This 'David' is not afraid of fighting 'PAP Goliath'
WHO: Ravi Philemon
WHAT: Blogger, Singapore People's Party Hong Kah North SMC candidate
FAMILY: Married with 1 son, 1 daughter
POLITICAL CAREER SO FAR: Left the National Solidarity Party in March to join the Singapore People's Party
The odds are stacked against Mr Ravi Philemon and he knows it.
With more than 70 per cent of Hong Kah North voters choosing the PAP's candidate in the last election, the Singapore People's Party (SPP) candidate at the SMC is being realistic about his chances.
"Even if I get a 40-60 result (against my favour), giving me 10 per cent is a huge swing already. It is the voters telling Dr Amy Khor to pull up her socks. That is enough for me," said the 47-year-old blogger, referring to his PAP opponent.
Clad in the SPP's purple shirt and wearing a party badge, Mr Philemon spoke passionately to The New Paper about his vision for Singapore's future. For the interview which lasted for more than an hour, he was unaccompanied by any press minders or party members.
Mr Philemon left the National Solidarity Party in March because of his friendship with fellow SPP candidate Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss and SPP's secretary-general Chiam See Tong.
"Mr Chiam said to me, 'Ravi, I only have one advice for you. Always stand on top of the PAP'.
"I took him to mean not to let them bully me and always take the high road."
Speaking at the void deck of an HDB block in the SMC, Mr Philemon told the tale of David felling the mighty Goliath with just three stones.
"You'll never know. When every one else was afraid, there was one little boy who asked, 'Why is everyone afraid of Goliath?' I am not afraid."
Mr Philemon left his job as the director of a voluntary welfare organisation at the start of the election season to contest in this general election.
But he does not want Hong Kah North voters to worry for him.
"I have my own fears. Who is going to give me a job if I don't make it?
"But I think there comes a point of time in life when we have to make a decision for the greater good. And I felt that my moment is now. I can survive, don't worry about me."
Mr Ravi Philemon on...
GRATITUDE TO THE PAP
Singaporeans "need not be beholden" to the PAP for what the Government has achieved over the past few generations, said Mr Philemon.
He was responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's claim that Singapore's development and the PAP are "inextricably linked".
The SPP candidate rejected the idea that the young who have not lived in the turbulent periods in the past should be grateful to the PAP. Instead, he believes that it should be the other way round.
"A democratically-elected government should be the servant to the people," he said
PUBLIC NOT CONSULTED
He questioned the PAP's policymaking process, claiming that the public is not consulted on difficult policies like population papers.
Said Mr Philemon: "They have said they get feedback from their own MPs before crafting policies. Shouldn't they be getting input from the people instead?
"It's strange. It reminds me of when the Our Singapore Conversation initiative was going on, but they came up with the 6.9 million population paper. Why wasn't that part of the Conversation?"
CULTIVATING OUR TALENTS
We should steer away from the "Asian parent" mindset and encourage non-academic talents such as art and music, even if it leads to non-traditional career paths, said Mr Philemon.
To do that, Singapore should relook our education system to see if schools are providing enough outdoor learning opportunities to foster the creativity needed in those fields.
Mr Philemon feels this way as his daughter, who did her tertiary education in the US, could not compete with her American classmates in creative fields, but did well in the sciences and language.
He also spoke about how his son, while studying in the US when the family lived there, was shocked to find out that educated people had ambitions to be plumbers or farmers.
"That was a culture shock for us, but that is the fact of life there. That you can earn a decent living, you can support a family and you will not be looked down upon," said Mr Philemon, who returned to Singapore in 2008.