At the top of The SDP Promise is the pledge that our Members of Parliament will contribute 50 percent of their allowance to improve the party’s service to the constituents.
We make this promise because we want to avoid the situation where MPs run for office to financially enrich themselves. We see public office as a service to the nation, not a means to getting rich.
We do not want a situation where we have MPs become multi-millionaires while neglecting their roles as a voice for the people. In other words, the priority of our MPs when they get into parliament is to speak up and not to safeguard their seats and allowances by remaining silent.
The Singapore Democrats take such a view seriously so much so that at the party conference in 2009, we amended our constitution and wrote into it a provision that mandated that our MPs contribute 50 percent of their Public Office Allowance to the party.
The funds will be used for research and policy studies purposes. A parliamentary opposition must propose workable alternatives and this requires research. The SDP intends to build a strong department in this area and this requires funding for a professional staff.
We will also use the money to train our staff and activists to provide better services to the residents. We expect a high level of professionalism in our interaction with our constituents. Training and development of our members and volunteers is therefore a priority for us.
As announced, we will also put aside money to seed and maintain an endowment fund for the needy. Among some of the projects that we envision are subsidised tuition programmes for children from poorer families, legal clinics for those who cannot afford professional lawyers, meals and medical care for the elderly poor and so on.
The party will draw up our own budget where the various departments and sections will present their requirements and expenditure estimates. Funds will be allocated after the party approves the budget.
This will be another first in Singapore where the opposition will professionalise and systematise its operations so that we continually upgrade the party and our service to the nation.