There was some speculation last week that human rights lawyer, M Ravi would run in the upcoming General Elections as a Reform Party candidate. However he poured cold water on that idea issuing a statement announcing his decision not to run. In most cases I would have left it at that – a candidate wishes not to run for personal reasons, however after reading that statement, I think otherwise.
In it he cites 2 things – a calling and service. Indeed politics like lawyering, is a calling and similarly it’s about service. Mr Ravi may want to focus on his legal duties and service to his clients, but I do believe that he should also consider a greater calling and service – to the nation. If he had stood as an independent candidate in of all places – AMK GRC, I would not support the idea. I think to be an MP in Singapore, you need the support of a party behind you. There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that one must have or need to do. From the logistics of an MPS, to identifying residents’ problems and even gathering data to speak in the House – you can’t do it alone or with limited resources of an independent candidate.
M Ravi has extensive experience as a lawyer – 18 years in fact. He’s handled the most serious of cases – ranging from those involving capital punishment to those that involve the rights of persons. He does not shirk from asking tough questions and raising arguments. I think there’s a shortage of politicians prepared to ask tough questions especially on the issue of our Laws. Far too many Laws have been enacted that are restrictive and unnecessary – the latest being the island wide alcohol ban after 10.30pm. Is it really necessary to have such a prohibitive law when the problem was basically restricted to Little India and parts of Clark Quay?
What about Laws on basic freedoms? What about Laws on sentencing? Or even the system of justice and composition of the Legal Service and appointment of judicial officers? Is it prudent to have District Judges jumping back and forth from the AG’s Chambers to the Bench? A prosecutor can of course become a Judge and vice-versa, but that should be that. You choose 1. This frequent interchanging of roles in my view tends to produce legal officers with narrower leanings or gives an impression of retaining ties to the AG’s Chambers. We need someone to ask hard and relevant questions.
Next we have to look at upbringing and interaction with the common man. Although he’s a lawyer, M Ravi has always been associated with the common man. He isn’t aloof, he lives his life in a HDB estate, dresses and talks like a common man and crucially mixes with them. He doesn’t need to put an act. He takes public transport and witnesses the plight of ordinary Singaporeans daily. He can speak well, can ask questions and is not afraid to, he has the qualifications and places a premium on the value of service to his fellow man and nation. He ticks all the boxes that 1 should look for in a candidate.
I understand that the Law Society will press on with some charges they have laid for him. But the charges are so ridiculous to begin with. He was diagnosed as having another episode of bi-polar disorder and has apologised for it. Moreover why should the Law Society get involved in matters where 1 person says things about another? The legal recourse to those parties is of course to commence a lawsuit, why is the Law Society playing judge? If the Law Society itself cites that it does not have any standing to deal with PAP MP Alvin Yeo for over-charging, that is a matter solely for a sub-committee, then pray tell why are they going after M Ravi, where evidence exists that this is a personal matter between 2 parties and that he has a solid statement from Dr Winslow that he was suffering from a major relapse at the time?
I also understand that Dr Winslow has implemented a strict regime to ensure that such relapses will become a thing of the past or occur very very rarely. He has the support, he has the ability and he understands the issues facing the ordinary Singaporean, because he’s always been 1 of them. He will champion the cause of his residents, fight for them, serve them and most of all, he’ll be an MP who’ll go to the House, unafraid to speak up and ask the tough questions.
I strongly urge him to reconsider his decision and to give it his all in the campaign. His service to his clients will not be affected, rather it’s a calling to serve the larger interests of community and nation. Finally we have so few Indians in Parliament prepared to ask questions and raise issues that the community are facing. When have we last seen a Tamil MP asking questions or speaking in Tamil? The influx of Indian nationals have severely affected the community – it’s time someone from their community spoke up for them and for other minorities in the resident Indian population in Singapore. M Ravi can be such a champion for them and for Singaporeans as a whole. The time is now – the calling is now – your nation needs you – you must run, M Ravi.
The above article was first published on Anyhow Hantam.