“In his letter, Mr Lee noted that the elections ‘have shown that voters have concerns which need to be addressed’” (PM Lee Lays Down The Rules, Mr. Loh Chee Kong).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s letter – summarised in the news report “PM Lee Lays Down The Rules” (May 29, 2011) by Mr. Loh Chee Kong – establishes a positive foundation for the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Members of Parliament (MP) following the recently-concluded General Elections (GE). Greater accountability, transparency and honesty are the orders of the day, as Singaporeans – increasingly well-versed and engaged with assorted socio-economic issues – demand heightened involvement, through more wholesome and consultative mechanisms.
This initiative might herald a new era in the PAP’s political rejuvenation. Especially poignant is the point highlighted to raise parliamentary productivity, imploring elected representatives to dutifully carry out their responsibilities as parliamentarians. PM Lee’s affirmation in the letter should be a strong vote of confidence for the current slate of politicians, and should correspondingly encourage the latter to perform with higher standards. Beyond responsible, regular attendance at all parliamentary sittings, opportunities must be seized to articulate perspectives – particularly when the administration is seen as going off-course for specific policies – hold ministers accountable, and to proactively challenge the status quo.
The aforementioned demands are magnified for newcomers, who can ill-afford to be laissez-faire in their approaches, or relish in the comforts of conservatism. Expectations have been set by PM Lee himself, and all must endeavour to strive harder collectively.
PM Lee’s letter for his party’s MPs is far from exhaustive. First, given the different dynamics in Parliament, PAP MPs have to be cognisant of their interactions and exchanges with the new Opposition MPs. Naturally, it is imperative for them to work harmoniously with the latter; in terms of facilitating or contributing to debate on substantive issues constructively, and not attempt to disagree for the mere sake of doing so. If bills, laws or policies can achieve bipartisan consensus and cooperation, it would be a significant step forward towards political maturity in our country, as politicians put aside party politics to work for the common good of all Singaporeans.
Second, at its very core, politics is about back-to-basics servant-leadership, through the comprehension of the needs of constituents, and following-up by giving them the assistance required. As the plethora of politicians seek to make a clear distinction between their personal careers and public contributions – at the behest of PM Lee – it is worth reflecting upon their motivations and commitment. Ultimately, their abilities to value-add in Parliament and connect with on-the-ground households would depend on how well they listen, feel, and experience their residents’ voices on a daily basis.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.