Featured News Straight Talk: The opposition's place in Parliament

Straight Talk: The opposition’s place in Parliament

Four interns ask two veteran journos a tricky or cheeky GE question.

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By Aretha Chinnaphongse, Jillian Colombo, Misaki Tan and AJ Jennevieve

Question: Why does the PAP think that NCMP seats in Parliament provide a sufficient presence of alternative voice?

PN Balji: It goes down to how PAP identifies politics. It wants politics that is not confrontational, is deferential to the authorities and less contentious.

The underlying point is that it believes it does not need a check and balance system from the outside to govern. It can check itself. The NCMP scheme is an offshoot of this philosophy. PAP primacy is maintained and people’s desire for a sprinkling of Opposition members in Parliament is kept.

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Tan Bah Bah: The NCMP, proudly suggested as a made-in-Singapore innovation which will provide some kind of safety valve for controlled dissonance, is a relic of an interesting era. That was when the PAP, operating under the 1G banyan tree, thought its dominance was such that no effective Opposition was ever going to emerge for a long time, if ever.  It even toyed, it was said, with the idea of making itself a national movement. If voters wanted an alternative voice without risking the toppling of the PAP, that was it. I think that we don’t need such an artificial prop any more. Just look at the talents and commitment of many of our GE2020 Opposition candidates. 

This is part of a GE series, Straight Talk, that will be published daily up till Cooling Off Day on Thursday (July 9). /TISG

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