The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has co-opted four new members into its highest decision-making body, the Central Executive Committee (CEC). In an earlier voting process, the PAP had voted for 12 individuals to form the CEC. These additional four are therefore not voted in by the larger party but chosen by the existing members of the CEC.
The chosen four are Minister Edwin Tong, Member for Parliament (MP) of Marsiling-Yew Tee, Alex Yam, businessman Victor Lye, a PAP grassroots leader who had contested, without success, in two general elections and secretary-general of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Ng Chee Meng (Ng).
The co-opting of Ng could be seen as a potential conflict of interest. Given his position as a labour chief, he is tasked with protecting workers’ rights. Yet, if he is also wearing the hat as part of the highest decision-making committee of the ruling party in Singapore, can he really also effectively represent workers without being pulled by his political duties or aspirations within the ruling party?
Most recently, his NTUC deputy chief, Koh Poh Koon was criticised for his stance on the issue of introducing a minimum wage in Singapore. Koh had opposed the scheme on the basis that it could lead to a “political auction”. Yet, as the deputy leader of the national trade union, wouldn’t Koh have wanted more workers to quickly benefit from higher wages? Instead, he was talking about politics which highlights the potential conflict of interest when a politician is wearing too many hats. Questions were raised then about whether Koh could be both trade union leader and MP at the same time?
Does the same not ring true for Ng?
Is it not too cosy for a labour chief to be so closely connected to the decision-making process of the party that effectively dominates the Government in Singapore? Is there not a risk for Ng to make trade-offs with workers’ rights for political gains?
At the end of the day, Ng is not even an MP anymore. With that in mind, why is there a need for him to be in the CEC? Ng was not even voted in. He was co-opted in, which can create the impression that the interweaving relationships between the power brokers are too incestuous.
Ng should have been allowed to focus on his obligations in NTUC instead of having to balance party/Governmental decisions despite being an unelected person.