By Abdillah Zamzuri
The National Day Rally is going to be held this coming 23rd August and I have no doubt for sure that perhaps in the week after or so, parliament will be dissolved.
We will begin to see political parties campaigning to win the hearts of the voters to put them into parliament for the next five years.
All parties have been working hard at looking for new candidates whom they feel can best represent the party and the people they seek to serve at the respective wards that they are contesting in.
And as how the last election has shown, Singaporeans are less interested in the affairs of the Town Council but are more concerned at what happens at the national level. Elections are no longer just about municipal issues but national issues.
More than just that, we need the right candidates who can represent the people at the national level.
If anything, I believe that we need to have a political reform in terms of how elections are held. It should no longer be about representing wards alone. It should be about representing the people. What we need is a parliament that works like council members, elected not by wards but by the entire nation or by the community that they seek to represent.
For example, to have a proper representation in parliament, we should perhaps try to work on this:
ALL Singapore Malays vote for a selected number of Malay Candidates who have been nominated by their organisations or have chosen to step forward to represent the community.
For instance, AMP, MUIS, MENDAKI, PERGAS, PERTAPIS, etc.. each nominates one member from their organisation whom they feel can best represent the Malay community. If these guys accept the nomination, then they go on to campaign to win votes of the Malay community for the available number of seats and these guys will represent the Malay-Muslim Community.
Let’s say there are 14 seats available for the Malay-Muslim Community and there are 30 guys contending for the seat. Voters can mark the ‘X’ on 14 of these names/faces who they want to represent them.
This way, no candidate shall be subjected to party politics and will truly represent the people and they can represent the people best because there will be diversity in terms of opinions and alliances. These guys, are then the Malay Members of Parliament.
For those individuals who are not nominated, they can campaign as well to win votes. Campaigning can be managed by the Election Department, who will organise the ‘Campaign Tours’ to the different neighbourhoods to allow candidates opportunities to speak. Each candidate is given a specific amount of time for their speeches. This puts additional pressure on candidates to be concise with what they want to campaign for and not beat around the bush.
Now, after they win and what about the choice for a Minister of Malay Muslim Affairs. The candidates representing the Malay Muslim community can discuss amongst themselves as council members and elect a person whom they feel best fits the job.
What about Town Councils?
Leave the Town Council management to private firms who have no political affiliation or interest. Town Council managers will have to submit their bids and proposals on how they wish to improve the town to the Ministry for National Development, who can issue tenders.
In assessing the suitability of the Town Council to be issued or contracted, MND can have a KPI or checklist or even conduct household surveys to assess the performance of each Town Council. Town Councils that fail to meet a certain percentage gives a good red flag that they are perhaps undeserving of a contract extension.
And what then of the People’s Association and it’s CC Advisers?
Leave that to the staff and passionate volunteers of People’s Association.
In doing so, we can eradicate party lobbying where volunteers feel obliged/indebted to help/vote their Advisers/MPs or are interested in volunteer because they’d like to be able to receive benefits (whatever that may be).
I know I’ve only mentioned an example for the Malay-Muslim community, but this can be replicated for the rest of the communities and causes as well. Because at the end of the day, what we want, is to vote for someone who knows the community really well. Someone who is committed to serving the community WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR, FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY (Borrowed this from the Singapore Police Force pledge).
I certainly do not want to vote for someone whom I know eventually is bounded by party politics and has their hands and mouth tied from speaking up, when that is exactly what they should be doing.
This article was first published at Abdillah’s blog