It was reported earlier that People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament, Seah Kian Peng from Marine Parade GRC decided to play the role of “safe distancing ambassador” to walkabout through the various kopitiams as well a wet market on Sunday (26 Apr).
Seah, who is also the Group CEO of NTUC Enterprise, wrote on his Facebook page, “This morning (26 Apr), I walked alone through the various kopitiams as well the wet market, playing the role of a safe distancing ambassador (SDA).”
He made an interesting observation that even with a mask on, residents seem to be able to recognize him. He seems to be more concerned about people recognizing him. It’s not known who appointed him as a SDA or if he appointed himself as one.
His “walking about” came as a surprise, as two weeks ago (13 Apr), the People’s Action Party (PAP) made a post on its Facebook page announcing that it will suspend its usual ground engagements such as market visits and home visits, and Meet-the-People Sessions in light of the COVID-19 outbreak (‘People’s Action Party posts on its Facebook page, announcing for the first time that it will suspend its ground engagement‘).
But apparently, by “playing the role” of a SDA, it would be alright for Seah to carry on the usual ground engagements such as market visits.
In response to media enquiries and netizens’ criticism, Seah said he was out from home on Sunday as he had to sign some documents at the community club. He added that as part of his job as NTUC Group CEO, he also went to “check on how things were at the two FairPrice supermarkets” in vicinity.
“At same time as I walked through the estate, I would pass by the kopitiams in (the) estate, wet market too. And I thus made those observations. At all times observing safe distancing rules,” he explained.
He seems to imply that “playing the role” of SDA was a spur of the moment thing when he was on his way to sign some documents at the community club on a Sunday morning. “I hope we don’t politicise this matter. It appears that some are clearly wanting to do so,” he further added.
Seah seems to like “role playing”
Indeed, Seah seems to like to indulge in “role playing”. In one incident back in 2012, Seah decided to “play the role” of a high-ranking Land Transport Authority (LTA) official, ordering an enforcement officer to stop enforcing traffic rules.
The incident came to the public knowledge when a resident of Braddell Heights wrote to TODAY complaining about inconsistent parking enforcement practices in Singapore (‘Inconsistent parking enforcement‘, 31 Oct 2012).
Due to the worsening traffic situation in Braddell Heights at the time, the resident approached Seah, his MP, for help. Seah told the resident that it was not within his jurisdiction to solve traffic problem and advised the resident to park at less congested roads further away.
“I agree that it is not within his jurisdiction to instruct LTA officers how to do their job,” the resident wrote. “Then, on Oct 20, the grassroots organisation threw a party, attended by Mr Seah, at the park along Jalan Riang. As usual, many cars were parked illegally, and an LTA officer arrived that afternoon to enforce the law. But he left without booking any drivers.”
“I reported the incident to the LTA and was assured that I would hear from an officer who would be assigned to investigate. I have yet to hear from the LTA since,” the resident added.
Seah told LTA enforcement officer in 2012, not to issue summons
Seah replied to TODAY two days later confirming that there was indeed a garden party organized by grassroots organisation on the said day mentioned by the resident (‘Give and take, not ‘principled’ approach‘, 2 Nov 2012). Seah said it was to celebrate the completion of an estate upgrading project in Braddell Heights.
“As I was driving there, I saw an enforcement officer about to book some cars; I stopped and told him that many residents would be at the party and, unless their cars were obstructing traffic, to apply a light touch and not issue any summons,” Seah said.
“This was not the peak period, the cars were parked in an orderly manner and I do not think there were any public safety issues.”
In other words, Seah decided to play the role of a high-ranking official from LTA, telling the enforcement officer to stop issuing summons to any cars parked illegally on the day his grassroots members were throwing a party. No doubt, he must have been the guest-of-honor at the party.
In his reply, he said he advocates everyone to take a “give and take approach”. He wrote, “There will always be some residents who insist that there be constant enforcement, regardless of circumstances. I am against such a ‘principled’ approach for such matters.”
Seah went on to say that things have improved in Braddell Heights following a series of mediation, presumably with him as the mediator.
“It has worked well, and the neighbourhood is more peaceful and cordial now,” he said. “Back to the garden party: As it was raining heavily from 5.30pm, most residents and cars had already left by then. I hope this letter puts things in the right perspective.”
Seah seems to excel in “role playing”. Perhaps he should consider becoming an actor in Hollywood?