Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jokes heard from the Parliament

Hri Kumar Nair, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC

Mr Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) floated a radical suggestion aimed at getting the best talent into the Cabinet - allow the Prime Minister to appoint outstanding individuals from outside the ranks of elected MPs.

The suggestion has been made several times over the last 20 years by MPs and political observers, but has never been accepted by the Government on the grounds that unelected ministers would not be accountable to the electorate.

Revisiting the issue, Mr Nair argued that 'it may sound sacrilegious in a democracy to say so, but a person who is popular on the ground may not necessarily be the best person to run a ministry, or vice versa'.

Are we missing something here? With our parliament filled with ministers and MPs from the same political party, somebody is suggesting that the Prime Minister should be given the power to introduce even more people into it? Bypassing the voting system altogether? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I won't assume that the Prime Minister will introduce somebody who is not aligned with his policies. No, it is not sounding sacrilegious. It is sacrilegious.

PM's Driver: Sir, can you bring me into the Cabinet?
PM: Ali, do you know what are you talking about?
PM's Driver: Yes Sir, I heard that you now have the authority to appoint outstanding individuals from outside the ranks of elected MPs into the Cabinet.
PM: But Ali, did you study politics in school? Or even law?
PM's Driver: No Sir, I've only got an 'O' level cert.
PM: And you think this is enough? And you think you can stand next to my elites?
PM's Driver: But Sir, I've heard all your political thoughts and decision makings all these years while driving you from point A to point B.
PM: Hmm... so you think that by picking up bits and pieces of my thoughts, you can be a politician? That flattering, but still...
PM's Driver: Yes Sir, and I've also heard all your father's political thoughts and decision making for you...
PM: Okay. Report for work tomorrow.

Indranee Rajah, Tanjong Pagar GRC
Josephine Teo, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC

Low Thia Khiang's claim that only an elected opposition can provide effective checks and balances and ensure a clean government was rebutted by two People's Action Party (PAP) MPs on Tuesday.

Ms Indranee Rajah (Tanjong Pagar GRC) said this assumption was not only simplistic, but also plain incorrect.

For if this were true, why is it that many other countries with multi-party systems still see deep-seated and endemic corruption, she asked.

More often than not, an opposition wins against a corrupt incumbent, and then itself becomes corrupt when in government, said Mrs Josephine Teo (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).

Ms Rajah's counter: Going by this argument, the logical outcome is that 'every other country with an opposition should be squeaky clean and Singapore should be the most corrupt country in the world'.

This is not the case, she pointed out. In fact, Singapore today is widely regarded as having one of the least corrupt systems in the world.

This, she said, is because MPs hold their positions in trust for the people, PAP leaders expect the highest standards of integrity, and there are inherent checks and balances in the system.

Seriously, the real reason why Singapore is kinda corruption free? Because our MPs and ministers are so highly paid that some ministers are even receiving bigger cheques than the President of the United States of America.

Who needs corruption when a Permanent Secretary is paid well enough to attend cooking lesson in Paris? Who needs corruption when a MP has the power to fire the guy who won a silver medal for the nation, instead of rewarding him and recognising his efforts, scorn him further after he left, and then keep quiet and pretend that nothing has happened? Who needs corruption when a terrorist head escaped and people had food poisoning from squalid food centre that was not cleaned for years, and yet no apology is expected from the responsible ministers and they could still draw the same high pay despite their mistakes.

Sin Boon Ann, Tampines GRC

Rising to speak when Parliament resumed its session after a short break on Thursday afternoon, Mr Sin Boon Ann said: 'On reflection I thought I should have sought some confirmation from the writer of the e-mail, or separately verify the contents of the e-mail since I believe the privilege of free speech in this House imposes the higher standards of diligence on the part of its members.

'But to that extent I have fallen short of these standards. I proffer my unreserved apology to those involved.'

Mr Sin referred to excerpts of the e-mail from a Cheryl Ng when he launched a stinging attack on the media's reporting of the recent Aware saga, and took The Straits Times, in particular, to task.

Among the accusations he made in Parliament on Wednesday: The Straits Times reporter covering the saga was 'hobnobbing with the homosexual fraternity at the extraordinary general meeting'; that members of the press were jubilant at the ousting of the new guard; and that there was a media cover-up of an amendment to give men full voting rights in Aware.

Mr Sin wondered if the press could be called on to report responsibly and impartially and to present the facts neutrally and objectively 'when some of its own members feel rather passionately about the issues in the public domain'.

The accusations brought into question 'whether there should ever be an unregulated press', he added.

When the PM said that the party was on the lookout for more MPs comfortable with new media, I was not expecting one MP to get so comfortable that he decided to believe everything that was written in an email sent to him from somebody he did not know. Not even a virtual friend. Now I'm worried. Could some kind soul check whether he is still waiting for that few millions promised by a terminally ill Nigerian royalty after he had transferred a few thousands for advance fee?

Has this MP also forgotten that the PM had once stressed that traditional media will always have a place in presenting trusted, unbiased and informed opinions? How dare he now says that PM's beloved traditional media is not reporting responsibly and impartially and not presenting the facts neutrally and objectively! How dare he even suggest that his boss was wrong!



  1. Mah Bow Tan has rebuked Sin Boon Ann for quoting an unsubstantiated email in parliament as an abuse of parliamentary priviledge.

  2. See the post on Hri Kumar's blog