Make clear the boundaries on MP petition letters

The submission by an appellant of an MP's letter to downplay her culpability in a court case is indeed troubling, as Justice See Kee Oon stated in his judgment (Drivers who cause harm: Sentencing framework set out; Feb 1).

I believe that for years, residents have been going to Meet-the-People Sessions with traffic violation penalties, in the hope that their respective MPs' letters to the authorities can get their penalties waived or reduced.

This is tantamount to blurring the separation of powers entrenched in the Singapore Constitution to ensure that the state government is divided into three distinct branches: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.

The branches have separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with the powers associated with the other branches.

Meet-The-People Sessions are intended for MPs to meet their constituents to understand the problems on the ground and render assistance in areas of need, such as financial assistance, job search, Housing Board-related problems, immigration issues, and appeals for school admissions.

However, when residents seek an MP's help after violating a law, it crosses the line of the MP's role in the legislative branch (making laws) into the executive (where the laws are executed) or, worse, the judiciary (where the law is interpreted and applied).

It is understandable that an MP would wish to plead the cause of his resident, to be seen as caring and able to resolve the problem.

It is, therefore, time that Parliament steps in to make a clear decision that all MP cannot send petition letters to the authorities or the judiciary if the cases involve a violation of any law or regulation, and that the relevant authorities cannot entertain any such petition letters.

Otherwise, it makes a mockery of our laws and the legal system.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2018, with the headline 'Make clear the boundaries on MP petition letters'. Print Edition | Subscribe