Friday, May 6, 2011

Ministerial salary and GRC: an open letter to George Yeo

Open letter to George Yeo


by Vernon Voon Thian Lye on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 at 23:07
Mr Yeo,

I am a 42-year-old fellow Josephian and a resident of Tanjong Pagar GRC. I am also a Singaporean citizen who never got a chance to vote in a Parliamentary election in his life, thanks to the GRC system which makes it a very high barrier for the opposition to contest in one, due to the need to amass a group of credible candidates, and the high combined electoral deposit required.

I have watched your video wherein you requested us to contact you personally on Facebook to give you our feedback. I am now taking you up on your invitation to do so.

You are correct in your video and I'm glad you agree that many Singaporeans are simply fed up and disappointed by what they perceive as the high-handed ways of the current PAP leaders and the lack of a listening ear to hear their troubles. Incidences like throwing acid on an MP or a school boy smashing the window of an MP's office with a chair are disturbing signs of a growing disconnect between the PAP and their masters, the people of Singapore, who increasingly feel that they're the servants instead.

In my opinion, the obscenely high salaries of the ministers have also began to eat at the moral authority of the PAP leaders to tell the people of Singapore to tide through the hard times, or as PM Lee said in today's rally, to "bear with [you]". If the PAP is unable or refuses to acknowledge and then rectify this erosion of moral authority, then the future ability of the PAP to lead the nation may be in doubt.

To that end, the PAP must LISTEN to the voice of the people which is currently being made known at the opposition rallies, to peg ministerial salaries, not to GDP growth, but to an indicator which means something real to people's welfare, like median income. The PAP has to date not only not heeded this point, but Goh Chok Tong even claimed incredulously that this is not an issue on the ground. That is not good for the PAP.

In a First World Parliament to which I hope we as a country is heading, the PAP should listen to the people, acknowledge where it has perhaps gone wrong, and then make changes which will benefit the people. If it learns to do so, it will go a long way towards redeeming the estimation of the PAP among its masters.

I also hope that the PAP will abolish the GRC system and revert back to one-to-one contests like we had before 1988, which is what a Westminster first-past-the-post parliamentary democracy is about.

Finally, I think you're one of the more sensitive PAP ministers that we have, and I do believe that there are people who like you. Notwithstanding that, as a Singaporean concerned for the future of our nation, I still hope that WP will win Aljunied GRC, as a more balanced Parliament will stand Singapore in good stead for the uncertain future, as an insurance against wrong or insufficiently thought out policies being foisted onto the nation due to a lack of proper debate and accountability, such as has happened in the past 5 years.

I hope you will agree with me on this, if not as a member of the PAP, then at least in your personal capacity as a fellow citizen of Singapore.

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