Thursday 1 October 2015

PM Lee sends letter to PAP MPs on rules of prudence and proper conduct

PM reminds PAP MPs to remain honest and incorruptible
He also urges them to be humble - they are 'servants of the people, not masters'
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 30 Sep 2015

A letter on how to conduct themselves was sent to People's Action Party MPs yesterday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in which he said they "must never tire of reminding" themselves of the importance of integrity, being honest and incorruptible.

He also urged them to be humble following the party's electoral win.

As MPs, they must remember they are "servants of the people, not masters", he wrote.

The letter, titled "Rules of Prudence", is sent out after each general election to stress the rigorous standards he expects every MP to uphold, Mr Lee said on Facebook.

"This was also the practice of my predecessors, Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Kuan Yew," he added.

The Prime Minister cautioned the MPs not to "mistake the strong election result to mean that our efforts have succeeded, and that we can afford to slacken".

Much work still needs to be done to tackle issues of concern to Singaporeans, he said. "Listen hard to voter concerns, help them to tackle pressing needs, and convey their worries and aspirations to the Government," he told them.

The PAP was returned to power with 83 out of 89 seats in Parliament and 69.9 per cent of the popular vote. Mr Lee said this shows people have "given us a clear mandate to take Singapore forward beyond SG50". He added: "Now, we must fulfil what we have promised to do in our manifesto."

The focus of the eight-page letter, as in years past, was on the need for PAP MPs to uphold the party's reputation for clean and incorruptible government.

In doing so, they should separate their public political status from their private business or professional interests, Mr Lee said.

This means they need, among other things, to be careful of invitations and gifts they accept, and not lobby public officers on behalf of their friends or clients. Also, they should not solicit directorships in companies or accept them where their role is "just to dress up the board with a PAP MP or two".

He warned MPs not to sit on boards of companies owned or chaired by grassroots leaders whom they had appointed, to avoid perceptions of conflicts of interest.

The MPs were told to disclose to him, in confidence, their business interests and income by Oct 31 "for (their) own protection".

They are expected to attend all Parliament sittings unless they have a valid reason, for which they must seek the Government Whip's permission.

People expect PAP MPs to give their views frankly, he said. "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."

In conclusion, Mr Lee said the PAP has won successive elections because "our integrity has never been in doubt, and because we are sensitive to the views and attitudes of the people we represent".

He added: "Any slackening of standards, or show of arrogance or indifference by any MP will erode confidence in him and, ultimately, in the party and Government."

I sent all People's Action Party MPs a letter today, spelling out how they should conduct themselves. I send out such a...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trust given by voters to MPs carries tremendous obligations: Shanmugam
Mr K Shanmugam, responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Rules of Prudence letter, says it is important for elected MPs to be humble and to keep the faith of the voters.
By Eileen Poh, and Kimberly Spykerman, Channel NewsAsia, 30 Sep 2015

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Sep 29) responded to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's letter on the Rules of Prudence, which outlines the code of conduct PAP MPs have to observe.


"If you misread the mandate, if you approach it wrongly, then I think we will be doing the people a great disservice,” said Mr Shanmugam, speaking to reporters before his Meet-the-people session.

“And when there has been a mandate of this nature, of this level of support, then the pitfalls are there too, which is, if you're arrogant, if you forget that you're actually there to serve the people, then the people will remind you very quickly.

“They won't even wait for the next election. And Singapore's population - our voters - are very sophisticated, highly-educated, and they will know exactly what you are doing. So you've got to repay the trust manifold and keep faith."

Mr Shanmugam also touched on his priorities in his upcoming move to the Home Affairs Ministry. He will hand over his Foreign Affairs portfolio to current Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Mr Shanmugam previously spent three years in the Home Affairs Ministry, where he was Minister for eight months, and Second Minister.

"The fundamental challenges - to make sure Singaporeans feel safe with the law and order situation within Singapore, and of course internal security from the perspective of terrorism, counter-terrorism - those are critical, and to handle these challenges in the context of an increasingly challenging manpower situation," he said.

Mr Shanmugam added that he will be meeting Dr Balakrishnan to share his perspectives on the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and that he will also meet his Home Affairs Ministry predecessor, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, to understand his perspectives.


"MPs have to also get creative and be bold in trying out new ways of reaching out to our residents, in order to refresh the way we engage continuously, not assume that ways we have engaged in the past will continue to work," said Mrs Teo, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of her Meet-the-people session.

“That is the kind of impetus that it gives to us - do not take the relationship for granted, continue to nurture it, continue to experiment. Trying new ways of engaging our residents."

Mrs Teo also recalled the Prime Minister's letter issued after the 2011 General Election, when the PAP lost a Group Representation Constituency for the first time.

"Each one of us was going through a period of reflection and I think that letter came against the context of how we need to rebuild the trust and the relationship with the electorate and our residents,” she said. “So again, it spoke to me in a way that was very memorable and also provided the guidance as to what we needed to do going forward."

"The Prime Minister's reminder - that it is a very precious relationship that we have been able to establish with Singaporeans and how we need to build on it to take Singapore forward - is a very useful reminder in how we carry out our duties," she added.

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