House votes to fill vacated NCMP seat
All four WP MPs who spoke pointed out that Parliament had moved to fill a vacancy left by WP candidate M P D Nair back in 1984. The seat, which was offered to Mr Tan Chee Kien of the Singapore United Front, was ultimately left vacant after Mr Tan also turned it down.
While the party remains opposed to the NCMP scheme in principle, said Mr Low, it recognises that having one more seat in Parliament can contribute to the debate and “possibly better policy outcomes”. “There is no contradiction, make no mistake about it. That is the spirit of the WP in wanting to work the system by respecting the law,” he said.
Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said he was surprised by the PAP’s “tactically shrewd” move to let the WP fill the NCMP seat. “What they have done ... is they facilitated WP having its complement of three NCMP seats, but they also took the opportunity to show up the WP for their inconsistent stance on and instrumental use of the NCMP scheme,” he said, adding that the WP would be shooting themselves in the foot if they voted against the amended motion.
National University of Singapore political scientist Bilveer Singh noted that historically, the WP has in principle objected to the scheme and yet, it has produced the most number of NCMPs. The amendment sought by the PAP was “to signal to the public that the WP is not upfront on the issue”. However, Associate Professor Singh doubted that the matter will be a major dent on the WP. “Eventually what matters is what the three NCMPs of the WP do in Parliament ... as the WP’s pouring of cold water on the scheme is a more-than-30-years-old story,” he said.