By The Way

Giving parenting tips, responding to the chicken export ban: 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: FACEBOOK/AMRIN AMIN, PRITAM SINGH, WORKERS' PARTY, MEDIACORP

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

In this edition, we take a look at how Education Minister Chan Chun Sing is like as a parent, how politicians are responding to Malaysia's chicken export ban, and what the Workers' Party is doing in Sengkang GRC's Compassvale ward.

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

Opposition leaders' lunch

The leaders of the two opposition parties represented in Parliament met for lunch on Thursday (May 26).

Workers' Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh posted a photo of him with his counterpart from the Progress Singapore Party Francis Yuen on Facebook. He said both Mr Yuen - a former air force lieutenant-colonel - and his father were regulars in the Singapore Armed Forces more than two decades ago.

"They took night classes together, with a view to sit for their A-level examinations. Both did splendidly, with dad going on to law school at NUS, and Francis studying business at the same university where he won prizes for academic achievement," wrote Mr Singh in a post titled Small World.

"May Singapore continue to evolve to have a more balanced political system, and may more credible and capable Singaporeans of all stripes step up to make a positive difference in this country we call home."

Sharing the post, the official PSP account wrote: "Moving forward, together."

Being a minister's daughter

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing dished out parenting tips on an episode of a Chinese-language variety show titled Dishing With Chris Lee, hosted by actor Christopher Lee.

Mr Chan was invited to Pulau Ubin to have a meal prepared by Lee and actress Kym Ng, including Teochew steamed pomfret and braised duck.

Asked whether his children felt any pressure in school because their father is a minister, Mr Chan, who has a 21-year-old daughter and two sons aged 13 and 11, said his eldest child did face pressure when she was in secondary school.

"Because if she did well in school, people would say that that would be a given, since she was a minister's daughter. But if she didn't do so well, people would ask, as a minister's daughter, shouldn't you get better grades?"

"But for her, it was part of the process of growing up, to learn to deal with the pressure," said Mr Chan.

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Asked if he sends his children for tuition, Mr Chan said they take classes for things they are not already studying in school. "If you want them to have extra classes, it should be to widen their perspectives."

As to the kind of education he hoped for children of this generation, Mr Chan said: "Education that is more diverse."

"During the years of nation-building, we had fewer resources. So the systems we went through were more or less the same," he added.

"But the kids today have a wider range of potential, so we should help them to discover their potential. From a national perspective, there are more uncertainties in the future, so for a country to be resilient, we will need a more diverse pool of talent."

Coping with the chicken export ban

Eateries and chicken sellers in Singapore have been scrambling to contain the fallout from Malaysia's announcement this week that it would halt its export of 3.6 million whole chickens for a month, starting in June.

Singapore imported about 34 per cent of its chicken supply from Malaysia in 2021.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin posted a popular meme showing rice in the shape of a chicken drumstick, with the caption: "My lunch after June 1".

He wrote: "As a Hainanese and someone who grew up on Hainanese chicken rice, this is somewhat distressing!"

Escalating food prices and the disruptive effect on food supplies are being felt in many places around the world, he wrote, noting the effect from supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine.

"We continue to diversify our sources and to also ensure we have the wherewithal to purchase from them," wrote Mr Tan.

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Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong, who is president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), wrote about how the association has been monitoring the situation.

Prices for chicken, chicken parts and related products have generally remained stable across major supermarket chains, he said, especially those of supermarket house brands.

This was according to data listed on price comparison app Price Kaki.

"I also encourage consumers to consider house brands chicken and related products as they set an important price floor for such essential items," said Mr Yong.

Former Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, who was on a short trip to Penang, visited an eatery and had spicy fried chicken.

"Had my fill - especially chicken, Malaysian chicken export ban kicks in on 1 June," he wrote on Facebook.

Covering Compassvale

In a show of solidarity, the Workers' Party posted a photo of its MPs and volunteers doing house visits in Compassvale - a neighbourhood in Sengkang - on Tuesday (May 24).

Eight WP MPs were in the photo, except for Ms He Ting Ru.

The post said the party believed that Singaporeans have a collective responsibility to care for one another, which is why it advocates for the more fortunate to have a greater role to play in helping to uplift the less fortunate in society.

"By a similar token, as a party, we believe in the importance of sharing the burden of our political commitments collectively.

"This was evident tonight, as our MPs gathered together in #SengkangGRC to perform the first of what will be an ongoing effort to visit the households of #Compassvale."

Compassvale was former WP MP Raeesah Khan's ward before she resigned from the party in December last year over a lying saga.

It has now been carved up so that it comes under each of the remaining three MPs: Ms He Ting Ru, Mr Louis Chua, and Associate Professor Jamus Lim.

Sharing the post, WP leader Pritam Singh wrote: "My team and I appreciated the conversations with the residents of Compassvale and look forward to meeting more of you in future.

"I smiled to myself when I saw a home-made sign just above the doorbell of one unit - 'We are not selling or renting our unit! Thank you!' After speaking to residents in the block over the course of the evening, it was easy to understand why!"

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