The Singapore Parliament in session / photo

It is the opposition’s role to question and the incumbent’s role to heed the questions and come up with the solutions

Being concerned with rising living costs and stagnant wages in any society is a very legitimate concern. It is therefore surprising that a fellow citizen has seemingly dismissed these valid worries as “populist”.

In his letter, a writer by the name of Sean Lim Wei Xin (Sean) has criticised opposition politician Lim Tean of making invalid promises in his Facebook videos. Sean further stated that Lim did not “propose viable alternatives”.

I have never fully agreed with the opinion that one has to have a better idea before one can ask questions or criticise government policies. The government is elected to run a country. It is, therefore, their job to assess their voters’ satisfaction and come up with solutions and alternatives if there is enough dissatisfaction with a given policy. With this in mind, is having another solution a prerequisite to criticising?

The job of the opposition parties (especially in a unique democracy such as ours where Parliament is overwhelmingly made up of one single party) is to ensure a semblance of checks and balance in our system. That is precisely what Lim is trying to do. Our opposition parties are at this point, for one reason or other which is perhaps best not said in this article, too small to have the resources to come up with a solution for every grievance.

However, this does not mean that they should shut up and sit down as implied by Sean. They should continue to ask questions so that the government is kept on its toes and not complacent. In a single party system like ours, it is easy for the dominant party to rest on its laurels. It is only with questions (however inconvenient) that we can exact some form of accountability. I for one am glad that Lim is trying to do this even if he does not have an immediate solution.

It is the opposition’s role to question and it is the incumbent’s role to heed the questions and come up with the solutions. Sean should bear in mind that in our unique political landscape, this is all the opposition parties can do at this point.

Incidentally, it is only with the asking of questions that lead to discussions and it is only with discussions that we can hopefully come up with a solution or a better policy when before there was none. Questions and criticisms, therefore, play a very important role. They kick-start a process. Sean’s opinion is in my humble opinion short-sighted and misguided.