Sunday, October 8, 2017

Opinion: Members of Parliament, Policy Makers and Civil Servants need to stay connected to the ground

There are many social problems which Singaporeans are struggling with every day so it is vital that members of parliament (MPs), mayors, ministers, policy makers and civil servants stay closely connected to the ground.

Long working hours, financial stress, unhappy home or married lives, lack of social interaction, high cost of living, homeless people are some of the problems that contribute to people falling into depression and in severe cases leading to suicide.

Many people are of the view that during the run-up to the General Elections, the politicians will visit homes to find out what are the issues residents face, in order to secure support so that they can get elected as MPs. After they get elected, it’s a different situation altogether, because very few MPs visits the residents. 

While MPs and Mayors are busy people, it is crucial that they stay in touch with the ground and visit the residents periodically – especially those who have mobility problems or are full time caregivers. 

Recently Mr Chee Hong Tat who is Senior Minister of State for Health took on the role of being a “Being a nurse for the day” at the Institute of Mental Health where he got an insightful peek into how the mentally ill are being care for by a dedicated team of healthcare workers and seeing for himself how mental patients are trying to cope with mental disorders.  This is a noble gesture on the part of Mr Chee as he was able to witness what it is like for caregivers to have to give love and support to their care recipients often 24/7.

The role of Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) ought to be expanded beyond speaking in Parliament. NCMPs, together with civil servants who could include Permanent Secretaries should shadow the MPs during their Meet-The-People’s Session (MPS) to get a better feel of the ground and have the flexibility to give constructive solutions to our policy makers.


Raymond Anthony Fernando



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