Wednesday 9 November 2011

Resorting to 'check' and omitting 'balance' is wrong

WAS the overuse of the phrase 'check and balance' as a campaign promise during the recent presidential election a factor in confusing the public over the president's role ('Many confused about job of president: Poll'; last Wednesday)?

Understandably, in a general election, 'check and balance' is a popular phrase. Unfortunately, while it is easy to 'check' or question a policy, MPs sometimes forget the other half of the phrase, the balance, thus leaving their task incomplete and confusing the public.

MPs must not only check policies but also balance the factors, views, concerns and options, as well as offer an articulate and fair assessment of a policy.

They should not cherry-pick and amplify vulnerabilities. If they do not have better options, help fine-tune the chosen option and avoid casting doubt about it and confusing the public.

Proper checks and balances are especially vital in debating policies that require firm consensus and acceptance by the public for effective implementation later, such as the policy on population growth.

Active participation by giving observations and suggestions, besides passive questioning, would add more value to the discussion.

Also, the gesture of showing appreciation to the speakers helps raise the image of Parliament and our nation. It is a part of the 'check and balance' process as well.

Ng Ya Ken
ST Forum, 9 Nov 2011

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