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Show Mao sips kopi to connect

RELAXED ATMOSPHERE: Yesterday's dialogue sessions with Mr Chen (second from right) saw most attendees mingling with their MP and other residents.


    Jan 20, 2014

    Show Mao sips kopi to connect

    HE WAS one of the biggest stars of the general election two years ago, but has kept a relatively low profile since becoming an Aljunied GRC MP.

    Now, as he reaches the halfway mark of his term, Mr Chen Show Mao of the Workers' Party (WP) is determined to be out and about more - starting with a series of informal dialogues.

    It kicked off yesterday afternoon as he held two back-to-back "kopi" sessions over the course of three hours.

    The 52-year-old met Paya Lebar constituents at block 103 Hougang Avenue 1 and at a pavilion in Surin Park. Each session attracted more than 50 residents.

    Mr Chen told reporters that the WP has always been "trying different things" to engage residents, and the "kopi" sessions are one of them. He added that he had conducted meetings with residents in the past.

    He is not the first MP to have organised such events. Others who have started "kopi talks" include People's Action Party MPs Baey Yam Keng and Hri Kumar.

    Residents usually raise and discuss national or municipal issues at such events. But yesterday's sessions saw most attendees mingling with their MP and other residents instead.

    WP volunteers tried to cater to the mixed demographics of the ward, as the two sessions had strikingly different feels to them.

    At the first event, called Kopi with Show Mao and held at the void deck of a Housing Board block, a WP volunteer donned a white singlet and shorts, and draped a "Good Morning" towel around his neck. He served residents coffee and Chinese New Year goodies.

    The second event, Tea@The Park - at Surin Park, which is adjacent to a landed-property estate - had a more upscale tone, with the server changing into a dapper vest, while a musician strummed Beatles tunes on his guitar as he strolled around.

    A 49-year-old resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan, told MyPaper she was there to hear what Mr Chen had to say about the recent transport-fare review.

    Mr Chen, however, declined to address the issue yesterday.

    In a statement on Friday, the WP had raised concerns over the impending public-transport-fare hike, and noted that it comes as train breakdowns have become more regular.

    Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo rebutted the WP that same day in a Facebook post, saying that the opposition party "conveniently avoids the question of how better services are to be paid for".