“What traumatic? After two months, you won’t be traumatic.” - MP
With the next elections coming, you will begin to hear about PAP's new candidates. Typically they pick people with successful careers in the civil service, GLCs, SAF, universities and occasionally high flyers in the private sector. These are 'safe selections' who are part of the establishment and the best people to preserve the status quo. These are also very busy people with high positions in their corporations and little time for the MP role. If they get elected, they usually serve as part-time MPs. In a number of interviews with the media, PM Lee also said that these people are 'reluctant' and had to be persuaded to join politics. The MP allowance had to be raised to $20+K a month to make it worth their while. But I suspect many would rather not serve as MPs given their successful careers elsewhere and the financial rewards they get from their full time jobs. Is the ability to climb the corporate ladder a good measure of their ability to serve the people and bring about change and progress in Singapore? With the elections coming, many people that the PAP likes to select are keeping their fingers crossed that they won't be called up for those tea sessions. It is hard to say 'no' when they pick you and if you decide to go ahead, you'll have to squeeze the MP job into your busy schedule. Many of these MPs who have been parachuted into parliament via GRCs may feel little passion and energy for their MP job.
What makes a good MP? ...hmm...someone who really wants the job. Someone who really wants to serve - his MP role must be the number one priority in life not some big profitable contract at his corporation. I want to show you this clip of Low Thia Kiang speaking during the debate on the critical issue of CPF reform in Singapore.
I put up this clip not to show the standout performance of MP Low on the issue of CPF reform but the empty seats behind him. I don't know who those MPs are but they were too busy to turn up when such an important issue was discussed in parliament.
Lawrence Loh is right to point out that a good MP needs to be caring, have good EQ and interpersonal skills. Above all that he must be willing to put in the time and effort into his work - all that takes passion and requires an MP to prioritise his MP role above everything else. If the PAP can't find people with the right qualities and continues to give us part time MPs busy with their own careers, Singaporeans may have to consider voting for people from somewhere else ...to up the quality with competition.
VIOLENCE AT MEET-THE-PEOPLE SESSIONS
By Lawrence Loh
It started with MP Seng Han Thong being set on fire. Then came MP Denise Phua who was threatened by a rag-and-bone man. Now it is MP Cynthia Phua who was subjected to a display of violence by a constituent.
Although these incidents are disturbing and a cause for concern, I wonder whether the constituents are solely to be blamed. Allow me to relate my personal experience. In February 2001, my older son died in a naval accident whilst serving National Service. In that year, my younger son was due for enlistment. A friend, a very active grassroots member, suggested that I approach my MP, for help in exploring the possibility of getting an exemption for my younger son. I was reluctant but he went ahead to fix an appointment for me at the Meet-The-People Session (MPS). I subsequently relented and he accompanied me there.
It was in March 2001. That was my first appearance at a MPS, and it was to be my last.I waited until midnight before I could meet the MP. Prior to this, he was given the case paper which detailed the objective of the meeting and the circumstances of my case.When I entered the room, his first remark was “Yes, what can I do for you?”. There was no attempt at offering a word of sympathy or condolence. I then related my situation and said that both my wife and I were very traumatised. His next remark was:“What traumatic? After two months, you won’t be traumatic.”. With that, I decided to end the meeting. And with that, my respect for him hit ground zero. I was too stunned and grief-stricken to react.
Someone who was less-controlled and less-measured than me could have flown into a rage and become violent.MPs are elected or appointed to serve the constituents. People who attend the MPS are those who have real problems and need help. In a lot of instances, they are stressed, distressed and troubled. What they need is a caring soul, a helping hand, a gentle voice, and words of hope and encouragement. To dispense these, MPs need good interpersonal skills and a high EQ. Arrogance, a patronizing, chiding and belittling attitude, aloofness and lack of empathy will only trigger acts of rashness and violence. Many of our politicians have a high IQ, some are scholars. However, a high IQ is not the only attribute needed in a political career. A high EQ is equally, if not more critical, especially when it comes to dealing with the constituents.In my case, I would have felt good if my MP could have been a warm and caring person. If he could have been empathetic, consoling and helpful. All these qualities can only come from the heart, not from the mind. How many of our MPs can stand up and be counted for this?