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SINGAPORE — The Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme may have its merits, but the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is using it as a ploy to entice voters not to vote for opposition candidates at this General Election, said Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock on Thursday (2 July).
Dr Tan was speaking to reporters during a walkabout at Ang Mo Kio 628 Market at Yio Chu Kang single-member constituency (SMC), and he said that the biggest element missing on being an NCMP is that he has no constituency grounds to represent.
“While (the government) has tried to improve the NCMP scheme, I look at it this time around as a ploy to entice voters not to vote for opposition,” he said.
“It is very important that (a Member of Parliament) has a base. If you’ve got no base, it’s very difficult to function as an MP. You cannot be a ‘virtual’ MP, you must be a proper one.”
He added that it would be difficult to represent the ground if you did have a constituency because as an MP, “you can feel the ground...the issues that you brought up you can speak with strength”.
Constitutional amendments in 2016 increased the number of NCMPs to a maximum of 12, and gave them equal voting rights as full MPs. PAP candidates have said during the GE campaigning period that there is no need to vote because they want opposition party members in Parliament, as the enhanced NCMP guarantees their presence and voice in Parliament.
When asked by reporters if he would take up an NCMP spot if offered, Dr Tan – a former PAP MP – said he would not.
“I have been to Parliament, and I enjoy Parliament being a proper elected MP. But if the (PSP candidates) feel that they want to have a feel of what parliament is like, I don't want to stop them,” he said. “I want people to get into the House to really experience what it is like in the House.”
In the same vein, Dr Tan reiterated his objection to the Nominated MP (NMP) scheme.
“I oppose the NMP scheme very, very strongly. And I stated my case in Parliament, and objected to it, and I voted against it. That has been my stance. But NCMP, I am not against it, but I personally feel that's my own thing,” he added.
Dr Tan attended the Yio Chu Kang walkabout in support of PSP candidate Kayla Low, who is running against PAP’s Yip Hon Weng.
Tan refutes Shanmugam’s comment
He also commented on Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s comment on Wednesday that PSP was “half-hearted” about contesting Nee Soon group representation constituency (GRC).
Shanmugam, the incumbent of Nee Soon GRC, said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday that PSP was offering to trade Nee Soon for some other constituency with the Reform Party (RP) a week ago.
Shanmugam repeated the same points in his Facebook post on Thursday morning, stating that PSP had not made any denials when RP’s chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said publicly that PSP offered to trade Nee Soon.
In his post, the minister called for one of PSP’s candidates for Nee Soon GRC, Brad Bowyer, to “be honest”, accusing Bowyer of knowing that PSP offered Nee Soon to RP.
Rebutting Shanmugam’s allegations at the walkabout, Dr Tan said, “When we decided to come to Nee Soon, it was non-negotiable.”
“Of course there’s always a lot of rumours.... That's politics, you must understand. I'm not going to quarrel with him about this. To me, it's trivial. The important thing is we are putting up a team to contest in Nee Soon because we believe we can win in Nee Soon.”
Dr Tan later proceeded to Bishan North Shopping Mall, where he had a walkabout with his party’s candidate for Marymount SMC, Dr Ang Yong Guan.
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