Curiously, the Returning Officer for the Hougang by-election Yam Ah Mee has approved the use of 9 symbols by candidates: scroll, bicycle, ship, tree, flower, horse, hen, rhinoceros and bird. Are they attempting to detract from the highly anticipated clash of symbols between the lightning bolt and the hammer? If so, they might as well add the following symbols already deployed for the pork barrel politics - bowl of porridge, hearing aid, wet market.
They are also probably counting on the short term memory of the average Singaporean voter. Especially folks who have forgotten about the racist humour of one PAP Member of Parliament Choo Wee Khiang:
"One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around."That quip was made during a 1992 session of parliament.
Two years earlier, the same Choo was fiddling with the books. The law caught up with him only on June 7, 1999, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of abetting his brother-in-law to cheat a finance company by issuing false invoices worth $1,000,000 in 1990. In a statement on his stepping down prior to sentencing, then Acting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was saddened by Choo's resignation and that Choo "has done the right thing." Note the regret was about his resignation, not the transgression of law.
That kind of history didn't bother the guys who made him President of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), a tenure which he abused by incurring three counts of corruption and one of criminal breach of trust. From 2005 to 2007, Choo was alleged to have charged his personal airfares, expenses, phone bills to the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) and received gifts of S$1,500 and US$600 from Chinese coaches and players.
For the sake of the people of Hougang, this Choo better not take on the guise of a scroll, bicycle, ship, tree, flower, horse, hen, rhinoceros or bird. Given the short times allocated for the by-election, it's easy to make a mistake.