By Howard Lee
The Singapore Parliament announced on Monday a slew of nine new Nominated Members of Parliament, comprising individuals who have been picked by the Special Select Committee of Parliament following a public nomination process.
The new slate of NMPs was notable in its lack of representatives from the arts community and civil society. They are scheduled to be appointed by President Tony Tan Keng Yam on 26 August.
“We looked for eligible candidates who had distinguished themselves through their contributions to society or in their respective fields, and who could bring their specialised knowledge to add to the depth and breadth of the debates in Parliament,” said Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament and chairman of the Committee. “The Committee also took into consideration the candidates’ ability to contribute alternative ideas and fresh perspectives as this will help Singapore navigate challenges in the years ahead.”
“We also looked for new NMPs who could add to the discussions of issues facing Singapore in this term,” said Dr Ng Eng Hen, Leader of the House and member of the Committee. “These included, among others, issues related to ageing, economic restructuring and productivity, sporting excellence, a better living environment, retention of our heritage and appreciation of Singapore’s history, challenges of working mothers, aspirations of the youth and the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Introduced in September 1990, the stated purpose of the NMP scheme was to “bring more independent voices” into Parliament. NMPs are appointed by the President and are not supposed to be affiliated to any political party. They also do not represent any constituency.
In 1997, the total number of NMPs was increased from six to nine, “so that more NMPs can be in Parliament to air views which may not be canvassed by the PAP or by the Opposition”, said then Home Affairs Minister, Mr Wong Kan Seng.
Much debate has taken place since the NMP scheme was implemented, particularly on accusations that it encouraged citizens not to vote for opposition MPs to constitute an alternative voice to the dominant PAP-led government, the selection process and the effectiveness of their views in shaping Parliamentary debates and decision-making.
NMPs can participate in debates and vote on all issues except amendments to the Constitution, motions relating to public funds, votes of no confidence in the Government, and removing the President from office.
The following is the list of new NMPs. Do you think they can represent the communities they belong to, and would they offer independent and non-partisan views?
(Image - Yusarn Audrey)
|Ms Chia Yong YongLawyer|
Ms Chia is a partner in the corporate department of Yusarn Audrey, where her main areas of practice are corporate acquisitions, finance and restructuring, and compliance requirements and issues related to securities and financial services. She is also a volunteer in social services, and was awarded the President’s Social Service Award, Individual Category in 2011. She has been the president of SPD since 2008, and was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2013. Ms Chia was also a member of Our Singapore Conversation Committee and the REACH Supervisory Panel.
(Image – NTU)
|Mr Thomas Chua Kee SengBusinessman|
Mr Chua is an alumni of the Nanyang Technological University and a recipient of the university's Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award in 2013. He also received the Public Service Medal in 2012, and is an active figure in the wider Chinese community in Singapore, including serving key positions in various Chinese associations and the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC). He has also served as a member of the National Productivity & Continuing Education Council (NPCEC), and Board Director of the Standards, Productivity & Innovation (SPRING) Board. He is the chairman and managing director of Teckwah Industrial Corporation Ltd.
(Image - NTUC)
|Mr K KarthikeyanVice-president, National Trades Union Congress|
Mr Karthikeyan is vice-president of the NTUC Central Committee and general secretary of the United Workers of Petroleum Industry. He formed the Singapore Petrochemical Complex Employees’ Union in 1986 and has been a union leader since. He was nominated for the NMP position by NTUC, and is the tenth union representative since 1992 to be nominated for the appointment. He has indicated an interest to raise issues such as closing the income gap, upgrading workers' skills, improving workplace safety, and re-employing mature workers in Parliament.
(Image – Praxis Labs)
|Ms Kuik Shiao-YinCo-founder and creative director, The Thought Collective|
Ms Kuik is an entrepreneur who built a series of ventures in Singapore. She runs and teaches at School of Thought, an education establishment that aims to drive innovation in civic learning. She also oversees Food for Thought, a socially ethical restaurant chain with outlets at botanic gardens, national museum, and art museum. Separately, she also founded Myles & More, a creative video agency, and The Public Domain, a co-workspace for social good.
(Image - Association of Muslim Professionals)
|Mr Mohd Ismail HusseinBanker|
Board director, Association of Muslim Professionals
Mr Hussein currently heads the Islamic Banking Unit of Maybank Singapore where he oversees its Islamic banking business. In his 13 years with the company, he also he headed several corporate-level projects related to investment advisory, risk management, credit operations and management information. He has also worked in finance and information technology departments at HSBC Singapore.
(Image – Board of Architects)
|Ms Rita Soh Siow LanArchitect|
President, Singapore Board of Architects
Ms Soh is a director at RDC Architects Pte Ltd, where she is in charge of the firm's quality assurance system. She has been involved in many feasibility studies, competition proposals, design and detailing of residential, resort and commercial projects, both local and overseas, and project management. She was also a juror for the President's Design Award Singapore for various years, former president of the Singapore Institute of Architects, and former board member in the Singapore Land Authority. Ms Soh was a jury member in the design evaluation panels for the integrated resorts at Marina Bay and Sentosa Island, the Gardens by the Bay design competition, the Singapore Sports Hub as well as the National Art Gallery.
(Image – Novena Medical Center)
|Dr Benedict Tan Chi’-LoongChief and senior consultant, Changi Sports Medicine Centre|
Former national sailor
Dr Tan is a three-time Sportsman of the Year and recipient of the Public Service Star and Public Service Medal. He also sits on the board of the Singapore Sports Council and is a member of the Singapore National Olympic Council. the first Singaporean sailor to win a gold medal at the Asian Games. In 1995, he was ranked among the top 50 sailors in the world. After his career in competitive sailing and switing to the medical profession, he continued to be involved in the sport, serving as the national team’s doctor at the 1998 and 2002 Asian Games, and assisting the Singapore Sailing Federation in setting up a high-performance committee to train athletes. He also worked with disabled athletes in his role as the Sports Patron of the Singapore Disability Council.
(Image – SIM University)
|Associate Professor Randolph Tan Gee KwangEconomics professor, SIM University|
Prof Tan's research interests include forecasts of the Singapore labor market, models of demand and supply in real estate, and econometric inference. He has authored a number of books on finance and economics. Prof Tan has offered his views on the Singapore government's Budget anouncements, in particular for the 2014 Budget, where he noted that the drive for productivity will take time, issues with increasing CPF rates and the problems with the employment credit scheme. He also opined that the projections in the Population White Paper “inform us of the challenges we have been through on the population issue and suggests what is likely to occur under circumstances as we understand them today.”
(Image - NUS)
|Professor Tan Tai YongVice-provost, National University of Singapore|
Founding director, Institute of South Asian Studies
Prof Tan is an NUS alumnus and was also its Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences from 2004 to 2009. He is a historian in South and Southeast Asian history. He is the Honorary Chairman of the National Museum of Singapore and has served on numerous history and heritage organisations, including the National Heritage Board and the National Archives of Singapore. He received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2009.