The line between “Government” and “PAP” which dissolved away

I quote the entire forum letter that appeared in The Straits Times today. After reading it I felt a little need to address some of the fallacies inside this forum letter, fallacies which made me question if our Press Secretary has gone to university. At least I know I have learnt what fallacies are.

Anyway a little background. Recently the government (this is a confusing word) has decided to allow Potong Pasir and Hougang to have lift upgrading programs. After countless years of PAP wards first, I think this is a huge relieve for the many people in these two parts of Singapore, which didn’t see much development ever since they were “captured” by the opposition. And I actually was proud of this, until it seemed to be a little political move, which was clever, in my opinion.

The grassroots advisor was the one to helm this project, not the members of parliament, who were elected representatives of that area. And who are this advisors? They are the people who lost to the existing MPs. I think this is a sly and clever move because it gives the advisors more exposure, and may sway voters more in the next election.

So there were numerous complains and articles being written, and this is the latest one. In this letter, it is said that the government appointed advisor assists in implementing national programs. Well that sounds al-right other than there’s only two such advisors in Singapore since the rest are already “capable” of implementing national programs.

But what irks me is that the press secretary wrote that the lift upgrading program is a program that receives money from the government. And opposition MPs do not answer to the ruling party. And then there’s the word called Government.

And here I naively thought that the opposition MPs also formed the government. I thought the government was a collective term for all the elected representatives. Since when did the citizens approve the thesaurus change to say PAP = Government? That’s a dangerous line here.

If the lift upgrading program was government funding, does this mean that it is PAP funding? If it is not PAP funding, then shouldn’t the government include the opposition? If it actually means PAP funding, then we are in deep shit right now. What if the opposition wins (which I do not foresee for a few more decades)? Does it mean our money is gone?

I’m sure it does not. Our tax money should be government money, no matter which party forms the majority of the government.

So I’m confused. Because surely what they mean by government is the PAP. And this is a slippery slope because we’ll always associate government to be PAP, which may not hold true forever. In the first place, government should include the opposition, no?

Well, remind me why Singaporean’s are politically apathetic. Maybe they just got sick of all this. I, am starting to feel sick.

Advisers and MPs have different roles

IN HER commentary last Thursday, ”Adviser over MP’ raises many questions’, Ms Sue-Ann Chia has misunderstood the roles of Members of Parliament (MPs) and advisers to grassroots organisations.

The MP is elected by the people of a constituency, and represents them in and outside Parliament.

In Singapore, MPs also have an important role in running town councils. As provided for in the Town Councils Act, this role includes managing the common property of HDB estates and carrying out local improvement projects, thereby contributing to the well-being of the people of the constituency.

As for the government-appointed adviser, his main role is to assist in implementing national programmes, such as government campaigns, and HDB’s upgrading programmes, including the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP).

The roles of MP and adviser are distinct and separate, even though government MPs, wearing their other hat of advisers, are expected to perform both roles.

Opposition MPs cannot be appointed advisers, because they do not answer to the ruling party. They have no constitutional or legal obligation to carry out national programmes on the Government’s behalf. Nor can the Government hold them to account if they perform this role unsatisfactorily.

Let me re-emphasise that the LUP is not a town council programme. It is a national programme which receives most of its funding from the Government.

Therefore, in opposition wards, it is the government-appointed adviser who is accountable for implementing national programmes like the LUP. In doing so, the adviser will work closely with the local town council and residents.

Lim Yuin Chien
Press Secretary to the
Minister for National Development

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