Depoliticising grassroots associations and events is among several changes that must be made to Singapore’s political system in order to effectively accommodate voters’ desire for a greater diversity of political views, said the Workers’ Party (WP)’s Yee Jenn Jong.
Mr Yee, who contested in the recent general election as a part of the Marine Parade group representation constituency (GRC) team, added that elected Members of Parliament (MPs) from alternative parties direct access to the Community Improvement Projects funds.
This, he said, should be done as an alternative to the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs), which are “often advised by the losing candidates of the PAP to approve the projects”.
The management of town councils, said Mr Yee, should also be depoliticised.
Other crucial changes, he added, should include shifting the Elections Department (ELD) under the purvey of a “more neutral” figure of authority, revoking the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), reviewing the GRC system and introducing a Freedom of Information Act.
“I am sure the opposition parliamentarians will be raising constructive proposals in the 14th parliament, as I had observed since my involvement from the 12th parliament.
“The question remains whether the government will provide information when needed and will listen and acknowledge when changes are made after the opposition had first proposed them,” said Mr Yee.
Mr Yee’s remarks were made in response to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s indication that the Government is keen to help Singapore’s political system “evolve” to accommodate “a strong desire among Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics”.
While the majority of Singaporeans has still given the PAP the mandate to govern Singapore, the recent election has also demonstrated “a strong desire among Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics” and “more robust debate of policies and plans”, said Mr Lee in his speech at the swearing-in of office holders at the Istana yesterday.
Thus, the ruling party must acknowledge it and “evolve our political system to accommodate it, while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose”, he added.
“I look forward to more vigorous but constructive debates in Parliament. I hope our colleagues across the aisle will step up to play their role of a responsible and loyal opposition,” said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee also called on opposition MPs to propose concrete policy alternatives to “help voters better understand the issues, choices and trade-offs, and in the process, improve policies and plans, and deliver better outcomes for Singapore”.
WP chief and Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh has taken up the mantle as Singapore’s first Leader of the Opposition.
In a statement by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House, Mr Singh will have access to confidential briefings on select matters pertaining to national security and external relations and may be invited to state functions, visits and meetings as Leader of the Opposition.
He will also be expected to front the opposition in Parliament when presenting alternative views during debates in the House.
Mr Singh will receive around S$385,000, which is double the allowance of an elected MP. He will also have an office and a meeting room in the Parliament House.