The Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme is not a solution to an alternative opposition, according to Workers' Party (WP) candidate Dennis Tan.
The lawyer, who was an NCMP in Singapore's 13th Parliament, addressed the media on June 30 after he was confirmed as WP candidate for Hougang SMC.
"Never be able to sink roots"
Responding to a question on the "limitations" of being an NCMP, he acknowledged that NCMP voting rights were expanded during his term.
However, he also said there's still a "strong chance" that the opposition party cannot be involved in a particular constituency:
"There is a very strong chance that opposition party will never be able to sink roots in that particular constituency, because they're not allowed to operate there.
Even as NCMPs, not to mention normal opposition party members doing work on the ground, we are not allowed to hold events."
He also said that this is in contrast to how losing People's Action Party (PAP) candidates were allowed to hold events in WP-held constituencies.
He urged Singaporeans not to "fall into the trap of thinking that NCMP is a solution for an alternative opposition".
Yee Jenn Jong's comments
Tan's comments follow a Facebook post by former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong, a fellow WP candidate who is standing in Marine Parade GRC.
Yee was responding to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who suggested that the NCMP scheme would allow the opposition to have a voice in Parliament.
The WP candidate for Marine Parade GRC reasoned that even with 12 NCMPs (the maximum allowed) and nominated members of parliament, the PAP government would still be able to successfully pass laws and amendments.
Yee also questioned if the PAP would listen to Singaporeans should they receive a vote share upwards of 70 per cent and sweep all the seats in Parliament.
Real risk of "wipe out"
Talk about the NCMP scheme was sparked by WP Chief Pritam Singh's remark that the opposition faced a "real risk of a wipe out" this election.
However, this brought rebuttals from the ruling party, with PM Lee saying that a wipe out was "not realistic".
Indranee's own comments on the NCMP scheme were made after WP's slogan of "make every vote count" was posed to her.
Pritam had told the media that the slogan sought to bring attention to the PAP's "overwhelming parliamentary supermajority".
"You cannot assume as has been suggested by some, that PAP will sweep all the seats," said Indranee.
"There is a suggestion that you have to have opposition elected, in elected seats, in order to have a voice in parliament."
"That’s not correct," she added, before pointing to the NCMP scheme.
Top image by Andrew Koay