Timely reminder on danger of divisive politics

SINAGPORE - An amenable political climate is conducive to fruitful discussions on national issues (" 'Debate welcome but beware divisive politics' "; last Saturday).

We must heed President Tony Tan Keng Yam's exhortation that constructive politics should be maintained if we desire to move ahead as one united people.

His advice is timely as it reminds us of the social problems in some countries where politicians indulge in character assassination and make uncalled-for and insensitive remarks to gain political mileage and acceptance by the people.

We occasionally read about overseas lawmakers who are involved in brawls in Parliament during heated arguments; then there are others who frequently stage street protests that disrupt people's lives and businesses.

Such negative acts can only bring about uncertainties and fears that, if left unchecked, may result in dire consequences in the long run.

We should pride ourselves on having responsible political leaders who conduct themselves with decorum during debates and treat Parliament as an august institution.

A responsible opposition should support sound government policies as well as oppose bad ones. Also, it must be able to offer alternatives if it criticises policies that it deems unacceptable.

What is paramount is that political leaders must be prepared to rise above party and self-interest for the well-being of our country.

This article was published on May 20 in The Straits Times.

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