parliamentary speech awards: Day 3

Celebrating the good, the short and the last warning.

By Tan Xing Qi | January 28, 2016

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a game-changing speech yesterday (Jan. 27) in Parliament.

Since he’s PM (and since we’ve covered his speech quite extensively), it’s probably right for us to award other politicians who were overshadowed by the PM show.

Here are the awards for Day 3.

The Most Boss Speech after PM Lee

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.10.21 am
Screenshot from CNA video

Winner: Denise Phua, Mayor, Central Singapore District, Jalan Besar GRC

Known for her vocal and direct speeches in Parliament, especially for people with special needs, Denise Phua again made her feelings known yesterday: This time, she took aim at Singapore’s education system – the one that produces results sans the joy of learning.

She pointed out that there are three unhealthy trends plaguing the system:

– Pre-occupation with academic scores

– “Parentocracy” aka kids gain success because parents are affluent syndrome

– Physical segregation of students based on learning abilities

Case in point: Singapore Sports School, School of the Arts, Spectra Secondary School (for Normal Technical students)

Also the winner of The WITS Award

And how to get rid of these three viruses? She suggested these:

– Scrap the PSLE and start a 10-year through train model, allowing children to move from primary to secondary school without the pressure of a do-or-die national exam. (HURRAY!)

– Level the playing field by developing software to share best learning materials such as lectures.

– Slay the sacred cow of physically segregating people who learn differently by rethinking the concept of Arts School; Sports School; Normal Tech School; SAP Schools; Special Schools and pilot inclusive “education villages” across Singapore to house students of different abilities and backgrounds.

“There is no better way to learn inclusion except to play, eat, interact and learn with others whoare unlike yourself.”

*WITS:  The Work Improvement Team Scheme (WITs) is a government programme, where individuals are asked to provide suggestions to help improve the Public Service through cost savings and waste reduction.


The Best Storyteller award

Screenshot from CNA video
Screenshot from CNA video

Winner: Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information
and Education, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

The Minister of State spoke about dealing with fault lines of division more through deeds, actions and words, less so on the Constitution of our Pledge by conjuring his experience in last year’s NDP as a reserve commander for the PAP Community Foundation.



The Halimah Yacob Gold Standard Award

Screenshot from CNA video
Screenshot from CNA video

Winner: Png Eng Huat, Hougang SMC

In 10 minutes, Png spoke his mind about politics, security and education. He asked the Ministry of Education to look into Singapore’s billion-dollar tuition culture as it will help educators to formulate better policy decisions in the next chapter.

He also questioned the effectiveness of the Ministry’s “teach less, learn more” approach, saying: “Has the shift to focus on quality teaching instead of quantity teaching resulted in better desired outcomes of education, or has it merely shifted more of the learning from the classroom to the private tutors?”


Top photo from CNA video.

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About Tan Xing Qi

In between episodes of Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, Xing Qi deals T-Shirts to unsuspecting Singaporeans through a roadside stall, which, ironically, is not a physical stall.


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