TL;DR – Again?
The independent panel appointed by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) has filed a lawsuit against Aljunied GRC MPs Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh and a number of others, over alleged improper payments amounting to millions of dollars. In response to this news, ex-GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong wrote a post on Facebook explaining why MPs running town councils is a bad idea.
What’s wrong with MPs being town council managers?
Yeoh highlighted that the skillset of a good town council manager is entirely different from that of an MP. The council manager is a real estate manager of a massive public cum private housing estate and infrastructure. This requires specialist skills and experience. On the other hand, an MPs job is to primarily question policies and legislation in parliament on behalf of the electorate.
Yeoh also pointed out that the provision of estate management services and allocation infrastructure is a public good and should never be used as a political tool. Specifically he said:
“The bulk of most citizens net worth or life savings is in their home. To have its value held hostage to voting in a powerful incumbent government that controls the agencies responsible for such activities is both a breach of citizens rights as well as a recipe for authoritarian rule.”
But that wasn’t blasting the PAP?
And that is what the alternative media site The Independent.SG (TISG) did. TISG wrote an article with the title “Ex-GIC chief economist does a Facebook blast on “shortchanged” citizens and “impossible barriers” for opposition politics in Singapore”.
But there was nothing in Yeoh’s post that was blasting the PAP. In fact, in the comments on his original post, he’d actually said:
“Including, as I’ve argued, if ever the PAP finds itself in opposition again. After all they are a pretty decent political party all said and done”
Yeoh then wrote a Facebook post to say that he took issue with the way TISG characterised what he had written about town councils:
Yeoh specifically explained that he had never blasted the PAP. His comments were directed at the idea of making MPs also in charge of town councils and the inefficiencies and political barriers to entry created by such system.
He also clarified that he never suggested that it was the government who is taking the WP MPs to court. Instead, he was clear that it is being done by an independent panel of the AHTC.
Yeoh emphasised that he strongly objects to the sensationalisation and misrepresentation of my ideas on this sensitive matter. Indeed, it’s important to criticise the status quo and government policies. But we need to do it reasonable and rationally. Sensationalising and misrepresenting ideas are counterproductive in advancing discussions about important national issues.