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NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin: Politicians should speak plainly because plain speech is understandable speech

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Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Kuik Shiao-Yin said that politicians in Singapore should attempt to speak plainly as “if people are bored or indifferent to Parliament for too long, you are running the risk of sowing great distrust in the institution. There is something very potentially dangerous there, because we ought to be paying attention to proceedings in the House”.

In an interview with Today Online, Ms Kuik said that all politicians should refrain from using words that “can mean everything to everyone… [yet] simultaneously mean nothing”.

She added that through her role as NMP, she wanted to be the link between the youth of Singapore and Parliament. However, she said that young people often say that Parliament is “boring”, and that politicians use “cheem (difficult) words that have little relevance to [their lives]”.

“In fact, fancy words may be precisely why people are bored… Plain speech is understandable speech. I can latch onto it and work with it. But if speech is so removed from my reality, either because it sounds too ‘cheem’, or it sounds as if it has nothing, really, to do with my life, then yes, I will find it boring.”

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The 41-year-old co-founder of social business group The Thought Collective said that because of her role of NMP and not being affiliated with any political party, she and other NMPs had a “certain freedom” in speaking up.

She said: “As a citizen writing from my perspective, I can in some sense write about it simpler, because I am not thinking about all the other ministries or stakeholders, who are maybe hoping that I will represent their interests.”

Ms Kuik also added that she hoped that speeches in Parliament would appeal to the emotions of the people more. She clarified, “I don’t mean emotional pandering, I mean to genuinely try and capture a sense of what is the emotional quality behind the issues,” she said. “Because if you don’t capture the emotional quality of those issues, you just leave people feeling that they have not been heard.”

NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin will be stepping down as an NMP in September 2018 after completing her term which started in August 2014.


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