Opposition politicians deserve national honours too

One highlight of National Day is the conferring of National Day Awards. These honours, which have been given out each year since 1962, recognise people for their outstanding contributions to Singapore.

Last year, there were 4,632 recipients in 23 categories.

However, what is conspicuous in the history of these awards is the fact that the number of Singaporeans who chose to serve the people via political parties other than the ruling People's Action Party, who have been honoured, is small.

This is in stark contrast to the United Kingdom, where active and retired politicians from both sides of the political aisle are routinely conferred honours for distinguished service to the nation irrespective of their political leanings.

In Singapore's parliamentary democracy, it is lawful to join parties and to aspire to high public office to serve the people.

Parties jostle for support from the people throughout the year and it is generally agreed that, on the whole, having more than one party has been helpful for Singapore.

I feel that it is about time that politicians such as Mr Chiam See Tong, whom many view as a constructive politician who had contributed much to Singapore, including being a Member of Parliament for Potong Pasir from 1984 to 2011, should receive national recognition on National Day.

It is fitting that he receives this honour.

Huang Shoou Chyuan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2019, with the headline 'Opposition politicians deserve national honours too'. Subscribe