Channel NewsAsia

7 emerge as NMP hopefuls

Seven new names have so far emerged as possible new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP). Applications will close on Tuesday.

SINGAPORE: Seven new names have so far emerged as possible new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP).

Applications will close on Tuesday.

Of the nine current NMPs, only two have indicated their desire to run for a second term.

They are Jay Gee Melwani Group managing director R Dhinakaran and Associate Professor Eugene Tan, a law lecturer at the Singapore Management University.

The NMP term lasts for two and a half years.

Names are submitted to a Special Select Committee and then to the President for appointment.

So far, potential hopefuls who have thrown their hats in come from a broad range of sectors.

One expected nomination is from the labour movement -- veteran unionist K Karthikeyan, 54.

He said that if appointed, he would want to champion the cause of low-wage workers and disadvantaged workers.

He feels his experience as a unionist will give him an edge in dealing with policy makers.

Mr Karthikeyan said: "Our government is a consultative government... (if) you can justify these issues, if you can say why these issues are important, then you are actually putting a point across for the government to bring it up.

"You cannot expect whatever we say, they will do it, because we have to justify. And I think being a unionist, I learnt to justify all these years.

"So for 28 years I have been justifying my rights to the management, and I think I can do that with the government too."

Theatre veteran Kok Heng Leun, 48, is the only practitioner from the arts sector who has stepped forward, so far. But that does not faze him.

He said: "I would actually like more people to participate, but I think we all know that this is a position that requires a lot of courage -- I think there are definitely people, it's just that this may not be the right time for them.

"I look forward to more of such candidates in the future. I don't think I'm the only one, I don't think I'm the only and best one. Hopefully there are more and I look forward to their participation in other terms as an NMP."

He said he wants policy makers to think about how the arts and culture can be used to develop what he described as "distinct communities" which can find their own voice.

From the social sector, several names have emerged.

One of them is general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement William Wan.

The 67-year-old retiree said he did not believe in the NMP scheme at first, but has since changed his mind, having seen how the system works and the contributions of past NMPs in Parliament.

Dr Wan said: "Many years ago, I was asked (to be an NMP). At that point in time, I didn't think that it was that useful, because an NMP is not an elected person and in a way has no constituents to represent.

"I have since changed my mind, having been active in civic society. I believe that there are causes that one can champion and those causes are really your constituency in a sense.

"It's not your physical human constituencies, but ideas and causes can also be your constituency. So if you have somebody who's genuinely interested in serving the nation and in representing causes, I think it can be a useful process."

If appointed, Dr Wan said he would like to promote Singapore as a gracious society, champion the causes of ex-offenders and raise issues related to the elderly.

Another name that has come up from the social sector is Chia Yong Yong, the president of the Society for the Physically Disabled.

When contacted, Ms Chia said she is not ready to speak to the media, and would only say that her nomination papers are being prepared.

If appointed, the 51-year-old could be the first physically disabled parliamentarian.

From the business sector, there is 45-year-old Raymon Krishnan, whose name was submitted by the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Society.

Mr Krishnan, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Society, said if appointed, he would like to raise manpower and productivity issues, especially the plight of small and medium enterprises.

He is married to an Australian, and he says issues such as integration and immigration are close to his heart.

Mr Krishnan said: "I've lived abroad for a while as well, and I returned to Singapore a few years ago.

"There're two parts of this equation. The first part is the brain drain, as it's sometimes coined -- about why Singaporeans leave Singapore and what attracts them to leave and maybe what we can do to attract them back again.

"But there’s also the relationship that we have with foreigners who are trying to integrate into Singapore, whether they are foreign workers on an Employment Pass (EP) or whether they are high-wage earners on S-Pass or an EP.

“You always hear a lot of exchange about it and I think I can help continue with that discourse and maybe add to a balanced view."

Rounding up the list of names which have surfaced so far is former Olympian and sports medical doctor Benedict Tan, and founder of Pre-School Teachers Network Singapore Philip Koh.

Dr Tan has outlined broad areas of focus which include ensuring that Singapore has the systems and processes to keep its athletes competitive on the world stage, promoting sports as a platform for character development and promoting exercise as a way of life in Singapore.

Singapore's constitution provides for the appointment of up to nine NMPs. The scheme was introduced 14 years ago and the aim is to give a wider representation of community views in Parliament.

NMPs are not elected MPs, but they can participate in parliamentary debates and have limited voting rights. 

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna