Parliament debate on PM’s allegations: A bad show

by Terence Tan

Note: Here’s a Facebook post that has approximately 460 shares at the time of writing. It seems many Singaporeans resonate with this point of view, or parts of.

This was the wayang we knew it’d be, but executed so poorly it never solved the eminent problem all of us Singaporeans – both for and against the ruling party – face: the weak governance and discursive population of Singapore for all to see.

A. We have a Speaker of Parliament who fails to facilitate a satisfactory and conclusive debate:

  1. Our parliament failed to achieve anything close to what was asked of it: to grill its Prime Minister regarding his sibling’s allegations. Opposition MPs who did were challenged for doing so, not for what they said, and the result: ‘let’s continue to see what happens next’.
  2. PM was allowed a last word with the very same Pandora’s box and get away with it, “I asked my wife to go through the PM’s office, it’s as simple as that”. Wasn’t that the basis of the allegations, MISUSE OF POWER?
  3. A former PM could accuse an MP of “Political Sophistry” like it was a bad thing, and for that admit the ruling party gets to sue whenever it wants to, yet not be challenged by mdm Speaker for obfuscating the debate whether our current PM should sue his siblings or not?

B. We lack a perceived, objective distance between the main branches of state government, Judiciary, Executive and Legislative, meaning there’s no proper checks and balances of the views and decisions made there. Not enough MPs and NMPs went straight to the throat, hence the legislative (Parliament) failed in getting the executive (PM and his cabinet) to generate distance between the PM and the judiciary (Attorney General).

C. Our politicians lack savvy – and so do our most powerful citizens:

  1. PM challenges our MPs for failing to use their parliamentary sovereignty to address the matter, leaving them flummoxed (i.e. they might not actually know their own rights!).
  2. Not enough MPs engaged and challenged the speaker of parliament.
  3. The opposition and LHL’s accusers did not or failed to collaborate to bring enough proof that the allegations of nepotism and manipulation are sound enough for PM to have to sue, resign, or have the president create an executive non-partisan committee of inquiry.

D. Too few see the implications of weak decision making. There are Singaporeans, possibly (gasp) MPs, who still think the issue is about a house on Oxley.

How would we survive future challenges if the most fundamental resources of our republic have been left so unchallenged?