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26 May 2019  (735 Views) 
Political systems

How to improve the democratic process
I wish to give my views about how to improve the democratic process around the world.

I carried out several polls on different questions regarding this process, and wish to give my comments on the results of these polls. 

I also like to make special reference to how my suggestions should be implemented in  Singapore. 

Here are the results of the poll:

a) A small majority (59%) of the participants prefer a presidential system, where the voters elect the president directly (instead of giving this power to parliament). 

b) An overwhelming majority (96%) prefer that the elected MP should vote independently, according to his or her conscience, and should not be required to vote according to the party line or instruction.

c) A large majority (85%) prefer that the ministers should be appointed from outside Parliament and the MPs should focus on their role as lawmakers

d) A small majority (54%) prefer that voting should be carried out all at once in a general election and not spread out over several years. 

My own view are different from the small majority in the following aspects:

a) I prefer the Parliamentary system where Parliament is the supreme body and that Parliament will appoint the prime minister and the cabinet. This will avoid the gridlock that happens in America where the president and majority of congress come from different parties.

b)  I prefer that the elections into Parliament be spread out and that a proportion of the seats in Parliament be elected each year. This ensure that any change of government and policies can occur gradually. It also avoids the combative approach adopted in a general election that candidates have to smear each other to get votes.

I strongly agree with the overwhelming majority on the following points:

a) Ministers should be appointed outside of Parliament, so that the MPs can focus on their role as law makers and in overseeing the conduct of the government, i.e. the prime minister and the cabinet. This will allow the most capable and dedicated people to be appointed as ministers and avoid the conflict of interest when ministers are also MPs.

This approach is likely to get the best people to serve as ministers. Parliament, through its committees, can also closely monitor the work of the ministers. It should lead to better transparence and accountability in the governance of the country. Incompetent or dishonest ministers can be replaced easily.

b) The MPs should vote on each issue according to their conscience, and not follow the direction of the party.

Someone commented that we should get rid of the GRC system and focus on single member constituencies. I agree.

Here are the changes that I like to see in the democratic process in Singapore. 

a) Singapore will be divided into single member constituencies.
b) An election will be carried out for one fifth of the constituencies each year. Each member will serve a term of five years and can stand for re-election.
c) The ministers are appointed from outside of Parliament.
d) The MPs will vote on bills after a thorough debate in Parliament and according to their wisdom and conscience (and not party direction).

I believe that this approach will provide a more robust democratic system and lead to a more effective govt. it will overcome the shortcomings of democracy as practiced in many countries. 

It is also likely to result in MPs being elected based on their personal merits, rather than on party affiliation. It is more likely to attract experienced people with experience in business or community leadership to come forward. 

I am sure that my proposed system is not a perfect system. It will also have its flaws and challenges. However, it should be better than most systems that are now practiced in many countries. 

Tan Kin Lian

Vote - do you agree that the democractic process in Singapore should be changed along the lines that I have proposed?


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