3rd NCMP seat to go to WP's East Coast team

The third Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) will be from the Workers' Party (WP) team that contested in East Coast GRC, and Dr Daniel Goh has confirmed he will fill the seat when he gets the formal offer.

The Elections Department told The Straits Times yesterday: "The Returning Officer has been informed of the resolution passed by Parliament on Jan 29, 2016, to fill the NCMP seat of Ms Lee Li Lian that has become vacant."

The department added that Returning Officer Ng Wai Choong, who announces which candidates are elected as MPs and NCMPs, will write to the WP's East Coast candidates, who will decide among themselves who will take up the position. They will inform the Returning Officer of their decision in seven days.

Ms Lee lost her Punggol East seat in last September's general election, but was the losing opposition candidate with the highest vote share. She said almost immediately after the election results that she would not take up the NCMP post.

The WP then said it wanted Dr Goh, a 42-year-old sociology associate professor at the National University of Singapore, to fill the seat.

Last Friday, the WP moved a motion in Parliament for the third NCMP seat to be declared vacant and have it filled. An intense, nearly two-hour debate ensued, and the People's Action Party and the WP locked horns over the principles of the NCMP scheme and the WP's motives in wanting to fill the seat.

The motion was passed, but not before Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who is the Government Whip, added an amendment saying Parliament "regrets that Ms Lee Li Lian, having stood as a WP candidate and received the highest vote share among all losing opposition candidates, 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".

It added that "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'".

The WP abstained from voting on the motion as it objected to the amendment.

When contacted, Dr Goh said the WP's four-member East Coast team had yet to receive word from the Elections Department.

But he confirmed that he would take up the offer, and said he saw it as a form of service to the country.

He will join two other NCMPs from the WP. They are consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, 45, who was in the WP's East Coast team, and shipping lawyer Dennis Tan, also 45, who stood in single- seat Fengshan constituency.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline '3rd NCMP seat to go to WP's East Coast team'. Print Edition | Subscribe