In light of the Facebook post that’s making its way around Singapore recently about one man’s attempt to speak to MP Lee Bee Wah about repealing 377A from the Penal Code and passing her a petition filled with signatures of residents from her constituency, SDP politician Khung Wai Yeen has voiced his take on the event.
Specifically, his addressed the true function of a Meet the People Session since it was highlighted in the comments section of the original post that the resident, Mr Foo, had picked the wrong avenue to pass the petition to MP Lee and others agreed, saying that the MP is there to help residents with personal issues like finance, insurance, and housing, not to discuss broader issues like policy and legislation.
Mr Khung however said, “the MP is elected to represent the constituency they were voted in. And any residents that has a concern for certain rules and laws can and should be given the opportunity to speak to their MP to inform their rep on the residents position. Otherwise how would the MP represent the views of the residents?” He noted that an MP is elected to represent the desired of residents in their constituency at the parliamentary level, which is ‘the essence of democracy'.
With that in mind, he added that usually, residents will seek out their MPs at these sessions to bring up issues like fines, appeals for PR, and other general matters. Here, residents are assisted by volunteer letter writers to address their worries to the relevant departments and agencies.
However, Mr Foo was there to discuss the matter of repealing a section of the Penal Code. This, Mr Khung said, is something that ‘can only be done by an elected MP who has a vote in the law making body’. He continued, “Now given this context I don't see what is wrong with the request to meet with the MP.”
To iterate his point, Mr Khung described the kind of letters he’s written in to various departments and agencies to address several personal issues as well which were all done without the assistance of an MP.
Basically, he’s saying that the given the scale of the issue that Mr Foo was raising and the type of general requests that residents would bring into Meet the People Sessions, there was no real reason for MP Dr Lee to dismiss Mr Foo’s request just because there were other people there with ‘real problems’. Those residents would have been served just fine by their assigned letter writers even without Dr Lee’s presence whereas Mr Foo’s issue specifically required an elected MP’s involvement.
He wrapped up by saying, “we elect an MP to represent our views in parliament, not someone to boss us around. This distinction should be very clear.”