UK, US? Give him a S’pore MP any day

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 13 Apr 2011 letter by Mr Eugene Tan.

Mr Tan feels that the Worker’s Party’s definition of a first world parliament refers to numbers only rather than quality. But isn’t the PAP’s single minded pursuance of GDP growth and pegging ministers’ pay to GDP growth a numbers game as well?

Mr Tan refers to the deadlock which nearly shut down the US government. But the fact remains that the US parliament never allowed its government to shut down in the end.

Mr Tan points to the first world parliaments of US and Britain failing to stop the respective countries from fighting the disastrous Iraq war. If two-party checks and balances cannot prevent governments from getting their way, what makes Mr Tan so sure that a single party system can? Hasn’t Mr Tan learnt anything from our casinos and our grow-at-all-costs decisions?

Mr Tan refers to Belgium where inter-party struggles have delayed government formation for a year. But doesn’t that demonstrate that even without a formal government, the rest of the country can still function normally for quite some time?

Mr Tan refers to first world parliaments in Iceland, Portugal, Ireland and Greece that have brought the nations to the brink. It is funny how Mr Tan doesn’t refer to other first world parliaments in Canada, Australia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway or Switzerland. Like many people, Mr Tan seems to think that a point is proven by selectively choosing countries that concur with that point, never mind that there are countless other countries that doesn’t concur with that point.

Mr Tan should realise that the problems that plagued Ireland also plagued our country. We too had dabbled in toxic products. We too didn’t realise the serious consequences when property prices first spiked four years ago. Despite constant pleas from the people, there was no quick remedial action, only denials.

Mr Tan refers to the Israeli parliament being held to ransom by tiny extremist parties. But Israel has always had, aside from one exception, coalition governments since 1948. But that didn’t prevent Israel from triumphing in three wars with the Arabs.

Mr Tan refers to Japan’s lack of breakthrough despite electing a non-LDP party twice. But why should Mr Tan view the incumbent and the challenger with different standards? Why should the challenger which is as good as the incumbent be viewed with disdain? Why should the onus of breakthrough fall on the challenger and not on the incumbent?

Mr Tan feels that Japan succeeded in spite of its politicians. Why doesn’t Mr Tan feel that Singapore also succeeded in spite of our politicians?

Mr Tan refers to fights in the South Korean and Taiwan parliaments. Mr Tan seems to prefer a parliament that doesn’t fight for his welfare.

Mr Tan fears that more parties will lead to more compromises. But having no alternative parties also means that our rights are being compromised as we would have no alternative means of seeking redress when the ruling party doesn’t heed our calls.

Mr Tan feels that more parties can create indecisive and weak policies. But isn’t that still better than wrong decisions and wrong policies? Why does Mr Tan consider the negative of having more parties without considering the negative of having just one party?

Mr Tan feels that the quality of our debates matches those in the US or UK. 82 out of 84 yes men and yes women don’t make for quality debates.

Mr Tan feels that reading from scripts means doing homework. School children can also read scripts and do homework.

Mr Tan feels that backbenchers and NMPs do a much more effective job than the opposition. Is he referring to a better job at rubber stamping PAP policies?

Mr Tan feels that we already have a first world parliament if we consider diligence, integrity, intellect and commitment. How does he discern all these through MPs reading from scripts?

Mr Tan says he will rather have a Singapore MP any day compared to one from the US or UK. I think what Mr Tan would rather have is for a radio DJ to read parliament speeches.

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