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SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has selected Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa for the two available Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats.
PSP secretary-general Dr Tan Cheng Bock made the announcement at a media conference held at the party’s headquarters in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre on Tuesday (14 July).
The party came to the decision on the NCMP seats following an Executive Committee meeting on Monday, two days after the PSP lost to the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP) in West Coast group representation constituency (GRC) by a slim margin at the recent General Election (GE).
The PSP West Coast team, comprising Dr Tan, assistant secretary-general Leong, vice-chairman Poa, Nadarajah Loganathan, and Jeffrey Khoo, garnered 48.31 per cent of the vote share against the PAP’s 51.69 per cent.
Under the NCMP scheme, up to 12 seats are offered to the opposition, depending on the outcome of a GE. As the Workers’ Party had won 10 elected seats, the PSP was offered two NCMP positions as the “best loser”.
At the conference, Poa said that her NCMP role is an opportunity for the party to bring the voices of residents into Parliament. “So we will want to over the next five years, continue to engage West Coast residents to find out their (concerns)...and the aim is to (bring) their concerns and their issues into Parliament.”
Explaining the reasons behind the decision by the party’s Exco to pick Leong and Poa as NCMPs, Dr Tan said, “They are good because they are also bilingual. Very important, because I want them to bring the message to the non-English speaking group. You need these very important linguistic skills...(they can) bring issues across in a clear and concise manner...So these are attributes that I see in them and I think they will bring with them all these wisdom and expertise to Parliament.”
Dr Tan had previously expressed his objection to the NCMP scheme, labelling it a ploy to entice Singaporeans not to vote for the opposition. He reiterated during the recent election campaign that he would reject an NCMP seat if offered, but said he would not object to his party members taking up the appointments in order to get a sense of how Parliament works.
Leong and his fellow party member Francis Yuen had also objected to the scheme. They told the media that they would reject the positions if offered during the GE campaign. Leong had also said he would consult Dr Tan on the matter.
When asked by a reporter about the change in his views at the conference, Leong said that while he has “some personal objection” to the scheme, he was “humbled” by the party’s trust placed in him in fulfilling the NCMP role. “Very importantly, the party needs to represent 48 per cent of voters who voted for us and all Singaporeans who cheered us in this (GE) campaign.”
He also said there is a need to fulfil the hopes of Singaporeans who want more opposition voices in Parliament.
“Many of them are probably supporting us to get into Parliament, so that there's another party in Parliament. And we will demonstrate to Singaporean voters that a strong alternative voice is very good for the country,” Leong added.
After the GE results were announced, Dr Tan hailed the PSP’s “great achievement”, as the party had cut the vote share of the PAP in a constituency widely considered as the latter’s stronghold. In GE2015, the PAP won against the Reform Party in the GRC with 78.57 per cent of the votes.
The PSP lost in all the four GRCs and five single-member constituencies (SMC) that it contested against the PAP.
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