The Straits Times
Published on Dec 13, 2012

Time for full-time MPs?


MEMBER of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng has said that he was quitting his job to become a full-time MP, joining three others who have done the same ("Baey Yam Keng quits job to be full-time MP"; Tuesday).

Mr Baey reportedly cited his constituents' changing needs as the prime motivation to serve full time.

With the increasing use of social media, there are more avenues for residents to provide him with feedback and raise issues.

He also sees more complicated cases that require him to intervene and persuade the authorities.

As a result, he sees the need to work full time to serve the constituents.

According to Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh, the role of an MP has changed.

An MP is now required to be involved in town councils, community development councils and upgrading projects.

In my view, the changing needs of constituents in Tampines GRC, as perceived by Mr Baey, is a scenario faced in other constituencies too.

With the new roles and the increasing demand for MPs' time, can part-time MPs still manage their constituents' needs effectively?

Will constituents be short-changed if they are served by a part-time MP?

Can these MPs do a proper job without compromising the quality of their work?

Many MPs are holding more senior positions in companies and are chief executive officers with heavy leadership duties which take up much of their time.

Given the changed circumstances governing constituencies, and the increasing and more intense public engagement constituents have with their elected politicians, the role of part-time MPs should be reviewed to ascertain whether MPs should serve full time.

Goh Kian Huat