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Lifting the Party Whip-comments on an article in TODAY

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IMO, all issues and policies should be properly debated and voted on without the whip.

Aren’t the PAP concerned at all about its own image and standing, and that of its MPs? In the eyes of voters it is a grand farce when the party whip insists that every govt MP must vote ‘in favour’ of a policy or law even when it is against their own better judgement, voiced out   during the debate.

What is to stop a profligate cabinet from passing bad laws or policies using the whip?

It is in fact compulsory groupthink.

When you have a policy or proposal which is sound, which MP worthy of his election would object? Allowing MPs to vote according to their own conscience would speak to voters which MP is doing his or her job properly, and thus worthy of consideration for re-election when the time comes.

When an approved policy went into effect and the impact – good or bad – is felt by the people, they should be aware of the part played by their respective MPs in it and give credit or otherwise where it is due. It speaks volumes to voters about their calibre, judgement call and dedication. Do you want people to vote wisely, to vote in politicians who are worthy of the MP title? Or, do you want group thinkers and camp followers who are in it only for the ‘fame, fortune and title’? 

With the whip, few  govt MPs would really bother to examine an issue or proposal properly or seriously, except for the opposition. For PAP MPs the mindset would be thus: why waste time and expend mental energies when the end result has already been decided?

This is the familiar refrain and replay in parliament that Singaporeans have been witnessing with disgust, ad nauseam, far too often, for far too long. A consensus must be real or it’s not worth the paper its printed on. Laws passed with the whip serves only cosmetic purpose for the Hansard.

Without the whip, govt MPs would be on their toes. It would be a sure cure for the widespread govt MP absenteeism during debate and augurs well for govt parliamentarians to be ‘real- time’  (as opposed to part-time) parliamentarians who are not merely seat-fillers or part of a supporting contingent (a familiar SAF reference to servicemen who are present merely to make up the required numbers or to window-dress an occasion or event).

IN TODAY’S CONTEXT, THERE IS EVERY REASON TO LIFT, OR BETTER, TO ABOLISH THE WHIP ENTIRELY AND RECOGNIZE IT FOR WHAT IT IS – AN ANACHRONISTIC WAY TO PASS POLICIES OR MAKE LAWS IN PARLIAMENT.

N.B. The author has no affiliation with any political party. He was an admirer of the PAP until it became evident that it has changed beyond recognition and no longer bear any semblance to the party that he had originally once admired. He feels it his duty to point out that the country is going down the drain if current trends continue unarrested

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3 Comments

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  2. Yamasam says:

    I agree that there should not be any party whip.

    My reason is very simple. Should MPs primary responsibility is to their constituents or to the party ? For me, it is no doubt the constituents. If the constituents do not agree with any policy, the MPs are obliged to vote against it.

    • thetwophilo says:

      You have perhaps touched on a fundamental role of an MP – viz., to serve as a vital conduit to communicate policies and intentions of the govt to their constituents on the ground in as clear and as accurate as possible a manner on behalf of the govt AND in return convey the views, feedback and comments of the constituents back to the cabinet for action.

      Such transactions between the govt and the citizens are vital to the proper running of the country. Such a consultation process needs time and this is what is currently greatly lacking (among other aspects).

      Since it is ideal and impractical for govt to consult with the ground on all issues at all times, in practice, a good govt would make prudent judgment calls and decide what should and what need not go through this process and/or may be conveyed and explained to the people later. Of course, plainly, clearly and frankly.

      It cannot be overstated that such a process builds ownership, confidence and foster the people’s care and love for the country. As Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC) had said, often it is the ‘little things’ and gestures that counts a great deal if govt wants to touch and remain in touch with people.

      The PAP Govt has been nimble in order to respond to certain fast moving situations, but if consultation is neglected too often and pragmatism became synonymous with non-consultation with the ground, a growing generalized feeling of alienation between govt and citizens is an inescapable consequence. When ties are weakened, distrust, suspicion and alienation are natural responses of people who feel victimized by the system.

      Good for it to remember: For the people, and by the people.

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