SPP’s Performance in Parliament: On the Brink of Disaster
The Chiam See Tong era is over. Even with his wife in parliament as a NCMP. She has big shoes to fill and is already floundering. She stumbled occasionally during her first parliament speech, not much different from her debut in the CNA’s Political Forum on Singapore’s Future held before the GE. She is no intellectual powerhouse, neither does she have the charisma to sway views regardless if they are sound or not. All she has as political mileage is grasping her husband’s brand and legacy. Kenneth Jeyaretnam had his father’s brand and legacy too and that didn’t help him and his Reform Party that much either in the end. Lina Chiam should take note of that.
Compared to the Workers’ Party speeches, where each had their own steady firing arc to cover, Lina Chiam’s maiden speech was full of motherhood pleas and flimsy rhetoric. As a sampler, this was one sweeping style of many in Lina Chiam’s opening speech in parliament, and it seems lifted from a PAP 10-year series on public rhetoric as it is just as bad.
“Besides increasing workforce in large quantities,Singapore needs to grow our resourcefulness and creativity in order to compete in the global arena This means we may have to reshape our educational system as well.We also need to embrace diversity in society,accept new age social media to be able to live and work together in harmony, respect each other’s beliefs and ideals. And to be gracious and compassionate to each other’s community by helping one another.“
And then she attempted to go into the nuts and bolts of policy making, or policy shoot-in-the-foot.
“The Government should be less prescriptive when designing policies affecting citizens’ lives with its social engineering agenda. The decision to restrict the purchase of HDB flats only when Singaporeans get married or are over 35 years old may no longer be appropriate. I urge the Government to reconsider this restriction and allow Singapore born citizens to buy their first HDB flats simply when they reach the age of 21. We understand the sky rocking HDB prices.By the time a citizen reaches 35 years old to obtain a flat , the price of the flat may have tripled and be out of a persons reach.We want to emphasize that it has become the right and aspiration of each and every young Singaporean a desire to own an HDB flat as soon as possible at a reasonable price. Expectedly many divorces in our society today can be blamed on the HDB’s policy on this matter.”
So she wants to loosen the criteria for HDB ownership and allow citizens who turn 21 to buy HDB flats. Would this not already push upwards pressure on HDB prices, new and resale, as the pool of buyers has increased? This goes against her logic that “we understand the sky rocketing HDB prices”. Obviously she and SPP does not understand as they are worsening the problem by spurring demand. Supply already cannot keep up and more demand for flats is going to make the housing problem acute.
There is more to SPP’s weak grasp of problems to solve in parliament soon. Lina Chiam has fielded some questions for the ministers and most are downright questionable in terms of her and SPP’s political stewardship in parliament.
One opportunistic question was whether the PUB can prevent such accidents and suicides in reservoirs. Anybody discerning would know that the Bedok reservoir is an open public place, and there is little one can do to prevent copy cat suicides. Fencing up Bedok reservoir would not solve the problem, it would only displace it to Pierce or another catchment area reservoir which is virtually impossible and unthinkable to fence up. Asking such a question in parliament only shows how shallow she is.
Then there is another question on how many foreigners commit suicide. Frankly, with foreigners competing for Singaporeans in housing and transport, I doubt this is a burning question that Singaporeans bother about.
There is also a question asking for the names of those detained under the ISA. Anyone who watched the local film Sandcastle or have common sense would realise that some people want to be left alone and the publication of all those detained under the ISA would put them on the stand, not the PAP government. The PAP government can withstand public scrutiny, but those particular individuals might feel shamed and victimised. Again a political naive question from Lina Chiam.
A question that underscored SPP’s municipal focus rather than national agenda was one about the market and food centre at Blk 210 Toa Payoh Lorong 8. Lina Chiam and SPP’s first round in the ring and they are asking about a market in their former Potong Pasir turf. Yes the residents in that area are affected and might be curious, but most of us would not bother. Instead of asking if NTUC Fairprice or Kopitiam is threatening the wet market and koptiam small family businesses across Singapore as a whole , she wants to ask about a Lorong 8 market. Nothing wrong, but its small focus is disastrous if SPP wants to gain credibility as an opposition party, not as an estate management company.
SPP with Lina Chiam as the NCMP is out of its depth. From the way she carried herself in rally speeches, the CNA forum and now her parliament speech and questions, I really doubt Lina Chiam has the intellect and panache to defend herself in parliament when the PAP decides to run rings around her. I won’t have much sympathy for her either as being a NCMP, it meant that she was not even elected by her people in the first place.