Singapore—At the Mandarin debate Zaobao Live: Face the Voters on July 2, one hot topic that was discussed was the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme. While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) leaders said that voting the opposition into Parliament is not needed because the NCMP scheme guarantees at least 21 opposition seats, different parties have said that the scheme is inherently unfair to them, as it still leaves too much power in the hands of the ruling party.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, PAP’s representative in the debate, said that if the Workers’ Party (WP), which has been speaking out against the unfairness of the NCMP scheme for the past few days, feels that the scheme is not beneficial to them, then they should let other parties occupy that seat.
This has drawn backlash amongst netizens, who have characterized Mr Chan’s attitude as “arrogant,” adding fuel to the perception that the ruling party is “elitist.”
Mr Chan was challenged on the matter by Kenneth Foo, who is part of WP’s slate contesting at East Coast GRC, as well as Hazel Poa, the Assistant Treasurer of Progress Singapore Party (PSP). Ms Poa is part of PSP’s team facing PAP at West Coast GRC.
While the WP and PSP candidates maintained the unfairness of the NCMP scheme, Mr Chan said that it is a guarantee of opposition seats in Parliament “no matter the circumstance.” He added that it is useful for getting “better debates” and said that the Government has no fear of hearing from the opposition since gold is not afraid of fire”.
According to Mr Foo, the WP has, in principle, “always disagreed with this NCMP scheme” although they have been “forced by circumstance to accept it.”
Ms Poa said, “I have some suspicions about the aim of this scheme. I feel it could be something that is not beneficial to the opposition parties. The ruling party can say that voters need not vote for the opposition to have their voices heard in Parliament.”
Addressing Mr Foo, Mr Chan said, “Actually I find it very weird. If you feel it is not beneficial to the Workers’ Party, you do not need to accept the NCMP seat. You can let other parties have the seat.”
Many netizens called out the Minister for how he responded to the candidates from WP and PSP.
One wrote, “Very rude and condescending tone. Sad coming from a potential PM candidate.”
Another opined, “This is the very attitude of an elitist . Not happy you leave Loh . Not happy you do not take NCMP Loh. Not inclusive at all . No wonder those not elitist will have to work till you die but earning peanuts. Sigh.”
One commenter noted, “Typical arrogance… and not willing to listen.”
Yet another netizen wrote, “Isn’t it the same tone as ‘if you don’t like the living conditions in Singapore then leave’?”
One wrote, “Still so complacent…really xia suai…”, a phrase that Mr Chan had used to characterise some Singaporeans at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for which he received much backlash.