Why are people cynical about politics? Are we missing something?
The Straits Times, Singapore4 April 2002Why are people cynical about politics? Are we missing something?- Former Speaker Tan SooKhoonUnlike the previous two days, only three of the 15 MPs who spoke yesterday were newcomers.Perhaps, it was no surprise then that the most striking speech on the third day of the debate onthe President's Address to Parliament was given by an old hand. Now a backbencher, Mr Tan SooKhoon, who was the Speaker of the House for 13 years and has been an MP for 25 years, spokeabout what could be done to reduce the persistent cynicism among Singaporeans of the politicalprocess here.We produce extracts.BETWEEN the opening of the Ninth Parliament and this one, so much has changed in the world.Five years ago, we were brimming with confidence. Nobody foresaw that within a few months, theAsian financial crisis would engulf us, President Suharto would fall from power in Indonesia andSingapore would go through two major economic crises.The dream of more good years would be put on hold as Singaporeans would Line is overdrawnfind themselves losing their jobs. Certainly, nobody at that time would have imagined aneconomic downturn and the sight of Singaporeans queueing up to collect money from their MPsto give them relief.And, most certainly, none of us ever thought it possible that we would ever see two airplanesplunging into the World Trade Center in New York. It was an event that would eventually lead tothe possibility of terrorism rearing its head at our doorstep.Amid these dramatic events, the Government called an election before it was due. We wanted toquickly provide hope for our people.And these are the pressing issues: the deepest recession since Independence, unemployment,finding jobs for our people, high business costs, our economic competitiveness, the tudung issue,relations with our neighbours and terrorism.So it did somewhat baffle me that, while we went out to seek a new mandate from the peoplevery quickly, it took almost five months for Parliament to be convened for the representatives of the people to meet and discuss the issues that are so crucial to Singaporeans and our future.I am in no way suggesting that the Government is not seeking to engage Parliament. Having beena Member of this House for a long time, I can attest that the Government has not shirked in itsaccountability to Parliament.