The chief of Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) Desmond Lim said today (2 July) that the party is not contesting in the upcoming general election (GE) just to become a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), adding that it will not fall into the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) trap.
Mr Lim expressed that voters should not be “steered away” from the party’s GE campaign, after talks about the NCMP scheme emerged.
“We are not going to fall into the trap of the PAP telling people that there is already sufficient NCMP (seats) so we don’t need opposition,” Mr Lim said to CNA today during a walkabout at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC along with fellow candidates.
He added, “We come here not to just contest NCMP. We are here to contest (for) full-fledged MP.”
Under the NCMP scheme which has been in place for 36 years, the losing parties with the most number of votes are allowed a seat in Parliament as an NCMP. Currently, there are 12 NCMP seats.
PAP’s secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong made a comment earlier saying that there is “no possibility” for members of the alternative parties to be excluded from Parliament given that there’s the NCMP scheme in place. His comments came after Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh cautioned about a possibility of an opposition “wipeout” in the election.
On Wednesday (1 July), WP candidate for Hougang SMC Dennis Tan—who is a former NCMP—described the seat as a “poisoned chalice”. He said that while it was a privilege for him to be in Parliament, the aim of the scheme must not be to make sure “no other party can lay roots into each constituency”.
After GE2015, the number of NCMPs in Parliament was increased from nine to 12, and they now have full voting rights.
However, Mr Lim, who is leading a team of five members at Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC, said this is not enough.
“There is still a big difference because NCMPs cannot represent the residents to write to the ministry or authority or agency to appeal for them,” he explained.
“It’s not only (about) going into Parliament (to be) their voice.”
When asked if he would take up a NCMP position if offered, Mr Lim said: “I would offer the PAP to take up the NCMP (seats) in this constituency. We are here for the win … I believe the residents of Pasir Ris-Punggol will give us the mandate to represent them.”
Earlier, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Dr Tan Cheng Bock also stated he will not take up the NCMP post if offered.
He said that the NCMP scheme is a “ploy” to discourage voters from voting for opposition politicians.
“I know they (PAP) changed the rules and all the NCMPs actually behave like MPs in the House. But there’s one element missing – there’s no ground for him,” Dr Tan said.
He added, “For us to be able to be a good opposition, we must always have some home or ground … I see this as a ploy … to entice you to all vote the PAP, because they guarantee you have 12 NCMPs.”