Saturday, April 24, 2010

MPs views ahead of parliamentary debate full of hot air

By Ravi Philemon, April 24

Member of Parliament (MP) Zaqy Mohamad reportedly said, “People elected who are accountable to their residents think differently because at the end of the day, you know you have to answer to someone”, when responding to The Straits Times for their article “Parliament set to debate political changes”.

Mr Mohamad seems to say the exact opposite of what another People’s Action Party (PAP) MP for Tampines expressed in his column for Today. In it, the MP said, that he chose to do what is right over what was expected of him by the people who elected him.

And by saying he hopes that parliamentary debates will remain constructive (with the inclusion of more NCMPs (Non Constituency Member of Parliament) if the amendment to the constitution is passed) without just generating a lot of noise, Mr Mohamad seem to be expressing his fear of more opposing voices in parliament.

As a MP, Mr Mohamad should know that the Speaker of Parliament is appointed precisely for that; to make sure that debates remain constructive and not degenerate into ‘just a lot of noise’?

PAP MP Mdm Ho Geok Choo is another person who is worried about more opposing voices in parliament. She thinks that those who use the ‘back door’ to enter parliament, might be disruptive.

Mdm Ho seems to have conveniently forgotten that her West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) saw walkovers in the last two General Elections in 2001, as well as in 2006. Did she enter parliament via another ‘back door’?

Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng, the other person who opposes the move to have more opposing voices in parliament, says that “if opposition MPs are to enter parliament, it should be on their own merit, through a popular mandate by the people”.

Mr Cheng has surely contradicted himself, for if one uses his reasoning, not only the opposition MPs, but all MPs, including the NMPs should enter parliament ‘on their own merit, through a popular mandate by the people’.

Mr Cheng also says that parliament does not need ‘opposition for the sake of opposition’. But, is that not why the NMP scheme was introduced in the early 1990s in the first place?

Whether one is for or against the NCMP and/or NMP schemes, one can easily deduce that the comments by Mr Mohamad, Mdm Ho and Mr Cheng, comes across not as constructive criticisms but as ‘a lot of noise’ and as self-contradicting viewpoints.

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