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NMP vs Minister, NCMP
Wed, Apr 28, 2010
The Straits Times

Changes to the electoral system were hotly debated in Parliament yesterday. Here are some of the points raised:

WHY ALLOW 'LOSERS' IN HOUSE?

'People who are proposed to be NCMPs are politicians who stood for an election and lost. Sir, they lost. They lost. I do not know how much more emphatic I can be about this. These are politicians who have stood on certain political platforms for certain political issues. A majority of the electorate have considered these issues, these politicians and rejected them at the polls. To then allow them into Parliament flies in the face of logic of a democratic election at best, and at worst is a slap in the face of the people who have voted against them.'

Nominated MP Calvin Cheng, criticising the Non-Constituency MP scheme and its expansion

DON'T SIMPLY STICK TO A THEORY

'Mr Calvin Cheng argued passionately opposing the NCMP scheme. NCMPs would have lost in the elections, why are they allowed in Parliament? He says it flies in the face of logic. I can see the point he makes, but on that same logic someone could argue that NMPs who did not even contest the elections, why are they in Parliament? So the answer to these questions is not to simply stick to a theory on what Parliament should look like. You start with the theory and then you ask hard questions on what the realities are and what Parliament should look like to meet the needs of our society.'

Law Minister K. Shanmugam, responding to Mr Cheng

LOOK WHO'S TALKING

'I find it quite ironic that someone who came into this august chamber through an interview can actually attack the NCMP scheme in such strong terms.'

NCMP Sylvia Lim, whose Workers' Party team lost narrowly in Aljunied GRC in 2006, responding to Mr Cheng

A CREDIBLE OPPOSITION FORCE

"They [NCMPs] can show Singaporeans that they understand the issues, have serious views on the national agenda and have the potential to form a government one day.

"They will then become a more serious force in the next elections. A group of nine Parliamentarians from the opposition can form a very credible caucus, a base from which they can expand their influence.

"Thus on a long term analysis, if this government was only interested in its own electoral prospects, then increasing the number of NCMPs is not a good idea. It is in fact a bad idea.

"It is noteworthy that the government's own MPs do not necessarily support the idea. Why would this government take this step which will give the opposition more space? We are doing it because we believe strongly in doing what is right for Singapore.

"We believe that these changes are good for Singapore and we believe that these changes will make for a better Singapore."

Law Minister Mr K Shanmugam talking about NCMPs who perform well in Parliament


For more The Straits Times stories, click here.

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