Jeisilan Sivalingam is a Process Improvement Manager in a multinational company located in Singapore. He graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Management, specialising in Logistic and Supply Chain Management. He enjoys playing soccer and diving in his free time. Other than English and Tamil, Jeisilan can converse in simple Bahasa Malaysia.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I am 40 years old. I completed GCE ‘O’ Level in Temasek Secondary School and GCE ‘A’ Level in Tampines Junior College. I grew up in a Geylang kampong in the 1970s till I was 10, then my family moved to a rented 2 room HDB Flat in Marine Parade. When I was 16 years old, my parents managed to clobber enough for the down payment of a 4 Room HDB flat in Bedok. My Dad had to take 3 jobs to make ends meet and put 3 kids through school. So I know about growing up with very little, being frugal and the value of hard work, having seen my dad struggle all these years.
Currently, I work as a Process Manager in an European MNC. After my graduation from university, I have the benefit of working in various projects that focuses on processes in companies’ and improving productivity and efficiency. Productivity affects a company’s bottom line directly.
2. Why did you go into politics?
The reason is simple. I love my country and I want the best for it! I believe that pluralistic democracy for Singaporeans is the only way to improve our lives. It is the only way to propel Singapore into a truly first world country and first world living standards for Singaporeans.
I am also concern that Singapore is losing its competitiveness in its divisive policies over the years. We have lost much ground over the years. Singapore’s productivity growth has averaged just 1 per cent in the last decade. Its productivity in manufacturing is 55% to 65% of that in the US and Japan. In retail, it’s 75% of that in Hong Kong and just one-third that of the US. In Construction, the situation is even worse. Economists have pointed to one key reason for this: the abundance of foreign cheap labor. In sectors such as construction especially, Singapore companies tend to employ lots of low-wage workers to do the job, while firms in other economies may employ fewer but higher-skilled workers or use more automation in their processes.
In January this year, the government Economic Strategy Committee’s recommendations suggested that nothing short of ‘a national effort’ is needed to boost productivity so as to just “catch up” with the rest. Following that was the formation of yet another new government productivity council, which was quick to announce some measures affecting some 12 industries especially targeting the SME. However, the government has missed the big bull in the room. We have an oversized government for such a small country – where else in the world would you find Ministers Without Portfolio? For a small country like us, do we need three generations of Prime Ministers in the Prime Minister office? Uniquely, we have a Minister for Manpower and then have another Minister to represent to worker. And these ministers don’t come cheap. They are each paid much more than the President of USA. At the local level, we have MPs, Town Council, CDC and a Mayor. Furthermore, some of these municipal positions are political considerations more than they are for the well being of the residents.
These are issues that need to be looked at with serious urgency and honest self-reflection. Complacency and Wasteful spending have to make way for a culture of prudence and being ‘lean’ when spending tax payers money.
3. Why The Reform Party?
Firstly, I would like to see improvement in the governance of Singapore. At the very least, we need a two party system, in order to foster Transparency, Accountability and Freedom of expression. Freedom of expression and ideas is essential in fostering innovation and creativity and competition in government is as necessary as in business for Singapore to progress and join the ranks of the advanced nations. These are the ideals championed by the Reform Party.
The current one party rule makes me worried about the future, about the direction this country is heading towards, about the PAP’s ability to rally the support of ALL the citizens of this country into a truly first world developed status. Only the same old ways and same old ideas seem to be emanating from the PAP. In contrast, the Reform Party presents a fresh new start, a new place, brimming with fresh new ideas and debate. We need Reform! Something is brewing, the tide is turning towards true democracy and I want to contribute and be a part of this movement.
4. Can the Reform Party do better than PAP?
Yes, I do believe that The Reform Party can do better than the PAP. Among other things, The Reform Party believes in reducing waste and inefficiency in government starting with slashing ministerial salaries and replacing it with performance-linked earnings tied to indicators directly related to your welfare and the medium income of the population. Afterall a government must represent all the citizens – rich and poor. Ultimately we want to improve the efficiency of town council services and reduce waste while raising quality. We would also want to work towards reducing conservancy charges through productivity and efficiency gains.
5. What is your favourite quotation?
“Without changing our patterns of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems that we created with our current patterns of thought.” – Albert Einstein.
6. Interesting Fact about you?
I was born and raised in Singapore and grew up as any typical ordinary Singaporean boy living in the HDB heart lands. However, I only received my Singapore Citizenship when I was about 12 years old (in 1982), after my parents were granted their citizenship. This was because my parents only received their Singapore Citizenship after living in Singapore for more than 20 years. My mum’s family moved here from Malaysia when she was about 2 years old in 1955 and my dad moved here as a 15 year old in 1960 (before Singapore’s independence in 1965).
Another interesting fact is that my dad was actually fined a sum of money when he had his 3rd child (due to the “Stop at 2 Child” Policy at that time). He also had to pay more for his 3rd child as compared to his first and second child – from birth expenses right up to educational expenses, till the “Stop at 2 Child” policy was reviewed many years later. From personal experience, I can tell you that policies do make a lot of difference to our lives as well as that of our children.
8. Why should Singaporeans vote for you?
Singaporeans should vote for the Reform Party because of our commitment to tackle the important issues currently facing Singaporeans. We will be your voice to get the Government to productively work on important issues facing Singaporeans.
One of the reasons why I joined the Reform Party is because I believed in its Election Manifesto. And I want offer my sincerity, my energy and my willingness to help bring the Election Manifesto into reality. Also, as a Productivity Improvement professional, I believe that we need to seriously mount a ‘national effort’ to promote and raise productivity and efficiency – starting with our bloated government. This is the right way to move forward. ‘MAKE IT RIGHT’ for Singapore!