SINGAPORE: Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai will take up the two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) seats offered to the party, it announced on Tuesday (Jul 14).
They were part of the five-member team which contested West Coast GRC, along with PSP secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Jeffrey Khoo and Mr Nadarajah Loganathan.
"We've accepted the offer given by the Elections Department. We have agreed, so it's official now, both of them will be your NCMPs," said Dr Tan at the party's headquarters.
As the "best losers" of the Jul 10 General Election, PSP's West Coast team were given the opportunity to pick two of the five candidates for the NCMP positions.
PSP garnered 48.31 per cent of the vote against the People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.
The NCMP scheme allows losing opposition candidates with the highest percentage of votes to be offered seats in Parliament - if the number of elected opposition members falls short of 12.
In the case of this General Election, two NCMP seats were offered to the PSP, after the Workers' Party (WP) won 10 seats at the polls.
Ms Poa, who is PSP vice-chairman, will be "more than qualified" for the role, said Dr Tan, who noted that she has had experience in the Ministry of Finance.
He added that Mr Leong, the party's assistant secretary-general, comes from the corporate world and is "very knowledgeable" about what is happening in the corporate sector.
Dr Tan said he gave his team a "free hand" in deciding who would take up the NCMP positions.
"I think it was a very good decision. They all discussed among themselves, then the discussion was brought to the exco, then we finally made this decision," he added.
Dr Tan had said during the election campaign that he would not take up the NCMP role if given the opportunity, calling the scheme a “ploy” to entice voters from opposition parties. He said he would leave the decision to the party.
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Mr Leong had previously also said he would reject the NCMP role if offered.
When asked about this on Tuesday, Mr Leong said that while he has "personal objections" to the scheme, he is humbled by the trust that the party has placed in him.
"(It is) to represent the 48.5 per cent voters that voted for us, and also all the Singaporeans that cheered us in this campaign, so that's why I've changed my mind," he said.
Mr Leong added that they are looking forward to working with the WP, and that there is "a lot of" room for the two parties to cooperate.
"We will demonstrate to the Singaporean voters that a strong alternative voice is very good for the country," he said at a press conference.
On what they aim to achieve as NCMPs, Ms Poa said: "We would want to, over the next five years, continue to engage West Coast residents to find out in more detail (their concerns) because we actually haven't had much time."
Being an NCMP is an opportunity to bring their voices into Parliament, she added.
The work of the two NCMPs will be supported by a team of PSP members, said Dr Tan.
"It will be made up of very young people, and very wise people too. They will give the information, the feedback, and also some of the issues, current, for them to take up in the House," he said.
Dr Tan added that the party will continue its campaign in West Coast.
"We are not the type who just come, we lose, we run away. We will go to the ground. I am personally going to walk the ground now. I will walk the ground, I will train all these young people," he said.
The party's renewal process is starting "immediately" after the General Election, Dr Tan said, adding that Ms Poa and Mr Leong will play a very important role in this.
"I hope that when they are in Parliament, they will gain some experiences from being in the House."
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