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Robust Parliament debate is real, not form of entertainment: NMP

"We must be clear that politics has significant real-world consequences. It is not reality TV," said Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan in Parliament.

SINGAPORE: Robust Parliament debate has significant real-world consequences, and is not a form of entertainment, said Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan in his Parliament speech today (May 28).

"Some Singaporeans may wish for more drama and excitement in this chamber. But we must be clear that politics has significant real-world consequences. It is not reality TV," he said.

Speaking on 'constructive politics', Associate Professor Tan said: "What it speaks to us is the sort of politics that Singaporeans should demand from their politicians and public servants. Every Singaporean has a stake and a say in the sort of politics in our political landscape."

As an NMP, he noted, he has seen - and taken part in - robust debates infused with "passion, conviction, and the occasional rhetoric", with members articulating a wide range of views on various hot-button issues.

"Despite this Parliament having the largest number of opposition MPs since the very first Parliament sat in December 1965, this House has the set the appropriate tone in its debates and proceedings," he pointed out, adding that mainstream media reports can do better in capturing "not just the dominant view but also the range of opposing and alternative views canvassed and the atmospherics" of parliamentary proceedings.

He also touched on education and meritocracy in his speech, urging the Government to consider whether its policies and programmes - in education and other areas - undermine Singapore's quest for a democratic society.

He said as a student in Raffles Institution in the 1980s, what left an indelible mark on him was how the vast majority of his peers came from humble backgrounds and how the system provided relatively abundant opportunities to all of then, with high academic standards to boot.

"It was a school in which our home backgrounds did not matter. Instead, what mattered were how we disciplined our minds and filled our hearts with passion and purpose."

But Assoc Prof Tan expressed concern for the RI of today, saying it is perhaps less representative than it was in his time. "It does not seem to attract as many students from neighbourhood schools and Malay students as it ought to", he noted, questioning whether the quest for excellent academic performance in Singapore's top school had dulled its sense of purpose.

Assoc Prof Tan also reminded the House that Singapore has to always be relevant to the world. "The moment we cease to be of relevance is the start of our decline and of our nation-building," he said.

"The President's Address is titled "Pledging Ourselves to a Better Singapore'. That is and has been our shared purpose. Crucially, how we get there and whether a better age awaits future generations of Singaporeans will pivot on whether we have a wholesome, life-giving set of shared values and a system of politics that does what is right and principled."

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