By The Way

Postcards from work trips, getting caught in the rain: 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: YIP HON WENG/FACEBOOK, HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK, TAN CHUAN-JIN/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 "postcards" from MPs travelling far and wide for work, politicians pounding pavement despite downpours, and shows they are watching to unwind.

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

Postcards from abroad

With Covid-19 restrictions easing around the world, Singaporeans have been scratching the travel itch by visiting other countries.

So have our local MPs, though many have been overseas in recent weeks for work trips, which have now ramped up.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan shared on Facebook a video montage by a staffer of his time in New York where he attended the annual United Nations General Assembly and a series of meetings on the sidelines, while Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen shared photos of him on board a warship and a Chinook helicopter while visiting Australia for Exercise Wallaby and Exercise Trident.

Meanwhile, Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan shared photos from her visit to the Green Village in Rotterdam to see how the Netherlands is creating carbon-neutral spaces for work, rest and play, such as homes with solar panel "curtains" and buildings powered by hydrogen.

Others who were recently overseas or are still on their trips include Manpower Minister Tan See Leng who was in the United States for the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, Transport Minister S. Iswaran in Canada for the International Civil Aviation Organisation's 41st Assembly, and Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan who was in Indonesia for the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting.

On Saturday, President Halimah Yacob posted a photo of her meeting and chat with Bhutan's king and queen at a reception after Queen Elizabeth's funeral in London.

She had asked King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck whether the kingdom's increase of its tourist tariff from US$65 to US$200 (S$287) a day would affect tourism.

"He was unperturbed as he felt that it's the quality of the experience that matters more for tourists who will be prepared to pay," noted Madam Halimah.

"He also felt that whilst tourism is important he needs to protect Bhutan's pristine quality of life for the benefit of the people."

Madam Halimah clearly came away impressed - she called King Jigme "a humble and engaging young man with a vision for his kingdom".

Runnin' in the rain

We've established that many MPs here enjoy a good run, including after marathon Parliament sessions such as the annual Budget.

Posts this week showed that even heavy rains could not stop some of them from lacing up their joggers.

Yio Chu Kang MP Yip Hon Weng shared a selfie of himself after a 5km run - drenched in what was likely a mix of sweat and rain, as he was caught in a heavy downpour on the way home.

Earlier, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin took part in the 10km Yellow Ribbon Race.

While the rain got heavier and heavier throughout the run around Changi Prison, Mr Tan said he was kept going by folks who manned the water points and marshals cheering them on.

"They kept us going all the way! Doesn't matter whether you walked, jogged or run, we all run the race for Second Chances…," he said.

The Yellow Ribbon Project aims to change society's mindset towards former offenders, and funds raised go towards rehabilitative and aftercare programmes.

A day prior, Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo posted a clip of her running in the rain at MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

Her morning walk had started out sunny before it began to pour, but luckily she had a wide-brimmed hat with her. Mrs Teo did manage to catch a beautiful sunrise and rainbow during her walk, so you could say it was a wash.

Jurong GRC MP Xie Yao Quan shared his IPPT results from Tuesday when he achieved the Gold standard and the maximum of 100 points, and a 2.4km run timing of 9 minutes and 36 seconds.

Mr Xie said: "My goal is to maintain my run timing year on year, because age should truly be just a number!"

To that, one commenter quipped: "Run timing is numbers too."

Guilty pleasures

Even parliamentarians need a dose of TV time every now and then, and two of them recently shared what they have been watching on their streaming services of choice.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Sustainability and the Environment Koh Poh Koon shared that he had bonded with his cat Toothless over the Netflix documentary Inside the Mind of a Cat.

"I wonder what goes on in his head watching a program on cats🤔" Dr Koh thought aloud. "Hopefully he doesn't think we humans got it all wrong!"

As for Speaker Tan, he had hoped to catch up on The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power with his children after an evening of house visits, but they had already gone to bed.

What to do in times like these?

"Oh well. Will definitely watch again with them. This weekend!!" said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan wears his nerd stripes proudly - he previously shared with his followers that besides Rings of Power, he was also looking forward to the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's seminal comic book Sandman, and Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.

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