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Ex-NMP Anthea Ong among those disappointed there is no Arts NMP

The community put up three candidates but not one was picked by the select committee

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Singapore — Members of the local arts community have expressed disappointment that the list of nine Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) for the 2021-2023 term does not include a representative of the art sector and local artists.

Since 2009, arts workers, practitioners and advocates have been holding open elections every two-and-a-half years to select an individual to serve as Arts NMP.

Last November, the community gathered once again for this purpose. It coordinated a town hall meeting and online campaign, in which 1,686 people expressed support for industry veteran Audrey Lim, playwright and poet Nabilah Said and producer, artist and painter Terence Tan.

All three submitted their applications to the special committee that convened to decide on NMP nominations. The committee, chaired by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, received 61 proposal forms for the 2021-2023 term.

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On Thursday (Jan 14), the Office of the Clerk of Parliament announced the names of the nine NMPs selected by the special committee. The new NMPs, who will all be serving their first term in Parliament, will be appointed by President Halimah Yacob for a 2.5-year term that begins on Jan 21.

The new NMPs are: SP Group principal technical officer Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, SISTIC chairman Janet Ang, Global Esports Federation secretariat director Mark Chay, Guocoland group managing director Cheng Hsing Yao, Singapore Management University school of economics dean Professor Hoon Hian Teck, National University of Singapore conservation scientist Professor Koh Lian Pin, lawyer Joshua Thomas Raj, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital orthodontic registrar Dr Shahira Abdullah and Thomson Breast Centre surgeon Dr Tan Yia Swam.

Meanwhile, there has been disappointment in the arts community that not one of the three Arts NMP candidates was selected and that none of the new NMPs represent the arts sector and local artists.

The Arts SG NMP Secretariat said in a statement: “The Secretariat is disappointed to learn that none of the Arts NMP candidates who had participated in the town hall process and completed their submissions to the Special Select Committee were shortlisted nor selected.”

Despite the committee’s decision, the group expressed hope that the new NMPs will “continue to give space for arts and cultural issues and perspectives to be aired and heard in the chamber”.

Mr Terence Tan, one of the artists who had sought to be an Arts NMP, said in his personal Facebook page: “Unfortunately it was decided there’d be no NMPs representing artists and the arts this time round. Thanks so much to the organisers, their volunteers, fellow candidates, and numerous signatories and testimonies for their involvement and support. Let’s never give up on our culture, heritage, and creativity!”

Also disappointed was former NMP Anthea Ong, who had sought a second term as NMP herself.

She posted on social media:

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