Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who is my MP?

Now everyone knows that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has crafted policies to better suit the ruling government in elections. A majority of Singaporeans accept that if you live in an opposition ward, then your facilities will not be as good as those in government wards.

However the official reply from the Ministry of National Development (MND) to justify why opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) should not manage the Government's lift upgrading program (LUP) in their wards had brought verbal jiu-jitsu to a whole new level.

In a confusing reply to a question by opposition MP Low Thia Khiang, MND press secretary Lim Yuin Chien argue that the MND should not work with opposition Members of Parliament on the LUP because 'The will of the people expressed in general elections is to elect a government for the country as a whole; and not to elect separate local governments for each constituency.'


If that’s case, why are there different constituencies then? I could have sworn that when people vote for their MP in Hougang, they are…you know, voting for their MP in Hougang! Is Mr. Lim arguing that Mr. Low Thia Khiang who won the seat of Hougang is NOT the MP of Hougang? Is Mr. Lim arguing that Mr. Low Thia Khiang is instead the MP of…Sembawang? Who is the MP of Hougang then if the will of the people expressed in general elections is NOT to elect their representative for each constituency?

I live in the Tanjong Pagar GRC, a GRC won by the PAP in the last election in a walkover. However if what Mr. Lim said is correct, then the PAP is NOT the representative of my constituency because we are not voting for our MPS! And yes, it’s a walkover to boot! Who is my MP then?

Note: The Tanjong Pagar GRC team is led by MM Lee Kuan Yew


sgcynic said...

Hi, LKY is definitely not the MP on Tanjong Pagar. He's too big for the shoes of Tanjong Pagar. He's definitely in THE national government, not the local one (there is none, and it's run by small fries). Pardon if I don't make sense. It's really difficult to do so when it's all nonsense. Uniquely Singapore, where bureacrats may come across as party stalwats (stooges) to some of us.

Anonymous said...

George says:
sgcynic took the words out of my mouth!
Where does partisan politics begins and ends in the uniquely LKY Singapore.

The MND minister has committed a gross error and crossed the line, that line separating a civil servants role and function and PAP party politicking.

Bad form, that portends what is worse to come if Singaproeans continue to be denied their voting rights by all sort of low, cunning and blatantly dishonest words and deeds of the ruling party. Singapore must take action to wrest their rights back or face the dreadful outcome should the PAP succeed in installing its next generation of leaders.

Ghost said...

Mr. Lim is the MND press secretary, not the minister…which is worse because you would expect a press secretary to be clear on the message, not make the reply so confusing that it is laughable. If I’m a member of the government, I’ll clarify the matter ASAP because that explanation given by Mr. Lim will cause the PAP problems in the future

Anonymous said...

They are practising,

'If you cant convince them, then just confuse them'.

contrarian said...

In Singapore you don't see local governments unlike most places which have provincial and town governments. That could be why you confuse electing a representative for a constituency to Parliament (and to form a national government), with that elected representative's role in managing a constituency as a local government.

Look at Malaysia's or USA's federal government - the persons elected to the federal parliament or congress are not local governments in their constituencies. They represent their constituency in the national government. Local government is left to state governments (separate appointments and elections) with different powers.

Ghost said...

To contrarian:

In other countries, there is a federal level of government and a local level of government. In Singapore we don't have that. In your explanation I am confusing electing a representative for a constituency to Parliament (a MP), with that elected representative's role in managing a constituency as a local government.
But you miss a big point: We don’t have an election for someone in managing a constituency as a local government.
If what you said is correct, then Singapore is NOT a democracy because whoever is the ruling government can appoint anyone they want to run each constituency. Not only that, by your (and Mr. Lim’s) explanation, not only does a MP not have the power to manage the Government's lift upgrading program (LUP), they have no power to run anything in their ward because they are NOT elected representatives to manage their constituency! Your explanation makes things even worse to the PAP government because that means ALL the PAP MPs can’t do anything in their own constituency.
And last I check, there are a lot more PAP MPs than opposition MPs in Singapore

Voter 101 said...

So the MND has clarified that the MPs do not have to power for anything in their respective constituencies. That is very good.

Next time when I go see my PAP MP at his Meet-the-People Session, I will tell him straight in the face that he has no power whatsoever to do anything to help me in anyway.

And next time, when I vote, I will not vote for PAP MPs but any Tom Dick and Harry because there is no difference who I vote for. They are all the same: No power to do anything!


contrarian said...

My explanation makes nothing worse. It simply describes how the system is currently designed by the PAP.

This is the intentional design of the PAP during its terms in power - to marginalise all other alternative sources of power (especially after the mayor Ong Eng Guan showed them how a local government could develop an alternative power base).

There is no upper house of Parliament. There are no local governments. Any government with a majority of 1 in Parliament can do most things by forcing through most laws (with the exception of certain reserved rights where it needs a greater majority, or the President's consent, or a referendum). All other MPs can combine and oppose all they like - but a majority of 1 prevails under the unicameral system in Singapore.

The government can implement any national programme it wants (with the exception of very limited ones that require the President's approval) through the various government entities.

To give you a specific example, the government can build public housing and all its related amenities through HDB. No local constituency MP can do this. No MP (including PAP) can build a block of flats, or a market, for example, in his constituency - he can only work through the national government and its entities such as HDB to do this.

Again, these are simply how the system is designed to operate under the current laws - almost total control by one level of government, which is formed by whoever controls the most seats in Parliament.

Ghost said...

If this is how the system should be as designed by the PAP, then all the "Meet the MPs" session are useless because the MPs are powerless to change, or even suggest, any changes in their wards. And it also mean that Singapore is not a democracy because grassroots leaders are unelected and they are more powerful than their MPs.
That make things worse for the PAP because it means all their MPs have less power than the grassroots they are suppose to oversee and thus useless.
I doubt this is how the Singapore government would want to operate because this means less levers of power to the PAP as their MPs (which they have most control of) are without use to the PAP in controlling their own wards.

contrarian said...

I never said that MPs could not suggest changes to their wards. That is what MPs do all the time - they make recommendations to the government for changes - facilities, roads, parks, car parks, etc.

At the MPS, what does the MP do? Write to the government agencies in charge on behalf of the constituent.

Ghost said...

According to your and Mr.Lim's arguement, the MPs are only there to represent their constituency in the national government. Local government is left to state appointed leaders.
By that arguement, MPs cannot even by law suggest changes to their wards because it's not part of their duties. Their duty is to represent their wards in the national government, and the running (and making recommendations) of their wards is not part of their duties.
Any MP making recommendations now to the government for any changes in their wards are doing it at the courtesy of HDB, NParks, PUB etc and their own grassroot leaders.
If that's the arguement the PAP is going to make, it's nothing short of digging their own graves because sooner or later we will become Japan where bureacrats are more powerful than MPs and the PAP will have to face-off against Singapore bureacrats much like how the LDP did for years before being voted out of power.

contrarian said...

According to you, local governments operate all over Singapore and MPs can govern their constituency.
According to you, MPs cannot be said to represent their constituency if they don't operate a local government in their constituency.
And according to you, not operating a local government means that MPs cannot suggest anything.

Ghost said...

That is my point. MPs can either govern their constituency, or they can't.
MPs can't operate the lift-upgrading program because they are not the local goverment but they can "recommend" on what to do in their constituency?
That make no sense right!
If they are not allowed to the the lift-upgrading program, then how can they "recommend" to the government what should be built in their constituency?
My view is that MPs are the government of their constituency and they should be allowed to do stuff like the lift-upgrading program.