On 15 Oct 2014, the StopTraffickingSG coalition emailed Members of Parliament (MPs) to request for a meeting with regards to the Prevention of Human Trafficking bill. To our surprise, the taskforce replied. A copy was also released to the press. Pl see http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/only-a-minority-of-labour/1437834.html
StopTraffickingSG expresses our views on this unusual development and our concerns for the democratic process below.
The Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill is slated for debate in Parliament in November. As NGOs that organised the StopTraffickingSG Campaign, we sent our note to MPs to disseminate relevant information for Parliamentary debate on the Bill. In our note, we had also requested to meet Members of Parliament.
Instead our request was met by a response from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons. We do not think this was appropriate because by responding to our note that had been addressed to MPs, the Taskforce seems to be pre-empting the Parliamentary debate before it has even started. Moreover, civil society groups, as well as private citizens, ought to have channels to engage directly with members of parliament on any bill, given the supreme legislative authority of Parliament in a democratic system and the accountability of parliamentarians to their electorate. We do not think it is appropriate for the civil service to respond on behalf of members of parliament as it detracts from this part of the democratic process.
The response, furthermore, is inappropriately timed as the matter is now in parliament and that process ought to take over first. Be that as it may, we appreciate the concerns raised by the Task Force in its letter and StopTraffickingSG looks forward to continuing to engage with the Inter-Agency Task Force to tackle trafficking in persons in Singapore. #stoptraffickingsg