Letter to ST Forum from Ms Sylvia Lim

Dear ST Forum Editor,

First World Parliament

I refer to the letter by Eugene Tan (ST 13 April) entitled: “UK, US? Give him a S’pore MP anyday”.

In responding to the Workers’ Party’s (WP) campaign slogan “Vote Workers’ Party – Towards A First World Parliament”, the writer has misunderstood the term “First World” used in the slogan.

It was made clear at the launch of the slogan that WP is not taking any particular developed country as a model. Singapore should evolve its own model which works for Singaporeans. WP’s vision of a First World Parliament was detailed in our media release and Manifesto, as a robust institution which works in the national interest by functioning as a strong watchdog and check on the ruling party. This can be the case even when one political party has a clear majority, so long as there is at least one other party with a significant presence to have political weight as a check.

A First World Parliament would consist of MPs from different political parties with a mandate to represent their constituents. The national interest is served because the government is kept on its toes, thereby promoting good governance. There would be more rigorous scrutiny of government policies, promoting transparency and accountability. Singaporeans would also be building insurance for the future, having established a political party which can develop into an alternative, capable of taking over in the future should the PAP fail.

There is an urgent need at this stage of our nationhood to return to fundamental principles of governance, and ask whether the huge imbalance in PAP dominance in Parliament is good for Singapore in the long run. PAP MPs are subject to their party whip, and they must support government agenda. How far can the government be held to account with an 82-2 majority in the PAP’s favour now?

Even PAP Ministers have acknowledged in recent weeks that a strong, credible opposition is good for Singapore, and that stronger competition just meant the PAP had to work harder. Surely Singaporeans would benefit from having a government which works harder, and from a credible opposition which works in the national interest and does not oppose everything for the sake of it.

Eventually, what shape the First World Parliament takes will depend on Singaporean voters. WP is offering its vision to Singaporeans for their assessment and decision.