Grassroots advisers are not accountable either

While opposition MPs have no legal obligation to carry out national programmes on the Government’s behalf, neither do the grassroots advisers, since they are just volunteers, and not paid officers of the Government. On the other hand, elected MPs are accountable to their constituents.

This was a letter I sent to the Straits Times on 28 October, which the paper declined to publish.

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I refer to the letter, “Advisers and MPs have different roles” (Straits Times, Oct 27), by Mr Lim Yuin Chien, press secretary to the Minister for National Development.

Mr Lim stated that “Opposition MPs cannot be appointed advisers, because they do not answer to the ruling party”.

The adviser to grassroots organisations is appointed by the People’s Association (PA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. The adviser therefore does not answer to the ruling party but to PA. It appears Mr Lim has confused a political party with a non-partisan statutory board.

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How PAP uses taxpayer-funded grassroots for political gain

Not many Singaporeans are aware of how much the taxpayer-funded grassroots have been used by the PAP for political gain.

Last week, Mr Eric Low and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, the PAP MP-aspirants who lost to Workers’ Party’s Low Thia Khiang and SDA’s Chiam See Tong respectively in the last election, grabbed the limelight for themselves by announcing HDB’s decision to upgrade lifts in Potong Pasir and Hougang.

I had written an article questioning why HDB had informed the losing candidates in opposition wards of the upgrading plans.

A Straits Times forum letter writer, Mr Muhammad Yusuf Osman, said it best when he called for the mandate that the residents gave to the elected MPs to be respected. He asked: “Under what authority did both Mr (Eric) Low and Mr Sitoh (Yih Pin) act as advisers to the grassroots organisations, given that the People’s Association is a government statutory board and should work with the elected MPs of the constituencies?”

In response, HDB and People’s Association replied that “it is the Government’s practice to implement its national programmes for residents through advisers to grassroots organisations who are appointed by the Government to gather feedback from residents.”

They forgot to mention that these “advisers” are always PAP men, whether or not they won the election.

Not many Singaporeans are aware of how much the taxpayer-funded grassroots have been used by the PAP for political gain.

Here’s a quick run down:

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