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Concerns of unrepresented sectors will not be ignored: Halimah

There are no Nominated Members of Parliament representatives for sectors such as the arts but Chairman of the Special Select Committee Halimah Yacob says those selected are expected to address issues beyond the sectors and interests they represent.

SINGAPORE: The concerns of unrepresented sectors will not be ignored, according to Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Special Select Committee Halimah Yacob. 

She said while there are no representatives for sectors such as the arts among the nine new NMPs announced on Monday, those chosen will still be expected to address issues beyond the sectors they represent. Madam Halimah was responding to questions on the sidelines of the National Day Observance Ceremony at Sembcorp Marine on Tuesday (Aug 12).

"MPs and NMPs have to be mindful that they represent not only their particular sector, but the whole of Singapore's society. Singapore's society is so diverse, with so many different needs and requirements, and I'm sure there will be enough voices to speak up for arts and culture," Madam Halimah said.

She added the choice of NMPs reflect the issues of the day, such as labour and employment, business and the economy, and population fertility rates. The new NMPs are expected to contribute alternate ideas and fresh perspectives, she said.

Drama Box Artistic Director Kok Heng Leun, who had unsuccessfully applied to be the NMP for the arts sector, wrote on his Facebook account on Tuesday: "I am disappointed that I have not been selected to serve the community in Parliament. Nevertheless, I am thankful for the opportunities to interact with so many of you (his supporters) since I was nominated by the arts community.

"I would like to congratulate the successful NMP candidates. I hope they will also consider including the voice of the arts and culture sector during their term in Parliament. There are still many pertinent arts and culture issues that need national attention," Mr Kok added.

Former NMP Janice Koh, who represented the arts sector during her term, on Monday expressed her disappointment at the lack of a voice for the arts among the new NMPs selected. She said those from the arts and creative sector have a role to play in Parliament as they are able to offer a more unconventional point of view on the issues of the day, often with a cultural perspective.

She added: "Perhaps it is an opportune time for the community to think more strategically about how to continue the arts and culture agenda, or rather, how to continue keeping alive the arts and culture agenda in the public discourse and in the media."

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