Monday 1st February 2016
In an effort to improve the political system in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in Parliament last week that the Constitution will be amended to give Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) the same voting rights as Members of Parliament (MPs) and that the number of opposition MPs, including NCMPs at the next election will be increase from 9 to 12.
Many Singaporeans, including Permanent Residents and even foreigners, approach our elected MPs at The Meet-The-Peoples’ Sessions (MPS) for assistance on a range of issues because they are there to help resolve any problems to make life easier for everyone.
Unlike elected MPs, the NCMPs are not in any way involved in The Meet-The-Peoples’ sessions and would therefore not fully understand the issues faced by the residents, many of whom are going through challenges.
Many people and they include the Workers Party politicians are not in favour of the NCMP scheme and have voiced their concerns in Parliament.
Listening and looking at the debate, I can feel, as many people do, that the remarks and rebuttals made does not put both the alternative voices and the ruling party in good light. Name calling or sarcastic remarks will only sour relations, and this is not good for teamwork.
Often, it is not WHAT we say, but HOW we say it.
What is needed for a 1st world parliament is constructive criticism with good ideas and suggestions that can improve the lives of all our people living here – Singaporeans and foreigners.
I had suggested in The Straits Times that for the benefit of our people, the Government should allow NCMPs to understudy the elected MPs, and the said letter was published on Saturday 30th January 2016 in the Online Section of the newspaper. It would have been much better if the letter was printed on the hard copy, but I guess the editors had their reasons. To understand the HOWS and the WHAT FORS, I give more details of what I proposed here:
In the interests of all our citizens and to make Singapore the best home to live in, I suggest that the Prime Minister allows the NCMPs to partner elected MPs – be they be from the ruling party or the opposition at the weekly MPS so that they fully understand ground sentiments and can make a positive change in improving the lives of all our people.
Once these elected NCMPS gain insightful peeks into the lives of our citizens, they can be empowered to bring about change and help the government improve the quality of life for everyone, and this will surely augur well for our leaders. Then, the added advantages will be that our NCMPs through such training will have hands-on experience and can even help ease the workload of our MPs who are seeing more and more cases every week.
These NCMPs can also participate at the MPs periodic dialogue sessions; accompany the elected MPs during their walkabouts or when home visits are conducted.
Promising NCMPs can then be fielded as candidates in the next General Elections and this will surely be beneficial to Singaporeans and foreigners alike. The other tangible benefit is that there will be far better teamwork between the alternative MPs/NCMPs and the PAP. But at the end of the day, the ruling party must be open to the idea of trying out new and bold ideas. After all, it is PEOPLE and IDEAS that make a NATION.
We should not just be looking at numbers, but the quality of MPs and NCMPs that will eventually make Singapore the best home to live, work and play in.
I would appreciate it if the Government could give me a reply. Thank you.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
Letter to The Straits Times: Allow NCMPs to partner elected MPs
My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject was published on Saturday 30th January 2016.
Many Singaporeans, including permanent residents and even foreigners, approach our elected MPs at Meet-the-People Sessions for assistance on a range of issues.
Unlike elected MPs, Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) are not involved in these sessions where MPs try to help residents with their woes.
In the interests of all our citizens and to make Singapore the best home to live in, I suggest that NCMPs be allowed to partner elected MPs at the Meet-the-People Sessions, so that NCMPs can better understand concerns on the ground and make better contributions in Parliament.
Raymond Anthony Fernando