Raise allowance for better parliamentary commitment

It is heartening to hear that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong plans to increase the minimum number of opposition MPs, including Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs), to 12, up from the current nine ("More opposition from next Parliament for more robust debate"; yesterday), and that NCMPs will get the same voting rights as elected MPs.

In the light of these changes, could the allowance for NCMPs then be increased from the current $2,000 to $5,000?

Some NCMPs may want to treat their post as a full-time job to prepare well and perform better in parliamentary debates.

In fact, this was one factor cited by the Workers' Party's former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian in declining the NCMP position.

She said that she quit her job to be a full-time MP, but that it was not possible to be a full-time NCMP, and it would be unfair to her future employer if she took leave monthly for parliamentary commitments ("WP's top three losing candidates declared as NCMPs"; Sept 17, 2015).

If the NCMP allowance were increased to, say, $5,000, perhaps some may consider taking on the NCMP position full time and be better prepared for parliamentary commitments.

Tan Kwong Moh

This article was first published on Jan 29, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.