The week has barely started when I came to know of a press release made by a Ms Hazel Poa from NSP. Yes, the infamous Nicole Seah Party if you paid attention during the 2011 General Elections.
So here we go.. in Bold…
In the last election, Singaporeans have demonstrated a keen desire for a more balanced political landscape, a wider range of views and more robust debates in Parliament.
You mean more confusing debates? Check it out here!
One important ingredient however remains missing for us to achieve the level of scrutiny and debate desired by Singaporeans – the Freedom of Information Act.
It does not take a FOI Act to initiate a discussion. The debate in Parliament is proof that policies are subjected to scrunity and debate.
It is necessary for opposition parties to have equal access to all information pertinent to the formulation of public policies and laws, unless there are overriding reasons for withholding information, for example where national security may be threatened. Armed with accurate information, different political parties would then be better equipped to scrutinise each other and hold each other to higher standards. This will ultimately benefit Singaporeans.
It is necessary for all MPs to be clearly informed of the policies and laws, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE. WP clearly failed to do their research before they went to the Parliamentary debate. They failed to find out what MX9 was all about. They failed to recognise the relationship between private sector and public sector pay and its subsequent impact on the Ministerial Pay debate.
Gerald Giam from WP assumed that the information was withheld when the information was stated online for goodness sake!
“Thank you for explaining the formula for MX9 formula. That is not something that we have privy to, the exact formula for MX9. But..so I’ve no choice but to accept that DPM has proposed, that DPM has revealed in this House regarding what the MX9 is pegged to… we are under the understanding that it was more in line with general wage level..” Gerald Giam during Parliamentary Sitting 18 Jan 2012.
The PAP chided WP for not submitting their proposal to the Review Committee on Ministerial Salaries, seeking to further tilt the unequal balance of information in their favour. If WP is obliged to open their books, but there is no obligation on the part of the Government to provide WP with relevant information they require, no robust debate will ever be possible in Parliament. If withholding proposals from the Review Committee is considered a political manoeuvre, then the denial of a Freedom of Information Act is a political manoeuvre on a much grander scale.
Fact: At every parliament session, MPs can file Parliamentary Questions that require the Government to explain its position or policies.
Hence, this is not an issue of the govt’s obligation to provide relevant information. It is the OBLIGATION OF WP TO ASK WHAT IT WASN’T CLEAR ABOUT.
WP could have easily submitted a question on MX9 if they wanted to but they did not do so.
Singapore has made some headway in getting a more diverse representation into Parliament. However, without equal access to information, debates in Parliament will be stifled. Accurate and accessible information is crucial to developing a Parliament with thought-provoking debates.
MPs have been voted in by the citizens of Singapore to ASK questions that affect their lives. We, mere ordinary citizens, cannot afford to have MPs or Political Parties who do not know what they are talking about! Crafting an entire WP debate on mere assumptions could cost Singapore our future!
Stop your “thought-provoking” dramas and press releases. It’s more like a headache.