Singapore—No, the country does need opposition Members of Parliament and not just Non-Constituency MPs (NCMP). This was one of the main messages of the Workers’ Party (WP) in the first installment of The Hammer Show.
Refusing to mince words, Dennis Tan, the party’s organising secretary who had served as an NCMP from 2015 until this year, called the NCMP scheme “a poisoned chalice.”
In our first episode of the Hammer Show, join moderators Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh, panelists, Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, Chua Kheng Wee 蔡庆威 and Dennis Tan Lip Fong 陈立峰 as they share more about the role of the WP in Singapore politics and how you can make your vote count this election!Candidates Gerald Giam 严燕松, Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, Nicole Seah 佘雪玲 and Jamus Lim will also speak in this episode.Let us know in the comments below how you will #MakeYourVoteCount this election.Note: This show was pre-recorded.
Posted by The Workers' Party on Wednesday, July 1, 2020
For the upcoming GE, Mr Tan is contesting for the seat at Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC), which the WP has held since 1991. Mr Tan hopes to follow in the shoes of former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang (1991-2010) and Png Eng Huat (2012-2020). Both men are retiring this year.
The former NCMP spoke about the dangers of the scheme, since it prevents opposition leaders from having any real “roots in the community.” He quoted Mr Low as having called NCMPs as “duckweed that floats on water and have no roots.”
And while Mr Tan acknowledged that it is a privilege to serve as an NCMP, and that he spoke in Parliament as much as he can, he added, “But let’s not forget the ultimate aim of the PAP to promote the NCMPs is to ensure that no other party can lay roots into each constituency. The opposition, including NCMP’s, have little access to premises in PAP constituencies which are usually used by PAP MPs to run their events.”
This, he said, is “in contrast to PAP grassroots advisers in Hougang or Aljunied, after they lose an election, they usually keep the position and continue to have access“ to resources ”funded by taxpayers monies, not PAP funds.“
He added, “Now this is exactly the poisoned chalice of PAP-style democracy—the NCMP system.
As a former NCMP, I appeal to all voters not to be deceived by the PAP’s intention for NCMPs when you go to the ballot box. Please vote for sufficient opposition constituency MPs.”
Sylvia Lim, who had also served as an NCMP before they were given voting rights, said that it is time to consider what the purpose of Parliament is.
“If you want parliament to be an effective check on the government then there must be some political pressure and an element of political competition.
I think that the PAP does not want any opposition party to have a physical place from which to operate and possibly expand. I mean we’ve all experienced that once you to have a physical place, it will be a place from which you can actually build credibility and support with the regularity of activities that you can hold there. Voters and residents can come and see you, and you can provide direct help to them, and volunteers can come and serve in a meaningful way. Many of you here came through that route.”
On Monday (June 29), ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Indranee Rajah made the news for saying that there is no need for members of the opposition because according to the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme, at least 12 opposition will have seats in Parliament.
Ms Indranee, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told members of the media “Even if the PAP took all the elected seats, which we do not take for granted and cannot be given, you will still have 12 (NCMPs).” —/TISG