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Updated: Did Pritam Singh really say that?

Posted on 03 January 2012

Quotations supposedly attributed to Pritam Singh in the Chinese press sound uncharacteristic of the Workers’ Party MP.

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Below is a Facebook note that was published this morning regarding certain comments made by Pritam Singh to Lianhe Zaobao on Jan. 1:

Pritam’s Disillusioned View on Being an MP

On 1st Jan, Lianhe Zhaobao quoted Worker’s Party Member of Parliament, Mr Pritam Singh as saying that relieving and helping Singaporeans of difficulties and hardship (mostly relate to economic problems but not limited to) is the job of the government, not the MPs to bear.

The report went on to quote Pritam saying that the main function/role of the Opposition MPs is to raise sharp burning questions which the ruling party’s MPs may not be willing to raise due to certain restrictions instead of handling out payments.

Errr… Am I missing something here?Let me get this right! So if I am a resident meeting say Pritam at his MPS sessions with a financial problem. Is he going to say “Wait let me ask the Minister of Finance this question?” or is he going to say “Let me see how I can help you by tapping into some of the finanical assistance programmes out there? Let me also write in to find you a job so that you can feed your family…”

Is pritam telling the voters that all along, WP’s 6 elected MPs are never going to lookafter the needs of both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC’s residents as one of their primary role? Do they think that their role is simply just to rebut and voice their residents concerns in parliament?

I do not think voters in Singapore had voted for MPs to be mere mouth pieces. Paying thousands of dollars to someone to just ask questions in Parliament is not my idea of value-adding to the nation and the community.

Our political atmosphere is now more open, and ministers from the ruling party warn that PAP MPs must be careful and sensitive to their choice of words. MPs must take responsibility should they say the wrong thing. That said, the opposition should not take the opportunity to vilify the government to gain political capital.

All along, Low Thia Kiang’s careful choice of words has earned him the respect of Singaporeans, hoping that the new leaders from his party do not act recklessly. The vast majority of rational Singaporeans will demand strict and high standards of the PAP, and they pitch similarly high standards to evaluate your party.

I suggest Pritam come’s out to clarify his statement and rethink his own position on being an MP.

Update 1: New Nation has found the Lianhe Zaobao article about Workers’ Party. Still tuned for the translation.


Translation by Chong Zhi Ping:
Pritam Singh sees around 20-30 residents from his constituency every week. When the PAP MP was incumbent the figure was 60-80.

In relation to this, Pritam emphasised WP’s stance: Relieving the people’s hardship is the government’s responsibility; it shouldn’t be borne by MPs.

“We do not hope to get into a situation where we have to come out with our own Comcare plans, because this will divert the citizens’ attention from why the government has not helped the poor, while shifting that responsibility into the hands of the opposition party, which is wrong.”

When faced with requests for financial assistance from residents, he directs them to Eunos Community Centre to apply for aid via the Community Development Council branch there.

Is he not afraid that being unable to offer actual help, unlike the CDC, will cost WP votes?

Pritam said,

“this reflects our people having misconception regarding CDC. If the opposition becomes the ruling party tomorrow, the CDC will still function. Regardless who the vote goes to, the government’s responsibility is to take care of the voters”

He expressed that the function of an opposition MP is to raise issues in the parliament that normally won’t be raised due to the ruling party’s party whip, and not to give out financial aid.

Sylvia Lim added, residents who sought help from MPs constitute only a small fraction of the constituency.

“If we regard the Meet the People’s Sessions as our political base, it is non-representational.”

She is pleased at WP’s effective relationship with the respective government agencies. The various upgrading plans in her constituency are all proceeding as planned without additional red tape.

Read the updated response by Pritam Singh here.

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- who has written 2685 posts on New Nation.

Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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