Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why do we need so many PAP strawberries MPs in Parliament?

Source: Temasek Review

The recent parliamentary “debates” showcased the utter stupidity, incompetence and impotence of the PAP MPs to the whole of Singapore such that even the spin doctors of the Straits Times are having a hard time trying to polish up their embattled public image.

When Singaporeans are fretting over increased competition from foreign workers, increased cost of living, sky-rocketing HDB flat prices, an uncertain future and dwindling CPF savings, PAP MPs are busy scratching the backs of one another in Parliament on hairdos, triumph bras, frog tales, food museums and more ways to make the foreigners happy in Singapore!

Some are caught sleeping on camera like the Minister in charge of productivity Teo Chee Hean and of all people, the Speaker of Parliament Mr Abdullah Tarmugi himself.

One reader who attended the parliamentary proceedings last week wrote:

“I attended the parliamentary proceedings last Tuesday. The speaker was too rigid in the time allocation for the various ministries and as a result limited the follow-up exchanges between the MPs and ministers. The Speaker Abdullah Tarmugi was very sleepy on that day.. and had to be woken up by the clerk after Hawazi Daipi (Parliamentary Secretary for MOH) finished his reply! He took some time to realise where he was and to choose the MPs for the follow-up questions.”

No wonder there are no more LIVE coverage of parliamentary “debates” and the speeches are all scripted and prepared beforehand. The MPs send their questions to the various ministers who will prepare the answers to be read out during parliament. Even secondary school students can do better than them.

Why not do away with the “wayang” and have the ministers replied directly to the MPs in writing then? That will save Singapore taxpayers quite alot of money.

For a small country of 5 million people or 3.6 million citizens, Singapore has an unusually large number of MPs or 1 MP per 42,857 citizens.

Do we really need so many MPs? Let us compare the size of our parliament with other Asian democracies:

1. Malaysia:

Number of elected MPs: 222 in Dewan Rakyat

Population (2009): 27 million.

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 121,621

Monthly allowance of MP: S$2,500

2. Japan:

Number of MPs: 480 in House of Representatives

Population: 127 million.

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 264,583

3. South Korea:

Number of MPs: 290 in National Assembly

Population: 49.5 million.

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 170,689

4. Republic of China (Taiwan)

Number of MPs: 113 in Legislative Yuan

Population: 22.9 million.

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 202,654

5. Thailand

Number of MPs: 480 in National Assembly

Population: 62 million

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 129,167

6. Indonesia

Number of MPs: 690 in People’s Consultative Assembly

Population: 238 million

MP to citizen ratio: 1 per 344,928

[Source: Wikipedia]

As we can see from the above estimated figures, Singapore has the highest MP to citizen ratio among democratic states in Asia.

Why do we need so many MPs to govern a small island only 700 plus square kilometers in size with only 3.6 million citizens?

If we apply the MP to citizen ratio of Malaysia here, only 30 MPs are needed in Singapore.

Our MPs are doing less work than MPs of other countries and yet they are more highly paid. Are they less capable and efficient than their counterparts elsewhere?

PAP MPs are getting the best deal in the world for the following reasons:

1. They are paid $13,000 for a part-time job on top of their full-time jobs and multiple directorships on the boards of various companies. The monthly median salary of an average Singaporean is only $2,600 in 2009.

2. Other than the weekly Meet-the-People sessions which they frequently delegate to grassroots leaders to manage, PAP MPs do not have to travel very often or far to meet their constituents. Lim Kit Siang, the Malaysian MP for Ipoh has to deal with a population of nearly 100,000 on top of commuting frequently between Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Penang where he lives.

3. The ministers and MPs of other democracies are often grilled by the opposition lawmakers to the extent that fights even break out sometimes. There is literally no opposition in Parliament to challenge the PAP MPs who are so bored that they are often caught yawning or sleeping in Parliament after apple-polishing one another! It was reported that one former PAP MP Davinder Singh made less than 10 speeches during his 18 years in Parliament!

Since the PAP MPs keep exhorting Singaporeans to be “cheaper, faster and better”, why can’t they walk their talk and show us how to be “cheaper, faster and better” themselves first?

We propose that the number of seats in Parliament to be halved from the present 84 to 42 and the monthly allowance of MPs to be decreased by more than 75 percent to $3,000.

At present, the MP allowances cost Singaporeans $1,092,000 million dollars monthly.

Under our proposed scheme, it will cost only $126,000 which will save us $966,000 monthly or $11.6 million dollars a year.

The extra savings can then be channeled to the Public Assistance (PA) scheme to increase its monthly allowance and coverage to help more needy and destitute Singaporeans.

MPs are supposed to serve the interests of the people and to speak up for them in Parliament. They should not make a profit or living out of it, not when their allowances are funded by taxpayers’ monies.

The PAP needs to use such high pay to entice talented people to join them because few Singaporeans are interested to be involved in politics due to the repressive political climate in Singapore.

Under a completely open, fair and liberal political system, there will be no shortage of capable Singaporeans stepping forward to volunteer their services to the nation. No real talented person or leader will be keen to become a “yes-man” in service of the PAP regime.

Without any genuine debates in Parliament, the Singapore parliamentary system is becoming a farce and laughing stock to the rest of the world.

The major policy decisions are often made behind closed doors by senior leaders of the PAP after which they are put to a vote in Parliament which will always go through since PAP controls 82 out of 84 seats.

It is therefore apt to describe Singapore’s Parliament as a rubber-stamped Parliament which makes one wonder if we are living in a modern democracy or an one-party totalitarian state.

Singaporeans have been paying for this grand “wayang” for the last 50 years. Are you still willling to put up with it in the future?

Read also:

1. Why PAP MPs are no more but a “wayang” in Parliament

2. 10 most unforgettable quotes by PAP MPs in the recent parliamentary debates

3. PAP MPs complain that recent parliamentary “debates” are too fast


Carl said...

That's interesting, I never thought to look to how many people each politician represents, but it's weird that it fluctuates so much between countries.

Ang Sar Lee said...

Good analysis. You should also include the analysis of civil servants ratio to the citizens, I was told by an american that we have the highest in the world, little wonder why the civil servants have so much resources to implement so much policies.