SINGAPORE: The arts community in Singapore introduced two potential candidates to become their Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) during an open town hall on Sunday (Jun 24), as current representative Kok Heng Leun prepares to step down come the end of his term in September.
Ms Felicia Low, who is a lecturer at School of the Arts’ (SOTA) Humanities and Social Sciences department and founding director of not-for-profit organisation Community Cultural Development (Singapore), was one who put her name up for consideration.
She had previously received the Outstanding Youth In Education Award 2005 and was selected for the President’s Young Talent Show 2009, according to her biography on SOTA’s website.
The other candidate was Mr Woon Tien Wei, a visual artist who founded Post-Museum. The social enterprise describes itself as “an independent cultural and social space in Singapore which aims to encourage and support a thinking and pro-active community” on its website.
Ms Low said in her introduction during the town hall meeting that one of the driving forces behind her decision to stand for nomination is a desire to make sure the arts students she is currently teaching are able to make a living from their craft.
She spoke about the need to professionalise the creative field and broaden the scope of what arts meant for the wider Singapore society and defining their value, so that artists would be able to have a sustainable livelihood.
Mr Woon, meanwhile, described himself as a “busybody” and empathetic of many communities. This can be seen by his advocacy work in heritage and conservation issues such as the Bukit Brown cemetery and Sungei Road flea market.
During the town hall session, outgoing NMP Kok took the opportunity to share about his experiences in Parliament. He said one of the challenges he faced was getting the legislative and administrative support he needed to better debate the bills proposed.
He also said many parliamentary processes, such as one where NMPs can put forward petitions, are “still not fully utilised”. He encouraged the next NMP who will represent the arts community to take every opportunity to speak up on various issues, as well as find out from parliamentary clerks the dos and don’ts of what they intend to pursue.
“We are really at the infancy stage,” Mr Kok said. “I encourage everyone, not just the NMP, to up themselves in terms of the understanding of parliamentary processes.”
As for the business and industry functional group, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) told Channel NewsAsia said they can submit up to two names for consideration.
"SBF is currently in the process of considering candidates for the business and industry group. We will not reveal our nominations publicly," chairman Mr SS Teo said in his email reply. "The nominees will be selected because of their notable contributions to the field of business and industry, and that they qualify for appointment under the constitution."
Meanwhile, two current Nominated Members of Parliament, Ms Kuik Shiao-yin and Mr Azmoon Ahmad, have confirmed their intentions to step down after their terms end.