By The Way

An overdue gathering, a slip of the tongue and one lit festival: What politicians are up to this week

The Straits Times looks at what politicians, and the politically related, are up to in this weekly series. PHOTOS: LEE HSIEN LOONG/FACEBOOK, JAMUS LIM/FACEBOOK, JOSEPHINE TEO/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times looks at what politicians, and the politically related, are up to in this weekly series.

In this edition, we look at how politicians past and present reconnect, and how some MPs celebrated the mid-autumn festival. We also check out some light-hearted moments from the recent Parliament sitting that was captured on social media.

Look out for the latest edition of the series every Friday, and check out past ones here.

MPs reunite

Traditionally, retired MPs gather annually at a lunch during the Chinese New Year period, but this has not been possible since 2020 due to Covid-19.

The get-together took place in a different form on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post after that he was happy to have had a chance to have tea with retired MPs at the Istana.

In a photo he uploaded - which looks to have been taken with a 360 camera - ex-political leaders that could be spotted include former minister for trade and industry Lim Hng Kiang, former minister for health Khaw Boon Wan, and former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed.

Other retired MPs who were present include Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, who served in Ang Mo Kio GRC, and Ms Lee Bee Wah, who served for three terms in the Nee Soon South ward.

"Glad to see them well, continuing to stay active and often still contributing to the community in their own ways. Grateful for your continued dedication and friendship," said PM Lee.

"It was good to catch up with everyone!"

TikTok in the House

Earlier this week, Parliament debated important national issues like the new Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass to attract top talent here and a new law to regulate debt collection activities, but other goings-on in the House caught the attention of users of video-sharing social network TikTok.

On her Facebook page, Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) reshared a TikTok video that recorded a slip of the tongue that she had made.

On Monday, Ms Foo had asked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong about tax revenue, and had accidentally called him "DPM Lawrence Loh" by mistake. She was corrected by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin.

"Whilst focusing on my supplementary questions, I mistakenly called him 'DPM Lawrence Loh' without realizing it, until Speaker of Parliament highlighted it to me," she said.

In the video, when Ms Foo says Mr Wong's name wrongly, both he and PM Lee are seen having a short laugh, before the camera cuts to Ms Foo's face as she reacts to Mr Tan.

She later apologised to Mr Wong in private, and in her post, she said that he took it in good stride.

"I thank DPM for his understanding and good humour - he responded to my WhatsApp apology with 'No worries; it happens to all of us from time to time :)'".

Meanwhile, in a post uploaded on Wednesday to the Workers' Party's @thehammertok TikTok account, Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC) shared what some of the party's MPs were eating during a break the day before.


Watermelon, Oat 25 or Dry laksa? Go behind-the-scenes at Parliament with Leon Perera 🍉 #thehammertok

♬ Funny Comedy Background Music 1 min - CircleNoteMusic

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) was seen eating Julie's oat biscuits, Mr Dennis Tan (Hougang) said he had "good" dry laksa, and Mr Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) and Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) had fruits.

Noting that his biscuits were made in Malacca, Mr Singh said: "Maybe for our next trip to Malaysia we will pay a visit to the biscuit factory in Alor Gajah."

Mid-Autumn celebrations

MPs have been celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival with their residents, and this includes WP's Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC), who on Wednesday shared a post on Facebook about the party he and his residents in his Anchorvale ward had the previous weekend.

The party was one of several that the WP MPs attended. Mr Lim said that the festivities in his area, which has a substantial number of young families, saw residents engage in a "borderline-violent pomelo-peeling contest", as well as other competitions like riddle guessing and recycled-lantern construction.

There was a snaking lantern procession that he said reminded him of his own childhood celebrating the festival.

"The proof of the pudding (or the mooncake, as the case may be) is in the eating, so I brought our little one along to experience the festivities firsthand. I'm happy to report that she had a blast, to the point where we had to remove her, kicking and screaming, after it was all over," said Mr Lim.

Among the 10 photos he uploaded was a photo of him holding the hand of his daughter, in a pink dress that matched her father's polo T-shirt.

Miss Nadia Samdin (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong (Chua Chu Kang GRC), Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) and Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo (Jalan Besar GRC) were among the PAP MPS who also posted about Mid-Autumn celebrations over the past week.

Mrs Teo, in a post on Tuesday, said she had spent last Saturday at a bazaar where many residents gathered to celebrate the festival, and to support the beneficiaries of South Central Family Service Centre.

A photo she uploaded showed the minister belting out a Malay song in a karaoke booth at the event.

"Some of the residents set up booths to sell pre-loved items, while others sold local delicacies. What really caught my attention was a karaoke booth, where I had great fun singing Burung Kakak Tua with the residents. I hope that everyone had an enjoyable time like I did," she said.

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