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Another part-time PAP MP takes a seat in Singapore parliament

By Soong See Choo

In the Bukit Batok by-election, Murali Pillai has won. People's Action Party (PAP) has won. Singapore has lost. Why is this so?

The PAP used town council services and upgrading of infrastructure to "entice" the voters to vote for Murali from their party. They frightened the voters from voting for Dr Chee Soon Juan of the SDP by the subtle threat that this will lead to the loss of the upgrading.

In the process, the voters had voted as the Member of Parliament, a person who has a full time job as a senior lawyer in a private law firm. The elected MP will find it difficult to devote sufficient time to his duty as the MP.

How can he find the time to spend with the constituents and to understand the problem that they face in their daily lives? How can he bring up these concerns and problems to be discussed in Parliament?

Can he spend the time to attend all the sittings in Parliament and to debate the government policies and new laws actively. The experience of the part-time MPs from the PAP have been disappointing. Many of them have a high absence rate from Parliament sittings or do not speak regularly in Parliament.

Many Singaporeans face issues that have gone from bad to worse over the past decades - high cost of living, high cost of housing, high cost of medical services, uncertainty of jobs, retrenchments, stagnant incomes, overcrowding, high stress of life and a low birth rate.

Instead of electing political leaders who can afford to spend full time to understand the issues and help to find the solutions to these challenges, the PAP opted to get another busy, part time MP to be elected into Parliament and perpetuate the broken down system.

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