WP need not have withdrawn motion
Written by Ng E-Jay
11 January 2013
The Worker’s Party (WP) has withdrawn a motion to debate town council management issues in Parliament during the next sitting on 14 January. The nomination day for Punggol East by-election is 16 January.
In a statement released on Thursday, WP Chairman Sylvia Lim noted that the Prime Minister had indicated in a statement that he had directed the Ministry of National Development to conduct a broad-based review of the fundamental nature of town councils and also to investigate the AIM transaction.
She added that the goal of protecting the public and residents’ interests would be better served if the government investigation and review were to first proceed.
After the completion of the review and publication of its findings, the matter can be raised in Parliament again as the circumstances require.
In my view, the WP need not drop the motion to raise matters relating to town councils and potential conflicts on interest in Parliament.
Despite PM Lee’s initiation of a review of town councils and the AIM transaction, there is still scope to press for further clarity from the ruling party.
For example, would the review be impartial and unbiased given that it is conducted by the Ministry of National Development?
A ministry-level review does not change the matters that have already been raised in mainstream and alternative media. The WP can keep the issues alive by reiterating them in Parliament.
The WP should also defend itself from allegations that its own management of town councils are not free from conflicts of interest.
While the ruling party can counter that it would be more appropriate to wait for the review to be completed before commenting on the subject, the WP can cite the upcoming by-election and the need to put pertinent issues before the voters.
The PAP wants to get the by-election over before closer scrutiny of AIMgate can take place.
The opposition has a chance to prevent the PAP from getting its way.