Many MPs have to play waiting game

Many MPs have to play waiting game
HAMSTRUNG: Mr Baey Yam Keng, MP for Tampines GRC, said that MPs do not have the resources to implement changes immediately.

SINGAPORE - Many backbenchers are forced to play the waiting game, said Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng.

The MP was responding to Marine Parade GRC MP Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, who lamented about how she has been kept waiting for the various authorities to act on her requests.

"As elected members," said Mr Baey, "We can only represent the voices and make suggestions.

"But we don't have the resources. We are not able to implement things if the authorities do not deem it a priority."

Mr Baey speaks from experience.

Following the accident in which Nigel Yap, 13, and his brother Donavan, seven, were fatally hit by a cement-mixer truck in January last year at the junction of Tampines Street 45 and Tampines Avenue 9, he pushed for trucks to avoid school zones.

When the tragedy first happened, his first thought was to "start small" and concentrate efforts on his ward.

"I was being pragmatic. I thought (the accident) was an isolated case.

"They won't change the rules because of one incident as they would still need to look at the big picture," Mr Baey explained.

His cause gained traction only after a spate of accidents involving heavy vehicles after the one at Tampines.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, another MP for Marine Parade GRC, agreed.

Mr Seah, who has been speaking up for single parents, said: "Everyone, from their perspective, will feel that the difficulties they face require more urgent attention.

"They are all important but which is more pressing?"

He illustrated his point with paternity leave, something he had been pushing for every year in Parliament since 2007.

He finally succeeded last year, when paternity leave was made mandatory.

The self-proclaimed optimist said the bottom line is to never give up.

"It's natural. I'll be happier if our causes are heard earlier.

"But I don't lose heart. My focus is to reach the end point. If it takes me six or seven years, so be it," Mr Seah said.

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