Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Level Of Debate In Singapore Parliament

Minister of Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng asked of opposition NCMP Sylvia Lim, "if the Workers' Party is so fundamentally against the NCMP scheme, would Ms Sylvia Lim now say that she will no longer come back to Parliament?"

Ms Sylvia Lim, the WP chairman and only NCMP in Parliament, had earlier spoken against the scheme and the proposal for its expansion. She said it was merely making the "bad situation" of an undemocratic landscape better. She argued that increasing oppositon numbers through the NCMP scheme did not address what she saw as the skewed nature of the Singapore electoral system. This was manipulated by the system of Group Representation Constituencies as well as practices like gerrymandering by the ruling People's Action Party.

Wong's antics are not too different from the time when he challenged J B Jeyaratnam to take a cut in in MP allowance if Wong were to do so. Jeyaratnam had objected to the astronomical hike in the allowance, which Members of Parliament, and Ministers, get to collect on top of their regular pay. For many new MPs who sneaked into Parliament via the GRC perversion, the obscene sum, currently estimated at $14,000 a month, is substantially higher than what they earn in their day jobs, such as a deputy public prosecutor or middle manager of a software company. Wong's sparring with Jeyaratnam endeared him to Lee Kuan Yew, who once called Jeyaratnam a "mangy dog" in Parliament.

Sylvia Lim dimissed his childish logic by explaining that the decision to take up the NCMP offer after the 2006 election was made because a sizeable number of voters in Aljunied GRC wanted to see her team elected. The WP team she led secured 44 percent of the valid votes there, an overwhelming confirmation of the people's sentiments.

True to form, as personified in the persistent mee pok hawker in MrBrown's famous podcast, Wong went on like a broken record, this time borrowing from Lee Kuan Yew's lame big pie/small pie logic used in defending the skewed immigrant policy:
WONG KAN SENG: What the PAP is trying to do in this situation is not to have its cake and eat it. We're trying to make the cake bigger and give you a piece of it.
LOW THIA KHIANG: But don't forget your cake remains the same, because the elected members remain the same number. What you're trying to do is probably add some dressing, but the Workers' Party (WP) doesn't need that.
WONG KAN SENG: No, we don't need the WP here to be the wallflower. The question is very simple: Is the WP going to take up the (NCMP) seats if we don't have enough (elected) Opposition members?
LOW THIA KHIANG: That's not a system which we will entrench as a political system, but in reality, this is the situation we have to face. It's the same as us opposing the GRC system; it doesn't mean that we don't campaign in the GRC.
WONG KAN SENG: Mr Low can easily refuse to take up the seat, if unfortunately he happens to be - and we welcome his presence here - one of the best losing candidates.
LOW THIA KHIANG: I won't take up an NCMP seat ... That's the difference between the party and myself as a person ... And if my party insists I take it up, I probably will have to resign, that's all.
WONG KAN SENG: Now we can understand Mr Low better. He's trying to open a back door.(?????)

That sums up the difference between Low and Wong, one of them has honour.

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