Ways to improve S'poreans' lives are national issues

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC).
The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Many issues have been debated in Parliament, including the accounting lapses at Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and the People's Association, the population White Paper, and others that were raised during the recent National University of Singapore Society dialogue ("Pre-GE forum offers glimpse of likely issues at poll hustings"; Wednesday).

All the aforementioned are about making the lives of Singaporeans better; they are of national interest ("Don't harp on old issues" by Mr Francis Cheng, and "Ask questions of national interest" by Mr Peter Chan ; both published yesterday).

Take the AHPETC saga, for example. Is running it well just about ensuring the estate is clean, the lifts are working and so on?

Or is there something to be said about the value of running it in a financially responsible, disciplined and transparent way that places the contributions of constituents and taxpayers at heart?

The "incorruptibility" of our system is a key strength that sets Singapore apart from many other countries in the world, and helps us attract investments and create jobs, even though we are a relatively expensive place to do business in terms of upfront costs.

Corrupt officials are put on trial as soon as they are caught; lapses are rectified immediately.

Most Singaporeans take pride in the integrity of our system. It is in our interest to protect and advance this competitive advantage.

Allowing the rot to set in will adversely affect our economy and society in the long run, including our livelihoods and well-being.

While we must encourage more alternative voices for Singapore to develop further, this does not mean compromising on the highest standards of probity and competence, especially for those who choose to represent our needs and aspirations in a First World Parliament, regardless of their party affiliations.

Part of our growth as a country is also the participation of independent-minded voters who can ask pertinent questions outside of the legislative process, as well as discern between personal, party and national interests in a fair and objective way.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Ways to improve S'poreans' lives are national issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe