Two political developments in recent weeks have negatively affected me.
LEE & GOH SECRETARIAT
This should be the new name of a special team in the Prime Minister’s Office, who have been designated to take care of the affairs of two former Prime Ministers: Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.
I find this extension of services by the Prime Minister’s Office a conceit; we don’t want our former Prime Ministers near us but we will still give them a way to hang around.
Some days ago, I was aghast to watch on television Lee attending a public event surrounded by a battery of security officers. As he no longer holds a ministerial position, it made me ponder who is bearing the cost of such splendid security.
It would appear that, despite not holding any official position in the Executive, our former Prime Ministers continue to enjoy unprecedented privileges, far more than what any sitting Member of Parliament or a former minister would be typically entitled to.
At a talk recently, the Honourable Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh shared how his parent expressed disappointment about the treatment of Lee following the last general election. With respect, in the context of the observations above, the great leader in all probability deserved it.
I am neither ungrateful to our former Prime Ministers nor do I accept that they should be forgotten for what they have done. However, I feel very strongly they should have long followed the example of their peers like the late Dr Goh Keng Swee and left political office totally.
If there is a need to involve them in government matters, they can be appointed independent consultants. It is imperative, given their exit from ministerial office, that they should not be permanently relying on employees of the state.
There are many examples of these in other democracies, where leaders have stepped down but in their independent capacities are tapped from time to time for national duties.
Plus, if they are really needed to support other statutory boards or government-linked companies, it should be those entities that should provide the support rather than that of the Prime Minister.
ALLEGED WRONGDOER TO WATCH INVESTIGATORS
New Government Parliamentary Committees have also just been announced.
In essence, a GPC is a component of the ruling party. It is partisan in nature. Its work is backed by a panel comprising members of the public. GPCs were created "to increase the participation of MPs in policymaking, to give the public a say in government policies through sitting on resource panels, and to strengthen democratic institutions in the country" at a time when there were almost no opposition Members of Parliament.
In carrying out its work, each GPC "examines the policies, programmes and proposed legislation of a particular government ministry, provides the ministry with feedback and suggestions, and is consulted by the ministry on issues of public interest".
It is clear from its work that the GPC enjoys special access to the relevant ministry, including knowledge of matters that may be of a confidential nature. This is something which no other political party enjoys in Singapore.
I therefore found it really odd to learn that a current Member of Parliament, who is reportedly still the subject of a police investigation, has been appointed to deal with matters concerning law and home affairs.
Shouldn’t this put her in a position where her interests conflict with the interests of these ministries?
Notwithstanding this, it certainly puts government officials in the law and home affairs sectors in a very difficult position since they will now have to be accountable to her on top of investigating her.
Lately, odd politicians and political office seem to be the flavours of the month.
Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?
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