Public institution or political organization
The AIM saga has led many to question the nature of Town Councils. Are TCs public institutions or are they political organizations? This also brings to question whether the People’s Association is a public institution or a political organization. According to Tan Cheng Bock, TCs are public institutions. Baey Yam Keng said otherwise, that they are political organizations and the AIM saga has been over politicized. Should not that be the case since they are political organizations?
What are the differences between a political organization and a public institution? There are many and very obvious differences without having to split hairs. Academics may have a long list of definitions or what is and what is not. I would simply lay out a few cogent points of what is a public institution and what is not.
A public institution is often formed to serve the interests of the public in general, not a particular group or political party. It draws its funds from the public or from the govt. It is has no links to any political party. These should be brief and easy to understand. Political organizations are simply organizations of political parties to serve party interests.
An organization that is paid by the public or by public funds from the govt should be a public institution. Political organizations that serve the interests of political parties must not be paid by public fund or the govt. There is a big grey area that need not be grey at all, that is the govt. The govt is made up of political parties, singular or a coalition. They are political parties first and the govt second. It could be the other way round. The govt is to serve the general public of all political colours. But this is easier said than done. Most govt will look at party interests first and public interests second for self preservation and selfish interests. Ideally, political parties should shed their politics when elected to form the govt and serve the public at large as one people of one country. I said ideally, and I am asking too much. Even immortals will be biased to favour party interests than public interests.
The govt aside, should TCs be public institutions or political organizations? Likewise, is the PA a public institution or political organization? Who is footing the bill? Who pays their salaries and activities? The govt using public fund or the political party using party fund?