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Pointless act of appearing accountable while serving no real purpose

By Ghui

To be completely honest, yet another MP having to resign as a result of an extramarital affair is getting old. What he does in his private life should remain between him and those directly involved. It has absolutely no bearing on his capabilities as an MP. It is a waste of time and resources to have to call another election just to elect another person on reasons that have utterly nothing to do with his career. Surely, as a nation, we have more pressing concerns?

With so many questions still remaining with regards to Benjamin Lim and further more unanswered queries surrounding Dominique Sarron Lee, why is the affair such big news?

The controversy that surround both the Dominique Sarron Lee and Benjamin Lim deaths centre on possible misconduct by civil servants in their representative capacities. These are occurrences that question the very processes that affect many aspects of our daily lives. Some of the breaches of duties by these governmental departments may actually be illegal! Yet however, it is over an affair that accountability is received!

David Ong becomes the latest in a string of MPs that have had to resign as a result of an extramarital affair. I suppose the argument is that by having an affair, he has lied to the public and tarnished the reputation of the party. To assuage the public therefore, the offending MP has to resign. Yet, what wrong has Ong done to his constituents that he should have to go so publicly?

While I don’t condone extramarital affairs, I acknowledge that only his wife, family and those directly involved have the right to hold him accountable. What goes on in a marriage should not be open to public scrutiny. As they say, who knows what goes on behind closed doors?

I find it incredible that the government has remained largely silent with regards to much bigger policy issues while an MP with roving eyes is publicly shamed. Is that not ironic?

Ong is an elected MP. His constituents have chosen him to represent their interests in Parliament. They have not voted for him to be a marriage councilor. Yet instead of being judged for his contributions as an MP, he is being graded for the state of his marriage.

One may argue that Ong chose to resign and that he was not booted out. But would he have done the same if the press had not made such a song and dance? If the PAP had not opportunistically bayed for blood when Workers Party MP, Yaw Shin Leong had an affair, Michael Palmer would not have had to resign because of the same offence. But because of how Yaw was treated, Palmer had no choice but to go which has now created a precedent. Now, that the unfortunate precedent has been set, Ong would also have to go. And to what ends?

How has this served the public?

Yaw, Palmer and Ong all seemed to have been popular with their constituents. There were no complaints with regards to how they performed their roles as MPs. Added to that are the administrative gaps that arise when an MP leaves midterm and the costs and resources needlessly wasted on an additional election that no one really wants.

What is the objective for these resignations? Is it to stop affairs? Is it to show support for the institution of marriage? Let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone seriously thinks that these measures will stop people from having affairs.

People want accountability on real issues that have a real impact on their daily lives. Police, school and NS unprofessionalism are the matters where transparency, accountability and press time are really needed. Gunning for blood over an affair is just a pointless act of appearing to be accountable while serving no real purpose towards attaining real transparency.

While answers to the issues raised by the Benjamin Lim and Dominique Sarron Lee tragedies remain unanswered, an MP’s indiscretion is immediately addressed and punished.

Somehow, I don’t think that this is the type of accountability that the public wants.