Hazel Poa says the primary job of Member of Parliament is to make laws, not managing town. She has put a definition to the role of an MP while my friend Patrick Liew has put 4Cs to the qualities of an MP. Commitment, Character, Competence, Compassion.
What Ms Poa said was partly right, but only a very very small part of it. The privileges that comes with being a Member of Parliament is indeed making laws among others.
The fundamental duties and responsibilities of an MP lies with serving the constituents that voted you into the parliament. Singapore is too small to have municipal governments that has to even run its own economy, making sure its constituents gets their daily meal on the table.
Let me put the argument this way to allay those who tells me that Parliament is the place to make laws and MPs do the making. Do we not see MPs not making laws in parliament? You can have your mouth shut throughout the whole Parliament term and no one can sack you for that. Is that enough to explain why making laws is not fundamental duty of an MP?
If Ms Poa being the de facto leader of a leading opposition party can have such shallow understanding of the role and responsibilities of an MP, how can we put all the 4Cs onto our talent search. It is extremely difficult for the PAP and it is even more difficult for opposition parties.
Much of the MPs job are practically learned on-the-job. Even in the most basic function of that role, petition writing, MPs differ in not just styles, but level of skills that involves being attentive, inquisitive, and analytic before a convincing letter can be written. Additional knowledge and information would power it further, and MPs have got to go out and acquire these to make them better MPs.
Again Ms Pao is wrong in assuming that managing town councils is really to get down to sweep corridors. Managing towns is the primary level of managing country. If municipal matter is not your interest, Then I really do not see you having an interest in facilities and infrastructures. If you don't understand why a lift needs to be maintained at regular intervals, then I do not see how you can understand the complex operations of a MRT system, let alone the entire transport road map of Singapore.
Only when you learn to share joys and pains of the residents, what makes them happy and what makes them sad, then you earn your rights to that privilege of going into parliament and argue your heart out for your residents, and for all Singaporeans, to ad to their joy and happiness and reduce those pains and sadness.
Yes we do have oppositions in Singapore's parliament, but sadly the law making responsibilities had thus far largely undertaken by the PAP MPs. Parliament was somewhat treated as an information vault where they ask for information to bolster their opposition agenda instead of national affairs.
Are we better off today with more oppositions in Parliament? My honest estimate is NO. It has stifled much of progress as a nation. Is checks and balances necessary? YES. Who qualifies to do the checking?
Coming back to the picture uploaded by Mr Wong Kan Seng. I put a caption to that :
"The smiles on the face and the looks in the eyes says it all. You are much loved by these whose parents were just like them, only kids when you began as their Member of Parliament.
You have never let time flies without touching the hearts of generation of your constituents."
The mark of a good MP is written on the face of his/her residents, and on the surroundings of his constituency.