The myth of equality between an NCMP and an elected MP
September 8, 2015, 10:43 pm
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, GE2015, Singapore
A screenshot of Yahoo's report on 6 September 2015.

A screenshot of Yahoo’s report on 6 September 2015.

On Sunday, 6 September, Mr Goh Chok Tong reportedly said that if the opposition loses the election, they can still participate in Parliament, thanks to the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Scheme (NCMP).

“Let’s say they lose the election – they don’t have to run the town council. Their voice can still be as strong as before in Parliament. So in fact…they are more free to write more great speeches, to make more great rhetoric in parliament,” he said.

For a layperson, this sounds like a good deal. However, does this reflect the reality?

The NCMP in short, is the “best loser” of an election. Before Parliament dissolved on 25 August, three of the “best losers” from the last general elections, Yee Jenn Jong and Gerald Giam from the Workers’ Party, and Lina Chiam from Singapore People’s Party, were granted the seats as NCMPs.

Like an elected Member of Parliament (MP), the NCMP is allowed to pose Parliamentary questions, and engage in Parliamentary debates to present their views.

However while an elected MP is allowed to vote on all matters, the NCMP can vote on matters except for anything regarding amendments to the Constitution, Supply or Supplementary Bills, Money Bills, motions of no confidence in the Government, or removing the President from office.

Therefore, the NCMP do not have the same rights as an elected MP in the Parliament.

So in view of what is stated on the Constitution of Singapore regarding the power of an NCMP (see below), Mr Goh’s simplistic description of the power that an NCMP holds, is seriously misleading.

constitution article 39
I do not want to assume that this may be deliberate but if so, this is not the way to win an election especially if one is a former Prime Minister who should have known better.


2 Comments so far
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Thanks for this. I think the biggest issue with NCMP’s is that they are only paid 15% of the normal MP’s salary.

While they may have speaking rights, an NCMP has to keep their full time job to pay their bills. This means that they don’t have the time and resources to prepare properly for parliamentary debates.

In Singapore I think the need for time to prepare and research one’s public statements is particularly important given the climate where several politicians and MPs have been sued and bankrupted for statements which were not 100% accurate.

You can see the pay structure for NCMP’s here:
http://www.psd.gov.sg/docs/default-source/white-paper/handout-4—summary-of-recommendations.pdf

Comment by nickharrigan

[…] No Effect – Majulah!: GRC – the double edge sword – Rachel Zeng’s Blog: The myth of equality between an NCMP and an elected MP – Reflections of a disciple: Oh thank God, my friend Lee Kuan Yew’s last words for […]

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