By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the articles “PAP MP Hri Kumar questions Workers’ Party’s silence” (Singapolitics, Dec 6) and “Hri Kumar hits out at WP again for sitting on the fence” (Today, Dec 7).
The latter states that “People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Hri Kumar Nair has taken another hit at the opposition Workers’ Party (WP), criticising it for continuing to sit on the fence when it comes to “difficult issues”.
In a second Facebook post last night — which came less than three weeks after he first called out the WP for not taking a stand on issues — Mr Hri Kumar said opposition parties have long campaigned on the premise that it is unhealthy to have only one party in Parliament, and that it is good for alternative views to be expressed.
Mr Hri Kumar also said Singaporeans are best served by politicians who make a stand; not those who sit on the fence.”
Mr Hri Kumar is one of my favourite MPs, because he is not afraid to ask the “difficult” questions – if I may borrow his words “criticising it for continuing to sit on the fence when it comes to “difficult issues””.
In my opinion, arguably the most “contentious issues” – if I may borrow the words from the Singapolitics’ article “for not taking a stand on contentious issues” – may be how much the Government spends on healthcare, HDB and CPF?
In this connection, I particularly liked his remarks ““There is nothing wrong with asking the Government to do more. But a call to “do more” does not require any genius. The more difficult questions include “how much more?”, “where is that more going to come from?”, “will there be better outcomes?” and “are there any down sides to the Government doing more?”.
These posers are needed to test a proposal’s feasibility and rigour, he said.
“Singapore is at a critical phase of her development … Important policies on healthcare, education, welfare, taxation and redistribution are currently being re-examined. The interests of Singaporeans are not advanced when the opposition’s instinct is to say only what it thinks people want to hear and then retreat from difficult questions,” he said.”
Therefore, may I suggest that Mr Hri Kumar or any other MP raise the following questions in Parliament:
What were the total Medisave contributions last year and in the past, versus the total withdrawals from Medisave for direct medical expenses, Medishield premiums, private shield plans’ premiums, Eldershield premiums, etc?
What is the breakdown of the costs of construction and land cost for HDB flats?
What is the excess returns derived by the Government over the years from our CPF funds, given that the bulk of our CPF savings received interest of as low as 2.5%?
The answers to the above questions may throw more light and substantive statistics to enable our Parliamentarians to debate whether – arguably, from a cashflow perspective – the Government may not be spending any money at all on healthcare, HDB and CPF?
In this regard, I can’t agree more with him and wish to applaud him for his remarks “A multi-party system works only if there is a genuine clash of ideas, and the pros and cons of policies and alternatives are scrutinised.”
By the way, in respect of “He noted that the WP had yet to respond to his comments, and that it recently declined to send a representative to a panel discussion organised by the Singapore Forum on Politics and Policy, to which Mr Hri Kumar was also invited. The WP declined to comment when contacted” – as I understand it – didn’t the Government decline to be represented at the recent Healthcare Forum on 30 November, organised by theonlinecitizen (which had representatives from the NSP, RP, SDP, SPP and WP), as well as other public forums in the past?
Leong Sze Hian
Reference: “Govt spends nothing on Healthcare, CPF & HDB?” (TR Emeritus, Sep 30)