SINGAPORE — Recently, Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC, attended a bursary award ceremony hosted by Sengkang Methodist church.
In a Facebook post shared on 7 March, he expressed his excitement about joining Reverend Dr Niam to congratulate deserving students in his ward for their academic achievements.
“I was also very touched that our local Anchorvale church, Sengkang Methodist, invited me to join them in their bursary award ceremony this year.”
During the ceremony, Jamus Lim shared his own experience of receiving a bursary award and how it helped him pursue his master’s degree in London.
“But I was also careful to remind them that—as much as they should be pleased with what they have accomplished academically—they should also always remember that they will have the steadfast support of their parents, who love them unconditionally.”
Opposition MPs, including Jamus Lim, are typically not invited to Edusave award ceremonies, which are instead given out by the grassroots advisers appointed by the People’s Association (PA) in non-PAP wards.
However, Jamus Lim has offered to write letters of encouragement to children of residents who wish to receive them.
In 2020, PAP candidates lost against the Workers’ Party (WP) at the new Sengkang GRC, with 52.12% of the votes against PAP’s 47.88%.
The PA’s Grassroots Organisations (GROs) did not appoint elected WP MPs in Seng Kang GRC, Aljunied GRC or Hougang SMC, as advisers, unlike their People’s Action Party (PAP) counterparts in other constituencies.
As a result, WP MPs cannot attend events such as the Edusave Awards ceremony.
This issue also affects their access to Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC) funds issued by the Ministry of National Development (MND) for estate upgrades.
In opposition wards, MPs must submit proposals to the CCC, a grassroots organization under the PA, in order to tap into CIPC funds.
Jamus Lim drew attention to this issue on Facebook last year after being unable to attend the Edusave Awards ceremony to distribute awards.
Concerned parents also contacted him with queries about their children’s inability to interact with their MP.
“As I explain to my residents, opposition MPs do not, unfortunately, have the pleasure of distributing Edusave awards, which are given out by the grassroots advisers (which are distinct from the elected representatives in non-PAP wards), ” Jamus Lim said in the post.
The absence of elected opposition MPs at events like the Edusave Awards ceremony is viewed by some as an indication of the ruling party’s attitude toward the opposition.
This is further exacerbated by how some PAP candidates, such as Ms Theodora Lai, the new chairperson of the People’s Action Party (PAP) Sengkang North branch, are allowed to do things elected MPs from WP could don’t.
Ms Lai was present at the Edusave Awards presentation ceremony last month to take photos with awardees when she did not hold the position of a grassroots advisor at the ward.