The names of nine candidates that make up the new batch of Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP) were announced yesterday (17 Sep) by Leader of the House Grace Fu.
Ms Fu, who is part of the Special Select Committee that chose the NMPs, noted that the nine candidates were picked for their "good credentials in their respective fields" and will serve as valuable assets in the Parliament due to their knowledge and experience in their professions.
Ms Fu, who is also the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "As a group, they add to the diversity of expertise and experience in the House."
The nine NMPs are
- Sakae Holdings chairman Douglas Foo Peow Yong, 49;
- Executive director of Singapore Chinese Orchestra Ho Wee San, 49;
- Communication and technology professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design Lim Sun Sun, 46;
- Labour unionist Arasu Duraisamy, 50;
- Social entrepreneur and founder of Hush TeaBar Anthea Ong Lay Theng, 50;
- President of Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore Irene Quay Siew Ching, 43;
- Labour economist and associate professor Walter Edgar Theseira, 40;
- Founder of inter-religious non-profit group Roses of Peace Abbas Ali Mohamed Irshad, 29; and
- Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, 26.
Several of the NMPs spoke to Channel NewsAsia about their motivations for joining the Parliament.
Mr Foo said that he hopes to highlight the need to increase exchanges between local firms and their ASEAN counterparts, which will potentially result in greater employment opportunities for Singaporeans, being the head of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Singapore National Employers' Federation.
Mr Ho's primary aim is to advocate for the preservation and proliferation of the traditional arts, as he believes that such arts are often overlooked in Singapore.
“More can be done to make the traditional arts an integral part of our society, bringing together people of different races, religions, and backgrounds and creating a shared understanding across our various communities,” he said.
Ms Quay, having spent 20 years being heavily involved in pharmacy-related volunteer work, plans to advocate for the development and fair treatment of allied health workers, as well as to enhance the current provisions for working mothers, adding that she is "in a good position to represent this critical workforce" as a working mother herself.
Mr Arasu aims to improve the livelihood of workers by educating them on the skills they need to acquire in the face of Industrial Revolution 4.0, in spite of the introduction of 23 Industry Transformation Maps.
In an article by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), he said: “At the rate that jobs are being affected by technological advancements, it is more important than ever before that our workers embrace and keep up with the transformations. The way forward has to be training. I will be focusing on the critical need for our workers to train, retrain and reskill and finding effective means to encourage them to embark on this journey.”
According to NTUC, Mr Arasu is "a strong advocate for workers’ training, retraining and reskilling to adapt and remain relevant in a changing economic landscape".
Assoc Prof Theseira aims to provide a non-partisan view in Parliament and to serve as a "complement" to Government and Opposition views. He also plans to inject his expertise in economics and the social sciences to better "understand the trade-offs and challenges we face as a society" in terms of policy-making.
Netizens have generally questioned the appointment of the NMPs.
Philip Lim commented:
NMP system sounds so wrong.
Non-politicians selected and appointed by the Government to represent additional voices for the people (or so they think). Whom they have no accountability for.
Bernadette Tay said:
Why must they enter Parliament unelected - PAP cronies
Christopher Bong commented:
These NMPs are just another load of wayang from the ruling party. Needless to say, they are selected by a committee made up of PAP ministers and members, so the selection process will definitely be in their favour.
Tung Chen Kum wrote:
These highly paid multimillion-dollar Ministers can't risk questioning the policies from their boss. So will these NMPs do the tough questioning?
Ho Chun Min said:
Motivation: Money lol. Don't beat around the bush leh lol. I pai seh.
In Singapore, it is best not to think yourself as doing politics, but instead work for the people & country. Especially the 99% citizens. The 1% already know how to generate wealth, or were born in a gold mine.
Whyboon Yeo said:
Aiyah, mai ke ke lah, just want to network with the mafia party hoping to strike it. 💸💵💵💵💵
Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former PAP MP who voted against the NMP scheme in 1990, wrote in 2014,
"To be an NMP, one should be non partisan and show no favour to the party in power or the opposition. Thus they cannot be members of a political party. As non partisan, he should also not use parliament as a platform to champion a particular cause, be it animal, gender, racial or religious interests, as his role is to represent all Singaporean interests. Parliamentary MPs select them from a list recommended by a special select committee. However, for the scheme to truly achieve its objectives, the select committee should have been an independent body of Singaporeans with Singapore's interest at heart. But it has never happened that way."