Saturday 19 April 2014

An intimate look at the life of Chiam See Tong

Students' multimedia project offers insights into life of opposition figure
By Maryam Mokhtar, The Straits Times, 18 Apr 2014

A MULTIMEDIA project by four undergraduates on Singapore's longest-serving opposition politician has garnered close to 900 "likes" on Facebook since being launched this week.

The project offers an intimate look at the life of Mr Chiam See Tong, and chronicles his memories of six terms spent as Potong Pasir MP as well as residents' memories of the 79-year-old.

Titled My Kind Of Town after the neighbourhood's slogan, it was conceptualised and produced over the course of a year by Nanyang Technological University final-year students Wong Kar Weng, 24, Cara Chiang, 23, Basil Edward Teo, 24, and Sulaiman Daud, 26.

All hail from the university's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

The project also offers insights into Mr Chiam's life since the 2011 General Election. He has been largely out of the spotlight since, after a second stroke in 2008 and a hip injury last year.

On the project's website are various photos of Mr Chiam interacting with residents, and some showing a more personal side - doing exercises at home with his wife and spending time with their daughter's dog.

"Since 2011, we've been wanting to find out how Mr Chiam has been," said the group's leader, Mr Wong. "We're hoping that if other people look at our project, they'll be inspired to find other people and stories across Singapore that should be documented."

Mr Chiam helmed Potong Pasir for 27 years from 1984 to 2011, when he left to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC during the elections.

His wife and current Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam lost the ward to current Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin of the ruling People's Action Party.

In an opening video on the project website, Mr Chiam describes the bond he enjoys with residents, and adds: "The residents there have trust in their MP.

"Not for one term, not for two terms, but for six terms. Without this help from the residents, I cannot achieve anything at all in Potong Pasir."

Mrs Chiam said in another video that her husband continues to go on walkabouts and meet with residents. "That is his routine... He loves politics. He wants politics. And we cannot take away people's interest like that. We let it be until the day he does not want it," she said.

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