Madam Speaker, the last time a motion of such nature was tabled in Parliament was in 1985. Back then, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minster for Community Development, Mr. S Dhanabalan, moved the motion stating that it is to provide for the filling of the vacant NCMP seat.
The PAP Government then believed it could define its brand of democracy by allowing up to 3 opposition members in Parliament and so the law came to pass. Mr. Dhanabalan simply added that “the motion is just to implement the law.” Nothing more, nothing less.
The PAP Government of today believes it could retain its influence and power with up to 9 opposition members in Parliament and amended the law in 2010.
Madam, today, the Workers’ Party is here to move a similar motion to implement the law pursuant to section 53 of the Parliamentary Elections Act.
This motion does not change in any way, the stand of the Workers’ Party, that the NCMP scheme is not necessary if we had adhered to our original Constitution and revert to a democracy comprising only Single Member Constituencies.
My colleagues in this House have spoken in details on the motion so I shall not repeat those points.
It is understandable for some PAP members in this House to want to take this opportunity to score political points. After all, in the motion of 1985, Mr. Dhanabalan said “politicians are practical people” and that “they look at the practical exercise of influence and power.”
The distribution of influence and power in this House is so lopsided that the ruling party can dictate the number of NCMP seats it allows and at the same time deny these seats to fill through its sheer majority. That is the reality in this House.
The ruling party may say that it has given us 3 NCMP seats but it is the Workers’ Party that created the vacancy.
To that argument, I agree, but the PAP government has also enacted law for such vacancy to be filled in the event that a candidate does not wish to take up the NCMP seat. The Workers’ Party respects the wishes of its members. I am sure the PAP would do the same.
So this is what the Workers’ Party is doing today and that is to implement to the letter of law of what is provided in section 53 of the Parliamentary Elections Act.