ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ER. DR. LEE BEE WAH’S SPEECH AT THE PARLIAMENT SITTING ON 29 JANUARY 2016
Madam Speaker, Mandarin please.
I am generally not fond of criticizing the Opposition, but this time I feel that I need to articulate my views.
WP inconsistent on NCMP scheme
1) The Worker’s Party (WP) has always insisted that they are against the NCMP system on principle
• They have claimed that if the Government did away with the GRC system, more Opposition MPs would be voted into Parliament and we would not need the NCMP system
• Without delving into whether this would indeed be the case, I would like to remind everyone of PM’s words the day before: the objective of the GRC is to ensure that sufficient representation for the racial minority in Parliament
• This would help to safeguard the multi-racial and multi-cultural spirit of our nation
• This would also ensure that minority racial groups would never be marginalized
• This system should not be abolished without due consideration
2) Of course, the WP has the right to insist on principles that differ from the PAP’s.
3) However, the problem is that the WP has adopted a different attitude when it comes to the seats for NCMPs
Mr Low Thia Khiang
• In 2010, WP’s Secretary-General Mr Low Thia Khiang told the Parliament that he would never accept an NCMP seat.
• If his Party were to force him to accept a seat, he would resign from the Party.
• However, whether his other Party members accept the seat should be decided by the Party.
• In 2009, Chairman of WP Ms Sylvia Lim said that the NCMP system was “overall supportable”.
• She said that our elections were based on a simple majority system, and thus it is more likely for a single Party to dominate most of the parliamentary seats.
• Hence, the NCMP system enables voters who had voted for the Opposition to be represented in the Parliament.
• If these arguments sound familiar, that’s because these are the exact reasons that the Government has given for having the NCMP system.
• Ms Sylvia Lim accepted an NCMP seat in 2006. Her explanation then was that more than 50,000 voters had supported the WP in the Alljunied GRC and therefore she felt obliged to accept the seat.
• Since 2006, 5 members of the WP have accepted NCMP seats.
3) It looks to me that the WP has been inconsistent on their stance towards NCMP seats – they say one thing, but do another.
• On Wednesday, Mr Low Thia Khiang went as far as describing NCMPs as duckweeds in a pond
• However, on Friday, he intends to bring another “duckweed” into the Parliament
• This leaves me confounded – exactly what is WP’s stance on the NCMP system?
4) Even if we were to accept that the WP is accepting the NCMP seats for reasons of expediency, WP MPs have still been inconsistent on this.
• Ms Lee Li Lian has rejected her NCMP seat
• I understand that Ms Lee may have reasons of her own
• However, the WP should have ensured that all its electoral candidates were prepared to do all they can to serve the people, in accordance with our Constitution and political system.
• No electoral candidate should hold the attitude that “I will only serve the people if I get elected as a MP”
• The WP has failed in this regard, and I am very disappointed in them.
NCMPs shouldn’t be allowed to “transfer” their seats
5) In addition, I feel that WP’s suggestion to move the motion to let Dr Daniel Goh take over the NCMP seat of Ms Lee Li Lian is not a reasonable one.
• Let’s use the MP system for comparison
• When a candidate is elected as a MP, if he/she is unable to take up his/her seat for some reason, his/her seat cannot be transferred to another electoral candidate
• In the case of a SMC, according to our Constitution, a by-election would need to be held, in order to have a MP who has the people’s mandate
• Ms Lee Li Lian was previously elected on this very basis.
• To ensure parity, NCMPs should not be allowed to transfer their seat to another candidate
• If the current Parliament only has 3 Members from the Opposition, perhaps we could make an exception in order to have sufficient representation from the Opposition.
• However, we currently have 8 Members from the Opposition, and had Ms Lee chosen to take up her seat, we would have 9 Members, and this would be increased to 12 in future.
• Future NCMPs will enjoy equal voting rights as the MPs, which means that they would be able to influence national policies.
• As such, the appointment and justification for NCMPs is more important than ever.
• I hope the government will review the laws pertaining to this, and ensure that NCMPs are appointed with the requisite justification.
• The NCMP system is already part of our Constitution
• This system has to ensure that regardless of the results of an election, constituencies that have a very narrow winning margin, would have the chance to have the losing candidate represent them in Parliament
• Therefore, NCMP seats should be assumed by the losing candidates who had won the largest number of votes.
• This system should not degenerate into a warped system of proportional representation, where the Party with the second highest number of votes is able to nominate their members into Parliament
• If the NCMP system were to devolve into some kind of proportional representational system, would this still be consistent with the spirit of our Constitution?
• The vote share of WP’s candidate in Punggol SMC is almost 9% higher than the vote share of its candidate in East Coast GRC.
• And yet, WP is suggesting that their candidate in Punggol give up her seat to their candidate in East Coast. Is this far to the electorate in Punggol?
• WP claims that they want to represent Singaporeans, but does their Motion really respect the wishes of the electorate?
• I beseech all Members of the Parliament to give this question serious consideration.
6) The day before yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that the Government intends to give NCMPs and MPs the same voting rights and that the minimum number of Opposition Members would be increased.
• This means that the NCMP system will become even more important
• I hope that the WP can clarify their stance on the NCMP system
• Are they in support of this system?
• Would they ensure that all their electoral candidates are prepared to serve the people in accordance with this system in the next election?
• I hope that the WP can clarify the above, so that voters would have sufficient information to cast their vote in the next election.