Despite calls by the PAP to keep debate free from partisan politics, it appears that for the PAP, once again, the rules they impose on others do not apply to themselves.
In a statement to the media, the leader of the House, the minister Grace Fu, said the following concerning Lee Li Lian's refusal to take up the NCMP seat:
"Like many of her constituents, I learnt first from the media and later from her absence from the opening of Parliament that she is not intending to assume the NCMP seat, despite having campaigned hard to persuade voters to elect her to a seat in Parliament...about 15,800 voters in Punggol East had cast their ballots for her...They, along with many other Singaporeans, would want to understand the basis of her decision.”
The point made is clear. Firstly, Lee Li Lian is a flip-flopper. She campaigned to become an MP but when given the chance to do so, she refused to take it up. Secondly, Lee Li Lian is an irresponsible politician, who has let down half of the voters in Punggol East by refusing to take up the NCMP seat.
As a resident of East Coast GRC, I am certainly proud to have Leon Perera and possibly Prof Daniel Goh as my representative NCMPs in parliament. I voted for them and would certainly count them as my representative(s) and voice(s) in parliament. But, as with the case of opposition politicians down history, if they refuse to take up the NCMP position, that is equally understandable.
Lee Li Lian has certainly expressed her position on her refusal to take up the NCMP position clearly - to respect the decision of the residents of Punggol East and give other WP candidates a chance in parliament. That is certainly a reasonable and fair explanation to half the voters in Punggol East who voted for her in the last election. If Leon Perera, Gerald Giam, Prof Daniel Goh or Mohamed Fairoz Shariff turned down the NCMP position on similar grounds, I think that would be reasonable for me.
On the other hand, Grace Fu's questions are petty and dishonest. It again shows how the PAP is determined to paint the WP as a dishonest and irresponsible party. If Grace Fu were honest in the questions raised, she would never have said that Lee Li Lian owed the 15,800 voters of Punggol East an explanation for refusing to take up the NCMP position, when she has already gave the public her reason for refusing the NCMP seat and her reasons for doing so in the week following GE 2015.. As with the case of the $1 million surplus question in Punggol East's accounts, it once again shows honesty and integrity, PAP style, defined by the PAP, and according to the PAP's dictionary, which is very different from how most of us understand or were taught about "honesty" and "integrity". It is not alright for Sylvia Lim to "lie" to parliament, but it is somehow alright for the PAP to lie to the public and voters.
If anything, Lee Li Lian's decision is respectable and commendable. The PAP should be ashamed of their conduct. Lee Li Lian respected the wishes of the voters of Punggol East, but has the PAP respected the decision of the voters who did not vote for them? When an opposition party takes over a constituency, PAP kindergartens are closed. These constituencies are put last in priority for estate upgrading. Residents in these constituencies are threatened that their estates would be turned into slums. Government services and amenities are withdrawn, Potong Pasir did not even have a supermarket, post office or a bank when Chiam See Tong was at the helm. Losing candidates from the PAP are appointed as "grassroots advisers" who are all but MP in name in the constituencies they lost, with access to government institutions such as the PA and the web of so-called community clubs that are likely to refuse service or access to Opposition MPs elected by the people. CCCs hinder the work of elected opposition MPs through a series of red tape. Accounting software contractors affliated to the PAP suddenly terminate their contract with the town council when an opposition party takes over.
The issue Grace Fu raised over Lee Li Lian's NCMP seat is also another episode, yet again of the PAP saying one thing, when it suits their purpose but saying and doing the contrary when it doesn't. In part of the attempt to make Lee Li Lian look bad, Grace Fu said the following:
"...election to the NCMP seat is determined in accordance with the Constitution and the related legislation, and on the basis of the results of GE."
"Taking up the NCMP seat would have enabled her to participate fully in parliamentary debates, raise motions, and ask questions in Parliament"
When it is opportune to make an Opposition MP or party look bad in the eyes of the public, a PAP minister brings up topics such as the constitutional and democratic process. But when controversial topics are discussed and debated in parliament, opposition MPs are often accused of bringing politics into the debate in order for the PAP to avoid discussion on difficult questions such as its population policy. If the PAP is truly sincere in the democratic process, why does it talk about not bringing politics into the debate when faced with difficult questions and debates, even in parliament? Is debate not part of the democratic process? Why muzzle bloggers by filing defamation suits against them when they debate about how CPF funds are handled? Are not their articles part of the democratic process? If their articles indeed contain defamatory allegations, why not refute them upfront instead of using the knuckle duster of civil suits? Why is the government not allowing the mainstream media to debate and challenge government policies? Is this not part of the democratic process? Why was J B Jeyaretnam, an elected MP of Anson, forced from parliament on what the privy council found to be false charges, filed by Lee Kuan Yew's attorney general, because he was an opposition politician? If the government is truly interested in the constitutional process, why did it refuse to hold by elections in Hougang until arm twisted and a subsequent civil suit filed concerning the matter, with the courts stepping in to rule that it is the constitutional prerogative for the PAP to call for one?
Again, is this what the PAP calls honest and good governance, when it says one thing when it suits the moment, but another when it doesn't? If they want to talk about democratic and constitutional processes, it should be applied across the board, not in the selective manner the public is seeing.
The 70% of voters who voted for the PAP deserve better than this.