Letter from Govt on criteria for opposition to field marching contingent at NDPs

Workers’ Party reveals a 1982 document from the Ministry of Defence which was addressed to late J B Jeyaratnam, stating that any opposition party seeking to march at the National Day Parade would need to have at least 15% of the seats in parliament before it would be allowed to do so.

At the 60th anniversary dinner of the Workers’ Party on 3 Nov, Member of Parliament Pritam Singh addressed the supporters of the party who attended the celebration and shared stories of the effort made by the party’s members and volunteers in course of organising the celebrations for the anniversary.

At the end of his speech, Mr Singh brought up an interesting episode encountered by the organising committee for the 60th anniversary where one of its sub-committees tried to enquire if it is possible for WP to have a marching contingent at the National Day Parade this year.

He said,

To conclude, and on a much lighter note, I mentioned at the beginning of my speech that the WP60 Committee resolved to give its sub-committees as much latitude as possible in coming up with ideas to commemorate WP60. One rather creative idea was to make enquiries about whether a Workers’ Party contingent could march at this year’s National Day Parade. The response that came from the NDP Organising Committee, was that there was an overwhelming response from over 30 social organisations and ours was not selected.

Mr Singh noted that when asked what was the selection criteria and eligibility to march at the NDP, it was told that this was confidential.

While the WP60 committee decided to leave the matter there, but as part of the WP60 anniversary book research, a document from 1982 regarding the matter of opposition parties being represented at the NDP was unearthed.

The document was a letter from the then-Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, Phua Bah Lee, written in response to Mr J B Jeyaratnam’s query to the Government if WP could be represented by a marching contingent at the National Day Parade.

Mr Phua states that there are numerous political parties in Singapore and that any opposition party seeking to march at the National Day Parade will be limited to the party in power and to an opposition party that has at least 15% of the seats in parliament.

The letter also noted that no political party other than the party in power (People’s Action Party) has taken part in NDP since 1965.

Below is the letter shared by WP on its Facebook page on Monday evening.