NMPs have contributed to healthy debates: Grace Fu

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu thanked the nine NMPs, whose 21/2-year term of office ends this month.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu thanked the nine NMPs, whose 21/2-year term of office ends this month.PHOTO: ST FILE

They've done well to represent alternative and diverse views, she says, as their term nears end

The current batch of Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) did not shy away from challenging the status quo but presented their views respectfully in Parliament, Leader of the House Grace Fu said yesterday.

By doing so, they contributed to healthy debates in the House and put Singapore and Singaporeans first, she added.

Ms Fu, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, was thanking the nine NMPs, whose 21/2-year term of office ends this month.

They are: auto company senior vice-president Azmoon Ahmad; media company executive vice-president Ganesh Rajaram; theatre group artistic director Kok Heng Leun; law lecturer Mahdev Mohan; and unionist K. Thanaletchimi, who all served one term, and corporate lawyer Chia Yong Yong; businessman Thomas Chua; social entrepreneur Kuik Shiao Yin; and labour economist Randolph Tan, who have served two terms.

So far, Ms Kuik, Mr Chua, Mr Kok and Mr Azmoon have confirmed they are stepping down.

Ms Fu said there had been a rise in alternative views and interest in a broader range of topics among the people in recent years, adding that NMPs had done well representing these diverse perspectives.

VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS

The NMPs have embodied the spirit of Parliament putting Singapore and Singaporeans first. On behalf of the House, I'd like to thank them for their valuable contributions to Parliament.

MS GRACE FU, Leader of the House and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

She credited them with bringing attention to topics such as workplace harassment, criminal justice and income inequality, and lauded five NMPs who teamed up in July to propose a motion on education.

"The NMPs have embodied the spirit of Parliament putting Singapore and Singaporeans first. On behalf of the House, I'd like to thank them for their valuable contributions to Parliament," she said.

Later, Mr Kok, speaking on behalf of the NMPs, thanked the Government and fellow MPs for their patience and generosity in debates.

This drew a quip from Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin that the NMP had used up 30 seconds of his 20-minute allotment for an adjournment motion, in which he called for more flexibility in allowing for spontaneous performances or displays of art to occur in public spaces.

Mr Kok said disputes over whether art can and should be allowed in public spaces have occurred over the years, such as over a "golden staircase" in an HDB block.

He suggested that an independent body made up of legal experts, artistic personnel and other stakeholders can be set up to investigate complaints and bring together the artists and those who took issue with the artwork for dialogue.

"If the city and its public spaces are meant for the public, it should be safe and permissible for everyone to be there, to interact, to exchange information and ideas, as long as the exchange does not... create disorder. That is a right to the city, a right for everyone," he said.

Replying, Ms Fu said the Government worked closely with the private and people sectors to provide a wide range of visual and performing arts in Singapore's public spaces.

But she said a careful balance between artists and stakeholders who own or use public premises needs to be struck, as Singapore's public spaces serve a wide range of needs.

There is a need to be sensitive to and respectful of different perspectives, values and ways of life in Singapore's multi-cultural and multi-generational society, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2018, with the headline 'NMPs have contributed to healthy debates: Grace Fu'. Print Edition | Subscribe