GE2020: Singaporeans shouldn’t think NCMPs can replace elected opposition MPs – WP Dennis Tan

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
(SCREENSHOT: Workers' Party's ex-NCMP Dennis Tan speaking to reporters at Hougang on 30 June 2020 after the end of submissions by candidates on Nomination Day/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Singaporeans should not “fall into the trap” of thinking that Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) can replace elected opposition MPs, said Dennis Tan, the Workers’ Party’s General Election candidate for Hougang SMC, on Tuesday (30 June).

Speaking to reporters at Hougang Ave 5 alongside WP chief Pritam Singh, Tan said that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) wants voters to think the NCMP scheme is “an alternative”. But the scheme prevents the opposition from sinking roots in a constituency, he added.

He was responding to a question about comments by the PAP’s Tanjong Pagar GRC candidate Indranee Rajah about the NCMP scheme.

Indranee told reporters at a party event that there is no need for opposition members to be elected to Parliament, given that the enhanced NCMP scheme guarantees at least 12 opposition MPs.

In 2016, the Constitution was amended to increase the number of NCMPs from a maximum of nine to 12, and give them equal voting rights as full MPs. If no opposition candidate is elected into Parliament following the General Election on 10 July, there will be 12 NCMPs.

Tan, who is a shipping lawyer, said that as an NCMP, he is not allowed to hold events in a constituency such as at Fengshan SMC, where he was an NCMP in the previous Parliament.

Referring to the PAP candidates who had lost to the WP MPs in past GEs, Tan said, “The PAP’s losing candidates made use (of) a lot more facilities than we even have, all funded by taxpayers. And we are not allowed access to those facilities for our events for residents.” 

It is important that opposition party members from every party are allowed to contest freely, and be able to walk the ground freely, he added. 

The WP was the only opposition party with six seats in the recently dissolved Parliament while the PAP had 83 seats.

If voters keep thinking that the NCMP scheme is a solution, Tan said the PAP will be able to increase its super majority in Parliament. This would lead to a dangerous situation for Singapore in future if the PAP government were to fail, Tan warned. 

“If the PAP were to do very badly, how is another party going to take over as government from zero to 51 (MPs)? Does Singapore want that kind of scenario? That would be disastrous,” Tan said.

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