NCMPs free to oppose govt policies

By Lei Jiahui

THE Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme is designed not to change government policies but to point out weaknesses in them, said People's Action Party chairman Lim Boon Heng.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Office also pointed out that NCMPs have full debating rights in Parliament, and are free to express views opposing the Government's.

"NCMPs have every right to speak on every subject in Parliament. So, if the NCMP has done his or her homework and has strong views to express that are different from the Government's, there are no obstructions to that," said Mr Lim, who announced earlier this week that he would not be seeking re-election.

His defence of the NCMP scheme comes in the wake of recent criticisms that the system is flawed, and that NCMPs are not "real opposition".

The NCMP scheme was expanded recently to allow up to nine NCMPs, depending on the number of opposition candidates elected.

Mr Lim was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Social Enterprises (SEs) Vision 2015 Seminar held at the NTUC Centre in One Marina Boulevard yesterday. The inaugural seminar brought together some 500 staff and management officials of the 12 NTUC SEs.

In his keynote address, the minister, who is also the chairman of the NTUC SEs Development Council, outlined plans and direction for the SEs over the next five years. The aim is for the SEs to expand their social outreach through developing new strategies and providing more services to support care for both the young and the old.

For instance, FairPrice supermarkets plan to expand their range of house-brand products and double sales, while keeping prices affordable.

To meet emerging needs, First Campus, which runs a network of 92 childcare centres here, is looking to pilot and implement a new Chinese-language curriculum, and to develop a new curriculum for infants and toddlers aged up to three years.

NTUC SEs serve an estimated two million customers a year.

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