What a shame
In 1955, when David Marshall was elected as the Chief Minister of the island, he was not given an office to execute his duties. The mean British, who were the colonial masters then, gave him a small table and a chair next to the staircase, like the desk of a security guard. That was the contempt the British rulers had for a locally elected leader of the people. David Marshall took the insult in his stride, for he knew that there was nothing he could do against the masters of the day. And it seemed that we have learnt from the British well, not be better masters, but on how to continue with the tradition of not providing an office to our modern day elected representatives of the people. It must be a wise practice of the colonial masters that we must retain, if not good, as a reminder of how things were then. Last night I watched the news and was shocked to see Yaw Shin Leong, the newly elected MP of Hougang, conducting his meet the people’s session in a void deck. Doesn’t the elected representative of the people deserved to be given a proper place to serve the people? I can only hope that I am wrong, that it was a temporary arrangement as he is a newly elected MP. I believe that in all decency, no matter which party the MP comes from, once he has been elected by the people to be their representative, it is only proper that the state provides him with an office space to carry out his duties to the people. Depriving him of such a facility is an insult to the office and the people that elected him to office. A people’s elected MP is not running his own private business. He is there to serve the people for the well being of the state. It cannot be that an office of the state, a representative of the people who can sit in Parliament to discuss national issues, have to meet the people in the void deck, or to pay for his own office. It cannot be that the country, with all the billions in reserves it has, is too poor to afford such an arrangement. Sounds very third world really. It would be interesting if the MP of Jalan Besar or Joo Chiat should set up his office in the back lane of Desker Road or on the five foot way outside a bar in Joo Chiat. I think I am wrong, and all elected MPs will be allocated a reasonable office for sure, in respect of the office and for him to carry out his duties to the people. But if this is not the case, then Yaw Shin Leong and all the MPs must be very grateful that the HDB did not charge them rent for the use of the void deck or to chase them away. I had a dream last night. I was walking along the void deck of some HDB flats and came face to face with some sign boards. One read ‘No football allowed’. Another one read ‘No meet the people session allowed’. Then I woke up only to know that it was a bad dream. I know that a first world country would not allow such things to happen when we can pay ministers in millions and with world class offices in the heart of town. Are we willing to continue to live with this shame?