Council Matters: Interview with Presidential Candidates 2016 (Part 1)

This article is Part 1 of our Presidential Candidate Feature. More information about the candidates for President and House Captains can be found here.

By Nicole Doyle (17A01A), Marilyn Kang (17A01B) and Yeo Jun Wei (17S03B); Photos courtesy of Students’ Council

It’s that time of the year again, when white walls around school become filled with tidbits of information and faces we will come to familiarize ourselves with. This year’s Presidential Candidates for the Students’ Council have been reaching out to the school through their many posters and videos, which can be viewed in the canteen. With voting about to be held this coming Wednesday, the candidates have been hard at work on their campaigns.

This year, Raffles Press will be covering the Council Presidential Elections in a two-part article series. We hope that these articles can equip students with a better impression of just who and what they will be voting for in order to make informed choices during voting. This first half of the series aims to feature some preliminary questions that will give insights into the quirky and personal side of each candidate, with questions carefully curated by us here at Press.

Without further ado, we present your Presidential Candidates for the 36th Student Council!

 

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The Presidential Elects, from left to right: Fatima Siddiqui (17S03I), See Chung Yi (17S06F) and Joyce Chan (17A13A).

1. Are you a hunter or a gatherer?

Fatima Siddiqui (FS): I’d think I’m more of a gatherer. I understand gathering to be a slower process, which is reflective of my focus on developing long-term relationships and nurturing each individual above and beyond the task at hand. Besides, I don’t like the violence that comes to mind when I think of hunting!

Chung Yi (CY): Who says we can’t be both? Humankind leapt forth from the cesspools of primitivity through the acquiring of hunter-gatherer skills. Both the ability to hunt, which is to be resourceful, to be able to think on the fly and to look for new, innovative methods to solve problems, and the ability to gather, which is to plan ahead, to save for a rainy day and to be prepared for all possible desirable/undesirable outcomes, were important for survival back then, and are important in today’s day and age. I would be a hunter-gatherer, both prepared for the expected, and ready to tackle the unexpected.

Joyce Chan (JC): A hunter. I enjoy challenging myself, to constantly improve myself and seek new experiences.

 

2. What’s your favourite quote?

FS: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibilities, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein

CY: “Hold on to what makes you feel, don’t let go, it’s what makes you real” – without passion, life would be a mistake. We’re all driven by something, be it by service, by music, by academics, by sports, etcetera etcetera. Without a motivation, life becomes colourless and uninteresting, so it’s important to me to live for something – and that’s for me that’s friends, family and music.

JC: “When everything seems to be going against you, just remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Besides my interest for aviation, this quote really serves as a reminder that when faced with tough times, we’ll always be able to come out on the other side, stronger than before.

 

3. What stationery item would you want to be?

JC: I’d be a coloured marker. A coloured marker can be used for many things: to pick out details on a page filled with words, in a piece of artwork, for little children to make scribbles with, or to just make notes a little less boring. Like a marker, I’d like to think of myself as a detail-oriented person. Also, I have a wide range of interests, and would like to gain as many new experiences as possible to make the most of my life. Lastly, I believe in colouring up and bringing fun into both our own and others’ lives. \0/

CY: I would be a pencil. There’s the somewhat overused pun on “lead” (haha.), but more importantly, a pencil is a vessel for creation, is a means through which art, stories, and beauty are made. The pencil can create content that inspires, that brings people together, that helps to forge new paths. And though some might say the pencil can be worn out, it doesn’t take much for it to be resharpened, to refocus, for it to continue serving and inspiring the greater good.

FS: Reinforcement rings! (Those little things we can stick on after punching holes in a piece of paper to make sure we don’t end up tearing the page as we repeatedly flip through files.) Over time, it’s not uncommon to see a lot of people burning out and like the reinforcement rings, I hope to be able to keep those around me going, supporting them through the tough times. Yes, it involves staying strong and keeping morales up when everyone else may be on the down low, but an intact file with untorn pages and happy team with satisfied individuals at the end of it is more than worth it!

 

4. Would you rather be a dog or a cat?

FS: I’d rather be a cat. I really admire how composed and self-respecting cats are as they walk around calmly. Sure, they don’t seem as bubbly or friendly as dogs, but in their quiet demeanour, they can provide a lot of comfort, like when they come over and rub themselves on your legs. I won’t complain about the claws that come with being a cat either; it’s always good to have some back-up if the situation gets dire and out-of-hand!

JC: I’d rather be a dog. Generally, a dog can take naps and go about just like cats do, but much like how a dog shares close bonds with their owners, I personally enjoy forging close relationships with the people around me. However that’s not to say that I enjoy being commanded and controlled by someone; rather that I would go the lengths to be the best that I can be for the people around me. (Though being able to climb a tree would be useful.)

CY: I would rather be a cat. Cats exhibit a special kind of introversion, an introversion that is self-aware and self-reflexive. Yes, dogs have boundless energy, and that’s always a good trait to have – unbridled enthusiasm. However, certain situations call for being able to step back and take a look at the big picture, to reconsider and plan the next best course of action. Cats will sometimes slow down, and I suppose that they take this time to think about where life will next take them, and where they will next take their lives and the lives of others. And of course, after careful thinking, they spring to action with enthusiasm and vigour. This is akin to who I am, I do not rush into things, I carefully consider what would be the next best step to take, and when time calls for it, I too, will spring to action, with a smile on my face and energy to spare :)

 

5. Would you rather be in the majority or the minority?
CY: It sounds like a cop-out answer, but it honestly depends on the situation. It’s less of an issue of being in the majority or the minority, and more of whether the stand you take is morally and ethically right or wrong. Sometimes the right decision might not be the most popular decision, and you know what? That’s OK! So long as what you do is good and just, there is no problem with being in the minority.

FS: I’d rather be in the minority actually. In some ways, I’m already in the minority, for instance, in terms of race or because I wasn’t born in Singapore. To me, being part of the minority has always meant having a unique perspective that would be valuable to others around me if only I had to courage to share it. Granted, it isn’t a bed of roses when your needs and situation aren’t well understood and you have to be the one speaking out for that small group of (sometimes forgotten) people, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone makes for very meaningful experiences. The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view I guess!

JC: Depends on the context; if it’s in terms of race, I probably can’t change much, but I would probably stand with whichever I share my beliefs with/stand for.

 

6. Name one controversial belief that you have.
CY: That cats are better than dogs. (Sorry dog lovers. I would love dogs more if not for the fact that I was bitten by a dog once and never bitten by a cat. Bad childhood memories.)

FS: Many people go in with the hopes of doing a lot of good, but one belief I hold on to is trying to do as little harm as possible. It’s not that I don’t believe in doing good — I, too, have ideas for how we can make the school a happier place in our term in Council — but I feel that sometimes a lot of harm is done along the way. Be it arguments in teams over minor details and perfection, or people burning out because we’re trying to do just too much good, these are all forms of “harm” that I hope to be able to minimise. It’s controversial because it does involve compromising on how much good we can do, and some might feel that the best way to do as little harm as possible is to do nothing at all. To me though, it’s about maximising “net” good by minimising the “harm” along the way.

JC: Exercise is fun.

 

7. What’s your pet peeve?

FS: Formatting! Such as unjustified font changes in a document, or things not being aligned properly. I like things neat and presentable so messy documents with many different fonts or inconsistent font types and sizes are definitely my pet peeve.

CY: Dogs.

Just kidding. My pet peeve comes from my time in the Chinese Orchestra – when people don’t play with the right attitude. Music should be about release and the painting of a picture, the portraying of a story, a display of powerful emotion. If one doesn’t put his/her heart into his music (or generally into the things he’s invested in), then it becomes difficult to put an entire piece of music together, for a project to be carried through to the end.

JC: A pet peeve I have would probably be when people dirty the tables and don’t clean up (like sticky blobs of stuff that leave marks on tables). Usually I wouldn’t sit down and use it till I’ve gotten something and wiped it away.

 

8. Have you ever given up on a dream before? If so, why?
CY: Never. Dreams that have yet to be achieved are merely success stories delayed. Don’t give up on your dreams, because as cliche as it sounds, they’re what drive you to be the best you can be.

FS: Back in primary school, I had a dream of writing in Urdu (my mother tongue) digest magazines in Pakistan. I really love my mother tongue and used to spend a lot of time reading books and poetry, and spending way more effort than rational on my compositions. It was actually my grandmother’s sister who read a lot of these magazines that suggested I send some of my stories in. Back then, I was really excited about the idea, but apprehensive about the quality of my writing and so decided to wait it out. But as I grew older, more things competed for my time and I stopped spending as much time on writing so my standard somewhat stagnated. Perhaps there is still a chance that someday I will do what I set out to, but I think deep down I have given up on the dream because my stories are somewhat still at primary school level haha! It would have been cute and quite a dream to fulfil then, but now, not quite so.

JC: So far, I haven’t given up on any dreams before, but I might have to give up on the dream of becoming a pilot, because I’m not sure if I’ll grow enough to meet the height requirement. :(

 

9. Describe your prison escape plan.
JC: The first step would probably to plan the escape destination, and route to the destination, perhaps collude with some people outside of prison to rendezvous somewhere outside the prison before we make a getaway on a vehicle. Next would be to establish a “habit” (for example, spending extremely long times in the toilet or something) so that on the actual day of escape (e.g. through the toilet window? Assuming it’s large enough for a person to fit through), nobody would really suspect anything until they actually realize I’m gone. While doing so, I’d probably go around observing the degree of security on various areas in order to plan the safest route where I would least likely get spotted, and collect items I would possibly need (e.g. extra food from mealtimes or something). And when everything’s ready, pick a suitable time based on the observations gathered and make a run for it.

If all else fails, pretending that I lost my way or learning ninjutsu would be good. \0/

CY: Never have I invested much thought into a prison escape plan, possibly because I am a law-abiding citizen and I don’t intend to go to jail. However, in the unlikely event that this happens, the plan would roughly involve a spoon from the prison cafeteria, a tarpaulin or cover that blends in with the ground, and a lot of digging. A lot, of digging.

FS: Oh dear, why am I in prison! I think I’m more likely to just stay in prison than to try and escape. Anywho, if I did try, I think my escape plan would involve being a good inmate and remaining on cordial terms with the officers and wardens so I can observe them and their procedures carefully. No system is perfect, and enough observation of the situation from different viewpoints (by sticking with the wardens, or as an inmate) will eventually reveal the crucial flaw that will allow me to escape. It’ll be a quiet escape – no one will notice until they come around as usual, and that is when they will find a thank you note from me, for the instrumental role they didn’t even realise they were playing in my escape.

 

10. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
JC: The hardest thing I’d ever done was probably going to the airport to send off a really close friend of mine who was moving overseas for an indefinite amount of time.

CY: In recent memory, this interview.

Again, just kidding :) (but really, where do you get these questions from?). The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to come to terms with having to give up Chinese Orchestra as a CCA upon joining Council. Chinese Orchestra has been and always will be big part of my life, but in wanting to devote my time and energy towards service to the school and my friends, I knew that I would not be able to commit fully to Chinese Orchestra (CO). However, thanks to the support of my friends in and out of CO, I realised that though you can take the person out of CO, you can never take CO out of the person. Music will always be a part of me, the friends I’ve made in CO, I’ll never forget, and this made it easier for me to come to terms with my decision. Knowing that my friends support me motivates me to devote my time to Council and to the wider community, and reaffirms my decision.

FS: Scolding one of my nephews when he was putting both himself and his younger brother in danger. The two of them were staying with my family for a couple of months at one point, and we happened to be doing some rewiring of computers and printers. Excited to somehow be a part of the activity, the older nephew kept running in and out of the room, with the younger one following suit. Despite repeated reminders not to do so, he did not listen and eventually ended up tripping over a wire, jerking the entire printer forward. I managed to put my leg out in time to stop the printer from falling onto him. But the situation was really too close for comfort – a split second later and I don’t even want to imagine what could’ve happened. I really had to make it very clear to my nephew that actions have consequences, and that instructions need to be heeded despite how he cried as he was being reprimanded. I really love him, which made it painful to see him in tears and to be the cause of it, but it was something that had to be done.

 

This concludes the first half of our coverage of the 36th Student Council’s Presidential elections! Look out for the next article, where we will dig deeper into each candidate’s plans and visions for Council.

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