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3/11/2007

Of Parliament and debates

Of Parliament and debates For those who are casually following the happenings in Parliament, it is excusable to think that the opposition in Parliament is the PAP. Where were the Cheam See Tong, the Low Thia Khiang and the Sylvia Lim? Never seen and never heard of in a Parliament that is most of the time 75% empty except for the first few sessions. They must be among the absentees. That is the impression if one watches the TV news coverage. Quite natural when the opposition does not really have a role to play in a Parliament that is overwhelmingly dominated by a ruling party. And quite natural that the debate in Parliament is just debate. Nothing happens after that no matter how much the speaker said. Everyone who bothers to be in Parliament, made their few comments and asked a few questions and things just 'move on.' Their comments and questions were answered, and that's it. Scanning through the main stream media and the TV, which rightly allocated about 10 minutes of their precious time to Highlights in Parliament as they have more important programmes to broadcast, tells how important were the proceedings in the house. And the camera cheekily showed the 3/4 empty Parliament every now and then to tell the audiences how heated and thoroughly engaging the debates must have been. With the impression that the opposition were non existence, at least from the reports available in the MSM as a measure of their contributions, the floor was all for the PAP MPs. And the notables who spoke passionately, and at times aggressively on the issues that they pursued were the likes of Inderjit, Lily Neo, Ong Kian Min and Sin Boon Ann. They were convincing in wanting to put their points across strongly. But despite all that, the greatest victory goes to Lily Neo. In her quest to help the poor and needy living on government handouts, she succeeded in getting another $1 a day for them. That was the greatest achievement that no other MP could ever think of doing. Halimah is the most persistent fighter for the working class on record. She practically spoke on every issue that affected the workers and plea after plea for the government to spare a thought for them and their plight. So far she has not won her $1 worth yet. Maybe she will get her desserts as events unfold in the years to come. But one thing for sure, as against all the cynicism by Seng Han Thong, the ERP is going to be more expensive and hopefully more effective. Definitely not more effective and less expensive.

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