Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Meeting your MP - A Guide

There's rampant discussion about the Horizon Towers debacle in the various forums, so we'll do something completely different.

For some, going to meet a Member of Parliament is a useless gesture. For others, meeting an MP is an alien idea. Some people, distraught enough with the enbloc of their homes, might be brave to venture into the unknown and make their MP earn his/her keep in a "Meet the People Session". Here's what happens at a Meet the People Session:-

  1. First things first - you need to locate your MP. Each constituency/GRC has a number of MPs with each MP usually assigned a specific location in the GRC (in this case). Go to the Community Development Council's (CDC) website here. On the bottom right you see a "District Detector". Enter your postal code and it'll pull up which CDC you're in as well as a link to the CDC's website. Click on that and go to the website which will have a Meet the People Session page. Locate your MP from there.
  2. You can find more information about your MP from the Singapore Parliament website (which contains their CVs). You can find Meet the People session times/days here too but NOT the location where the MP is attached to.
  3. Once you've found your MP, head to the session location and be prepared for a long wait. Most Sessions begin in the evening (7pm onwards). Like most Singaporean activities, get ready to queue.
  4. You will first be verified that you are indeed in the right constituency for the Session. In other words you cannot go to Potong Pasir if you are not IN Potong Pasir. They will turn you away if you're not verified. Once you've passed verification, you'll be given a Queue Number.
  5. Depending on how many people before you, you may have to wait for up to 1 hour before you're called up for "Registration".
  6. During registration, you'll need to present your IC card, and fill in your details on a computer for their record and for future visit purposes. Then you wait (approximately) an hour for a volunteer to draft out a petition for you.
  7. Bear in mind some of the people who wish to meet the MP for various reasons may not be native English speakers (or in some cases, know how to write). So the volunteer prepares a written petition that will be recorded and passed to the MP when you meet.
  8. Impress the volunteer - write your own petition! This is useful because the MP can bring back a copy of your own petition for follow up, rather than a quick summary written by a volunteer.
  9. When presenting your case to the MP, be polite and to the point. Air your grievances and the problems with the enbloc in your estate (doesn't matter what stage you're at). The idea is the more petitions/complaints/letters to the ministries about enbloc, the more likely they have to do something, especially in response to the MPs.
  10. The time from start to finish can be several hours (3 hrs or so) so be prepared. The result? You'll get a formal letter from your MP which will be addressed (depending on your issues raised) to the permanent secretaries of the Ministries of Law and National Development, requesting that they look into the matter on the MP's behalf.
The fact is there's been a few people (not a lot) who have approached their MPs so far. The MPs have to be accountable to their constituency members, irregardless of socioeconomic class status. Bring up issues on transparency, due process, conflict of interests, bad faith, cowboy antics, poor legislation covering enblocs, new amendments to enbloc laws etc.

The MPs are, as a senior member of government once said, "as good as it gets". Let's see if they're willing to pull their weight on the increasingly disturbing matter of enbloc sales.


Anonymous said...

Just to add on to what Dr Minority has mentioned.

After you have successfully located which constituency you are in, it is a good idea to call up your constituency office first to check a few things. It may help you to save some time.

1) To double check that the time of the Meet-the-People session is still on at the same time and day. Sometimes, they might have changed the time to an earlier one but still on the same day.

2) Ask them what time registration will start. For some consitituencies (especially those with matured estates), the registration time is actually different from the time of the Meet-the-People session. The registration can be very much earlier, sometimes up to an hour earlier, before the Meet-the-People Session starts.

3) For some, if you prefer to meet and talk to your MP face-to-face, you may want to call maybe an hour or two before you go down to the Meet-the-People session. Just to make sure that your MP will be going in.

Hope this is helpful information to those who would like to seek your MP's help with regard to the current unfair treatment of minority owners.

We all need to do our part about this enbloc frenzy. If you are unhappy about the enbloc situation at your estate, you don't want to sell, you don't want to leave your home, go see your MP, highlight to him/ her the situation. Make sure you know what you want from your MP, how you want him/ her to help you. They will ask you that. Don't let it become just a complaint session. Make use of the opportunity. A good idea too to list down what has happened (conflict of interests, irregular processes, no transparency, etc) cite examples if possible, it would make your case stronger and to suggest how the situation can be improved. This doucment would be useful too when the MP writes in the relevant statutory boards as he/ she could attach it with his/ her letter.

If more and more of us voice our unhappiness about the enbloc issue to our MPs, who will write in on our behalf to the relevant statutory boards, such as MinLaw, Ministry of National Development, these relevant statutory boards will have to sit up and take note.


Anonymous said...

good idea ! Horizon tower majority owners should go and find MP. Then MP go to parliament. Pls make sure medias have wide coverage everyday so that everyone can see what MP and government can do. Hey, very singaporean style. I like it. Anything cannot solve, find government.

Anonymous said...

"anything cannot solve, find government" - it shows a sweeping statement and a narrow-minded view. sometimes, meeting a MP doesnt mean that. meet the people sessions arent just about compliants, you know, it is also about sharing of views. Obviously, that is what you have done, to find the government when you cannot solve your problem.

Anonymous said...

Of course, find government lah. Find you (anonymous dated 9 Aug 00:02am), got use meh????!!!! If the meeting pple session is not useful, do you think the MPs will waste their time? I am sure many (all ses status) have benefitted from these sessions.

Minority said...

This is my take on it- Meeting the MP serves the primary purpose of alerting your MP to the issues on the ground. They may not be aware of it after all. In fact, most would not be aware of it until it's been fed back to them via MTP sessions, largely because they don't stay in the constituency.

The problems of enbloc can be resolved in 4 ways:
1. Do nothing.
2. Bitch and do nothing.
3. Emigrate.
4. Do something - be it write to the forum, contact your MP, write to the government, post your own thoughts and solutions on blogs, put up anti-enbloc blogs.

If you have a better suggestion, please do share. I for one am heartened when I see new anti-enbloc blogs and people trying to mobilise themselves to save their own homes.