My letter to the New Paper is published in the New Paper today, Tuesday 29 December 2009, page 17. Check it out!
I refer to the report, “He always has time for us” (The New Paper on Sunday, 13 Dec).
Indeed, Mr Chiam has time for everyone. Even though I am not from his constituency, when I write to this opposition MP, he, his wife or his town council staff makes every effort to keep in touch with me.
Mr Chiam is very sympathetic to my wife's disabilities and my struggles as a sole caregiver. This is what makes for an outstanding MP.
I fully agree with the Prime Minister that the Government cannot solve all problems and that Singaporeans must play their part in nation-building.
But over the last year there has been so many reports of Singaporeans committing suicide and struggling with the stresses of life.
This is why I have been raising issues of the mentally ill, the elderly and the sick through the wonderful support of the newspapers who have walked alongside me for several years. Indeed, the media too have contributed to nation-building.
But what is equally important is for government agencies to respond when citizens put up suggestions and ideas that can help to improve the lives of all our people.
Though critics have called on Mr Chiam to retire because of his age and his stroke last year, this dynamic MP has proven that age or illness is no barrier to being a force to be reckoned with. Certainly more opposition MPs of Mr Chiam's calibre, who can provide alternative views, will improve the lives of all our citizens.
Recently I met an ambassador who told me me that a disabled person was elected into Parliament in a western country. And because of his political influence, he was able to secure better benefits for people struggling with disabilities.
If an NMP(Nominated Member of Parliament with disabilities can find his/her way into the Singapore Parliament, he/she may be able to further champion the plight of all those with disabilities, including mental illness. Surely, this is an idea for the Singapore Government to mull over.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO