I am writing with reference to Leon Perera's Facebook post on the way parliament works concerning the adjournment motion on the elected presidency and the exchange between Png Eng Huat and Indranee Rajah during question time with regards to the AGO audits.

Revelations on How Parliament Works

In Leon Perera's post there was something interesting mentioned – that parliament unlike other legislative bodies in most of the first world meets only twice every month and there is no practice similar to that of the Prime Minister's Questions in the UK House of Commons which is held every week, where the leader of the Opposition is allowed 6 questions to grill the sitting PM of the day every week.

But what I like to bring up is the point that parliament only convenes for twice a month.

That is because the point I would like to raise is as such – has parliament been nothing more than an expensive rubber stamp and as such a one huge misappropriation of public funds?

And in particular why this question has basis is because during a parliamentary debate on whether there should be by-election called once a seat in a GRC falls vacant, PM Lee's reason for not calling for one is that during elections, voters vote not for their representatives but the government. In essence, a PAP MP is not a representative of the people but another extension of the state and a tool of governance. And the structure of parliament adds is one that disallows MPs from giving the needs of their residents the airtime and space for these views to shape policy direction.

This means that the role of a PAP MP is closer to that of a bureaucrat's than what the essence of what being an MP is about.

However, having worked in the civil service before a bureaucrat does work of a scope and level that exceeds what an MP does (bar looking after their respective estates) yet an MP draws a significantly higher pay than an average bureaucrat's by at least on average twice. Or even if the top bureaucrats draw similar pay to the MPs the work by the PAP MPs which is to simply make "for the purpose" statements on the government's bill and pass them does not justify why they have to draw a monthly allowance of $25k. I don't believe looking after an estate would require that high a salary as that – before the Town Council Act was passed I doubt HDB bureaucrats tasked with looking after estates are paid as much even after factoring in inflation.

As such why would I call it a case if misappropriation? If the WP MP's were accused of supposed misappropriation of public funds in the "overpayment" of the managing agent which the accusation was argued on the basis that the management agent hired was paid for more than the work that was delivered? And certainly if that was so I think it would be safe to apply this to the manner PAP MPs are paid.

Even if the MPs pays are sanctioned by law an act of crime or an unethical act sanctioned by law is still an unethical or criminal act. And despite the legal covering this policy receives it is still on very essence the same thing K Shanmugam accused the WP of doing – taking money from the man on the street and giving it to their friends.

Indranee Rajah and the AGO audits

I would like to point out points in the exchange between Indranee Rajah and Png Eng Huat in the parliamentary question on AGO audits.

In the exchange Indranee Rajah mentions that only a sampling of accounts are taken in an AGO audit and if there are problems they will be looked into.

However, to this day the $88k bin centre flagged in the audit has not been investigated. The response thus far has been to cover it up. At the very least I don't think a bin centre would not cost that much and wouldn't justify the $88k figure.

But I think the issue of greater importance and interest would be the role of the AGO in audits of public funds.

Because to date despite government agencies flagged for lapses and the People's Association consistently receiving "Adverse Opinions", a significantly worst rating than that AHPETC received, they were not subjected to the type of audits or inquisition the WP-ran AHPETC received.

And so the question is is the AGO's office through its selective use of the government on the WP-ran AHPETC a tool of the incumbent to harass, intimidate and even fix their opponents instead of its rightful role to safeguard the use of public funds and as such another case of misusing public funds to say the at the very least in the use of an agency and the money that goes with it for a function that is outside what its acceptible should be in its selective use on the Opposition?


N Chan
A.S.S. Contributor

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