NMPs now permanent feature

Deputy Prime Minister Wong says selection process rigorous

SINGAPORE - Even after some 20 years, the Nominated Member of Parliament scheme still has its stiff detractors in both the ruling and Opposition parties.

In yesterday's debate about the scheme, questions were asked of its relevance and the lack of transparency in its selection process.

While the amendment to make the scheme a permanent feature of Parliament was passed yesterday - together with other constitutional amendments - MP Irene Ng (Tampines) had "grave reservations", as NMPs have no obligation, nor the right, to speak for people, she said.

The change "offends the fundamental democratic principles of representation and accountability", she added. She urged for there to be "at the very least" more than one selection committee.

MP Ho Geok Choo (West Coast) cited other avenues, such as letters to the press and Government feedback agency Reach, for people to raise their views.

In reply, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng said these were "quite different" from Parliamentary debates. The scheme is "clearly relevant and legitimate" because it is already in the Constitution, he said.

There were 33 nominees in 2002 and 46 nominees last year, indicating sustained interest from the public, he added.

MP Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh), who was among those who supported a greater diversity of views in Parliament, suggested that the names and background of all applicants be disclosed, and for successful applicants to state their reasons for applying and their specific goals.

To all these calls, Mr Wong said that having been on the selection committee, the process is already very rigorous.

The three NMPs who spoke yesterday also assured the House they took their role seriously.

Associate Professor Paulin Straughan said NMPs have contributed by raising a range of issues, from eldercare concerns to grooming sports talents. But she, too, wanted more transparency in the selection process to "legitimise the role of NMPs". For instance, how are the six functional groups that nominate an NMP determined, and what are the criteria for selection?

NMP Calvin Cheng called for a clearer definition on non-partisan views, as he thinks the public sees them as a shadow Opposition.

In reply, Mr Wong said NMPs "represent themselves (and not) any functional group". The nominating groups, such as the labour movement, are a way to ensure the Government reaches out to different sectors in society, although he did not say how the groups are chosen.

talkback
1 - 2 of 2 responses to "NMPs now permanent feature"
Kaffein
This is a joke? Seriously. Whom do the NMPs represent? I'm all for debate. But debating for the sake of debating, and ultimately the policy still gets the OK because NMPs can't do anything about it. So what if they disagree, or prove their points?

And of course the NMPs have to take the roles 'seriously' as stated in the article. If not, what 'jokingly'?

Sheesh,
Kaffein
Khaja N
Please there is a world of difference between elected and nominated MP's.
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