Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Comments and response

Saw and responded to a comment in Blog "Kway Teow Man" on the topic of GCT's comment on the GRC.

In it, Mickell said...

What SM said is true and actually makes sense.

Nevertheless, whatever each PAP minister says in public and recorded by the press, will always draw flak and criticisms from people who are anti-PAP.

There are those who oppose the government for the sake of opposing. If any other opposition party ever becomes the ruling party, it will likewise face tons of opposition too. It's a never-ending vicious cycle. Nobody's perfect.

Then again, there are those who oppose for the sake of making Singapore a better place by lowering the costs of living here by slashing the salaries of the ministers. Will top minds still join the government if the pay is much less fantastic than the private sector?

Do people join the government because they are attracted by the good pay or because they genuinely want to serve and better the lives of their fellow-Singaporeans?

My response :

What SM Goh said was true, in that the GRC system helps the establishment push in brand new MPs under the shadow of established ministers. However, there is little sense in saying it out loud and undermining the facade of democracy that is so painstakingly maintained.

While there are parties that are blindly critical or supportive of the government, the litmus test is the analysis and the debate of policies and statements by both sides of the fence without the severe unbalance that now exists, with our overwhelmingly partisan media and civial service.

The debate of public policies and ministerial statements are the backbone of a matured society that have outgrown apthathy. By backing up one's criticism or support with facts, we take a step forward and put behind us mindless rants or undeserved worship.

The balance between the ruling party and the opposition is not a vicious cycle. It is a system of check and balance. It is that which prevents the abuse of power by those holding it.

It is what that makes a democracy.

The act of creating a system that allows candidates to enter the highest policy making body of the nation without risk or substantial effort makes a mockery of our parliament.

What will happen to Singapore if we have corrupted leaders one day - where will be the checks and measures to protect our reserves if we so blindly put unrestricted power into the hands of a selected priviledged few?

Ps. The best the PAP have to offer came from a time where ministerial pay goes as low as practically nothing. The stalwarts that build our nation and leave us this legacy were attracted first and foremost to the opportunity of leadership in the face of adversity, not the lure of monetary gain at none-existent risk.

Elaborations on my comments coming akan datang.....

GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM

The Straits Times, June 27, 2006
GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM
Without good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politics
By Li Xueying

SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics.

Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'.

'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC).

'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?'

But he was quick to add that GRCs themselves do not guarantee victory.

'A minister wins only because he has won the people's trust and the Government has delivered good results for the people. If a minister performed poorly, it could result in his losing the GRC to an opposing team with a strong leader,' he said, in what appears to be an oblique reference to comments made against GRCs in the general election held this May.

Since GRCs were introduced in 1988, critics and the opposition have attacked them, saying they allow rookie People's Action Party (PAP) candidates to get into Parliament on the coat tails of heavyweight candidates in their team.

Also, they do not lend themselves to a level playing field, they add, as the opposition struggles to find the specified minority-race candidates.

Mr Goh carried four new faces into Parliament in the six-man Marine Parade GRC team, which was unchallenged at the 2006 polls.

Altogether, the PAP had 24 new faces. One was Mr Teo Ser Luck, former general manager of courier company DHL and now Parliamentary Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports).

He acknowledges that for a rookie politician, being part of a team ensures that 'you have a bigger chance of winning'.

'If you're fighting individually, you go through a steep learning curve and you may not have enough time,' he added.

East Coast GRC MP Lee Yi Shyan, who left his job as chief executive officer of IE Singapore and is today Minister of State (Trade and Industry), concurred: 'If the system can remove as many impediments as possible, then the political system will be able to get more people to join.'

But both told The Straits Times they would have entered politics even if they had been fielded in a single-seat ward. Said Mr Lee with a laugh: 'You could say that I'm more confident of myself!'

In his speech, Mr Goh also stressed that the PAP's ability to attract capable individuals and its practice of political self-renewal were key to Singapore's success.

Turning to the CDCs' role, Mr Goh highlighted their important position as a bridge between 'rules-bound' government departments and grassroots organisations.

CDCs are agile, flexible, and give personal attention to residents, he said. 'They are therefore better placed to devise local solutions to tackle local issues.'

Mr Goh, who in 1996 mooted the CDC idea, lauded their achievements, highlighting their role in community bonding, as well as finding jobs for retrenched workers and helping the needy. He now wants them to undertake yet another task: helping to reverse the declining birth rate.

He has suggested to Mayor Matthias Yao that his South East CDC draw up an accredited list of service providers to help parents, who can pay for them with their baby bonus.

'Such accreditation can help ensure the quality of services or lower costs through economies of scale,' he said.

Posted the above for record of this interesting news article.