I am surprised that only one other blog took note of the eye-opening boo-boo made by the current Speaker. Yesterday, I expressed surprise that the Speaker could show favour for Dr Koh Poh Koon (who was not even elected yet), over other candidates - Hey, Halimah, shouldn't you be impartial?
No doubt that she said those words outside Parliament. But to have her view made public and towards a person who is not even elected yet, isn't that against the spirit of the neutrality that is expected as a Speaker?
Here's the only other website that has taken the cue. The Speaker for Parliament should be impartial
The question of where the government begins and where the PAP ends is not an easy one to answer in a political landscape like that of Singapore’s whereby the country’s elected government is dominated by a single party. This quandary presented itself again when Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, Madam Halimah Yacob publicly declared support for PAP candidate for Punggol East, Dr Koh Poh Koon.
Granted, the rule on impartiality refers to Madam Halimah’s duties in the House, but she should know that, as a public figure, her official capacity cannot be easily distinguished from her personal self. In any case, the above media report has clearly indicated her position as “Speaker of Parliament”, with no clarification from Madam Halimah that she is speaking in any capacity other than her professional one.
A rookie’s error perhaps. After all, Madam Halimah has been Speaker of Parliament for barely over a week. Given that the PAP has formed the government of Singapore since independence, it is difficult to see the difference between the PAP and the government. But times are changing and such faux pas are becoming less acceptable to a more informed electorate. The PAP is currently the dominant party that forms the government, but it is not, and should not be, equated with the government. In short, the PAP is a political party. It is not the government.
TOC is quite forgiving and willing to accept that the Speaker made a rookie's error, perhaps. But it must be remembered that she is actually legally trained and is well versed with many statutes and laws. Isn't that the reason she was appointed as the Speaker in the very first place?
My view -
I wouldn't attribute her lack of good judgement to a rookie's error. I believe it was more of political pressure - perhaps from her boss. After all, among all PAP MPs, she was projected to be the most people-friendly and most "on the ground" person.
With PAP sensing that Lee Li Lian is going to be a formidable opponent, what better way to swing the hearts of the voters by getting the "most people-friendly" PAP MP, Halimah Yacob, to say a few good words about Dr Koh?
Problem with the above is that she has now shown that she is bias prone towards Dr Koh, if he does get into Parliament. Now why should the voters of Punggol East give Dr Koh that advantage?
What exactly is the reason for Halimah to show favour for a guy who is yet to be elected, is debatable. TOC says it is a rookie's error. My belief is that she was pressured by her boss. Whatever the reason, it may well backfire. The people of Punggol East may well decide that Dr Koh is truly to be given no favour by the one person who publicly showed she favours him - by making sure he doesn't get into Parliament in the first place.
Perhaps to prevent such favouritism in future, the next Speaker should be a from a non-political party.