Thursday, 28 January 2016

NCMP and the Opposition

PM Lee has proposed several changes to the Singapore Constitution in line with the call from the Presidential address to Parliament.

One of the proposal was to give Non-Constituency MPs (NCMP) full voting rights on all parliamentary matters. And to increase the number of NCMP to a maximum of 12 (less the number of elected opposition MPs).

In April 2011, I had said that NCMP should be given full voting rights on all parliamentary matters. At that time the number of NCMPs was (and still is) limited to 9. The new amendments to the constitution would raise that to 12.

Back then, the WP attacked the NCMP for not having the full rights of an MP.

And I predicted:
And if the opposition now says, "of course the PAP gave us this concession, it is meaningless!", the PAP can then point out how the opposition have been focusing on pointless battles without considering the practical effects or outcomes of their pursuits. If they can't see the simple consequences of what is a relatively straightforward matter, what more can they predict the consequences of whatever else they are proposing.
Interestingly, the Workers Party (WP) which can have as many as 3 NCMPs have called for the NCMP provision to be scrapped entirely, as NCMPs "have no political muscle".

And yet they are manoeuvring to have Lee Li Lian give up her NCMP seat so that Daniel Goh can take the seat.

So even as Low Thia Khiang derides the NCMP provision, he is not above making use of it, even though it has no political muscle?

Workers’ Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang said that even if Non-Constituency Member of Parliaments had the same voting rights as elected MPs, they are “very different” due to their lack of a local electorate to serve. A party with an NCMP does not gain any advantage or “political muscle”, he added.
"You don't have roots, unlike elected MPs where you have a constituency, you run a Town Council, you are in close touch with your residents, and you can sink roots there. NCMPs, make no mistake about it, are not elected MPs. They may be given the same voting rights in Paliament, but that only pertains to Parliament. elected MPs, with regular Meet-the-People Sessions and the job of running a Town Council, "will give you the reality on the ground, and thereby when it comes to discussing policy, you will be more grounded".
So here's the deal.

You run for election and lost. You have been rejected by the people, the voters. Do you have the right to run their town council?

The NCMP provision allows you to showcase your ideas and persuasive powers in parliament. Yes, it is NOT the full power and duty of an elected MP. But then... you lost, didn't you?

NCMP is... the consolation prize.

And so Lee Li Lian, who had won Punggol East in a by-election and had experienced running or at least partial running of a town council, and meeting residents, is being passed over in favour of Daniel Goh? That sort of puts paid to your criticism of the "no political muscle", doesn't it? If you truly believe that, Lee Li Lian would be a better NCMP than Daniel Goh.

The simple fact is that the NCMP is simply an opportunity. Or a tool. Like a boxing glove.

Give a pair of boxing gloves to Mike Tyson, or Mohd Ali (in his prime) and they can work magic with it. Give it to Lee Li Lian, it would not be used as it is intended. Or used to great effect.

So it is not about "political muscle". For the electorate, sometimes it is simply confirming that they had made the right choice. Case in point, Gerald Giam.

[Sidenote: The People's Power Party and Reform Party has come out in support of proportional representation system. The good thing about the PR system is that even the smallest party have a good chance to get into parliament. The bad thing? The smallest, least credible parties can also get into parliament as long as there are enough voters (say... 5% of voters) for them.

Here is a short critique of PR systems:

CPG Grey's video on Proportional Representative voting system_

As the video notes, there is a "hidden" meeting (at 0:25 in the video) where Goh Meng Seng, and Kenneth J will list themselves as the first candidate to enter parliament under the PR system. Same for Tan Jee Say.

And WP will fail to grow.

More on proportional representation next time.]


Anonymous said...

alex au advocates half half first past post and proportionate in one chamber,


but it is also possible to have two chambers, with lower house first past post
and senate proportionate; senate’s role can be something like the
present presidential council expanded in size and scope; the senate can
also take over the role of assessing presidential candidates now
performed by a three-person committee: it would be more authoritative to
have this done by an elected body

El Lobo Loco said...

I normally would not allow comments like the above (by Yuenchungkwong) because 1) instead of making a point, it simply parrots the point of another blogger. If I wanted to debate or discuss with the other blogger, I can go to his blog and do so. why would I want to debate with a parrot?
2) the proposals (as parroted) makes no argument for the functionality or advantage of having a bicameral parliament. Some functions of the "Senate" is proposed, but why? What is the advantage? What compelling reasons are there for a bicameral, two voting/election system?

Its nice to have?

yuen said...

senate with proportionate representation is my idea, not Alex Au's; I wont "parrot" his idea; as you say, you can go to his blog and see for yourself without my help

the benefit of the idea is to help small parties that cannot win anything under first-past-post, thus making the system more representative; I would have thought this quite obvious

El Lobo Loco said...

Thank you for not reading my "About" page before commenting. I shall leave your comment here as an illustration of unthinking "hey! I saw another post which is sort of related. I don't quite understand it, but maybe I can give the impression that I am intelligent by referencing it!"

The point, dear parrot, is that real thinking intelligent people read, assimilate, and add to the discussion. The point is not to prove you can read, or that you read widely. The point is to show that you can think.

Not simply link and regurgitate.

And no, ""I would have thought this quite obvious" is not an argument. If it were obvious, people like Alex won't have to argue for it. And you won't have to pretend you understood it.

And also thank you for not watching the video link I provided on a critique of the "obvious" Proportional Representation System.

It is so nice to know that my attempt to pre-empt vacuous, irrelevant, unthinking comments such as yours have been a failure. It is a humbling experience.

Obviously, I need to make my posts more fool proof. The fools are still getting through. (though that is still my fault for allowing the comment.)