Singapore — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Aug 1) said that People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament (MPs) must expect sharper questioning and debate in Parliament now that there are more opposition MPs and a Leader of the Opposition.
This was mentioned in a letter on Rules of Prudence which is traditionally released by the Prime Minister to PAP MPs after every general election.
The recent General Election sent to Parliament 10 MPs from the Workers’ Party (WP) and two Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) from the Progress Singapore Party. It will also have its first Leader of the Opposition in WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh.
Mr Lee said: “PAP MPs should express their views frankly, whether for or against Government policies. During debates, speak freely and with conviction. Press your points vigorously, and do not shy away from robust exchange.”
He said PAP MPs should be prepared to engage the opposition, to clarify their interventions and scrutinise their ideas. “However, please exercise judgment when putting your points across, and do not get carried away playing to the gallery.”
He added: “Bring out questions and issues that Singaporeans and your constituents have concerns about, and grapevine talk for the Government to address, but avoid unwittingly lending credence to baseless gossip.”
Mr Lee said that, “over time, the public will see that PAP backbenchers are as effective as opposition MPs, if not better, at holding ministers to account, getting issues fully debated, and influencing policies for the better”.
The Use of Social Media
The Rules of Prudence also referred to social media. MPs were told that they could use it to let the public know about their work or to get to know their views better.
Mr Lee advised them to be mindful that they were public figures elected by their residents and so to observe decorum and ensure factual accuracy. They were also cautioned against using social media to attack others.
He added that, while it was another way to connect with people, MPs should not end up in long and extended engagement online. They also needed to interact with their residents and attend to their needs in person. /TISG