Last night it was in the news, repeated several times to make sure that everyone heard it, that Lawrence Wong, Chairman of PAP’s Publicity and Publication Subcommittee, wrote in the PAP’s website demanding that the WP explains its change in position on the pay of ministers. And there is a half a page article in the ST today to signify how important it is and how strong the PAP attached to the issue of explaining.
I quote, ‘This is what it means to be accountable and transparent, …Otherwise, how can voters be sure what to make of their future election promises and manifestos?...they never mentioned their past positions, much less explain their policy reversal…It is honourable and logical to change one’s position as circumstances change and new information becomes available. I hope that is why WP has changed its position. But when political parties and their leaders change positions, they have a responsibility to explain to the people.”
He added with a query, “if the change was due to a ‘principled approach’ or ‘political opportunism’.” This broadly sums up the importance of transparency and accountability of a responsible party like the PAP. Every major change and decision must be explained clearly to the people. This is a very honourable position to take. Tell the people the truth, the whole picture, do not hide anything, so that the people know exactly what the party stands for.
As the ruling party and govt, and the champion of transparency and clean wage and clean everything, perhaps the PAP should take the lead to show the smaller parties what transparency and accountability mean. Before the WP try to explain anything, which may not be up to the standard of the PAP’s KPI or sort of, and be asked to explain more, PAP may want to set a few examples like say, why the change to cut ministerial pay when the pay was actually raised recently, including those of the President? And there should be more disclosure of what the ministers were actually paid over the last 3 years, 2008, 2009, and 2010. The people are still in the dark despite all the claims of transparency and clean wage. Set the example by explaining and telling the people about them.
This revelation is more relevant as lack of understanding, like the MX9 issue, could lead to improper conclusion and understanding of the matter in discussion. In fact, all the numbers quoted of percentages of salary cuts were wrong if the actual total payout is not known. They were all talking about the basic salary. It is vital to know what was the take home pay and what is the new take home pay to know how much will be the cut. It could be 5% or 50% or more, no one really knows and everyone arguing like they knew.
This is quite disappointing really. Unless there is full transparency and disclosure, all the discount or salary cut percentages are misleading. At best they were only reflective of the basic pay. I found it disturbing that the both parties had based their proposals of salary cuts without knowing or mentioning what was the total payout to the ministers, at least last year.
The PAP may also want to explain why the three ministers were dropped from the Cabinet so that the people would know the reasons behind the droppings. It is about explaining and communications.
To quote Lawrence Wong and to satisfy his hunger on ‘they never mentioned their past positions, much less than policy reversal’, and also his morally correct stand, ‘when political parties and their leaders change positions, they have a responsibility to explain to the public’ it would be good for the PAP to set the standard of explaining and public disclosure. This will definitely raise the standard of good govt and something that we can all be proud of and expected of future govt.
Let’s do it, show the way, and the smaller political parties can learn from it. Follow the leader with the highest standard of transparency and accountability. The smaller parties must know what should be explained and how much to tell as they did not know how high the PAP has set its standard on these matters. It is like the KPIs which no know really knows what they were and one can set KPIs for self and for others without telling or transparency.
I am impressed by Lawrence Wong’s call and support it and hope all parties will abide by this clean call for more transparency and accountability. “It is not always easy or popular to take an honest and principled approach. But Singaporeans expect no less, both from the ruling party and the opposition.’
It is all about honesty versus hypocrisy. I am glad that the PAP can stand on high pedestal and talked about principled approach. That is what the people expect of an honourable political party that frown upon political opportunism.