hoping for, Tin was too careful to fall into the trap of providing actual numbers that would compare her with her predecessor, former Senior Minister of State Matthias Yao.

She said, “We are not focused on actual specific numbers. It’s really focusing our time on doing what is right and best for our residents. If they are taken care of, we are happiest and if that happens, the votes will follow.”


3. She quotes Taylor Swift and name-drops Mothership.sg

Photo by Jeanette Tan
Photo by Jeanette Tan

Tin told the media that she had a rocky entry into politics but hopes to inspire young people to not give up even in the face of challenges.

She took a line out of Taylor Swift’s devil-may-care hit song, asking young people to “shake it off”, keep calm and carry on.

On a demand for more appearances and photos of her son, she asked the media to read her recent interview with Mothership.sg (Thanks for the advertisement!). On another interesting note, she dismissed outright the notion of her using him to try to win sympathy votes:

“I try not to bring (my son) along (on walkabouts) because I think at the end of the day, I’m not trying to win sympathy votes in that sense, and he’s still very young and needs to feed quite often, so I prefer to leave him with my family”.


4. Instead of praising herself, she got heartfelt testimonies from her grassroots leaders

It seemed almost planted — a reporter requested to hear from the folks sitting on either side of Tin, about what working with her is like. The first girl who spoke, Eunice Wang, said she admires Tin’s leadership style and her tenacity.

Hear from the second grassroots leader, Mohamed Fawzi bin Ali:

“At events, she often has no time to eat…” Mohamed Fawzi bin Ali, who has volunteered in MacPherson since 2011, tells the media why this happens with MP Tin Pei Ling. http://bit.ly/1PpAVWV #GE2015 #sgelections

Posted by 938LIVE on Friday, 21 August 2015

Also, in a move critics may call populist, Tin spoke up boldly in support of equal benefits for single mothers, amid the ongoing islandwide discussion on the topic:

“I believe yes, this is my personal belief. Why? Because women and their children, no matter how you see it they’re linked, there’s a strong bond there. But most of the time it’s the mother who cares for the baby, and at the very beginning… this is where the baby needs to be cared for.

If a mom is facing difficulty or having challenges herself, how can she be freed up or have the capacity or enough resources to make sure that the kid is well taken care of and that the kid can have the best chance of succeeding in life, or even have that equal starting point, to put it that way? And so I believe that single moms, in that aspect, should be given equal access to resources so that their kid, like any other Singaporean child out there, will have the best chance in life.

(On her resolution to champion this cause in Parliament if she is re-elected) As a new mother, I have a greater sense of passion and drive for this”.

5. Her photo ops may have been a bit awkward, though.

We’re sure she and her team only had good intentions when they planned for her portrait to be taken against this pretty floral painted wall:

Photo by Jeanette Tan
Photo by Jeanette Tan

And we’re sure her pics taken here will turn out pretty indeed — except it became a bit too much like a model photo shoot:

As part of the occasion, she planned to distribute rice to elderly residents living in a slab block nearby.

Guess she didn’t anticipate the number of people who would want to record and photograph her doing this, though:

Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg

The poor old ladies who received Tin at their doors must’ve been frightened out of their wits at the sight of flashing bulbs, oversized video cameras and the sound of rapid-fire shutters.

We think Tin was maybe being a bit too accommodating to the media on this front. Although these photos don’t lie either:

Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg
Photo by Edwin Koo for Mothership.sg

They are just two photos, we agree. So we’ll just have to see how the poll here goes — we’ll be watching the hustings closely.

Additional thoughts contributed by Matthias Ang

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About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the words of George Orwell & William F. Buckley Jr., & the music of the Beatles.

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