New NMPs on how they hope to contribute

The latest batch of nine Nominated MPs received their letters of appointment from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Thursday. Rei Kurohi speaks to the new NMPs on why they applied or agreed to be nominated, what they plan to say in their maiden speeches, and the top three issues they hope to raise in Parliament.

President Halimah Yacob and Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin (fifth from right) with new Nominated MPs (from left) Mr Mark Chay, Dr Shahira Abdullah, Mr Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, Professor Koh Lian Pin, Professor Hoon Hian Teck, Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, Ms Janet An
President Halimah Yacob and Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin (fifth from right) with new Nominated MPs (from left) Mr Mark Chay, Dr Shahira Abdullah, Mr Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, Professor Koh Lian Pin, Professor Hoon Hian Teck, Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, Ms Janet Ang, Dr Tan Yia Swam and Mr Cheng Hsing Yao at the Istana on Thursday. The NMPs received their letters of appointment from Madam Halimah that day. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK

MR ABDUL SAMAD ABDUL WAHAB, 48, NTUC VICE-PRESIDENT

Why me? Labour movement NMPs are chosen by a selection committee in NTUC chaired by the president and other key appointment holders in the NTUC central committee. I am humbled and honoured to have been chosen to represent the union leaders.

Maiden speech: I will note the importance of a workforce that has strong Singaporean representation to ensure every working Singaporean has good employment opportunities. I will also make a call for expanding the Progressive Wage Model structure to all sectors.

Top three issues: Besides the two issues in my maiden speech, I will raise concerns facing middle-income households and the "sandwich class", such as employment opportunities and the relevant support available to help them cope with the rising cost of living. I would also like to appeal for more support and assistance for employers to employ workers beyond the retirement and re-employment ages.


MS JANET ANG, 61, SISTIC CHAIRMAN

Why me? I have been very blessed with much - a purposeful and reasonably successful career, enriched with the experience of living and working overseas, and to top it all, I have a supportive husband and four lovely daughters. I prayed about it, and decided that this is the time to say "yes" to the call to be nominated for NMP, and to do my part to be a useful voice in Parliament.

Maiden speech: I will talk about the importance of a culture of care and dialogue among all stakeholders, and how we can work together to find solutions that do not worsen inequality. I will also talk about diversity and inclusion in education, digital access, work, business leadership and politics, as well as the need to embrace technology while keeping the dignity of people and work in focus.

Top three issues: Fair practices in the workplace, the skills needed for transformation, digitalisation and business innovation, and the targeted interventions needed to address uneven industry or sector recovery.


MR MARK CHAY, 38, DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AT GLOBAL ESPORTS FEDERATION

Why me? SportSG (Sport Singapore) called me and asked if I was keen to be nominated. I thought about it, spoke to some of my friends who are former NMPs like Yip Pin Xiu, Nicholas Fang, Ng Ser Miang, Ben Tan and Jessie Phua, and decided to accept. My employer and family have been very supportive, and I think what I've been doing in the sports community - seeing to different stakeholders, helping to form policy and making decisions for the industry as a whole - is not too different from the kind of work I foresee happening in Parliament.

Maiden speech: One thing I really want to bring up is how the sports industry can transition smoothly to a post-pandemic world. I will speak on how sports impacts everyone and can help Singapore build resilience, which is ever more important in this day and age.

Top three issues: Education and continuous skills acquisition for the sports sector, the business side of sports, and how we can support and develop the emerging e-sports scene.


MR CHENG HSING YAO, 49, GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR, GUOCOLAND

Why me? Singapore is entering a challenging but also critical post-pandemic phase. Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I can appreciate the difficulties faced by both sides. I believe there are a lot of opportunities for both to work together to create a stronger Singapore.

Maiden speech: My expertise is in the built environment sector. I would like to contribute towards the discussion relating to sustainability and livability. Going forward, there will be many challenges and opportunities presented by climate change, demographic changes and new technologies. How can we best take this on and emerge better? A strong public-private partnership will allow us to tap into the best from both sides, and gives us a much better chance to create the most effective and innovative solutions for our city.

Top three issues: Public-private partnership, sustainability and livability, and identity, inclusiveness and pride for our city.


PROFESSOR HOON HIAN TECK, 61, DEAN, SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, SINGAPORE MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY

Why me? The Singapore economy is undergoing structural changes that are accentuated by Covid-19 as it becomes a mature economy. I'm joining Parliament as an NMP to contribute to our understanding of these changes so that we can continue to design policies that will generate economic prosperity for our citizens.

Maiden speech: I have been fascinated by how Singapore has been achieving good economic outcomes since independence. The question is: How can Singapore deliver economic prosperity for current and future generations as a mature economy? Finding an answer requires an understanding of the workings of economic forces - both positive and negative - within the country, as well as among countries.

Top three issues: How to boost the contributions of start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to productivity growth. How to develop an environmentally sustainable system. How to design the social insurance system in the face of job disruptions and facilitate social mobility through policy design.


PROFESSOR KOH LIAN PIN, 44, DIRECTOR OF CENTRE FOR NATURE-BASED CLIMATE SOLUTIONS, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

Why me? I am probably the last generation of Singaporeans to have had some experience of kampung life. Later in life, I benefited greatly from Singapore's economic success, in having a quality of life and many opportunities that my parents and grandparents never had, although that came at a cost to our natural environment. This juxtaposition of my life experiences has had a profound influence on my goal as a conservation scientist and my wanting to contribute in Parliament as an NMP, which is to find ways to help reconcile economic development with environmental protection.

Maiden speech: I believe that a key part of overcoming the many challenges we are facing on climate change and other environmental challenges is a recognition of the need to balance the competing priorities of our society. I hope to provide science-based perspectives that may help inform these discussions and debates.

Top three issues: I would like to contribute to issues around climate change policies and actions, sustainability efforts and opportunities, and capacity building through education and research for Singapore to be even more resilient and prepared to meet future challenges in a post-Covid-19 world.


MR RAJ JOSHUA THOMAS, 41, PARTNER AT TANG THOMAS AND PRESIDENT OF SECURITY ASSOCIATION SINGAPORE

Why me? There are issues and sectors that I feel passionately about, and I think the NMP platform is uniquely suited to bring attention to these issues on a national level without getting entangled with any political considerations - a platform for giving raw opinions and making candid, unvarnished suggestions.

Maiden speech: I hope to raise matters relating to low-wage and essential workers. Increases in wages are, of course, centre stage, but I think there should also be emphasis on raising the dignity of our low-wage and essential workers and their professions. We must forge a social compact to improve their working conditions, how they are treated and respect for the work they do.

Top three issues: Issues relating to low-wage workers, legal representation for the financially needy, and the issues faced by small businesses in this difficult economy and with the adoption of technology.


DR SHAHIRA ABDULLAH, 33, ASSOCIATE CONSULTANT AT KHOO TECK PUAT HOSPITAL AND NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL MEMBER

Why me? I have been doing a lot of youth work, and I've realised that youth are very curious and have a lot to say. With easy access to information and social media, they tend to pick up on causes they feel very strongly about and want to speak about. I hope I can bring up these issues in Parliament, provide an additional avenue for them to be heard and hopefully bring about constructive conversations and actions.

Maiden speech: I hope to put forward that the youth of Singapore are a passionate and empathetic group who have a genuine care for the wider society. They want the hard truths about the issues facing Singapore and are prepared to have the difficult conversations needed to dissect these issues. They are ready to move beyond conversations and to take concrete actions to make Singapore a better place for everyone.

I would urge for youth to be given a space to bring up these concerns, without fear of rebuke. The important thing is to take this information and use it in the crafting of future policies. In this way, the youth will feel engaged and connected to their role in the future of Singapore.

Top three issues: Jobs and the economy, support for vulnerable communities and equal opportunities, and inclusivity and diversity in all forms.


DR TAN YIA SWAM, 40, CLINICAL DIRECTOR AT THOMSON BREAST CENTRE AND SINGAPORE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT

Why me? I would like to provide a voice for those who might not otherwise have a chance to be heard. I will ask questions, share feedback from the people I know on the ground, and hopefully start a meaningful conversation and impetus for positive change to build an even more inclusive society.

Maiden speech: I will be the voice of the doctors and patients I serve. I want to help people to be empowered to take charge of their health and I hope to bridge the gaps in access to healthcare.

To me, it is also important to advocate for mental wellness in addition to physical health. I would also like to discuss equality for all citizens.

Top three issues: Equality, mental wellness and being the voice for both doctors and patients