Hri Kumar: WP takes no stands on tough issues

Hri Kumar: WP takes no stands on tough issues

People's Action Party MP Hri Kumar Nair has criticised the Workers' Party for sitting on the fence on tough issues, citing what the opposition party's MPs said at a Parliament sitting earlier last week on the banning of a website and a law that allows detention without trial.

He is the second PAP MP to do so in a week. The first was Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah who took the WP to task for straddling both sides of the fence on the hijab issue. Both did so in comments on Facebook.

On Saturday night, Mr Nair contrasted PAP MP Denise Phua's clear support for blocking the Ashley Madison website, which facilitates extramarital dating, with the question posed by WP MP Pritam Singh at last Monday's Parliament sitting, which he said did not make clear the WP's stand.

He said the blocking of the "obnoxious website" was controversial as it raised questions of free speech and the role of government in regulating morality.

On what he called Mr Singh's "obfuscation", Mr Nair said: "Why not make its position clear? Because the WP knows that either position it takes would put it at odds with one group of Singaporeans or another. So the safest thing to do is to sound like you are saying something without actually saying anything.

"Is this an exception? Actually, it is the rule. On almost every contentious issue, where taking a position risks loss of support, the WP has either sat on the fence or has heavily qualified its position, while giving the impression that it has seriously considered the matter."

Mr Nair also cited WP chairman Sylvia Lim's failure to take a position on the Bill to renew the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which gives the Government power to detain persons without trial.

It was only after Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran pressed her that she said she supported its renewal "with a heavy heart".

On the hijab debate, the WP did not take a position but called for a public dialogue, Mr Nair noted.

He said Singapore's political development would stagnate if political parties avoid difficult issues "because there can never be freedom of choice unless people know and understand what their choices really represent".

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