First World Parliament? Guess again! The actions of the Worker’s Party have been far from this considering the spate of recent events. For those of you out there who have been so out of touch with the “alternative voice” in the government here is a run-down:
- January 2012 – News of Yaw Shin Leong’s extramarital affairs broke out15 February 2012 – Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the WP with immediate effect.
- 22 February 2012 – Yaw Shin Leong informed Speaker of Parliament, that he would not contest the explusion and this vacating his seat in parliament. He is the first MP serving for 284 days in the office and the first MP to be ousted for “[breaking] the faith, trust and expectations of the Party and People”.
- 27 February 2012 – Mr Mohamad Fazli Bin Talip, who was fielded in East Coast GRC in 2011, resigned from the WP.
- 1 March 2012 – Pritam Singh was accused of “plagiarism” when his entire speech in parliament on ombudsman in Singapore seem have uncanny similarities to a blog post of another netizen
- March 2012 – Chen Show Mao accused of “plagiarism” when he posted a FB note on his page on the subject of “government spending” which seemed to be copied from another netizen Donald Low.
- 13 May 2012 – Mr Sanjeev Kamalasanan, who was fielded in Nee Soon GRC in the 2011 GE, resigns from Worker’s Party citing discrimination in WP
- 15 May 2012 – Poh Lee Guan, who contested collected the political donation certification from the Election’s Department allowing him to stand in the Hougang By-Election. The same day, WP issues a statement claiming that “Dr Poh Lee Guan has not informed us of any intention to contest. Dr Poh is still a member of the party.” His profile was taken down from the WP website subsequently from the party.
- 16 May 2012 – Although Dr Poh did not turn up at the nomination centre. He was spotted a block away. He claimed to be the “backup” to Png but at the point of WP’s press conference he was nowhere to be found.
Do you see anything wrong with the picture above? No? Well let me help you.
If I am a voter of Aljunied or Hougang, who had voted and given the mandate to the WP, I would rather want to see chronological listing of programmes and initiatives by the WP which would benefit me as a resident. Instead, all I see is a list of evidence supporting the WP’s inability in organising and managing itself. I do not think this was what the people in the 2 estates have asked for.
Clearly there are issues in the party, which despite a courageous attempt by Party Secretary General, Low Thia Kiang to dispel rumours, need to be addressed:
1) The WP will need to come clean on its internal processes and be transparent to its loyalists – obviously there is a gap between the leadership and its supporters as there seem to be much discord and disunity within the WP ranks. This lack of transparency is also not going down well among some of the senior members of the party as shown by the recent resignations.
2) WP will need to rethink its process of selecting candidates and also be more stringent in its selection of its members. Although Low claims that there is a robust and stringent selection process, the Yaw Shin Leong case and the high profile resignations forces me to think otherwise. Obviously, the WP is attracting individuals who are joining the party for political office aspirations rather than a fundamental desire to serve Singaporeans.
3) WP will also need to be balanced and impartial in its approach in handling ill-discipline within the party. If the CEC was convened and action taken against Yaw, I think the same needs to be done for other discplinary issues such as plagiarism which obviously taints the credibility of the party.
As an independent observer, though I am for having an alternative voice in the parliament, I am not sure if we really do need to sacrifice transparency and some principles in order to do so. Singaporeans need to ask for themselves at what cost do they want this alternative voice?
As for the people in Hougang, I empathise with their situation. They seem to be the chips in this political game. Sylvia may be right in her blog by saying that Hougang residents will defend democracy even at their own cost. But my question to Hougang residents what’s the point?