What’s in the make-up in the next bunch of NMPs which is typically someone from the education, social safety net, sports, arts and business sectors in a nutshell? Is there more to it than meets the eye and who’s in and just as important for kopitiam talk, who’s out?
Since Kok Heng Leun did not make the cut, so no Arts representatives among the latest batch of NMPs, that means to some, one less champion of LGBT rights in parliament as the arts community has usually been a firm supporter of LGBT issues. With HPB and NLB still fresh in some of our minds, which of the new NMPs is out to push the “Christian Agenda”? The antithesis of the “Gay Agenda” as some call it. Angie Chew, ex-Buddhist Fellowship President and William Wan from the Singapore Kindness Movement also would not have a chance to represent their interests, as well as the interests of connected constituents, in parliament.
The NMPs are picked by the Special Select Committee, which is headed by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, Dr Ng Eng Hen, Ms Grace Fu, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Ms Ellen Lee, Mr Low Thia Khiang, Mr Masagos Zulkifli and Ms Sim Ann. Hence, your elected partisan MPs select who can be supposedly non-partisan NMPs. It is indeed surprising if one is not cynical by that idea.
9 new Nominated Members of Parliament announced
SINGAPORE: Nine people have been selected as Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs), following the deliberations of the Special Select Committee of Parliament. This was announced in a press statement on Monday (Aug 11)
There were 36 candidates considered during the process. The nine that were eventually selected are:
Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD)
President of the SPD since 2008, Ms Chia helped expand the organisation’s number of satellite centres to serve the disabled, and launched various programmes to help people with disabilities to integrate with the community.
Mr Thomas Chua, President, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr Chua is also Vice-President of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, and was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2012.
Mr K Karthikeyan, Vice-President, National Trades Union Congress
His interests are in promoting workplace safety and health, and workers’ skills upgrading. He has been a member of the National Wages Council and the Public Transport Council.
Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Co-Founder and Director, The Thought Collective
Her interest is in working with youths, and she is a Board Member of *SCAPE Youth Talent and Leadership Development.
Mr Mohd Ismail Hussein, Director, Association of Muslim Professionals
Mr Mohd Ismail is active in the area of corporate social responsibility, focusing on the disadvantaged and youth-at-risk.
Ms Rita Soh Siow Lan, President, Singapore Board of Architects
Ms Soh was also previously President of the Singapore Institute of Architects and, in that capacity, worked with the Urban Redevelopment Authority to review policies on conservation, urban design and development control.
Dr Benedict Tan, Chief and Senior Consultant, Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Changi General Hospital
The former national sailor, who won gold medals in the 1994 Asian Games and SEA Games, was also the recipient of the National Youth Council’s Singapore Youth Award and the Public Service Star.
Associate Prof Randolph Tan Gee Kwang, Deputy Director, Centre for Applied Research at SIM University
Assoc Prof Tan has published many academic titles and taught on the subjects of statistics, econometrics and applied economics. His research work includes labour and housing matters.
Prof Tan Tai Yong, Vice Provost (Student Life), National University of Singapore
Prof Tan is the founding Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, and also the Honorary Chairman of the National Museum of Singapore. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2009.
According to the statement by the President’s Office, President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be presenting the Instruments of Appointment to the NMPs at the Istana on Tuesday, Aug 26. The NMPs’ two-and-a-half-year term will commence on the same day, and they will take their oath at the next sitting of Parliament on Monday, Sep 8.
NEW NMPS LOOK AHEAD
Singapore’s Constitution allows for up to nine NMPs. The scheme was introduced in 1990 to bring more independent voices into Parliament. NMPs are not affiliated to any political party. Rather, they represent broad interest groups – the business community, labour movement, arts, sports, civil and social service organisations, as well as academia.
Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Special Select Committee, said: “We looked for eligible candidates who had distinguished themselves through their contributions to society or in their respective fields, and who could bring their specialised knowledge to add to the depth and breadth of the debates in Parliament. The Committee also took into consideration the candidates’ ability to contribute alternative ideas and fresh perspectives.”
Dr Ng Eng Hen, Leader of the House, Minister of Defence and a member of the Committee, added that they were looking for NMPs who could add to the discussions of issues facing Singapore in this term, including those related to ageing, economic restructuring, sporting excellence, retention of heritage, and the challenges facing working mothers. “We believe that the new NMPs will help Singapore deal with these challenges,” said Dr Ng.
Ms Chia of the Society for the Physically Disabled hopes to be the voice for persons with disabilities in Parliament, and share their views, aspirations and challenges. The lawyer believes that her nomination shows the Government’s commitment to ensuring the disabled are treated with dignity and given equal rights: “We should be inclusive and in a very real way. Not just in some policies that the Government implements, but in a way that society is able to acknowledge and accept persons with disabilities, and to know that we are all part of one community and we should nurture one another.”
Ms Kuik, aged 37, is the youngest of the newly appointed NMPs, and hopes to be the voice of younger Singaporeans. The non-partisan position of the NMP is “a good way to bring up issues-oriented opinions that are not tied to any particular ideology or party and all that”, she said. The Mum-to-be (who is expecting her first child in Oct) and entrepreneur also hopes to champion issues related to Small and Medium Enterprises and the cost of living for young families.
Former national sailor Benedict Tan will be the voice of sports, which “play a bigger role than in society than most of us would think”, he said. “It actually gets insinuated into education, into character development, into national pride, so it does have a huge role in society. And when I say sports, I mean sports, exercise and physical activity, all included. If you have been in the sports circle for a long time, you will realise that benefits of sports extend beyond competitive sports.”
Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Randolph Tan is likely to make the economy his focus. “I don’t think we can take it for granted that the success that we see now will necessarily carry forward without significant effort on the part of everyone concerned,” he said. “Workers will have to make some sacrifices, as well as companies at certain points in time. Certain policies that are taken for short-term benefits…may actually require some further trade-offs down the road.”
NO REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE ARTS AND ENVIRONMENT SECTORS
Two former NMPs – Associate Professor Eugene Tan and Mr R Dhinakaran – had earlier indicated interest in seeking a second term, but they were not selected to be part of the latest batch of NMPs.
Also missing from the new slate are representatives for the arts and environment sectors. Former NMP Janice Koh, who represented the arts sector in Parliament in the previous term, expressed disappointment at this, and said that artists and others from the creative sector have a role to play in Parliament – they are able to offer a more unconventional point of view on the issues of the day, often with a cultural perspective.
With no specific arts voice in Parliament, it will be up to the other MPs to continue reflecting these concerns in the House, said Ms Koh. “I certainly think that the arts community will also be disappointed by not being represented in the House. But perhaps it is an opportune time for the community to think more strategically about how to continue the arts and culture agenda, or rather, how to continue keeping alive the arts and culture agenda in the public discourse and in the media.”