From ‘NCMPs have no political muscle, says WP chief Low Thia Khiang, 27 Jan 2016, article by Justin Ong, CNA
Workers’ Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang said that even if Non-Constituency Member of Parliaments had the same voting rights as elected MPs, they are “very different” due to their lack of a local electorate to serve. A party with an NCMP does not gain any advantage or “political muscle”, he added.
“An NCMP is just duckweed on the water of a pond,” said Mr Low, speaking at a Meet the People Session on Wednesday night (Jan 27).
“You don’t have roots, unlike elected MPs where you have a constituency, you run a Town Council, you are in close touch with your residents, and you can sink roots there. NCMPs, make no mistake about it, are not elected MPs. They may be given the same voting rights in Parliament, but that only pertains to Parliament.”
In 2001, ESM Goh Chok Tong referred to Chee Soon Juan possibly getting the NCMP seat as coming in ‘second past the post‘. The entire Parliament breathed a sigh of relief as the position went to political upstart Steve Chia instead. Therein lies the irony of this ‘duckweed’ scheme, that the PAP has preferences only for certain breeds of aquatic plant, the kind that shows that the Government not only tolerates, but embraces, opposition voices, short of them being mere decorative ‘wallflowers’.
The PAP created the post, but fear that by some astonishing fluke, someone with a ‘megalomaniacal’ tendency may sneak in through the backdoor, though he or she may do nothing more than pound some fists and quack rather loudly, in 10 different languages if need be. In fact, even upon its inception in 1988, the Opposition already viewed it as the ‘plum whose seed would choke them’, that it might lull the Opposition into complacency or become used by the PAP as ‘political capital’. Judging by the results of our last election, the plum is already in the mouth, NCMP or no NCMP.
These Opposition folks are called, unflatteringly, the ‘best losers’. For most stints, NCMPs come and go with a feather in their cap, and put their Parliamentary experience to good use elsewhere. Which makes the floating, rootless, ephemeral duckweed analogy fitting. Rarely does a NCMP move on to run for an actual election, with devastating results, like the case of Chia Shi Teck, who lost as an independent candidate in 1997, and later declared a bankrupt due to the Asian Financial crisis. Like Chia, others became victims of ‘political suicide’, or what I would call the NCMP CURSE.
Here are some prominent examples.
- JBJ: In 1997, JBJ won an NCMP seat after losing marginally in Cheng San. By 2001, following a slew of defamation suits, he was declared a bankrupt and lost his place in the pond.
- Francis Seow: He was among the first NCMPs in 1988. That same year he lost it after being fined for tax evasion. And spending 72 days under ISA detention.
- Steve Chia: This guy had it the worst. Caught for taking nudie pics of his maid. Massively trolled by an anonymous website. He was supposed to run in Macpherson for last year’s election but has dropped off the face of the earth since.