Singaporeans are going to the poll on Friday to elect our Members of Parliament (MP). National interests aside, what are some qualities a good elected MP in Singapore should possess?
We reached out to popular retiring MP from the People’s Action Party (PAP), Ms. Lee Bee Wah, 59, who has represented the Nee Soon South ward for 14 years for pointers. Below are five tips from her:
“It is not easy to be a good MP, but it’s also not difficult. For the past 14 years, I have served as best as I can. Here’s the advice I would give to a new MP.
1. Meet as many residents as you can
Walk the ground diligently. When I was MP, I was in my constituency nearly every day.
From meeting residents, you can find out the problems they are facing and help them accordingly.
2. Reply residents’ emails promptly
Nowadays, many residents reach out online. If they send me messages and comments on Facebook and Instagram, I will ask them to email instead. Then I can forward their email directly to the agency in charge.
I always reply residents to let them know someone is looking into their case. I also follow up on the replies if I am not satisfied with them.
3. Speak up fearlessly
Speak up fearlessly in Parliament on issues that affect residents.
Do not be afraid that Ministers will dislike you because of this. This is not what you should worry about. Anyway, many Ministers have thanked me for bringing up issues they were not so aware of. Our government is open to any constructive feedback.
4. Work with government to find solutions
When I asked for a lift at the overhead bridge at Khatib MRT, it took 4 years to get it approved.
After that, when government was building it, they had difficulties because of other facilities present underground at the location. I used my experience as an engineer to help them solve the problem.
We need to follow up on all issues and make sure they get delivered. Sometimes, we can use our experience to help.
5. Be a bridge between people who want to help and people who need help
Being an MP is not just about asking government to do things. You also have to bring in your own network and resources to help.
I have found that Singaporeans are very big-hearted. Many people and companies want to help. But they need the MP to guide them to the right avenues. I hope all MPs can be such a bridge.
Many of my projects were realised this way- the Designated Smoking Points, the dialysis centre (with government matching grants) and our hotmeals programme.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Singaporeans and especially Nee Soon South residents who have helped out over the years.
In summary: Listen to residents and serve them without fear or favour.
I am sharing these tips with my successor Carrie, Nee Soon candidate Derrick, as well as other new PAP candidates. I hope to see them serving their residents wholeheartedly and speaking up fearlessly in the future.”