WP’s Dennis Tan, Leon Perera to be Non-Constituency MPs; Lee Li Lian declines role
SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party’s (WP) Dennis Tan and Leon Perera will be Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) in the 13th Parliament of Singapore, while Ms Lee Li Lian, who was declared an elected NCMP has turned down the role.
SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party’s (WP) Dennis Tan and Leon Perera will be Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) in the 13th Parliament of Singapore, while Ms Lee Li Lian, who was declared an elected NCMP, has turned down the role.
If Parliament resolves to fill the vacated NCMP seat, WP’s Daniel Goh will be the party’s choice to take Ms Lee’s place, said the WP in a statement today (Sept 16).
Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, the number of NCMPs to be declared elected shall be nine less the number of Opposition MPs elected. As six WP MPs were elected to Parliament in this year’s General Election, three NCMPs who had received the highest votes from among the unelected Opposition candidates may be elected.
The Elections Department today announced that the three elected NCMPs were Ms Lee, Mr Tan and Mr Perera.
Mr Perera was chosen from the group of candidates in WP’s East Coast GRC team, which received the third-highest percentage of the votes (39.27 per cent) from among the unelected Opposition candidates. The Returning Officer had written to the group yesterday to ask them to decide who would be declared elected as an NCMP. The other team members were Mr Gerald Giam, Dr Daniel Goh and Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff.
Speaking to the media today, WP chief Low Thia Khiang noted that Mr Perera was chosen as he, along with Dr Goh, represented the future core of the party.
Ms Lee, who contested in Punggol East SMC, had received the highest percentage of votes — 48.24 per cent — from among the unelected Opposition candidates.
Mr Tan received the second-highest percentages of votes with 42.28 per cent of the vote in Fengshan SMC.
Mr Giam, who was a WP NCMP after the 2011 General Election, said he had asked the party’s central executive council to consider nominating Mr Perera, and had suggested that Dr Goh fill the vacated seat left by Ms Lee, if Parliament opens up the seat.
“I am happy that the CEC unanimously agreed to this proposal. The East Coast team had earlier discussed this matter amongst ourselves and we agreed that Leon and Daniel would be the most suitable candidates as NCMPs.
“They have both taken leading roles in policy work within our party, and I am confident they will be able to make very positive contributions to Parliamentary debates and speak up for not just residents of East Coast GRC, but all Singaporeans,” said Mr Giam in a statement on his blog.
Mr Giam added: “I am grateful to have had the privilege and opportunity to serve as an NCMP in the 12th Parliament of Singapore. It was a very fulfilling four years. I learned so much from the debates, the policy research that we did, and from my fellow MPs, volunteers, residents and the subject matter experts I consulted.”
“While I will no longer be an NCMP, I intend to continue serving residents on the ground in East Coast GRC and through my Party in the areas of policy research and media,” he said.
In a Facebook post today, Ms Lee elaborated more on the reasons why she chose not to take up the NCMP seat. Among the reasons she cited included respecting the voters in Punggol East, being "fair" to her employer, as well as the number of good candidates in the WP.
The "majority of the voters in Punggol East decided to not give me the mandate after 2.5 years, and we must respect this. The NCMP role is better suited for an aspiring MP who has no such experience and should take this up to show how he/ she can contribute in Parliament," she said.
"If I were to take on the NCMP role, the commitment in Parliament is quite similar to a full fledged MP," she added. "However, unlike for an MP, it is not possible to be a full time NCMP. It will not be fair to my future employer to take leave from work every month. During budget debates, for example, you need to be away from work for at least 2 weeks.
"In addition, I would like to spend some time now with my family, who has supported me throughout this journey but have also missed my presence in their lives. I had my first child while being an MP, and while I do not have any regrets, I did miss out on key moments in her life as I walked the ground in Punggol East.
"Although I did not take up the seat, I will continue to contribute to society and to Singapore. I will continue to keep in touch with PE residents. I have made many friends there, including those that wept for me. I will also continue to support and make my contributions to the Workers' Party."
UPDATE: PARLIAMENT NOT OBLIGED TO FILL VACANT NCMP SEAT, SAYS ELD
In a statement to the media at 9.04pm today, the Elections Department (ELD) said that Parliament is not obliged to fill a vacant seat.
"In response to media queries, the Attorney General is of the view that if any NCMP declared to be elected under Section 52 of the Parliamentary Elections Act fails to take and subscribe before Parliament the Oath of Allegiance under Article 61 of the Constitution at the first or second sitting of Parliament during its first session after the General Election, then Parliament may at its discretion declare that seat vacant. Parliament is not thereafter obliged to declare that seat be filled by the next succeeding candidate.