The People’s Association’s (PA) grassroots advisors should be selected among the ranks of non-partisan senior officers in the civil service, said Aljunied Group Representation Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Faisal Manap.
In his maiden speech in the debate on the President’s Address at the opening of the 14th Parliament, delivered in the House on Wednesday (2 September), Mr Faisal said that appointing such PA grassroots advisors, in his view, will resolve the issue of alleged bias and unfairness attached to the PA’s leanings toward partisan politics.
The Workers’ Party (WP) MP, who spoke in Malay, said that the experience and knowledge of non-partisan senior officers — such as those who have held directorships or chief executive positions — in ministries and statutory bodies may prove to be “valuable and highly suitable” for the role of PA grassroots advisors.
“It has been reiterated many times in this House that the People’s Association is a statutory body and is non-political, is exempt and is non-partisan.
“It has also been shared previously as to why opposition MPs have not been selected as PA grassroots advisors, among which is that opposition MPs will not be able to effectively shoulder the role of communicating and explaining government policies [to the people].
“However, the explanation and reasons given in the past have failed to convince a great segment of political observers from the public, who still opine that the People’s Association is utilised as a platform to achieve the ruling party’s political interests. Mr Speaker, even I cannot be certain that the People’s Association is free from partisan politics,” said Mr Faisal.
Mr Faisal urged the House to seriously consider his proposal “if the Government is sincere and honest in strengthening the principle of unity in diversity”.
He stressed that diversity does not have to result in negative outcomes such as division and discrimination, and that there should not be the impression from any side that their ideologies or philosophies are superior to that of others.
Diversity, said Mr Faisal, should serve to complement and complete one another, and in cases where there are unresolvable disputes, all parties must be ready to ‘agree to disagree’.
“Efforts to instil and practice unity in diversity in our society must begin from this nation’s political leadership. The example shown by political leaders will serve as a guide for the public,” he said.