A Singaporean has urged the Government to give national honours like the National Day Award to opposition politicians like Mr Chiam See Tong for his contributions to Singapore.
A veteran politician, Mr Chiam won the Potong Pasir ward in 1984 and became Singapore’s second opposition politician ever to be elected to Singapore’s Parliament after Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam of the Workers’ Party (WP).
After Mr Jeyaretnam was expelled from Parliament in 1986, Mr Chiam was Singapore’s sole elected opposition MP until 1991. In 1991, the WP’s Low Thia Khiang and the SDP’s Ling How Doong and Cheo Chai Chen were elected into Parliament and Mr Chiam effectively became the leader of the opposition.
Mr Chiam and Low remained the only two opposition MPs elected at all the subsequent general elections until 2011.
In the 2011 General Election, after 27 years of serving the Potong Pasir ward, Mr Chiam led a team to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC while his wife contested Potong Pasir. The SPP lost both wards and was not able to win either ward in the 2015 General Election – the first election since 1976 that Mr Chiam did not personally contest.
In a forum letter published by the Straits Times yesterday (24 July), Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan asserted that opposition politicians also deserve national honours.
Pointing out that the National Day Awards, which have been given out annually since 1962, were conferred to 4,632 recipients in 23 categories for their contributions to Singapore last year, Dr Huang said:
“…what is conspicuous in the history of these awards is the fact that the number of Singaporeans who chose to serve the people via political parties other than the ruling People’s Action Party, who have been honoured, is small.
“This is in stark contrast to the United Kingdom, where active and retired politicians from both sides of the political aisle are routinely conferred honours for distinguished service to the nation irrespective of their political leanings.”
Asserting that “it is lawful to join parties and to aspire to high public office to serve the people” in Singapore’s parliamentary democracy and that having more than one party has been beneficial to Singapore, Dr Huang named Mr Chiam as a fitting recipient of this national honour.
He said: “I feel that it is about time that politicians such as Mr Chiam See Tong, whom many view as a constructive politician who had contributed much to Singapore, including being a Member of Parliament for Potong Pasir from 1984 to 2011, should receive national recognition on National Day.”
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