Historian and former opposition politician among those seeking to be Nominated MP

(From left) Liew Kai Khiun, Eric Tan and Kok Heng Leun, who submitted their applications to be a Nominated MP on Feb 22, 2016. ST PHOTOS: RACHEL AU-YONG / NEO XIAOBIN / ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A historian, a former opposition politician and an arts activist are among those who want to be Nominated MPs, who are meant to provide alternatives voices in Parliament.

At least 11 people were seen submitting their applications at Parliament House from 10.30am to 5pm on Monday (Feb 22), a day before the closing date.

Several of them did so in person, while others sent proxies.

One of the earliest to do so was history academic Liew Kai Khiun, 43, who is applying again after an unsuccessful bid in 2014. He said his application is backed by the Nature Society.

Assistant Professor Liew said he decided to submit his name last week, after green groups weighed in on a recently-released report on the environmental impact of site investigation works for the Cross Island Line (CRL) around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).

The CRL is a 50km MRT line that will run from Jurong in the West to Changi in the East.

The groups have been lobbying hard for it to be built around the reserve, instead of through it.

He noted that the Gardens by the Bay is proudly showcased here although it is not part of the natural ecology. "What about the CCNR, a primary forest that survived World War II and 50 years of development?"

He added: "If selected, I'd like to help shape what sort of spaces we value - not just our natural ones, but also the public ones."

Asst Prof Liew also said he would use his position to improve the level of engagement between the state and civil society.

The NMP scheme, introduced in 1990, allows for up to nine people to be chosen to provide alternative voices in Parliament.

Other contenders include former opposition politician Eric Tan, 61; arts activist Felicia Low, 39; and business owner Mohamed Nawaz, 36.

Mr Tan, a freelance adjunct lecturer at Nanyang Business School, is keen on active ageing, saying he wants "to facilitate employment opportunities for professionals aged above 60, who have so many more years of productive working life."

Dr Low, a part-time lecturer at the School of the Arts and who runs a non-profit organisation that produces arts programmes for the community, said she would raise "issues that represent my sector".

The focus of Mr Nawaz, director of personal development company Body Pulse, is on education, youth and entrepreneurship.

"Sometimes the Government overlooks groups such as freelancers, who are a small but important part of our work force," he said.

Also spotted were dispatchers handing in forms on behalf of the various coordinators of seven functional groups that are asked to submit names of NMPs.

The proposed names are put before Parliament's Special Select Committee on Nominations for Appointment as NMPs for consideration.

Among the dispatchers was the courier for National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan, the coordinator for tertiary education institutions, and a dispatch rider for Academy of Medicine master Lim Shih Hui, who coordinates the professions. Both organisations declined to disclose their nominees.

Earlier on Monday, Drama Box artistic director Kok Heng Leun said he would throw his name into the ring for a second time, in his bid to represent the arts community.

"I believe that arts and culture should have a place in the national conversation," he said on Facebook.

Last week, the labour movement put forth veteran unionist K. Thanaletchimi, 50, as a potential NMP.

As for the last batch of NMPs, entrepreneur Kuik Shiao-Yin confirmed last week that she was seeking a second term while businessman Thomas Chua said he felt he had more to offer.

Four had said they would not seek another term: Yale-NUS College executive vice-president of academic affairs Tan Tai Yong, veteran unionist K. Karthikeyan, Maybank Singapore's premier wealth department vice-president Ismail Hussein, and Changi General Hospital sports medicine chief Benedict Tan.

Corporate lawyer Chia Yong Yong, who is a wheelchair user, said she would leave the decision of her re-nomination to the social services sector coordinator, while the remaining two - labour economist Randolph Tan and architect Rita Soh - could not be reached for comment.

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