OPPOSITION PARTIES: MAKING A NUISANCE IN PARLIAMENT?Mention democracy, and one imagines a parliament, or a house of political representatives, engaging in a healthy, unbiased debate on issues pertaining to the day-to-day activities of running a nation.
Try imagining this, though: A parliament which is essentially a one-party representation. No opposition members in Parliament, everyone is from the same predominant party, plus well, maybe some nominated members handpicked to present a "diversified front" to the media and public at large.
In short, you get a farcical parody of a democratic government.
Now it seems that our Prime Minister, Mr H S Lee, has reservations with regards to the presence of opposition parties. He says:
"What is the opposition's job? It's not to help the PAP do a better job ... because if they help the PAP do a better job, you're going to vote for me again and they're going to be out of a job for a long time. So their job is to make life miserable for me … Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?"
- PM Lee addressing a crowd at a lunchtime rally on 03 May 2006
Allow me to summarize, once again, his words of wisdom here:
1. The major pre-occupation of an Opposition Party, it seems, is to make life "miserable" for our dear PM.
2. If the Parliament happens to harbour 10 to 20 opposition members, these irritating bunch of MPs will take up the majority of his time, since he needs to find the "right way" to "fix" them.
3. He will need to "buy" more votes from supporters come the next elections, so as to consolidate PAP's position in parliament.
4. All these nitty-gritty problems posed by our Opposition members will hamper his ability to even handle the current issues of the day (i.e "this week's problem").
Woe to him, I say. My question to his arguments, which are pretty lame, I must admit, are as follows:
1. How is it that "10-20 opposition members" in Parliament have such a troubling effect on our PM?
Suppose, the opposition members hold 20 seats. That is 20 out of 84, with the remaining 64 seats going to PAP. That is a whopping 75% majority for the ruling incumbent. Wouldn't the mix of 64 elected and walk-over MPs share the burden of "repelling" the Opposition, as and when the need arises? Does our PM have any faith in his MPs, given the fact that they are earning "First World" salaries?
Besides, what is the harm of an alternative voice? Can anyone be completely sure that a one-party parliament (Jeez it seems that I am actually writing about Communist China here) be capable of voicing out unadulterated, unbiased issues, especially those that run against the tandem of the ruling incumbent's views?
Or, is the ruling incumbent so fearful of the Opposition Parties, because of the refreshing tide of change they bring in to an otherwise staid, conservative form of governance that has been deemed by many to serve us well so far, for the last 4 decades to be exact?
DR CHEE SOON JUAN
ROMANCING SINGAPORE: SUEING THE OPPOSITION, THE SINGAPORE WAY?
2. The PM talks about "fixing" these opposition members. Hmm. Maybe its just me. I don't know.......let me see...........hmm........sue a couple of these folks.........slap them with a bankruptcy charge if they don't pay up..........oh well. You folks know the drill. I need not elaborate.
3. The PM also speaks about "buying" voter's votes. Again, its just me speaking, but you know, a little bit of pork barrel politics in the form of "Packages" would go a long way in appeasing those voters.
In the 2004 US Elections, the incumbent Republicans won a mere 55% of the Senate seats. Yet President George W. Bush, no matter how "simian" he may be, is not bemoaning about having his week-to-week schedules being curtailed. Of course, he does make remarks that seems more fitting for a fascist leader, but that is another story for another day.
The real gist of the issue is this: How difficult is it for a leader to govern a nation of about 4 million, compared to a population (US) of approx 300 million? If our PM is bemoaning about handling a bunch of a mere 20 opposition MPs, then our country is in a serious predicament. I wouldn't even have to mention four million citizens to highlight the standards of our "first world" government.
Frankly speaking, I am truly appalled by the confessions of our PM. Having been paid "the highest salary on the planet" (According to a WP speaker in the East Coast rally), PM Lee, along with his almost-equally well-paid cohorts, should be made of much sterner stuff than this.
Be it an unhealthy aversion towards the Opposition, or the prevalent wave of "Oppo-phobia", it is imperative that the ruling incumbent be more open-minded towards the Opposition parties. From what I have witnessed so far, there has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of opposition parties here.
Of course, the ruling party will most ominously chide them as inexperienced, untested, and of unknown calibre. The question then, would be: How would they know, if these opposition members hadn't even been voted into parliament in the first place?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to change the political climate in Singapore. A one-party rule is not the situation to be in for any world class democracy. Without the presence of a alternative voice, we are at the mercy of the ruling incumbent.
Added on 04 May 2006 12 noon by at82
I have a serious question.
If PM Lee is not able to handle a bunch of "riffraff" despite having 75% majority in the parliament, what does that makes him?