NCMP scheme: Make it compulsory or let it go

The debate over reluctant opposition member Lee Li Lian and a questionable Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) seat has thrown the spotlight on the problems of the scheme ("WP files motion to take up 3rd NCMP seat"; Tuesday).

To begin with, the scheme is fundamentally ill conceived in substance, even if noble in spirit.

Parliament should be reserved for elected representatives, in accordance with the voice of the people who have voted for them.

NCMPs, however, are essentially "non-elected MPs", an oxymoronic term - if one is not elected, one cannot be an MP. It is not the business of Parliament to ensure sufficient opposition voices via a back-door scheme.

Now that the Government has introduced the scheme, it should have the moral courage, as it looks to transforming Singapore's electoral politics into a First World democracy, to remove it or make it more rigorous ("Govt to study if political system needs tweaking"; last Saturday).

The scheme should not be about an individual who can choose willy-nilly to accept the post thrust upon him by the Constitution or for a political party to pick a replacement by whim and fancy.

Either case is bringing Parliament into disrepute and disrespecting the will of the nation, and not just those who voted for a candidate in Punggol East, as is in Ms Lee's case.

Let's have the courage to slay this not so sacred or useful cow and allow the House of legitimate Members to debate more pressing matters.

In short, make the NCMP scheme compulsory and non-negotiable - or do away with it completely.

Sunny Goh (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'NCMP scheme: Make it compulsory or let it go'. Print Edition | Subscribe