WP's Lee Li Lian says amended NCMP motion unfair to party, 'an attack on me'

Former Workers' Party MP Lee Li Lian hugging a supporter.
Former Workers' Party MP Lee Li Lian hugging a supporter. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Former Workers' Party (WP) MP Lee Li Lian yesterday said the PAP Government's amendment to the parliamentary motion to declare vacant the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) seat she rejected was "both unfair to the party and an attack on me personally".

In a Facebook post, Ms Lee, the former MP for Punggol East, said she was surprised by the amendment which accused her of acting contrary to the views of voters and described her giving up the seat as a political manoeuvre.

"I did not contest the general election to be an NCMP, but an elected member of the House with the full responsibilities involved in representing my constituents," she said.

"Having lost my MP seat to Mr Charles Chong, I stepped aside in line with what the voters had expressed," she added.

Ms Lee got more than 48 per cent of the votes, making her the losing opposition candidate with the highest vote share, and thus eligible for one of three NCMP seats.

But the WP said she would give up the seat in favour of its East Coast GRC candidate Daniel Goh.

 

WP MPs filed a motion to declare the seat vacant and fill it, and last Friday, Government Whip Chan Chun Sing said that the seat would be filled but the motion had to be one that "reflects the truth".

 

People's Action Party (PAP) MPs voted for the amended motion, but WP MPs abstained.

The amendment said Parliament regrets that Ms Lee"has now decided to give up her NCMP seat to another candidate from her party with a lower vote share, contrary to the expressed will of voters".

The changed motion also said "the WP supports this political manoeuvre to take full advantage of the NCMP seat, even as its secretary-general criticises NCMPs as just 'duckweed on the water of a pond'."

WP chief Low Thia Khiang had used the phrase in reply to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement last week that NCMPs would get the same voting rights as elected MPs.

Yesterday, Ms Lee said that to be truly responsible to voters, she had to be able to represent them both in Parliament and on the ground.

"As an NCMP I am unable to do that," she said, citing how her recent application to the PAP-run town council to hold a charity food distribution event in Punggol East had been rejected.

She also rebutted Mr Chong's suggestion in Parliament that she should have respected the "decision of the minority" who voted for her by taking up the NCMP seat.

"The NCMP scheme was not put in place by the voters, but the Government," she said.

"Voters who voted for me were seeking for me to be their elected MP, and unfortunately this was not the outcome at the polls."

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'WP's Lee Li Lian weighs in on NCMP motion'. Print Edition | Subscribe