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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Straits Times questions Ministry’s stand on LUP

Straits Times article was reflective of the overwhelming sense of indignation felt by Singaporeans that the PAP’s antics in those two wards had crossed the line of common decency.

Straits Times political desk journalist Sue-Ann Chia expressed in today’s papers what any rational-minded Singaporean knew to be right: That the elected opposition MPs should be the ones managing the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) in their ward, not the PAP candidates who lost in the last election.

In her article headlined “‘Adviser over MP’ raises many questions”, Ms Chia questioned the flawed reasoning of the press secretary to the National Development minister, who said last week that town councils should not be considered a local government. She deftly pointed out that over the past 12 years, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Hsien Loong had all stated in one way or another that the town council were designed for voters to choose their local representative, not just MPs to the national Parliament.

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Govt concedes argument with WP and Singaporeans

The opposition MPs in Hougang and Potong Pasir, who have been serving their residents for 18 years and 25 years respectively, have a far more distinguished track record of “concrete actions” serving their residents than the Johnny-come-lately PAP challengers, who are very good at plastering their faces all over the ward and claiming credit for things they never did.

Since the ill-advised announcement by the so-called PAP “grassroots advisers” of Hougang and Potong Pasir about the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) in the two opposition-held wards, the Minister for National Development has had to answer three letters to the Straits Times to justify their stand on the issue. Two of those letters were in response to Workers’ Party leaders Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim, and one was to a public-spirited Singaporean, Muhammad Yusuf Osman.

In his latest letter (copied below), the spokesman of National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan wrote: “We do not expect the Workers’ Party to accept these basic facts, and we will agree to disagree.”

In saying this, the Minister is basically conceding that his argument holds no water, and he has no more points to add that could better justify the PAP’s politically-motivated stand.

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