Red carpet for (foreign) Opposition member

This is a press release from MFA today:


His Excellency Gregory Hunt, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water of the Commonwealth of Australia, will visit Singapore as the 29th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow from 3 to 11 April 2009. During his stay, Mr Hunt will call on Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor. Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu will also host him to an official meal.

Mr Hunt will participate in a roundtable at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. He is also scheduled to attend a PAP Meet-the-People Session.

Other elements of Mr Hunt’s programme in Singapore include meetings with senior officials at the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. He will also visit the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Singapore City Gallery, the NEWater Plant, the Marina Barrage, the Changi Chapel Museum and the Night Safari.

Now I’ve never heard of Gregory Hunt, but from the red carpet treatment he is receiving from the Singapore authorities, one would assume he is some really big, influential chap in the Australian government. Well, yes and no. Technically he is not a member of the Australian Government, because he is an MP from the opposition Liberal Party. However, as a Shadow Minister he is accorded a protocol level equivalent to a minister in the government, or close to it, hence the “His Excellency” honorific.

What is interesting to note is the honour the Singapore government accords to opposition MPs of other governments. From a realpolitik standpoint, it makes sense: These leaders could, in the next election, become government ministers if their party wins the majority vote. So it is important to cultivate them.

But it is in stark contrast to the disdain demonstrate towards our own opposition politicians. Perhaps it’s because our opposition leaders have yet to reach the stature of their counterparts in other developed countries. Nevertheless it still makes political sense for the PAP to treat opposition members as persona non grata so as not to give them any credibility with the electorate.

C’est la vie…

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

4 thoughts on “Red carpet for (foreign) Opposition member”

  1. that’s life, a priceless smile from Obama(uncle tom moment)when a China journalist asks a question(brilliant), regarding Obama preference of selecting us and european journalists over asians, that’s life uh.

  2. Well, the shadow minister has a say in how policies go. In fact, it is most beneficial if he proposes his own policies for his party against what is proposed by the imcumbent party.

    This gives people choices which party and people’s representatives are better. That’s what I wrote about – choices and competition. This is sorely lacking in the government.

    In fact having shadow ministers puts pressure on the existing government to perform, while oppositions better themselves with alternative proposals. We all know when leaders stay too long in one position, ideas become stale and they usually become slack.

    My prayer is that PAP should accept challenges and level the playing field. In fact it helps renew their ideas and party leadership capabilities because there are challenges. Alas it is not so. By clamping down on oppositions, they have not only failed the people, they have failed themselves.

    Hope the next GE will be an exciting one.


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