14 LUMEN | JOSEPHIANS
A partner in Allen and Gledhill LLP and an ‘ excellent litigator ’ as well as a Member of Parliament Mr Edwin Tong ( Class of 1987 ) obliges us with this interview and unhesitatingly chose to have it conducted in St Joseph ’ s Institution .
In Conve with
By Noah Lim , Marc Ong and Dylan Raj Singh
NL : What are your unforgettable memories of your time in SJI ? ET : Actually all my memories in SJI are all good because we were hardly in class . Not sure if I should be telling you all this . ( laughs )
The best part of being in SJI is the friends I ’ ve made over the years . Many of my classmates , I still see them today . In fact two of my buddies from Sec 3 and 4 are now my children ’ s god parents . That ’ s how close we ’ ve been over the years . That ’ s one thing I ’ ve treasured most of having been in SJI .
NL : How has the Josephian education benefitted you ? ET : A Josephian education is all round . When I hear people talk about holistic education and the move towards that , I frankly believe that ’ s what I received in SJI . We learnt a lot more outside the classroom than we did in class . It ’ s about life ’ s experience , about interacting – how we relate to each other and work with each other . The different situations we were put in were very helpful .
NL : What did you do beyond the classroom ? ET : You wouldn ’ t believe this but I was a librarian . ( Laughter broke out among us , except Mr Tong as it was uncanny that in an earlier interview with Mr Nicholas Fang he had also revealed he was a school librarian . Refer to page 19 )
I was a big football fan but the standard of football was too high . I wasn ’ t in the school team so I would just be one of the reserves . We used to have a field across the road in Bras Basah . That ’ s why we were never in school . From there it was easy to escape to MPH or somewhere else .
NL : What are your views of SJI offering the IB programme and breaking the tradition of it being an all boys ’ school ? ET : Well when I first heard that , I told my wife , because I have three girls , now ’ s my chance to have
my kids in SJI . ( smiles widely ) But I think it ’ s progressive . In today ’ s education system , it ’ s fairly diverse . This represents the fact that we embrace diversity .
NL : How has SJI prepared you for politics ? ET : Politics is about people and people interaction . That ’ s what the four years in SJI were to me . There ’ ll be people you hang out with , people you ’ ll dislike ; then one day after disliking them for a while ; they ’ ll be your best pals . I don ’ t think politics is so different from that .
DRS : As an MP what issues do you hold close to your heart and how do you bring this to light ? ET : There ’ re two issues . One is education . Despite what I ’ ve said about my own education , I was fortunate as I was educated at a time when there were fewer pressures . Societal demands were less . So we had the opportunity to go beyond just books . Today is tough for the children to experience life beyond books . I know we ’ ve looked at developing the curriculum to make it holistic but it is a challenge . I want to see how we can revamp the curriculum and the system so that no one is left behind . You know you might be good at different things ; in arts or in the sciences but excellence is not about that alone . So that ’ s one .
The other thing that I ’ m concerned , at least in the constituency that I represent is the senior citizens . I don ’ t know if you ’ ve seen that aspect of society but we have a lot of elderly people living alone in small rented flats . They don ’ t have visitors or their children see them very infrequently . We need as a society to look after them . They were once contributing so it ’ s sad they ’ re left alone . It bothers me many of them do pass away alone . We should never let them happen but instead be active