TOWN COUNCILS: IF IT’S NOT BROKEN, DON’T FIX IT
I REFER TO ARTICLE BY RACHEL CHANG THAT APPEARED IN THE REAL SINGAPORE (http://therealsingapore.com/content/town-councils-if-its-not-broken-dont-fix-it )
If you want TCs to be politicised, you should go the whole hog – the council members should be elected by the people of the respective wards. I think this is termed as a municipal, council, district, local govt or county, among other designations, in other countries.
Singapore is not too small to have that. There are existing examples of small countries with multi-tiered govts – for example, Isle of Man (572 sq km) and Liechtenstein (160 sq km). In comparison, Singapore is 660 sq km, and growing. Furthermore, this is not entirely a new thing to Singapore, as Singapore used to be divided into municipals in the old days under the British.
That way, the residents can really elect whom they want to serve them locally directly where they live, quite independently of who they want at the national level of the country’s political leadership.
The obvious advantage is that it would allow for a segregation of politics into state and local levels. The state level govt which is what the LHL cabinet and Singapore Parliament are, can focus on political affairs at the highest level of govt and not be directly involved or embroiled in local and petty politics and politicking such as what we are currently witnessing at the TC level in and outside of Parliament. Members of Singapore’s Parliament should not be earning their paychecks arguing about or attempting to showcase their ‘superiority’ or otherwise, in parliament tearing at each others throat over what really amounted to no more than municipal level matters –that’s what it amounts to.
Singaporeans (with eyebrows raised) watching the unfolding spectre of govt MINISTERS wading in neck-deep into municipal affairs should be a thing of the past. IMO, they are most certainly not paid a million dollars to embroil themselves in such issues but should be instead exercising and racking their brains over matters of state that affect the country as a whole at national and international levels. In other words, we want real national political leaders and not politicians who basically take undue advantage of their status, position and powers as ministers to thumb down (fix) the opposition politicians, in and out of Parliament. Govt ministers should know their places and where they stand in the eyes of the people. They should make it their forte to address and solve issues that affect the country, not jump into the frays to bail out ineffectual or bumbling underlings by fair means or foul. Such petty politicking is unbecoming and to say the least, damaging, to their own perceived competence and status as a high office bearer. As the saying goes (albeit negatively), better be hanged for a sheep than a lamb – i.e. if you want to make mistake reserve it for big mistakes rather than letting yourself be so cheaply diminished in the eyes of the public by silly actions and foolish words on issues that rightly belong to your subordinate to resolve.
With a multi- or dual- (bi-) tiered form of govt, Singaporeans would have more opportunities to participate directly and better choices and say in governing ourselves and learning from it. Budding and aspiring politicians with an eye for the highest forum in the land, would have the opportunities to cut their teeth and be trained from the lowest level of govt to be truly the people’s representatives in Parliament, if they make it. Quite unlike the many sham ‘national’ politicians we have now in Parliament.
By the same token, it would be a weeding out process of half-past-six wannabes MPs who just don’t have what it takes to make the grade on their own steam as politicians at the highest stage and level of govt. We are reminded of the travesty of PAP coat tails MPs we have in abundance in Parliament right now, in the highest forum of the land. Finally, with a multi-tiered govt there would be less of a need to ‘chope’ places, to bring in minority groups, for the sake of keeping up appearance and wayang (read, GRC can be consigned to a phase (read, deviant phase) of the history of Singapore’s political development).
Let’s get real about governing ourselves and the country. We need the best we have at the state/national level of govt, not petty make-believe politicians and camp followers who sometimes won’t, don’t or can’t, even get their facts right before opening their mouths publicly, nor able to talk their way out of a paper bag! AT THIS LEVEL, IN MY OPINION, ONLY THE BEST WILL DO, WHATEVER THE COLOUR OF THEIR SKIN.