Sunday, 23 August 2015

Running town councils a vital duty for MPs

The assertion by Ms Hazel Poa, who has since resigned from the National Solidarity Party, that "MPs are lawmakers first and should focus on issues that affect Singaporeans' lives - not the running of town councils", is a misrepresentation ("MPs should focus on laws, not town councils: NSP"; Monday).

The fundamental reason people elect an MP is his fortitude to best represent the constituency in Parliament.

Voters want someone capable of acting as a bridge between the community and the Government, by ensuring that their concerns are heard in Parliament.

While elected MPs have the prerogative to influence and enact new laws, the responsibility of running their town council is by no means a secondary duty - it is a fundamental one.

If MPs cannot manage the house that they are elected to represent, how can they enact laws that will have an impact on a country?

Moreover, whatever the reasons one may use in prioritising MPs' responsibilities, the overriding concern must be accountability.

When accountability is in question, the priority is to get it right.

Chow Kok Fai
ST Forum, 21 Aug 2015

MPs should focus on laws, not town councils: NSP
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

Members of Parliament are lawmakers first and should focus on issues that affect Singaporeans' lives - not the running of town councils, the National Solidarity Party's (NSP) Ms Hazel Poa has said.

She disagreed with the view of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean who, in remarks to reporters last Friday, said that MPs have two key responsibilities: contributing to national policymaking and running a town council well.

His remarks were aimed at the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, which is in the spotlight over governance and accounting lapses.

Ms Poa, the NSP's acting secretary-general, was responding yesterday during a walkabout in Yishun Avenue 11 to questions of when NSP candidates would be unveiled.

She said this would be done in the last week of August, and added later that the focus of MPs should be "their contributions in Parliament, to enact laws that affect the lives of every Singaporean".

She said that, should the NSP be elected, the party would hire its own team to manage town councils, rather than subcontract the work to a managing agent.

The area that she and her team visited yesterday is in Sembawang GRC, where the NSP aims to field a team in the next election.

The People's Action Party (PAP) team they will face is led by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan and comprises corporate lawyer Amrin Amin, backbenchers Lim Wee Kiak and Vikram Nair, and Keppel Corporation director of group strategy Ong Ye Kung.

Mr Ong was part of the PAP's Aljunied GRC team that lost to the WP in 2011.

Ms Poa was glad that Mr Ong is making a comeback but said it would have been a better show of his commitment to residents if he had returned to contest Aljunied GRC instead.

She declined to name the NSP's Sembawang slate but earlier introduced businessman Spencer Ng, 36, and real estate agent Eugene Yeo, 40, as potential candidates.

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