Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s questionable stance on MPs holding full-time jobs

Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s questionable stance on MPs holding full-time jobs

by Chris Lee

Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s recent comments about allowing Members of Parliament (MPs) to hold full-time jobs alongside their duties raise several red flags. While he presents this as a “pragmatic” solution, it is hard not to see the potential problems lurking beneath the surface.

Everyone has 24 hours only

First off, PM Wong’s idea that Members of Parliament can juggle full-time jobs and their responsibilities to the public seems out of touch with reality.

Being an MP is not a side hustle. It is a demanding role that requires full attention and dedication. By letting MPs keep their private sector gigs, the PM is essentially saying it is okay for public service to be a part-time commitment.

This could easily lead to situations where personal or corporate interests come before the needs of the people. Ultimately, it is a zero-sum game, as more time spent on private gigs means less time for residents. Are we, as citizens, shortchanged with part-time MPs?

Ownself Check Ownself Equals No Check

PM’s trust in voters to weed out ineffective MPs is overly optimistic. Voters do not always have the full picture of an MP’s performance, and many factors besides job performance can influence election results.

Moreover, relying on political parties to decide whether an MP should continue just adds another layer of potential bias and politicking that may not always align with the public interest.

Remember the Ivan Lim saga? If we were to depend on the party’s internal checks, things might have turned out a bit differently. Thanks to the brave soul who spoke up, however, it is sad that no further investigations were revealed, though it was promised.

Regarding conflicts of interest, the PM’s assurances do not hold much water. He says there are processes in place to declare conflicts, but allowing MPs to hold private sector jobs inherently increases the risk of those conflicts.

The fact that things have supposedly been fine so far does not mean they will stay that way, especially as the political and economic environments change.

PM’s stance against populism sounds good on paper but can come off as dismissive of the public’s immediate needs. His example of raising the Goods and Services Tax (GST) despite its unpopularity highlights a government approach that sometimes seems more about telling people what is good for them rather than listening to their concerns. This top-down attitude can create a disconnect between the government and the citizens it is supposed to serve.

On Mental Health and Low Wages

While PM talks about expanding services and investing more resources on mental health, his approach feels more reactive than proactive. Treating mental health issues is important, but preventing them by addressing societal pressures from school, workplaces, and reducing stigma is equally crucial. A strategy focused only on treatment does not fully tackle the deeper issues at play.

Regarding lower-wage workers, while PM’s acknowledgement that relying on elderly and foreign workers is not sustainable is spot on, his solutions seem half-hearted. The progressive wage model is a step in the right direction, but it does not address the bigger picture of income inequality and job security. The idea that Singaporeans should aim for supervisory roles while leaving manual labour to foreign workers is not a comprehensive solution for uplifting these workers.

PM Wong’s remarks suggest a practical but flawed approach to governance. Allowing MPs to maintain full-time jobs risks compromising public service quality and increasing conflicts of interest.

His anti-populism stance and approaches to mental health and lower-wage workers, while containing positive elements, lack the depth needed to address core issues effectively. Singapore needs a more dedicated and visionary approach that truly prioritizes public service, integrity, and the well-being of its citizens.

This article is also available on TACS

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