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Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Criticism in Parliament Crucial for Policy-making (TODAY letter)

In Singapore Politics, Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I refer to the letter “Voters want to hear solutions in the debates” in TODAY 25 Oct 2011.

I am completely in favour of MPs raising alternatives to government policies, in addition to their so-called “complaints”.  But to expect Members of Parliament to have a “well-thought alternative” every time they criticise the government is unrealistic. According to Mr Yee, the Workers’ Party should be supporting their proposals in parliament with robust analysis, like political parties in the US or UK. But this seems idealistic, because even American and British political parties do not always back up their criticism with a full-bodied analysis, and they certainly do not always offer a solution whenever they want to point out a problem. It is neither necessary nor possible to do so.

It is time that we changed our mindset towards the idea of criticism and opposition. We should not see criticism as complaints and opposition as a hindrance to progress. As a school debater involved in student conferences such as Model Congress, I realise that it is only with criticism and opposition that vigorous debate can take place. In parliamentary debates, different views and perspectives can be expressed without fear or favour so that every policy is given a comprehensive analysis by all sides of the House. This way, our Parliament can realize the flaws in every piece of legislation and find ways to improve on policies before they are passed. This is better than having no opposition to point out the potential problems and having such problems manifest after the policies have been put in place.

The bottomline is that criticism and opposition in Parliament is essential to proper debate, and is therefore also essential in creating comprehensive policies that we voters so desperately yearn for.

With opposition, the process of legislating may not be as quick or as easy, but our Parliament will roll out better policies for our country, and that is the beauty of “complaining”.

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