Amrin Amin Is Not Fit to be an MP
The PAP Government says the search for the next generation of leaders is progressing nicely. But I wonder how that can be when their skill in setlecting MPs seems to be lacking. What skills or attributes should a good MP have? What should make a person absolutely unfit to be an MP?
You may have seen the Reform Party press release from 19 January 2017 in which we drew attention to Mr Amin, an MP in Sembawang GRC, naming and shaming his constituent whom he believed falsely to be involved with the Reform Party. In fact that man had resigned from the Party more than five years ago and has had no involvement since then. But for Amin any involvement with an opposition party would seem to damn you for life. Can an MP actually get away with anyhow hantam attacks on his residents?
So I am very concerned with Mr Amin’s treatment of his constituents and he reminds me of a similar incident of disregard for their constituents’ privacy evidenced by new MP Hri Kumar. Now mercifully no longer an MP. So what did these two MPs do wrongly and what are the duties of an MP? Are they PAP representatives and estate managers and no more? Well our system is based on the Westminster sinsystem and legal structure we inherited from our former masters under colonial rule. Who better to look to for inspiration than Winston Churchill and what he said in his resignation speech in 1955:
‘The first duty of a member of Parliament is to do what he thinks in his faithful and disinterested judgement is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain. His second duty is to his constituents, of whom he is the representative but not the delegate. Burke’s famous declaration on this subject is well known. It is only in the third place that his duty to party organization or programme takes rank. All these three loyalties should be observed, but there in no doubt of the order in which they stand under any healthy manifestation of democracy.’ Sir Winston Churchill on the Duties of a Member of Parliament.
I think we can all agree that our MPs have got this reversed.
Mr B had a reasonable expectation of privacy when he went to see his MP at the Meet-the-People session. He might not want the fact that he was jobless or had financial problems to be broadcast to the whole of Singapore. Amin did not show even this basic degree of care that he owed to his constituent.
Far from protecting B’s confidential details, Amin took to publicly posting on Facebook to respond to B’s complaints that his MP had slighted him by offering him a job as a security guard. Instead of confining himself to refuting or answering Mr Basron’s criticisms, he revealed that he had given B an EZ-link card because B said he did not have money to attend an interview. Amin went on to say that he had checked with the security company that B was supposed to be interviewing with and that no interview was scheduled and furthermore that the phone number B provided did not work. Since B felt that as a former civil servant and a Singaporean he was overqualified to be a security guard, it is perfectly understandable that he may not have wanted to go for the interview. But by saying publicly B was a liar and had obtained an EZ link card from him through fraud, Amin must have seriously damaged B’s future employment prospects.
Then we come to Hri Kumar. Amin’s posting of confidential details about his constituent is on a par with Hri Kumar’s behaviour after a senior citizen criticised the Government’s CPF policy at a seminar Kumar held for his constituents in 2014. I attended the seminar and you can read what I had to say here. Hri Kumar posted a picture of the elderly woman’s house on Facebook together with the address and this was copied by the troll hate site, Fabrications about the PAP. Hri Kumar displayed a similar disregard for the privacy rights of his constituents and may have committed a criminal offence in leaking confidential details. This poor judgement may be why Hri Kumar took the decision to step down before the 2015 GE though he gave the reason as his wife’s ill health.
Amin also said in his Facebook that, given B’s involvement in the Reform Party (which is a false claim), that he could not understand why B would come to see him. Is Amin saying that people who do not vote for the PAP cannot expect assistance from their PAP MP or even to receive services from the PAP government? This is the PAP’s not so subtle message and has been ever since they acquired a monopoly of Parliament with the walkout of Barisan Socialis in 1965. That comment the reminds me of another incident. Do you remember the student who asked Lee Hsien Loong if he could pay less tax if he was going to be served last as an Opposition voter?
The policy of disadvantaging Opposition supporters and voters is a top down one as we can see but even so Amarinder seems to have been following his master’s orders a bit too enthusiastically. Not content with belittling B in April 2016 on Facebook, an action that given the huge disparity in power and wealth between the two men makes him unfit to be an MP, Amin returned to disparaging and ridiculing him in an unprovoked attack on Facebook. Sharing the article from New Nation which exposed Mr Basron as having made a false claim, Amin called him “Pinocchio”.
By contrast in the UK, on which Singapore’s faux democracy is supposed to be modelled, the Information Commissioner, tasked with “promoting public access to information and protecting your information”, states that “it is vital to protect the personal details of, or other confidential information passed on by, constituents to their MPs”.
Mr Amin is clearly unfit to be an MP. If he had any decency he should resign. The Government should ask him to step down before the next election. If I were an ordinary Singaporean resident in his ward I would want to see that he was not re-elected in case he picked me out next for a public tarring and feathering session. Let us try and remember they work for us. If they take to social media it should be to increase transparency and accountability not to use that media to intimidate us.