SINGAPORE: Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chief Desmond Lim said that voters should not be “steered away” from the party’s campaign for the General Election, as talk about the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme emerged.
“We are not going to fall into the trap of the PAP telling people that there is already sufficient NCMP (seats) so we don’t need opposition,” Mr Lim told CNA on Thursday (Jul 2). “We come here not just to contest NCMP. We are here to contest (for) full-fledged MP.”
The NCMP scheme, which was introduced in 1984, allows the "best-performing losers" from the opposition to enter Parliament after a General Election.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier said that there is “no possibility” of the opposition being excluded from Parliament with the NCMP scheme in place. His comments came after the Workers’ Party’s chief Pritam Singh warned of a possibility of an opposition "wipeout" in the election.
READ: GE2020: 'No possibility' of opposition being excluded from Parliament with NCMP scheme, says PM Lee
After the last General Election, the number of NCMPs in Parliament was raised from nine to 12, and NCMPs now have full voting rights.
But this is not enough, said Mr Lim, whose team is running for the five-member Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC. “There is still a big difference because NCMPs cannot represent the residents to write to the ministry or authority or agency to appeal for them,” he said.
“It’s not only (about) going into Parliament (to be) their voice.”
When asked if he would take up an NCMP position if offered, Mr Lim said: “I would offer the PAP to take up the NCMP (seats) in this constituency. We are here for the win … I believe the residents of Pasir Ris-Punggol will give us the mandate to represent them.”
Mr Lim made these comments to CNA during a walkabout on Thursday morning at Pasir Ris Park, where he gave out party flyers to visitors, alongside fellow candidates Mr Abu Mohamed, Mr Kelvin Ong and Mr Kuswadi Atnawi. Mr Harminder Pal Singh, the fifth member of the team, was not present.
SDA has contested in the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in the last three elections against the incumbent PAP. A three-cornered fight will be seen this year, with the new Peoples Voice (PV) party entering the fray.
The PAP team, led by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, comprises party whip Janil Puthucheary and three new candidates - Mr Desmond Tan Kok Ming, Ms Yeo Wan Ling and Mr Mohamed Sharael Mohd Taha.
PV will field Mr Gilbert Goh, Mr Mohamed Nassir Ismail, Mr Jireh Lim, Mr Prabu Ramachandran and Ms Vigneswari Ramachandran.
On the tight competition, Mr Lim said that SDA remains confident. “As an alliance, we can accept any political party … but we cannot join another political party,” he said. “We tried our best, we talked to (Peoples Voice) but they insist to come.
“We can’t stop (them) … everyone has the rights and freedoms to contest anywhere.”