Enough NMPs!

Posted by Chia Shi Teck under Letters on 6 March 2000

I refer to Mr. Wong Wee Nam's letter, "Enough NMPs" (ST, Mar 2). I have no problem accepting his arguments that we should encourage the growth of mature and responsible party politics in Singapore. But alas, the world is a changing and we cannot clink on to old mindsets, old practices and old beliefs.

Technologies have advanced so much that geographical boundaries in the old sense, no longer exist. Talents, capital and corporations move where they think best serve and benefit them. Countries and regimes are fast losing their hold on them. Loyalty may soon exist no more. Our government has taken bold steps to ensure we continue to thrive and exist. It does not see Singapore as a market unto itself. The world is our oyster. Not too long ago, it was convinced that Singapore is too small to free up the telecommunication market. It had promised Starhub which won the second licence that no new licence will be issued within two years of its commencement of operations. Even before Starhub begins service in April this year, the wall has come down. The government would rather compensate Starhub then to wait another two years.

Yes, we must now view ourselves as part of the world market and we cannot get any good out of insulation. So more and more protectionistic walls will come down; banking, legal and even medical services. Our political process has hitherto been managed to serve our needs or some may argue our ruling party's needs. Minority race led constituencies were not seen to be good as voting on racial lines was argued to be bad for our long term good. So over a short time, they were dismantled resulting in all Chinese majority wards. Realising the negative consequences that may result with no minority race in Parliament, Group Representation Constituencies were introduced. Today, as Singapore ages and enters into a highly competitive era in what is termed as the Knowledge Based Age, it has to relook at how our political system can and must accomodate all the many varied and often conflicting and divergent interests of the many minority yet critical groups. Other than the monority races, in fact there are differences even within each race itself, there now appear many divergent groups. Minister George Yeo even went so far to talk about the tyranny of the majority over the minority, questioning the continued wisdom of the one man one vote democratic system. At a recent Youth 2000 Seminar, the youths asked for the setting of a Youth Ministry to represent their interests, the many Woman or feminist groups have repeatedly asked for for woman representation in Parliament. The environmentalists, civic bodies, NGOs, etc are all making similar cries. With the bigger and bigger contributions made by foreign talents, the day will come when they too want to be heard and represented. So the biggest challenge for all of us, not just the government is to find a happy way out. The cosmopolitans as described by PM Goh are very mobile people and they can fit easily into many countries by voting with their feet. Sadly few will tread the path of Dr. Wong in wearing off the soles of his shoes canvassing for votes.

My suggestion for elected National MPs was aimed to address this thorny issue. Read carefully, it means that the NMP scheme as it stands now will be scrapped. I had the privilege of serving as a NMP from 1992 - 94 and know quite a number of the PAP backbenchers who opposed the NMP scheme then and not now. I rest my case and would like to thank Dr. Wong once again for his views.

This letter was not published by The Straits Times Forum page.

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