Change mindset about role of opposition MPs. They're not trouble-makers
I refer to a statement made by Tampines GRC MP Miss Irene Ng at a rally in the recent elections in which she said an opposition MP created trouble and questioned 'in Parliament, what does the opposition do for you?'
I was shocked at the generalisations about the opposition from a PAP MP. Nevertheless, what Miss Ng said may reflect what many Singaporeans deem the opposition to be.
Being used to the capable rule of PAP-only governments since independence, we tend to think that the PAP MPs are the only ones who can contribute to Singapore's development and we sometimes forget the true role of the opposition.
It has become a mindset that the opposition MPs are merely trouble-makers and they cannot contribute meaninfully to the debates in Parliament.
While the opposition isn't perfect, nor is the government. That is why we need representatives from both sides to reflect the diverse views of our heterogenous society.
To say that the opposition is 'out to make trouble' and that it cannot contribute to politics undermines the multiple-party democratic system that we have.
If they are 'out to make trouble' and do not make any contributions, there is no reason for opposition MPs such as Mr Chiam See Tong and Mr Low Thia Khiang to be re-elected for several terms. Trust the ability of the voters to be discerning.
In 1991, opposition candidate Cheo Chai Chen triumphed in Nee Soon Central but because he did not contribute substantially in Parliament, he was defeated in 1997 by the PAP's Mr Ong Ah Heng.
Yet the Singapore Democratic Alliance and Workers' Party chiefs were re-elected with improved majorities in the recent general election. This shows that the opposition MPs too can be credible and they can contribute in politics.
To be a mature society, we Singaporeans should not view the opposition as trouble-makers but instead see them as equally credible representatives of the people who serve as a check-and-balance for the government in Parliament.
If we continue to have the wrong mindset about the opposition, we may stifle what may truly be best for our society.
I hope Miss Ng realises that her views on the opposition would not hold if we are to have a First World government or parliament, and that over the next few years the opposition MPs will further prove themselves to be a credible source of representation for Singapore.
Michael Wee Hong Shen
It is funny that good letters like this, this and this do not make it to the print version, but crap like this and this always do. Maybe the ST is more sneaky than we thought.