Updated: 05/16/2014 01:39

GPCs should be made more public to add value to debates

GPCs should be made more public to add value to debates

Political analysts say the work of Government Parliamentary Committees or GPCs should be made more public to add value to the debate on current issues. 

They were commenting on the contributions of the GPCs after the last General Elections in 2011. 

The GPCs were set up by the ruling People's Action Party in 1987 to examine policies and provide the ministries with feedback and suggestions. 

Senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, Dr Gillian Koh has this suggestion. 

"What is useful is that they would demonstrate that they are engaging the ground, that they demonstrate that they are cognizant of the concerns on the ground, they are creative in coming up with policy tweaks or even big policy overhaul to respond to those concerns, and I suppose they wouldn't want to be blindsided by the opposition, and what they can come up with so there is a greater role today for the GPCs of the PAP." 

Deputy speaker of parliament Seah Kian Peng agrees. 

"It may be good for GPCs to adopt a higher profile, and to share with the public what we are doing, what we are looking at, and even communicate, and let people know we have this view, and we are taking this up with the government."

One notable contribution made by the GPC for Health last year was the report on how to improve healthcare affordability for Singaporeans. 

Dr Lam Pin Min headed the GPC for eight years. 

"As GPC chair we try to be as objective as possible, and we welcome different opinions from members, because in order for us to formulate policies, and push for changes we need to get a good understanding of the issue at hand. So, it's best we can engage as widely as possible not just within the GPC but outside the GPCs as well and once we have all the information as a GPC we need to sit down and discuss and agree on a stand on certain issue." 

Dr Lam is stepping up to a bigger role in August - as Minister of State for Health. 

And he says his experience in the GPC will help him add value to the Health Ministry. 

-By Saifubahri Ismail

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