May 13, 2006
All MPs get a hearing in Parliament.
I REFER to the letter, 'Don't all MPs deserve to be listened to carefully?' (ST, May 11), by Mr Yip Tai Ann which highlighted one quote of my rally speech in Tampines. Towards the end of that speech, which dwelt mainly on the opposition's empty promises to Tampines residents, I told voters that I understood their anxieties on issues such as the cost of living. I reassured them that PAP MPs like myself would listen to their views and speak up for them. More importantly, we would do our best to solve their problems. They do not need to vote in an opposition just to speak up for them.
It was in this context that I added that ministers would listen more carefully to a PAP MP accurately reflecting ground issues and suggesting practical solutions than to an opposition MP out to score political points. Mr Yip need not be shocked at this. Of course, everyone - PAP and the opposition - is heard in Parliament. That is not the issue. The issue is effectiveness in solving people's problems and addressing their concerns. Besides parliamentary sittings, PAP MPs form the government parliamentary committees which scrutinise government policies and which engage ministers on a continuous basis. Ministers also consult PAP MPs on policies during regular party-caucus meetings. Individually, we also raise the specific problems of our constituents with ministers, to ensure that the problems are looked into and addressed. My own experience has been a positive one. As elected PAP MPs, we have a duty to represent all our constituents. Without their support, we would not form the Government. So elected, the Government has a duty to govern in the best interest of Singaporeans.
But let us be clear on this: The ultimate aim of an opposition party is to replace the governing party, and, indeed, this was spelt out clearly in the Workers' Party's manifesto. The opposition seeks to check and oppose the Government's policies and actions in a bid to eventually convince the electorate that it should unseat the ruling party. This is what opposition politics is all about, and this is not something new or peculiar to Singapore. On the other hand, as PAP MPs, we will continue to speak up boldly on behalf of our residents, address their needs and help refine government policies so as to achieve a better life and a better future for all Singaporeans.
Irene Ng (Miss)
Member of Parliament-elect
Irene Ng claimed during her rally speech that PAP Ministers were more willing to listen to PAP MPs, as opposed to Opposition MPs. This claim was reasserted in her letter above.
However, is this really true? There is evidence that Irene Ng herself is not quite being listened to:
I have listened to the speeches made yesterday and today on my computer URL. I think we have made progress. But unlike Ms Irene Ng's idealistic approach that we should create a national consciousness and forget our ethnic origins and be Singaporeans, I think this will take us a few more generations. If you take a vote in this Chamber, never mind about going out to the constituencies, and say, "Do you agree with what Irene Ng said?", I am pretty certain that the overwhelming majority will say, "Let's stick to where we are."Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, 25 Nov 2004
It is the humble opinion of this writer that Miss Ng would do well to heed the advice of a wise man who once said that "it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.