Why WP should embrace scheme

The Workers' Party's (WP) current position on the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme is untenable, especially since there is no palpable objection to the idea among Singaporeans ("Workers' Party needs a new approach on NCMPs"; last Friday).

I am one of many Singaporeans who believe a creditable opposition presence in Parliament is essential for a well-functioning democracy.

Although the NCMP scheme is unique to Singapore, there are also similar systems in other countries, such as Japan, the Netherlands and Israel, where some elected MPs do not have their own constituencies.

These countries have varied versions of proportional representation in elections, in which multiple candidates are elected through allocations to an electoral list.

In these systems, political parties make lists of candidates to be elected and seats get allocated to each party in proportion to the number of votes the party receives.

The main advantage of such systems is that there is adequate representation of those who did not vote for the ruling party.

But adopting this system may not resolve the current imbalance in our existing Parliament, with the People's Action Party having garnered some 70 per cent of the votes in the 2015 General Election.

So, the practical question for Singapore is how to ensure that those who voted for the opposition - not an insignificant number - are legitimately represented.

With NCMPs being conferred the same voting rights as elected MPs, no reasonable person would view them as second-class MPs ("Changes to political system to prepare S'pore for long term"; Jan 28).

I hope the WP will seriously reconsider its position and embrace the NCMP scheme, for the sake of our future democracy.

Nevertheless, I look forward to the positive and robust contributions of the new NCMPs in Parliament.

Edmund Lam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Why WP should embrace scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe