Being a better “Co-driver”

It’s the North-South Highway. How difficult can it get, right? 

When my younger brother and I were kids, my parents would attempt the impossible – taking two young brats on a “long” road trip to Malacca. Besides having to handle squabbling children who are constantly demanding food, TV, pee time and a hug or two, they had to deal with the unfamiliar roads and traffic. There was no such thing called a GPS back in those days and my mother would arm herself with not one but at least three maps and guide books, calling out instructions along the way as my father drove our blue Toyota.

I still remembered how we would begin the trip. Mom would begin confidently calling our directions as we drove from our home in Jurong West to Woodlands. Sometimes she would pick on the way Dad drives which can be quite reckless and my brother would laugh at the “honks” we got while I squealed with excitement when our car overtakes another. But as we entered Malaysia, things started to change. I could sense hesitation in Mom’s voice – there were more “errrs”, “wait ah” and “let me see”, which gradually became “sorry, missed the exit”, “oops, can we turn back dear?” etc. When Dad questioned her directions, she would insist she was right and we would end up driving in circles before reaching our destination.

Dad was patient the first time it happened. But when it happened for the umpteenth time, he became frustrated with how Mom refused to admit her mistakes. The final straw of this terrible track record came when we took a wrong turn that one time and ended up driving towards KL. Dad then vowed to never trust in clueless Mom in direction-giving ever again. And we, the children at the all-important backseats, proclaimed judgment that we would only give Mom one more chance not to mess up.

This was probably why the AHPETC issue sounded familiar to me. As supposed partners in running the nation, each party has to pull its own weight and provide sound, sensible suggestions on the direction to take for our nation. More so, WP has to be better, more vigilant and the more careful partner because they will need to point out the lacks of the current system and contribute to better policy-making. However, when the co-driver is clueless and careless, how can they fulfill their role to check and balance?

The question remains whether the nation actually suffers or benefits when the co-driver we elect to counter-check the ruling government is not even able to handle its municipal matters well. How can they be the nation’s alternative voice when they cannot handle its residents’ money? What exactly are they doing with the residents’ money? Even so, while the WP has indicated that the records had not shown that WP was corrupt in its monetary dealings, the records actually cannot show that they are not corrupt. Everything was messy and incomplete to begin with.

Perhaps this is the price we have to pay as a people who voted for an “inexperienced” co-driver to do the check and balancing. Many online said that the PAP should cut WP some slack because they had less experiencing in managing a Town Council. But inexperience shouldn’t be an excuse for carelessness. This should not be a complicated point. In addition, we did not see anything remotely similar to this gross carelessness, and might I say, irresponsibility, in Mr. Chiam See Tong’s 25 years as an Opposition ward MP.

We want responsibility, accountability, caring and careful people in Parliament. If they can’t drive (yet), the least they can do is not create chaos, or cause delay in us reaching our destination. Are we trying to vote an alternative voice, just for the sake of democracy?

For the sake of democracy, I voted the WP because I wanted an another voice in Parliament. Now I feel as though I did not get my moneys worth.

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