By Cerelia Lim Photos/Videos by Sofian Razali
The Singapore Democratic Party’s Khung Wai Yeen is up against Dr Teo Ho Pin (PAP’s deputy party whip) in Bukit Panjang SMC. In his maiden speech on 4 Sept, he called on residents to unseat the party’s disciplinarian for possible u-turns on ministerial salaries, population growth and building of casinos.
“Singapore is not a common democracy because we have only one party. The PAP says we don’t need opposition parties as they can do their own checks and balances,” said Khung, who joined the Singapore Democratic Party in 2011.The current Parliament does not represent your best interests as it does not include different perspectives and members are not allowed to vote according to their conscience.
“They call the opposition parties pirates who are here to plunder the reserves,” said Khung, who was an ex-engineering naval specialist.
In a seven-minute speech peppered with Mandarin and Hokkien, Khung questioned Dr Teo’s ability to balance the best interests of the residents and his role as the deputy party whip of the ruling party.
Often regarded as disciplinarians controlling the party’s members, party whips ensure that Members of Parliament (MP) vote according to the party’s line and support their position on issues discussed in Parliament. Occasionally, the party whip may lift the whip, and allow MPs to vote differently from the party’s line.
Lifting the whip? Easier said than done
“Do you think they will vote against their conscience if the whip is tied to their salaries?”
He cited a 2013 incident where MP Liang Eng Hwa from the ruling party suggested the rewording of the Population White Paper after an uproar over the population projection of 6.9 million in 2030, in spite of so much angst expressed over present-day congestion.
“Why did he do that?”
“Tuh eh lok (make it amenable)!”
“Wu liu kong, bo nan gong (you got to have money if you want to be listened to),” a group of Chinese middle-aged men had shouted in response.
To Khung, this was an example where MPs may not vote or speak out against a policy even if they know that it is not in the best interests of their residents as they need to enforce the party’s line.
In citing the example, he called on residents to vote for him as a candidate who will say no to the ruling party.