Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't you dare cast protest vote!


Mr Teo and Mr Lee entered the room while chatting casually with each other. Ah Tan, Ah Lim, Ali and twenty over men and women stood up to greet the two men. Mr Teo signaled all to be seated.

MR TEO: Ladies and gentlemen, we're very honored to have Mr Lee here with us today. As the Chairman Mentor of the welfare committee, Mr Lee would like to talk to you about the upcoming welfare committee members election. Mr Lee, thank you.

As Mr Teo walked over to an empty seat at the front row, Mr Lee walked to the front of the crowd and adjusted his left sleeve cuff before he finally spoke.

MR LEE: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you're all very excited and are anticipating some tough fights in the upcoming welfare committee members election. Though my successor Logan and his team has been doing a really good job and it really makes no sense for his team to step down, I can see that the competition is getting strong, with the recent two high flyers joining Joshua's team, and of course not forgetting that Low's team is getting themselves prepared as well.

Mr Lee stopped when he found some whisperings and elbow-nudgings among the crowd. Hastily, Mr Teo stood up and faced the crowd.

MR TEO (sternly): People, if you've got any comments or questions, do feel free to put up your hands and let Mr Lee know. You should know that when Mr Lee speaks, he expects others to just keep quiet and listen. So please, if you don't have anything to share, keep quiet.

The crowd went dead silent and all stared at Mr Lee. Satisfied, Mr Teo bowed to Mr Lee and signaled him to continue, before sitting down.

MR LEE (cleared throat): I know a lot of you are upset about the recent hike of the season parking rate. However you need to understand that Logan's team has worked hard to fight for this subsidised price, below market rate, so that you can afford a parking lot, so that you know that your car is well-parked while you work. You should not find fault with the season parking policy, and if you do, you must be damn daft.

Ah Tan put up his right hand. Mr Lee nodded at him, signaling that he may speak. Ah Tan stood up.

AH TAN: But Sir, the season parking rate is really going through the roof, especially with the new employees joining the department. In fact season parking is so expensive now that some of us here have even stopped driving to work and are taking public transport instead!

Exclamations were audible among the crowd as Ah Tan sat down.

MR LEE: Yes, I do understand that with higher demand, the bidding of season parking lots has driven the season parking rate up. But you must also understand that the department cannot survive without new employees! So it is inevitable that the season parking rate should go up! This is life and you just have to take it! But at the same time, you can be rest assured that Logan and his team will definitely monitor the situation and ensure it does not get out of hand.

Ah Tan folded his arms and sighed. Ali then raised his right hand before standing up to speak.

ALI: Sir, there is also this thing about the coffee vending machines in the pantries.
MR LEE: What about it, son?
ALI: Sir, our coffee vending machines are getting more and more expensive! We used to get free coffee from the machines, then the committee said the management complained that too many people are crowding in the pantry for coffee break, so they started to charge us thirty cents per cup, so that we don't buy coffee too often and so will not hang around the pantries. Then later it is raised to fifty cents per cup because people are not deterred by the cheap thirty cents. Then eighty cents. Now some of the machines are like one dollar for a cup of latte! And I heard that on the ninth floor, there are four new coffee machines that are selling at two dollars a cup!

Ah Tan tapped Ali's leg to warn him that he has gotten too agitated. Quickly, Ali sat down.

MR LEE: I'm sorry to hear that, but this is something that we must do. Like you said, it all started from those days when the management complained to us that too many people are crowding in the pantries for coffee break. And this policy to make you pay for coffee does work, right? I'm sure your pantries are not as crowded these days during the peak tea-break hours, right?

Somebody in the crowd whispered loudly "Still crowded what".

MR LEE (clearing his throat): Okay, I know the pantries can still be crowded at times. But think of it this way. They'll be even more crowded if the coffee is still free! Remember this! The genuine purpose of making you pay for your coffee is to stop congestion in the pantries, not for the committee to make money out of you! You can't just blame this on Logan's team and stop voting for them!

Ah Lim held up his right hand and stood up to speak.

AH LIM: But Sir, those two high flyers that joined Joshua's team look promising, you know? They're both graduated from the University of Cambridge with First Class Honours! Shouldn't we give Joshua's team a chance to prove themselves?

Mr Lee frowned slightly and stood there staring at Ah Lim for a few seconds. Feeling slightly intimidated, Ah Lim sat down and tried not to look into Mr Lee's eyes.

MR LEE (sternly and loudly): University of Cambridge? First Class Honours? Is that what you look for in a welfare committee member? A welfare committee member should be judged not by his academic ability but what he can do for you! Yes, for Joshua's team, it's a change. In fact, it is a significant development. But people! You need to look at the person, not what degrees he has, but what he is able to do for you!

Somebody in the crowd whispered loudly "And what has Logan's team done so far".

Mr Lee squinted his eyes and tried to locate the person who said that, but everybody just stared at him blankly. Quickly, Mr Teo jumped up from his chair and walked to the front.

MR TEO (to the crowd): Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I think we've reached the end of today's meeting. Mr Lee is a very busy man so I really don't want to hold him up. Should we stand up and give Mr Lee a round applause?

All men and women in the room stood up and clapped their hands mechanically while Mr Lee left the room.

Don't cast protest vote, Candidates should be judged on what they can do, Ex-civil servants join Reform


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