Being 14 years late and World Alzheimer's Day: 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: TANCHUANJIN1/TIKTOK, MARIAM JAAFAR/FACEBOOK, SEAH KIAN PENG/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 something that slipped Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin's mind for 14 years, marking World Alzheimer's Day, and an opposition politician drawing the wrong attention for his views on Covid-19.

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

14 years a Master

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin may be good at keeping proceedings on time in the House, but recently showed a rare tardy side - when it came to collecting his degree.

In a video clip he posted on TikTok and Facebook, the former army general showed his Master in Public Management that was completed at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), National University of Singapore (NUS), on April 24, 2008.

"I only just realised that I forgot to collect my certificate etc 14 years ago!!!" he said, together with a laughing emoji.

Thanking NUS and LKYSPP for remembering and reminding him, he said: "My fault for forgetting to pick it up then or in the ensuing years."

According to Mr Tan's LinkedIn profile, he was commander of the Singapore Army's Third Division then.

Collecting his certificate appeared to trigger a wave of nostalgia for Mr Tan, who used the hashtags #fyp (final year project), #throwback and #lifelonglearning.

One commenter on TikTok asked if the university had been sending him reminders since 2008, while another said Mr Tan earned his degree the year she was born.

Feeling old yet?

Keeping Alzheimer's top of mind

Politicians took the opportunity on World Alzheimer's Day on Sept 21 to raise awareness of the disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

One in 10 people here who are aged 60 and above are estimated to have dementia, which can lead to the inability to recall past events and remember new information.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the statistic is "scary", given that Singapore's population is ageing rapidly.

On Facebook, he posted a photo of a signage at a sheltered walkway that has a picture of a red hibiscus flower - a form of pictorial communication to help people living with dementia to find their way about.

This is one of the ways to help support people with dementia in their daily lives, he said.

"We can also do more to reduce the risk of dementia, by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, and to support caregivers, many of whom walk alongside dementia patients for years, if not decades," he added.

Ms Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC) said her Woodlands ward is one of 15 dementia-friendly communities in Singapore.

"Although seniors aged 65 and above are more prone to dementia, there is a growing trend of it affecting people under 65. It is important that we build a caring and #dementiafriendlysg so they can continue to live well in the community," she said.

She urged Singaporeans to find out more about the condition at www.dementiahub.sg.

Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC), who looks after the dementia-friendly community of Bukit Batok East, encouraged her followers to download a set of stickers by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).

AIC helms the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative aimed at setting up more of such communities around the island that have the awareness and training to help seniors with dementia.

"Stay connected and spread awareness using these lovely stickers in your care greetings with your loved ones!" she wrote.

'Alternative' Covid-19 treatments

Singapore might have already moved to living with the Covid-19 virus, but opposition politician Goh Meng Seng is not done with his theories on alternative treatments and vaccinations.

In a four-hour interview with podcast host Tok Jia Jie, Mr Goh, who said he remains unvaccinated, gave his take on Chinese herbal medicine that he claimed could be used for early treatment of Covid-19, among other topics.

Snippets of the interview were published on TikTok earlier this week. Most viewers were not impressed with the People's Power Party chief, who said during the 2020 General Election that it would be his last contest.

@mrtokshow

Mr. Goh Meng Seng is the Founder and Secretary-General of the People’s Power Party. He last contested MacPherson SMC, going up against PAP’s Tin Pei Ling, taking 28.26% of eligible votes. This excerpt is part of a 4.5hours interview, which is available on YouTube. #mrtokshow #singaporepodcast #singaporepolitics #singaporeopposition

♬ original sound - Mr. Tok Show - Mr. Tok Show

"I am very glad he didn't run our healthcare," said one TikTok user.

Mr Goh lost to Ms Tin Pei Ling from the People's Action Party in that election. He contested his first general election in 2006 as a Workers' Party candidate for Aljunied GRC.

Among the most-watched snippets of the interview was Mr Goh's contention that not all politicians in Singapore aspire to win a seat in Parliament.

"You do not need to go into Parliament to speak up," he said. "But whether you influence the policy, that is more important."

He cited the 2011 hustings and the opposition's spotlighting of the Housing Board's housing policies, which he said "changed the (Government's) policy direction".

Asked by the host if he would run in the next general election, which is due to be held by November 2025, Mr Goh said: "I cannot decide now, but most probably I will not."

"I am well on track to find a successor," he said, adding that he might still play a "supporting role" even if he does not contest.

First meal back home

Like most Singaporeans, MPs wasted no time in digging into their favourite local fare they missed while on overseas trips.

Among them was Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who said he could not resist having kaya butter toast and teh in Ghim Moh, less than a day after returning from an eight-day trip to Egypt and France.

Mr de Souza was part of a Singapore delegation to the two countries that was led by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean.

"It's something about being Singaporean - really miss the local makan when overseas," he said on Facebook, where he posted a photo with the popular breakfast fare.

After a week overseas, Dr Lim Wee Kiak's (Sembawang GRC) dish of choice was a bowl of minced meat noodles.

Dr Lim, an ophthalmologist by profession, had posted on Facebook last week that he was attending an eye surgeon conference in Milan to learn about the latest developments and innovations.

But some, like Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC), could not wait to touch down before tucking into local fare.

He managed to satisfy his cravings while on his Singapore Airlines flight home. Onboard, he also bumped into his former boss and Cabinet minister Lim Boon Heng, who retired from politics in 2011.

Mr Seah posted a photo of a plate of roasted chicken rice - with a full complement of chilli, dark soya and ginger sauces.

"After a few days of Japanese food, craving for local food kicked in," said Mr Seah, who was in Tokyo for work.

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