The Straits Times says

A better feel walking the ground

On the face of it, the announcement that political office-holders, including ministers, will make community visits to all constituencies by mid-2020 would appear to tie in with a rough timetable recently outlined to members of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) that it has only two years left to prepare for the next general election, which must be called by April 2021. Community walkabouts have been a traditional and necessary part of the Government's outreach to constituents to gauge the range and depth of changing public sentiment on evolving policies that affect the everyday lives and longer aspirations of voters, along with concerns they have. Constituency visits, including regular weekend outings by the opposition parties, are a legitimate exercise for parties and politicians as they seek to claim the mandate to represent the people.

The recent announcement on community visits comes in the wake of a younger generation of leaders assuming greater responsibilities in the PAP's top decision-making body and is a continuation of its longstanding practice of developing and nurturing a consultative relationship between the Government and citizens. Political office-holders are responsible for policies at the national level. These, however, affect residents and constituencies differently depending on the demography. Members of Parliament amplify the views of their constituents on the national stage, and their work is usually directed at ensuring the interests of their constituents. The bureaucracy, at the national level, exists to serve all, but its mandate is administrative and not a political one.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'A better feel walking the ground'. Print Edition | Subscribe