SINGAPORE - The new cohort of Nominated MPs (NMPs) was sworn in on Monday (Oct 1), and attended its first Parliament sitting, which featured debates over several Bills.
The nine new NMPs are: Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, 26; Sakae Holdings chairman Douglas Foo Peow Yong, 49; Singapore Chinese Orchestra executive director Ho Wee San, 49; Professor Lim Sun Sun, 46; Roses of Peace founder Abbas Ali Mohamed Irshad, 29; social entrepreneur Anthea Ong Lay Theng, 50; Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore president Irene Quay Siew Ching, 43; Associate Professor Walter Edgar Theseira, 40; and labour unionist Arasu Duraisamy, 50.
Two of them, Prof Theseira and Mr Mohamed Irshad, got down to business immediately, speaking up on two Bills that were being debated in the House.
In his maiden parliamentary speech, Prof Theseira spoke on the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, where he raised his concerns about a proposal for changes in electoral divisions to be published as maps online or for public viewing, instead of in written detail in the Gazette.
He said that while this is efficient, it may unintentionally harm the historical record of changes in Singapore's electoral divisions, as materials published purely online have little permanence.
He added that the Gazette is a permanent part of the Republic's history and cannot be readily altered or destroyed, and scholars use the Gazette to research how Singapore's electoral divisions have changed over time and how that affected representation and other outcomes in society and the economy.
For example, he said, an academic paper published by two National University of Singapore researchers in 2010, titled The Political Economy Of Housing Prices, drew on information from the Gazette to study how electoral boundaries affect housing prices.
He said to laughter from the House: "I leave it to members to guess whether Government or opposition wards enjoy higher housing prices. I hope this will encourage members to read more academic papers."
Meanwhile, Mr Mohamed Irshad gave a speech on the Gas (Amendment) Bill, in which he spoke about the importance of energy sustainability, resilience and security.
The nine NMPs - all of whom are first-timers to the role - will serve a 2½-year term.