Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Parliament For All Youths Please


Last week, a group of youths gathered to debate a "Youth Engagement Bill" in Parliament. These youths were predominantly members of the ruling party or friends of such members.

The event was extensively covered by the media as a matter of national interest.

I commend your team for making such events possible. Such events are useful for the development of an active citizenry.

Nevertheless, some readers and viewers may have come away with the impression that only members of the ruling party are given such opportunities [myself included].

This comes as no surprise since this appears to be an extension of what Parliament provides on its website: "Be the Speaker, Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition for a day! Our programme will take students through a debate on a Bill in a specially created Moot Parliament Chamber. It is designed to allow students to have fun debating and learning about some parliamentary procedures. This programme is open to Junior College and Polytechnic students only."

I encourage Parliament, as a non-partisan organ of state, to likewise extend such opportunities to all youths, irrespective of their political connections or affiliations.

I will be making this letter and your reply (if any) available to members of the public, who I think would be interested to hear from your team on this matter.

Dharmendra Yadav


The Education Department of the Singapore Parliament organises programmes for the public, especially students, to make them aware of what Parliament is all about. Among the activities carried out are conducted tours of Parliament House, attendance at sittings of Parliament and participation in moot Parliaments.

In addition, Members of Parliament may host groups for educational purposes without involving the Education Department, as in the recent event you referred to. However, this is subject to the availability of the premises, the payment of rentals, and the approval of the Speaker of Parliament.

Abdullah Tarmugi
Speaker Of Parliament

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Unconvincing & Confusing Straits Times Price Hike

Early this year, The Straits Times increased its price. Among the four key justifications it gave was that it was not able to absorb rising costs.

Many readers accepted this argument. Some readers, like me, chose not to buy Straits Times on certain days. A few readers even boycotted the newspaper.

The thinking reader then was not convinced.

Shortly after the price hike, Singapore Press Holdings gave out $1.8 billion in special dividends to its shareholders.

10 months on and what happened?

One finds a facelift for The Straits Times. Oh yes, with glossy supplements too!

Was the price increase an attempt to tackle rising costs or merely an opportunity to raise more funds for The Straits Times to spend?

The Straits Times has also made it more difficult for users to access its website.

The reader - even though he or she may well be a subscriber - now needs to sign in to get the information he or she wants.

Such moves by The Straits Times – a national newspaper – do not fit with a Singapore that is committed to providing its citizens better access to information.

The thinking reader is now confused.

Dharmendra Yadav