Students get feel of politics in lead-up to Big Quiz

Jurong JC students quiz two ST editors at first of four campus talks

ST 20130418 PRIMERSQUIZ 3618464m

WHAT will it mean to have more opposition members in Parliament, the impact of the influx of foreigners and the middle-income squeeze - these were some of the issues that were discussed yesterday at Jurong Junior College (JJC).

It was the first of four campus talks which will lead up to the National Current Affairs Quiz.

For many students, who posed their questions to The Straits Times' deputy political editor Lydia Lim and assistant political editor Jeremy Au Yong, this was an introduction to the political system here and the ongoing Our Singapore Conversation.

Second-year student Benjamin Tan, 18, asked Ms Lim if she saw more opposition members in Parliament in the next election.

While Ms Lim said she did, she noted that the People's Action Party still held a majority in Parliament, and it was not clear when the opposition would reach a significant threshold, such as a third of the seats in the House.

Several students based their questions on their families' or personal experiences.

Sanesh Tiwari, a 17-year-old first-year student, said he wanted to ask about ageism in employers' hiring practices because he believes his father had been a victim of it four years ago.

"The reason why we have politics is to have people to run the country and people well... Today's talk has furthered my interest in joining politics in the future, and broadened my understanding of what politicians do, how they do it and why they do it," he said.

Dylan Kung, 17, got a chance to clarify the doubts he had about the political system.

"You can see how some fellow Singaporeans feel really unhappy about certain policies, such as foreigners coming to Singapore, and I wanted to understand better how these policies worked."

Some 650 JJC students attended yesterday's session.

The school's head of department of English, Madam Chia Ai Ling, said she hoped the students' enthusiasm would spill over to their weekly half-hour sessions dedicated to current affairs discussions.

Upcoming talks will be held on May 3 at Meridian Junior College, May 8 at Victoria Junior College and July 17 at The Big Quiz preliminary round.

These talks, a series of 12 primers and a Shell-sponsored Thought Leadership Question segment on Mondays all lead up to this year's Big Quiz rounds in July, when school teams compete for the championship trophy and $5,000.

Into its second year, the quiz is co-organised by The Straits Times and the Ministry of Education, with the Singapore Press Holdings Foundation as the presenting sponsor.

For more information, visit www.straitstimes.com/thebigquiz

ayiying@sph.com.sg

serl@sph.com.sg