No need to vote opposition as NCMP scheme ensures their voice in Parliament: Indranee Rajah

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah speaking to patrons at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre on Sunday (29 September). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah speaking to patrons at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre. (FILE PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — There is no need for opposition members to be elected to Parliament, given that the enhanced Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme guarantees at least 12 opposition Members of Parliament (MP), said the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Indranee Rajah on Monday (29 June).

Reminding reporters of the 2016 constitutional amendments which increased the number of NCMPs and gave them equal voting rights as full MPs, Indranee noted, “Even if the PAP took all the elected seats, which we do not take for granted and cannot be a given, you will still have 12 (NCMPs).”

The 57-year-old added, “Then the next question would be, oh, but, you know, can we be as effective in Parliament as NCMPs, for example. And the answer is that if you have full voting rights in Parliament, that is the platform for which you can advocate and do all and say what you want to say with the policies. So, basically, the voice in Parliament, the ability to influence policy in Parliament is there.”

Indranee, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, was speaking at a virtual press conference to introduce the candidates for Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Radin Mas Single-Member Constituency (SMC), which include herself and the PAP’s second assistant secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, who is also Trade and Industry Minister.

Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance, Law and Education was being asked to comment on the Workers’ Party's election manifesto, which was unveiled on Sunday as the competing parties step up campaigning ahead of the Singapore’s 10 July General Election.

The NCMP scheme, which was first introduced in 1984, provides parliamentary seats for the best-performing losing candidates from the opposition, provided that there are less than 12 opposition MPs elected.

Indranee’s argument has often been cited by the PAP. The scheme has been criticised by opposition MPs and even some PAP MPs as being undemocratic and lacking legitimacy.

‘Unprecedented moment’

Both Indranee and Chan also echoed the same point: that it would be erroneous to assume the PAP would be returned to power “effortlessly”, given that every constituency is being contested

Alluding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which she termed as the greatest crisis Singapore has faced the British military withdrawal in 1971, Indranee stressed, “So with all of this going on, you need a strong capable government that is able to deliver on schemes.”

She added, “So I think the thing to remember is this: the weaker a government, the greater the inability to deliver for people. The stronger, a government, and provided the government has good plans in the interests of the people at heart, the greater the chances are that people will be able to overcome this crisis.”

Chan also urged voters to take a close look at each party’s proposals and ask three questions: How will this be funded? Is it workable? Does the plan connect with the residents?

“And from our sense of the ground, our daily interactions with our residents, I think there is one main (concern), and that is jobs. In the next few months, everyone is concerned whether they can keep their jobs, whether they can take care of their families, and whether they can still have a good future going forward.”

He added, “But I think implicit in what they say is that they want a team that will take good care of them and their families. And I think if we stick to that,. we won't go very far wrong.”

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