By The Way

Being positive, words with politicians and prepping for CNY: What politicians are talking about

The Straits Times looks at what politicians, and the politically related, are up to, in this weekly series. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/ONG YE KUNG, PRITAM SINGH, TAN CHUAN-JIN

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

The ART of being cautious

Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng, who is also group chief executive of FairPrice Group, posted a photo of his Covid-19 antigen rapid test (ART) results last Saturday (Jan 15), adding that he was on his way to visit different outlets.

But the 60-year-old faced backlash from some netizens, who spotted a thin red line on one of the tests that indicated a possible infection. Mr Seah said he then did another ART which showed a negative result.

Under Ministry of Health guidelines, someone who has a positive result needs to self-isolate for 72 hours, even if he is feeling well.

Responding to a Facebook user who asked for clarification, Mr Seah suggested the first test could have been a false positive. But he added that he would be taking a "conservative approach" and self-isolate over the weekend instead.

In a later update to the post, he said another ART taken on Sunday was negative and he continued to feel well. But he cancelled his planned Sunday walkabout and store visits.

Mr Seah's scrupulous swabbings drew kudos from netizens like Dr Desmond Wai. "As a public figure who meets many people daily, your cautious attitude is commendable," he said.

Petir v PSP

The governing People's Action Party has been upping its social media game since it officially launched its sociopolitical website Petir.sg last November.

It fired a salvo on Jan 13 against Progress Singapore Party Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai with a warning that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Not content with just marshalling Spanish philosopher George Santayana's famous axiom against Mr Leong's latest statements in Parliament, the article also drew parallels with the deja vu that movie hero Neo experienced in sci-fi classic The Matrix right before all hell broke loose.

The article came two days after Mr Leong was given the opportunity to clarify claims that he made in the House, but instead used it to restate his allegations.

Mr Leong said a day earlier that he had received feedback from residents that some teachers have applied vaccination-differentiated measures in schools.

He subsequently said his claim was based on a screenshot from a Telegram chat group sent to him by a Facebook friend.

The Petir article asked readers if they were experiencing a "curious case of deja vu", given that the Raeesah Khan affair had taken place just two months ago.

The former Sengkang GRC MP resigned from the Workers' Party and vacated her seat on Nov 30, weeks after she admitted in the House to having lied in Parliament.

"Although not a literal life and death matter, it remains no joking matter for not being able to substantiate claims in the highest office in the land," said the Petir article, which is unsigned.

"Mr Leong could surely learn from what happened to Ms Khan."

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said that while he would take "a more expansive approach" to allow for freer debates in Parliament, it does not mean that MPs can take liberties and do whatever they wished.

MPs are expected to be able to substantiate what they say in Parliament, he said.

"There has been little need for me to crack the proverbial whip or I guess to wield the mace!" he said, referencing two symbols of Parliament.

"But if I need to be firm, I will not hesitate to do so."

Tan Chuan-Jin catches the Wordle bug

Speaking of Mr Tan, the Speaker of Parliament has been flexing his wordsmithing skills.

The Marine Parade GRC MP has been posting daily updates about how he has been doing with a new word-guessing game called Wordle.

The free, browser-based game challenges players to guess a five-letter word within six tries. A new puzzle is generated every day.

Mr Tan's first attempt saw him succeed on the fifth try, and he urged his followers to give the game a go.

The game clearly has its hooks in him: just before 2am on Thursday, Mr Tan urged one netizen not to post the words he had tried, so as not to spoil the day's puzzle for those who had yet to complete the day's challenge.

Mr Tan had found the right word just one hour earlier, after using five tries.

"Tough. Tried less conventional words to approach the first few tries," he said.

Spreading festive cheer

With the Year of the Water Tiger roaring up in less than a fortnight, MPs have been attending Chinese New Year light-ups and getai concerts, conducting house visits and giving hongbao or red packets to the less fortunate.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung posted on Facebook about the light-ups around Sembawang and the God of Fortune holding court at Canberra Link and Sembawang Drive, while Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo shared about the festive decorations at Upper Boon Keng done up with the Upper Boon Keng Tua Pek Kong Temple and several local merchants.

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ng Ling Ling posted about attending a getai concert to engage seniors in Jalan Kayu, and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh highlighted a tiger decoration by Aljunied GRC resident Sandy Goh in Eunos.

"Looking forward to a vibrant and auspicious CNY this year! Huat ah!" wrote Mr Singh.

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