Aljunied GRC Workers’ Party Member of Parliament, Mr Faisal Manap, delivered a thoughtful speech in Malay during the parliamentary debate addressing President Halimah Yacob’s call for “good” politics.
Mr Faisal’s speech aimed to spark introspection and self-reflection among the MPs and focused on three key aspects: creating a level playing field, embracing a culture of agreeing to disagree, and rejecting fear-mongering tactics.
Mr Faisal emphasized the importance of a level playing field in a democratic society, stating that opposition MPs often lack access to resources of the People’s Association (PA).
He pointed out that the current practice of appointing losing ruling party candidates as grassroots advisors, rather than elected opposition MPs, is not aligned with the values of justice and equality.
Mr Faisal shared his personal experience, “To date, after almost 13 years constituting two and a half terms which I have served as an MP in Aljunied GRC, I still hear my constituents and residents commenting on how the PAP seem to be organizing more events than the WP in the constituency.”
He mentioned that residents often associate community club events and RC-organized activities with the PAP, as the grassroots advisor, who is usually the local PAP Branch Chairman, is often invited as guest of honor or event host. Additionally, some residents are puzzled that their children receive Edusave awards from the PAP.
Mr Faisal proposed that non-politically affiliated individuals should hold the position of grassroots advisor to maintain neutrality and fairness in public representation, which was also part of the WP manifesto in the previous general election to ensure the freedom of national institutions from party politics.
While Mr Faisal acknowledged efforts in Sengkang GRC to appoint politically neutral grassroots advisors, he highlighted the continued presence of political aspects, citing instances where a local PAP branch chairman was invited to Edusave award ceremonies alongside grassroots advisors.
“I do not mean to complain, rather what I want to raise is whether such a practice is in line with our efforts to build a democratic society based on justice and equality as inscribed in our national pledge?”
Unity in Diversity
On embracing a culture of agreeing to disagree, Mr Faisal cited the Workers’ Party’s handling of differences of opinion during the debate on the repeal of S377A. Despite disagreements among party members, they held extensive discussions, ultimately accepting each other’s differing views and voting based on individual perspectives.
Mr Faisal emphasized the value of unity in diversity, highlighting its significance in maintaining social harmony and fostering tolerance and mutual respect among differing opinions.
“Unity in diversity is a value that we must uphold as a democratic society as we traverse and advance to a new era of living whereby differences of opinion and principle will become more widespread. Upholding these values will enable us as a community to overcome ‘Cancel Culture’, a worrying practice because it could adversely impact our unity and lead us to divisions,” said Mr Faisal.
Rejecting Fear-Mongering Tactics
Rejecting fear-mongering tactics during elections, Mr Faisal called for voters to make decisions based on presented facts rather than unfounded claims.
He cited past instances of misleading allegations and scare tactics used in elections, such as suggesting that opposition-held constituencies would experience a decline in property value or a build-up of garbage, which can lead to political divisions and polarization.
Mr Faisal highlighted an example from the 2015 General Elections where unfounded accusations were made against the Workers’ Party, alleging mismanagement of $22.5 million in funds transferred between town councils. He emphasized that such unhealthy political practices should be rejected.
By promoting equitable politics, embracing unity in diversity, and rejecting fear-mongering tactics, he believes that Singapore can address President Halimah Yacob’s concerns about political divisions and polarization and continue striving for happiness, prosperity, and progress.
Mr Faisal urged elected leaders, including himself, to engage in introspection and self-reflection to improve and achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress for Singapore.
Reiterating that his intention is not to point any fingers at any particular individual, Mr Faisal emphasized the importance of not blaming others, as self-awareness is crucial for personal growth, and quoted a Malay saying to encourage self-reflection: “Who eats the chilli will feel the spice.”