By Phillip Ang
Dear Workers’ Party,
Your manifesto for the 2011 elections was ‘Towards a First World Parliament’. Low Thia Kiang also told Singaporeans that the WP will slap the PAP if it started to fall asleep at the wheel, if elected.
Since then, WP MPs have asked numerous questions in Parliament pertaining to healthcare, CPF and housing issues, government statistics, etc. However, there have been only marginal improvements at best since the last 30 months. In some aspects of our lives, the situation has actually worsened, or will be soon eg, Medishield premiums going up (govt. considers this as assistance), public transport fares increasing soon despite assisting PTO’s with taxpayers’ money, overcrowding worsening all the time, govt. maximising the usage our CPF money by increasing the Minimum Sum every year, age of CPF payout increasing, etc.
In short, every issue working against ordinary Singaporeans is increasing in severity. The only thing decreasing is our finances. Did a First World Parliament produced such results? A little reflection on your strategy is timely.
In a First World Parliament, we need to have upfront answers. This has not been the case and many Singaporeans are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the WP. Gerald Giam explained the process in parliament: “ ..I get a chance to make a 20 minute speech and the minister had 10 minutes to respond. The minister did not respond point by point to the point I made but usually what happens is that the minister makes a prepared speech not really in response.” TOC Healthcare discussion (from 5.36 mins) Gerald was just highlighting the obvious.
The quality of answers we continue to receive in Parliament is an insult to any 6 year old. Another example would be Sylvia Lim raising the issue of video recording in police investigations. Indranee Rajah’s intelligent answer: “If an accused wishes to challenge the statement given by him, there are clear avenues available today.” (link) Is such a response acceptable to any thinking person when transparency and accountability have always been an issue with our system for decades? Isn’t this a response from a Third World Parliament?
Instead of slapping the sleeping driver hard and get him to take the correct route, the co driver seems to have also become drowsy.
Parliament becomes a farce when the opposition has no means to get the necessary facts from the government. One simple question out of thousands would be the construction cost of building a public housing unit. It has been decades. The WP has to think out of the box to compel the government to release the necessary information which every member of the public has the right to know. Otherwise, a First World Parliament remains only on paper.
Many critics of the PAP are indirectly helping opposition MPs on social media. It is quite disappointing that the WP has remained silent on the thousands of missing statistics raised by Leong Sze Hian. Roy Ngerng’s articles, using statistics to rebut the PAP government on issues such as healthcare, education, etc have remained unchallenged by the government.
What about MOM related issues raised by Andrew Loh?
Can the government be allowed to sweep its huge injustice of imprisoning thousands of political prisoners under the carpet? etc.
After 30 months, I hope the co driver has not gone soft on the driver. We cannot afford this to happen. Singaporeans are not asking you to be confrontational for the sake of gaining political mileage. But what is our right, the least you can do is speak up for us.
After 5 decadent decades under a dominant party which wielded total control over the media and politicised statutory boards and grassroots organisations, Singapore is either at the 3rd or 4th stage of cancer.
WP’s approach to this disease has to be chemotherapy. Instead, you seem to be offering aroma therapy.
Don’t just treat the symptoms but go right to the root causes. When you manage to resolve the biggest issues of transparency and accountability, some issues will resolve by themselves. Others will take much less effort.
The political landscape changed beyond recognition with the dawn of the internet age, rendering government mouthpieces almost useless as a tool for control. In trying to muzzle the voices of concerned and responsible Singaporeans, the ‘driver’ has shown its preference to continue driving in La La Land. We, the passengers, are acutely aware of the wrong direction taken but unable to do anything because we do not have a (parliamentary) license. The co driver cannot afford to be drowsy at this juncture and a slap like no ordinary needs to be given. Now.
Show Singaporeans you care and care will be reciprocated.
Sylvia Lim in Parliament 2007
(PAP MPs don’t know where to look when Sylvia was making her speech on ministerial salaries)