Singapore

Workers' Party stance on NCMP scheme remains unchanged: Pritam Singh

This article is more than 12 months old

The Workers' Party has made clear its stance on the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme, party chief Pritam Singh said yesterday.

Responding to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat's call for the opposition party to make clear whether it would accept NCMP seats, Mr Singh said: "I'm quite surprised that Mr Heng of all people will make that comment."

He then asked Mr Heng to look at the Hansard, the official reports of parliamentary debates.

"There's a long history of the position that the Workers' Party has taken on the NCMP scheme. It's on record, it's in the public domain, and Mr Heng just needs to look at that," he told reporters last night in an interview in Sengkang.

Asked to comment on Mr Heng's point that the WP opposed the scheme but still took up NCMP seats, Mr Singh replied: "The stand has been made... And that stand hasn't changed. And he should just review that record."

The NCMP scheme has been one of the core issues of this election, with the People's Action Party (PAP) touting it as a guarantee of opposition members in Parliament, and opposition parties criticising it as a ploy to dissuade Singaporeans from voting for them.

Last week, Mr Singh had asked voters to reflect on why the PAP was so "magnanimous" in offering NCMP seats.

Other WP candidates have spoken out against the scheme during the hustings, including during the constituency political broadcast for Aljunied GRC last Thursday.

IGNORED

Mr Leon Perera, a WP candidate for Aljunied GRC in the upcoming election and an NCMP in the previous term of Parliament, said the voices of NCMPs can be ignored in Parliament, but those of fully elected opposition MPs are more likely to be heard.

He added in a Facebook post yesterday that the PAP risks losing votes if the Government fails to address concerns raised by fully elected opposition MPs on behalf of their constituents.

But this is not the case if the issue is raised by an NCMP who has no constituents.

"The PAP does not need the current levels of representation - over 90 per cent of full seats - to govern, but they need over 66 per cent of seats to change the Constitution without a referendum, as they did in 2016," he added.

"The Constitution defines the rules of the political game. Should one party have the right to unilaterally change it?"

In response to the argument that this General Election is or should be about steering Singapore out of the Covid-19 crisis, he said the WP manifesto has an entire chapter devoted to tackling the virus and responding to a post-Covid-19 world.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing had said on Saturday that opposition party manifestos and discussions had not focused on getting through the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Perera noted: "WP MPs have actively debated the nation's response to Covid-19 in Parliament.

"We also held three webinars in April to June 2020 with experts and thought leaders about Singapore's Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 plans."

NCMPs to date

The Non-Constituency MP scheme was introduced in 1984. It allocates seats in Parliament to losing opposition candidates with the highest vote share.

There have been 10 NCMPs to date, eight of them from the Workers' Party.

WORKERS' PARTY NCMPS:

  • Dr Lee Siew Choh (1988-1991)
  • Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam (1997-2001)
  • Ms Sylvia Lim (2006-2011)
  • Mr Yee Jenn Jong (2011-2015)
  • Mr Gerald Giam (2011-2015)
  • Mr Dennis Tan (2015-2020)
  • Mr Leon Perera (2015-2020)
  • Associate Professor Daniel Goh (2015-2020)

NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY:

  • Mr Steve Chia (2001-2006)

SINGAPORE PEOPLE'S PARTY:

  • Mrs Lina Chiam (2011-2015)
GENERAL ELECTION 2020