Choo Zheng Xi / Editor-in-Chief
Mr Siew Kum Hong’s detractors have recently begun lobbying the government to deny him a second term as a nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) on the basis that he has stood up to oppose discrimination against homosexuals.
These vocal detractors would have the public believe that Mr Siew should be defined by this single issue. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If there is one defining characteristic of Mr Siew’s term, it is the professionalism and energy he has brought to Parliament in the discharge of his appointment.
A brief survey of his time in Parliament will reveal the prodigious effort Mr Siew has put into his time as NMP. For the Singaporean taxpayer, Mr Siew is value for money.
Mr Siew’s record speaks for itself. His contributions to Parliament have covered an eclectic range of issues from requests for more direct assistance to lower income families to seeking transparency on Temasek Holdings’ accounts. Mr Siew has also rigorously challenged the government’s benchmarking of politicians’ pay to top industry earners.
Mr Siew has called on the government to put in place safeguards to prevent Singaporean male job-seekers from being discriminated against in their National Servicemen liabilities. He has also spoken out against the heavy workload that the Ministry of Education’s new policies are imposing on teachers.
Mr Siew has consistently spoken up on issues concerning civil liberties, championing not just the rights of gay people but also the rights of every single Singaporean.
Despite his much publicized clash with Professor Thio Li-Ann on the issue of 377A, he strongly supported her call for a by-election in Jurong GRC. He also highlighted the questions of constitutional law she raised in relation to amending the Films Amendment Act while stating his opposition to the bill.
We think Mr Siew’s record speaks for itself.
The intentional mischaracterization of Mr Siew as an obsessed homosexual rights campaigner tells us more about the narrow-minded paranoia of his critics than the narrowness of his Parliamentary contributions his critics allege.
TOC hopes that instead of allowing a vocal minority to perpetuate the illusion of public division, the Parliamentary Selection Committee will send a strong signal that there is space in Parliament for independent minded individuals with the courage, conviction and stamina to challenge the government. That was the original rationale of creating the NMP position in 1990.
TOC does not support the NMP scheme in principle, and we would prefer to see Mr Siew in electoral politics. However, in lieu of the abolition of the NMP scheme or Mr Siew’s entry into electoral politics, we believe that Mr Siew should be given a second stint as an NMP.
If the government were to deny Mr Siew a second term, it would be Parliament and the country’s loss. There are few people in Parliament who need their position less than the position needs them. Mr Siew is such a person.
With special thanks to Wee Yeong Wei for research support.
Join the Facebook group expressing support for Siew Kum Hong’s second term here