[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, August 28, 2008

[By-Election Debate in Parliament]
Yesterday's debate on by-elections in Parliament was very good. Prof Thio Li Ann's speech was in her usual way academic in tone and comprehensive. Dr Loo Choon Yong in contrast was down-to-earth and commonsensical. Mr Siew Kum Hong had a lively debating style which enlivened proceedings in the House. Later Mr Gautam Banerjee gave his views as a an immigrant. I thought the speeches of the 4 NMPs added a new dimension to what might otherwise have been the usual exchange between the PAP and the Opposition. Ms Sylvia Lim surprised everyone by her proposal to amend Prof Thio's and Dr Loo's proposal. In fact, it was more than that: she wanted to turn the debate about by-elections into a debate about GRCs. Unfortunately, it was ruled out of order. Speaker Tarmugi told her that she could raise GRCs separately on another occasion and PM added later that he would welcome a full debate on GRCs especially since this year is the 20th anniversary.

PM's explanation about our system of by-elections went back into history and the chronic instability of the 50's and early 60's when MPs could simply switch sides. Malaysia's by-election law was forced on us at merger. Once we separated, MM Lee Kuan Yew immediately changed the law back to what it was (and is today). PM saw democracy not as an idealised model but as a practical evolving system by which Singaporeans order their own society, feeling our way across the river, stone by stone. It reminded me of Devan Nair's book about Singapore many years ago: Socialism that works. Well, we are also a democracy that works. Not perfect to be sure, but not bad at all. Not for us the excitement of Permatang Pauh.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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