Interview with the Candidates: Council President Elections 2017

By Ling Young Loon (18S07A) and Lynn Hong (18A13A)

It’s the festival of elections yet again – vibrant canteen displays and posters line the school’s corridors. To get to know our presidential candidates better, Press presents an interview feature with them.

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The presidential elects, from left to right: Jared Foong (JF), Beverly Fu (B), and Warren Liow (W)
Photos courtesy of 36th Students’ Council

P: What makes you most suited for the role of President?

B: So I think as an individual, what makes me suited for the role of President is my calm and perceptive disposition. I’m someone that doesn’t crumble under pressure and with regards to [sic] my leadership style, [it] is a thoughtful and introspective one… I believe this will allow me to bring a certain grace to [the] position of President as I’m respectful and mature in my dealings with everyone. I don’t want to be overbearing; I don’t believe in micromanaging, and I want to give everyone the chance to further their own leadership

JF: I think we’re all suited to the role in someway. For me, throughout [sic] my past experiences and even now, it’s about action – action in everything through different activities that we do together, or whatever it is that we’re planning or executing for the school. The leadership I believe in is one of empowerment… leadership is not about following and leading, but about leading and developing, leading and growing, leading and empowering our peers around us.

W: For me, something really unique about me will be my positivity la. When the tough gets going… Warren doesn’t! That was my original campaign theme (chuckles) I think what really defines me is my optimism. Even when there are challenges or setbacks, I won’t give up and I will make the most of the opportunities that come my way.

P: All of you held formal leadership positions in your secondary school. Tell us one thing you have learnt from those experiences.

JF: Back in secondary school when I was PSL chairman and standards head, these two roles gave me a greater insight with regard to both interacting with my peers and what kind of actions leaders must undertake. On the first point of interactions, it was really about maintaining sincere and respectful conversations with everyone I was working with. Regardless of what position I was in or he was in, it was mutual respect that really defined our relationship. The second point is really about how action is required on everyone’s part… everyone has to come together to complete the task.

W: If I may cut in at this point, I agree that action is really important — not just by the leader but by the followers. When I was head prefect, we were able to achieve what we were able to achieve not particularly because of the leaders but because of the individual prefects, [who came] together to create something special. I think it’s a proven fact that leaders are nothing without their followers. This support network is really important to student leaders like us.

B: I think my journey as head prefect… when I had to work with all the different leadership board [sic] in RG… the whole journey just taught me that change and progress can’t come about from just one person. I realised it was super super important to support and enable each other, whatever duties we have. Everyone has a role to play in shaping the school’s culture.

P: Six months from now, if we were to ask one student “What is the most impactful thing Council has done for you?”, what would you like to hear?

B: I would like to hear that council is receptive and has listened to the concerns of the school population. I want to hear that we have strived to address these concerns. Besides formal communication channels like Town Hall Sessions, I think it would also be beneficial to have more frequent and informal feedback channels for students as well. So six months down the road, I want to hear that Council has listened out [sic] and followed up with this feedback. Ultimately, it’s my wish to see students engaged and that they find the activities organised by Council meaningful.

JF: What I would feel honored to hear would be that Council has made him or her look forward to coming to school. Council has made him/her more involved in the school and made him/herfeel like an active student in RJC. I hope that every student can be engaged in this school, regardless of class or CCA. I want Council to be able to bring people together, and that’s what I hope the student feels that way [sic] as well. It will make me very proud to be a Councillor indeed.

W: Everyone has said so many things… I think it doesn’t matter what impact it was… as long as it was a positive impact, I’ll be happy. We’re just one batch of Councillors — there’s a limit to how much we can achieve. It’s through both the small things and big initiatives that can make the school, as what Jared mentioned, feel proud and happy to come to Raffles.

P: It is often said that every Rafflesian is a leader. As President, how will you ensure that every student can be recognised as a leader in their own capacity?

W: I believe that everyone is a leader in their own right because ultimately we all lead our lives and choose how we want to treat others. Everything is part of a choice that you make on a daily basis about your life, and that choice is what defines you as a leader. You have to take responsibility for your life and actions, and so, in that right, everyone is a leader. As councillors, one of the things we do is to maintain the standard in the school, to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. To be disciplined is to be a leader, as you need to have self-restraint and that maturity to control yourself and behave in the way you should. So together with our promotion of standards through the school, it’s important that each Rafflesian steps up to be leader they should be and council will seek to further explore that point.

It’s not just about standards, but having a positive mindset and coming to school and participating in the school culture on a day to day basis, not just at events. That, in itself, is being a leader.

B: I would like to enable people, by giving them opportunities to lead and support them, enabling the everyday student to give them the opportunity to lead and initiate things in their respective fields, for example interests groups. I can’t promise that they’ll necessarily receive recognition in the form of RD, but i don’t think that that’s what matters, because we don’t have to have that title or that line on your CV to know that you are a leader. I sincerely believe that every Rafflesian can be a leader, and as president i hope to promote an everyday kind of leadership by giving people opportunities to lead and providing avenues through which others can serve. As for recognition…it can come in many different forms, even in the form of peer encouragement. For example, Raffles Press can feature everyday student leaders, not just positional leaders.

JF: I think my view is that leadership isn’t about the position but about the influence, so everyone has the potential to be a leader and has the potential to influence others; that’s very powerful and meaningful. If you think about it, every action or word can impact someone and change that person’s outlook and attitude and their actions. I can think of a two-pronged approach for recognising our student leaders: listening and empowering. For listening, it’s about listening to their views about what they want school life to be, what they want Raffles to become. That’s the first point as to how we can recognise them as influencers and leaders. My second point on empowerment is about getting students involved. I feel [that] we can involve more non-councillors in planning and executing events for their batchmates, and that involves engagement. It’ll be rewarding and empowering for students, and give them an opening for growth and self-discovery.

P: That’s great. Do you have anything you would like to say to the school?

W: I think we are all very capable in our own [right] and whoever gets the position in the end, i think council will be in good hands. Yeah, because of that I think it’s important that the school really votes for the person they want to see serve in the position of council president, not just because they are your friend or because they really want the position but really who they think will serve the school best.

B: I actually have a quote to share, its like my favourite quote actually “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” Even though we are still J1, and we’re young, 16, 17, there’s really no limit to what we can do. So I would just like to tell everybody to go out there and do good things.

I feel that elections really is the time not just for us to tell the school what our visions are, but it’s also a time for people to tell us what they feel, what change they feel needs to be made and what kind of leaders they want to be elected and I fully respect the student body’s eventual vote as to who they believe is best suited to be council president because I trust and I believe in the student body. And I look forward to working forward with you guys and I’m excited about the journey and I look forward for elections to be over actually! But yes, I look forward to serving the school alongside Warren and Jared.

JF: Ah yeah. The election process has been humbling right from the start. I’ve been saying that I’ll be a fresh voice with new ideas and new perspectives and i wish to seek the school’s support for this. But the fact is that whatever the result, I believe that we can and I hope that we do continue to work together. At the end of the day, I think it’s about finding unity and the kind of school spirit.

B: And yeah I think any student can come up to us and tell any of the presidential candidates what they feel so that we can get a good sensing of the ground and know what to work on.

Press wishes the presidential candidates all the best in their elections.

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