Wednesday, May 04, 2011

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister

My dear Prime Minister,

I refer to your speech at the rally of your political party yesterday. As a first-time voter under the age of 35, I felt I should respond to you.

At the outset, I must state that I welcome your candid remarks and advice to voters like me. I know from your own track record that, when you say something will be looked into, it will be.

However, I only wish your candid remarks had come sooner rather than a few days before our country goes to the polls. The fact that these remarks came days after questions after questions had been raised by opposition parties is likely to underscore the need for a Parliament that has a good number of elected opposition Members of Parliament.

With respect, as much as I accept your speech is well-intended, some may also argue that your speech is an election gimmick.

You say ours is a multi-party democracy with a dominant party. I am prepared to accept a dominant party that has majority control of Parliament but not to the extent that it frustrates the existence of the office of my President or hampers the ability of an opposition leader to act in the interests of the constituents he or she represents in Parliament.

There must be a sense of fair play and, as a dominant party, your party has a duty to lead by example. No less should be expected from an incumbent.

For example, while I appreciate that you may not have sanctioned some of these practices, the way some of your candidates have conducted themselves to score points in these elections leaves one bitter.

The overt manner in which some mainstream media go out of their way to misconstrue the national interest as that of the PAP is also an attack of this sense of fair play. An independent watchdog set up by former Nominated Members of Parliament is currently monitoring their coverage during the elections period, and their interim results indicate that the coverage is not balanced. It is also shameful that at least one newspaper report in recent days has sought to demonise an opposition leader by spreading misinformation about that person’s activities. The coverage of our mainstream media is so skewed that some voters are saying that they [the media] will do all they can for the PAP this Friday and Saturday, when no campaigning is allowed.

If I were a voter in the PAP wards of Aljunied, East Coast, Mountbatten, Holland-Bukit Timah, Yuhua and Bishan-Toa Payoh, where the opposition has put up strong candidates, my choice would be clearly to vote for the opposition for the reasons above. I do want a dominant party that plays fair for the next 5 years.

Fortunately, for the PAP, I live in Jurong, where the performance of my one PAP MP overshadows all the opposition candidates currently slated in this constituency. My choice therefore is an obvious one.

Despite being a core member of your Cabinet, this MP is in my constituency about three times a week. He knows many residents. He takes a personal interest in their welfare and enjoys a celebrity status here. Come visit if you believe me not.

In his initial years, this MP would walk around with writing paper on which he would note concerns raised by residents. The notes he made would eventually translate into initiatives with measurable outcomes. He still does so at dialogue sessions. In the last five years, he has done house calls almost every year. (His predecessor, who almost killed the great legacy Ho Kah Leong left, only came once every five years.)

When this MP is away, he sends his stand-in colleague. His stand-in colleague has done such wonderful work that her fame reaches across the island; she was commended by an opposition candidate in Aljunied recently!

As a result of their consistent credible work, they haven’t had to use any unfair tactics to win over voters. In fact, on Nomination Day, they were gracious enough to point out for amendment errors they found in the nomination forms of the opposition party candidates contesting here. Thus, a lot of the angst one feels against your party has been absorbed.

We can only hope the same can be said of the other constituencies in which your party is contesting. It would not be unfair to add that some complacency appears to have seeped into the mentality of some your candidates, perhaps attributable to the walkover culture that had entrenched itself in our political system. I wrote to one of them more than a week ago about an issue. I have received neither a reply nor an acknowledgment. I also know of several persons in this country, who have not heard from their Members of Parliament in years, let alone met them.

I continue to remain grateful for your candour and humility, and I wish you a resounding victory in your constituency on Polling Day.

Dharmendra Yadav

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1 comment:

Ben Kunhi said...

Excellent letter as usual.

The founding fathers (the real ones) of PAP would certainly be proud of Tharman and Halimah.