GE2020: 2 NCMP seats to be offered to PSP's West Coast GRC team
SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will be offered two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) seats as the “best losers” of the July 10 General Election.
- The PSP’s West Coast GRC team will have seven days to decide who will take up the NCMP seats
- If they decline, or accept just one seat, the remaining one will go to WP’s East Coast GRC team
- Party leader Tan Cheng Bock reiterated on Sat that he would not take up a NCMP seat
SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will be offered two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) seats as the “best losers” of the July 10 General Election (GE).
The PSP team in West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) led by party chief Tan Cheng Bock narrowly lost to the People’s Action Party (PAP), garnering 48.31 per cent of the share — the highest among all the losing opposition teams.
The NCMP scheme, which was first introduced in 1984, allows losing opposition candidates with the highest percentage of votes during a GE to be offered seats in Parliament — if the number of elected opposition candidates falls short of a stipulated number.
Right now, the scheme guarantees at least 12 opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House, an increase from nine in 2016, when constitutional amendments were made to give NCMPs equal voting rights as full MPs.
With 10 opposition members from the Workers’ Party (WP) being elected into Parliament this time, it leaves just two slots for the NCMP post.
Besides Dr Tan, 80, the team also comprises Mr Leong Mun Wai, 60, Ms Hazel Poa, 50, Mr Nadarajah Loganathan, 57, and Mr Jeffrey Khoo, 51.
Assistant Professor Benjamin Joshua Ong, who specialises in constitutional law at the Singapore Management University, said that the party will have seven days to inform the Returning Officer who among their five will be chosen for the NCMP post. The Returning Officer is appointed under the Parliamentary Elections Act to oversee the impartial conduct of elections.
In a parliamentary speech in 2010 when discussing a bill to increase the number of NCMPs from six to nine, Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that there is a cap of two NCMPs coming from any one GRC.
“This will spread out the NCMPs more evenly and make them more representative of voters who had voted for the opposition nationwide in the General Election. In addition, the cap on NCMPs coming from a GRC will clearly distinguish between the winning and losing teams in a GRC,” he said.
If there are more than two NCMP positions available, subsequent candidates will be drawn from the team with the next highest percentage of votes, and so on.
Dr Tan had said at the start of the election campaign this year that he would not take up the NCMP seat if the opportunity arises, referring to it as a “ploy” to entice people to vote for PAP.
Addressing reporters after the results were announced early on Saturday (July 11) morning, Dr Tan reiterated that he will not reconsider taking it up.
“I will not take up the NCMP (post). I’ve been in Parliament for so many years, there’s no reason why I should,” he said, referring to his 26-year stint as a PAP MP.
“But of course, I leave the choice to the party, to my executive committee.” he added.
“I am quite open. If we agree, we will send in two people into Parliament to let them have an understanding of what parliamentary processes are like, how we debate in the House and so on.”
Mr Leong had also told reporters before that he would not want to take up the NCMP position, though he added that he would defer to Dr Tan’s judgement on the matter.
If PSP declines both NCMP seats or takes up only one seat, then these will be offered to WP’s East Coast GRC team, which had the second highest losing vote share of 46.59 per cent.
WP’s team there comprises Ms Nicole Seah, 33, Mr Dylan Ng, 44, Mr Kenneth Foo, 43, Mr Terence Tan, 49, and new candidate Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54.
The NCMP scheme was one topic that came up during the hustings.
PAP argued that there was no need to vote in any opposition members because the scheme not only guarantees that opposition voices are represented in Parliament, it also gives them identical voting rights as MPs.
However, WP countered this by describing the scheme as a “poison chalice” that prevents the NCMPs from representing any constituents, with the eventual aim of preventing them from sinking their roots into any constituency.
Since the introduction of the scheme in 1984 during Lee Kuan Yew’s tenure as prime minister, WP had opposed it on the basis that NCMPs were not the equals of elected MPs, and were created to the political advantage of PAP. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WONG PEI TING