by Remy Choo
This is the People Action Party’s Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) argument: vote us in as your elected MPs, and you can still keep 12 opposition debaters in Parliament, with full voting rights.
The PAP’s argument is superficially attractive. The PAP obviously thinks its a vote winner, which is why they’ve been fixating on it in the campaign. I’m not so sure this is a good argument, and even less sure that this is good for Singapore. Let’s have a deeper think about what the NCMP system entails.
First, it appears that the PAP passed this Constitutional amendment in 2016 for electoral gain. One other amendment that has been similarly criticized are the changes to the Elected Presidency.
Every time you hear this superficially attractive NCMP argument, please remember that it is a byproduct of an unlimited power to tinker with the most fundamental aspects of our electoral system. Is this good for Singapore, or good for the PAP?
Let’s try to answer the previous question, by asking another one: what is the tangible impact of the NCMP system? The NCMP system de-links municipal authority from political representation. An elected MP can write to government agencies on the residents’ behalf, and control of a Town Council makes a tangible difference to the resident welfare. Rob the opposition of municipal control, and you rob them of the ability to make a direct impact on their resident’s lives.
Conversely, what happens if a PAP MP loses? Losing PAP MPs and candidates are kept on as “grassroots advisors” with significant resource support from the People’s Association. The PA had an operating budget of $516 million in 2019. Yes, half a billion dollars. Losing opposition candidates don’t have this luxury.
Third, look at TODAY’s article as an example of how the control of Town Councils can be used to entrench the PAP in power. PAP flags were prominently displayed at the Marine Parade branch prior to campaign period. The Election Department told the press that the display of these flags was governed under the Town Councils Act.
Finally, and most practically: even if you want to see your favourite opposition politician in Parliament as an NCMP, you need to vote for them for them to have a chance of being an NCMP.
TLDR: don’t be afraid to vote opposition.
This was first published on Mr Choo’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.