Early last week, a resident of the Nee Soon GRC shared a story about how he was snubbed by his MP, Er Dr Lee Bee Wah at a Meet the People (MPS) session at Yishun when he tried to pass her a Ready4Repeal petition filled with over 800 signatures of people in her constituency who supported the repeal of Section 377A from the Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality in Singapore.
The story by the resident, Mr Edward Foo painted a rather grim picture of the MP refusing to speak to him on the issue of 377A and even refusing to accept the petition from him, directing him instead to pass it to one of the volunteers. His post on Facebook detailing the incident picked up traction on social media.
In response, Er Dr Lee told TODAY that she didn’t leave the room as Mr Foo had claimed but instead simply moved to another table in the same room to attend to another resident. She then referred them to the clarification by the PAP Nee Soon Branch on Facebook which claimed that Mr Foo and his friends were attended to at the MPS without incident.
However, neither Dr Lee nor the PAP Nee Soon Branch clarified if Dr Lee had in fact refused to accept the petition from Mr Foo.
Now, the background here is that the Ready4Repeal movement had come up with a plan to have volunteers meet up with their respective MPs to pass them the petition filled with signatures of residents in their particular constituency. That’s what Mr Foo was doing at the MPS in Yishun.
While he was unsuccessful, a different Ready4Repeal volunteer, Ms Jolene Tan, shared her successful attempt. Ms Tan and two other friend had turned up to their MPS session to see their MP, Mr S Iswaran to discuss their concerns over Section 377A. Mr Iswaran is the MP for the West Coast GRC.
Ms Jolene said that Mr Iswaran was quite receptive, spending almost an hour in discussion with them to talk about related matters such as bullying, education, engagement and dialogue. Ms Tan said of her positive interaction with Mr Iswaran, “We learned from the experience and we would encourage all members of society who have concerns about national issues to engage their parliamentary representatives.”
The way these two MPs dealt with their constituents when it came to discussing sensitive and uncomfortable issues couldn’t be more different. One was hostile and dismissive while the other was open and receptive.
The latter is how you’d want, and in fact expect, your MP to behave would you?