NCMP scheme a distraction, but contributes to debate: WP

NCMP scheme a distraction, but contributes to debate: WP
Mr Low Thia Khiang speaking in Parliament on 29 Jan, 2016. Photo: Channel NewsAsia
Published: 4:15 AM, January 30, 2016
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SINGAPORE — Rejecting the charge that its move to seek a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) appointment for Dr Daniel Goh was a political manoeuvre, Workers’ Party (WP) leaders yesterday mounted a defence of why they oppose the NCMP scheme in principle but have participated in it.

Against criticism that Ms Lee Li Lian, the “best loser” in the last General Election, should have felt a sense of obligation to her supporters and taken up the NCMP seat, WP chairman Sylvia Lim noted Ms Lee was the Punggol East incumbent who lost to the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Charles Chong.

It was Ms Lee’s way of respecting the voters’ decision not to re-elect her; it was not because the party had wanted to swap NCMP candidates, said Ms Lim.

The NCMP scheme, in place since 1984, sends the message to voters that they need only elect PAP MPs and should relegate Opposition parties to NCMP seats, said WP leaders who spoke in the motion to declare Ms Lee’s seat vacant and to appoint Dr Goh as NCMP in her place.

Dr Goh was part of the WP team which contested unsuccessfully in East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

The scheme is a “distraction from the fundamental meaning of Parliament”, which is to represent the people after securing a mandate from them, said WP chief Low Thia Khiang.

“Opposition politicians may delude themselves that they are checking the Government, when they are in fact merely participating in a discussion forum with no real power to effect change.”

He added: “The NCMP scheme can be a drug to Opposition parties whose candidates may stand for election, maybe just to be NCMPs instead of elected MPs. This may cause Parliament to become a coliseum in the long run, for the nation to vent their emotions in a show, but with no real consequence.”

The scheme may inadvertently attract candidates with different motives, such as those seeking fame and glory, to participate in the elections.

“What is more worrying is should the ruling party fail one day, what we have left to form an alternative government may be such politicians who have gained exposure and fame through the NCMP route,” Mr Low added.

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