Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wanted: A united Parliament

May 21, 2011

YouthInk writers state their wishes for the newly elected Parliament

MY WISH for the new Parliament is for greater cooperation and unity among elected MPs, Nominated MPs and Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs), across party lines. It is vital to retain a mechanism that has seamless flow, especially now we have a greater diversity of voices.

With Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, as well as ministers who were part of the losing team that contested Aljunied GRC, leaving the Cabinet, we are faced with some uncertainty in governance. More than ever before, elected candidates - both from the incumbent and the opposition - need to work together and steer the nation forward instead of focusing on differences. Parliament will need to pool its resources. That is pivotal to our survival.

[MM and SM presence or absence is not an issue. What is an issue is that there are more elected opposition MPs. It would be terrible if we went the way of the US with gridlock government. With the opposition presence in parliament stronger than ever, it is important that the governing party should engage the opposition for that united parliament.]

Many Singaporeans are waiting to see how the six newly elected MPs from the Workers' Party and the three new NCMPs will perform. To ensure a united Parliament, I expect rational choices and analytical ability on their part. They need to show maturity, tact and proficiency if they wish us, the electorate, to take them seriously at the next general election.

As for members of the ruling People's Action Party, they will need to be open-minded and serious in engaging the opposition and other alternative voices. They will need to forge a brand of politics that is civil but not sterile, dynamic but not vociferous, consensual but not insistent.

Lastly, a united Parliament needs the electorate to support it too. We need to accept whatever has transpired from this general election, lay to rest any dissatisfaction we still have, and support our leaders to take the nation forward. Let us not send double signals by making discouraging criticisms at this critical juncture. Only if we are a mature electorate, do we deserve a mature system of governance.

All Singaporeans need to work and make this come true.

Tan Wei Lie, 21, is a first-year political science student at the National University of Singapore.

[Ok, the cynic in me, thinks this is idealistic. But the optimist in me agrees that this must be so for the good of Singapore. There are problems.

In the US, the Republicans do not cooperate with Obama because if they did and Obama's policy succeeds, they would have handed Obama political capital. So while Obama is in power, they work to obstruct his policies. Take the killing of Osama. The Republicans twisted themselves all over the place to try to shift the credit to George Bush so that Obama would not gain politically from that.

So while I do agree that it is in the interest of Singapore for a united Parliament, there are fundamental problems with an adversarial system of parliament.]

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