Part-time parliamentarian Zaqy Mohamad complained to Channel NewsAsia, in an article published by the state media agency yesterday about how tough it is coping with the duties of a Member of Parliament.
Besides giving MPs a bad name in general, the part-time got publicly mocked for his whinging.
While serving as Chua Chu Kang GRC MP since 2006, Mr Zaqy was also a partner at accounting firm Ernst & Young.
He only left EY this month, after his appointment as Minister of State for National Development and Manpower.
Mr Zaqy said that serving as a part-time parliamentarian is “really like having two-full-time jobs”.
“I also honestly can’t remember the last time I had a social gathering… I’ve lost contact with a lot of my friends, unless they’re in the same industry.”
Channel NewsAsia reported that Parliament sat for an average of 28.45 days each year between 2006 to 2017.
On how he coped being a part-time MP, Mr Zaqy said:
“In my previous firm, I used to take leave for Parliament sittings, and it could go all the way to a negative balance,” he added. “It becomes no-pay leave after that.”
“Now, I still take annual leave when there are important meetings I have to miss, or if I have to go overseas on Parliament business. But otherwise, they just benchmark me on my targets.”
“There’s no dispensation on my targets and KPIs, so despite having fewer hours than usual to work, you still have to perform to your role,” he explained. “You just have to be efficient and ensure that your targets are met.”
Last year, Mr Zaqy even took on an additional role as grassroots advisor to Marsiling-Tew Tee GRC, after that GRC’s MP Halimah Yacob resigned to run for the presidency.
Rather than sympathise with Mr Zaqy, the public pounced on him for such laments, saying that he should have served as a full-time MP instead of straddling two jobs.
At least another MP interviewed, Nee Soon GRC’s Lee Bee Wah (aka “Hua Jie”), manage to restore some dignity to the service of MPs.
Mdm Lee, who says she spends about 50 hours per week on MP duties, said that she took a pay cut after merging her company so she could focus on her ward.
“I’m receiving about a third of what I should be getting, because I told them I could only afford to spend a third of my time for the company.”
“It’s a sacrifice I had to make.”
As for why she’s willing to make such a “sacrifice”, Hua Jie said:
“I benefitted from our system, and I feel that this a very good opportunity for me to give back and make a difference in people’s lives… Other people have helped me, so now it’s time that I help other people.”