Thursday, 12 May 2011

Temptations of NCMP: Theory, Reality & Self Interest

Before GE2011, almost all opposition candidates spoke ills of the NCMP scheme

1. "In his parliamentary debate, J.B. Jeyaretnam of the Workers Party (WP) said that he felt NCMPs were in fact 2nd class MPs as they had limited voting powers and could not vote on key issues such as budgetary and supply bills, constitutional amendments or cast a “no confidence” vote against the government. The legitimacy of the NCMP office would also be in question: who does the partisan NCMP represent? Prof Thio Li-Ann felt that the “presence of the NCMPs does not seem to go beyond the decorative, nothing more than sparring partners for the untested younger PAP generation.”
Another argument from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chiam See Tong was that the scheme could potentially undermine the rationale of having a mandatory opposing voice on the Parliament. Having the NCMP scheme would reassure the public that despite not voting in any opposition member into Parliament, there would still be an opposing voice. This could discourage voters from voting for the opposition as they know that the NCMP scheme would still ensure that there are watchdogs in Parliament that would keep the ruling party in check. Another argument articulated was that the scheme seemed to be implemented purely for the sake of the presence of an opposition in Parliament. It was implemented to show that the PAP, while being the ruling party in Singapore, is not inimical to criticism and the Opposition at large. The opposition also claimed to be a ploy to discourage the electorate from voting into parliament a ‘genuine’ opposition with both the power-base and responsibilities that come with representing a constituency."
16 Jul 2010:

2. "...Speaking to reporters at his Meet-the-People session in Hougang, Mr Low said that an NCMP role does not give “muscle and real grassroots grounding” to mount a serious challenge to the People’s Action Party (PAP).
Said Mr Low: “It’s just rootless … You don’t represent anyone, you don’t have a constituency to run.”
Whereas, with a constituency, an Opposition party can enlarge its influence and grow, he added.
Mr Low also described the NCMP system as “a reflection of the guilty conscience of the PAP”.
“The GRC system has allowed the PAP to gerrymander in a big way in the redrawing of boundaries process … perhaps the PAP feels that it is too much for Opposition to continue to survive,” said Mr Low, “And they have to reduce it and provide some token of mechanism which will allow the Opposition to survive and to continue to show that we are a democracy.”
29 Mar 2011:

3. "WP's Sylvia Lim comments on NCMP system
"Nobody fights elections to be an NCMP," she said."
13 Apr 2011:

After GE2011, this is what the opposition candidates/parties position:

4. "SINGAPORE: The Singapore People's Party's central executive committee has given approval to Mrs Lina Chiam to take up the Non-Constituency MP seat in Parliament.
The SPP said it hopes to bring the voice and concerns of all Singaporeans to Parliament through Mrs Chiam, in addition to that of voters in Potong Pasir, Hong Kah North and Bishan-Toa Payoh.
Mrs Chiam said she is accepting the offer to comply with the wishes of the residents of Potong Pasir and also due to the narrow margin win by the PAP.
She said she promises to represent and speak up for the common Singaporean, and hold the PAP government publicly accountable to the people.
And she will be actively collaborating with SPP's Policy Working Group, to continue "the fight for democracy, justice and equality for all Singaporeans."
The party said it believes that this NCMP post is critical for it to ensure one other additional alternative party voice in Parliament, to stay engaged with national issues through Parliamentary debates, and to remain publicly visible in the eyes of all Singaporeans for the next five years."
12 May 2011:

5. "Workers' Party names Yee Jenn Jong, Gerald Giam for NCMP seats
Mr Yee said: "Many residents have asked me to continue to champion certain national issues for them in the parliament. So I hope to be able to use the NCMP position to raise some of these issues. My area of expertise will be in entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprise and education.
Party Chairman Sylvia Lim said after much deliberation, the Central Executive Committee has decided to accept the two NCMP seats available to it."
13 May 2011:

6. "Not given NCMP seat, so Eric Tan quits Workers' Party
"I wanted the NCMP post so that I would be able to be the voice of the people." said Mr Tan"
13 May 2011:,-so-Eric-Tan-quits-Workers-Party

7. A rare glimpse to the insides of a NCMP nomination (courtesy of WikiLeaksSG)

1 comment:

  1. For those who have watched Lina's performance (or lack of) during the CNA political broadcast*, that's a great precursor to her performance in the parliament.

    Her lackluster or short-lived performance in the parliament is conceivably expected, which would bring about an increased disappointment to her PP voters, thus swinging more votes to Sitoh come GE2016.

    *My review on Lina's lackluster performance during the "CNA: A Political Forum on Singapore's Future", see