Leader of the House, Indranee Rajah (Rajah) has said that the amendments made to the recent Workers’ Party (WP) motion on the criminal justice system were made to more accurately reflect the debate in Parliament, establish common ground with the opposition, and obtain bipartisan support.
It is all well and good to make statements like this in isolation but the perennial question is – on whose opinion? Who decided that this is the wording that would achieve Rajah’s said objectives? Looking at what the WP have said about the amendments, it is clear that they do not agree with the amendments and were not asked in advance before the changes were made. So, WHO made the decision to amend? Was it a solely Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) decision?
How can the PAP decide unilaterally what would find common ground with the opposition without first asking them? After all, you don’t find common ground with arbitrariness?
It is also imperative to note that the changes made by the PAP to the WP’s motion are based on its opinion to reinforce its own standing. While that is understandable, it is disingenuous to say that the changes are to somehow solicit bipartisan support?
The original motion filed by the WP is as follows:
That this house affirms that fairness, access and independence are cornerstones of Singapore’s justice system and calls on the government to recognise and remedy its shortcomings in order to enhance justice for all regardless of means and social status including facilitating a review of the justice system
The amendment, on the other hand, says:
That this house recognises that fairness, access and independence are cornerstones of Singapore’s justice system and affirms the government’s continuous efforts since independence to build a fair and just society and remedy any shortcomings in order to enhance justice for all regardless of race, language, religion, economic means or social status.
*Changes are illustrated in bold*
Bipartisan support requires both parties to cooperate. If you make changes unilaterally, you are not seeking bipartisan relations, you are dictating what the terms are.
In addition, we need to bottom out what the objectives of this debate are.
The Parti Liyani case has thrown up some disturbing issues that we need to discuss openly. As the common man on the street sees it – this is what must be discussed. That, as at this moment, there are problems that need addressing. So, why the flowery additions to fudge the debate? No one is saying that the Government has not made effort in the past. What is being said is that we need to address the here and now.
Why is the PAP so keen on talking about past efforts? We need to focus on the present! That’s where the problems lie.