SINGAPORE - An Olympic swimmer, a conservation scientist and an economics professor are among the nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs).
Mr Mark Chay, 38; Professor Koh Lian Pin, 44; and Professor Hoon Hian Teck, 61, like the rest, are all first-time NMPs, and will be appointed by President Halimah Yacob for a 2½ year term. Their names were announced by Parliament on Thursday (Jan 14).
The others are: NTUC vice-president Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, 48; security industry association head Raj Joshua Thomas, 41; Sistic chairman Janet Ang, 61; GuocoLand group managing director Cheng Hsing Yao, 49; dental surgeon and National Youth Council member Shahira Abdullah, 33; and Singapore Medical Association president Tan Yia Swam, 40.
The nine were selected by a Special Select Committee of Parliament, chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin.
They were selected from a total of 61 names, 46 of whom applied on their own. The remaining 15 names were submitted by the seven functional groups representing business and industry; labour; the professions; tertiary education institutions; social service organisations; the civic and people sector; and the media, arts and sports organisations.
As most of the candidates were qualified and of good calibre, it was a challenge to select just nine from the list, the committee said in its report released on Thursday.
In announcing the list, Mr Tan said: "With many high-calibre candidates stepping forward for consideration, it was not an easy task for the Select Committee to nominate the maximum of nine NMPs."
"After careful deliberation, we have determined that the nine nominees have fulfilled all constitutional criteria and are eligible for appointment," he added. "Collectively, they also have creditable accomplishments in their individual fields and a good grasp of issues they are passionate about. I thus look forward to the rich diversity of insights and experiences they can bring to the House when we debate matters concerning Singapore and Singaporeans."
Among the key criteria the committee looked out for in assessing each candidate, as set out in the Constitution on the selection of NMPs, was whether he or she had rendered distinguished public service, brought honour to the Republic and would be able to reflect as wide a range of independent and non-partisan views as possible.
The committee said it had also considered factors such as whether the person was willing to commit the time to take part in parliamentary proceedings, and understood the current issues and challenges facing Singapore.
The NMP scheme was introduced in 1990 to ensure a wide representation of views in Parliament. There can be up to nine NMPs each term, lasting 2½ years.
Leader of the House Indranee Rajah, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and was on the eight-member committee, hopes the new NMPs will bring fresh perspectives and ideas as Singapore works to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and emerge stronger.
"We have a good slate of nine NMPs who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to society or in their respective fields, and whose specialised knowledge will add to the depth and breadth of the debates in Parliament," she added.
The others in the committee were ministers Chan Chun Sing, Gan Kim Yong, Maliki Osman and Vivian Balakrishnan; Minister of State Gan Siow Huang; and Workers' Party MP for Aljunied GRC Leon Perera.
Covid-19 was also on the minds of the nominees, with Mr Abdul Samad saying that he will champion the needs of workers affected by the economic downturn.
Prof Hoon, meanwhile, hopes to contribute to finding new ways to generate economic prosperity, while Mr Chay and Prof Koh want to speak about how their respective sectors of sports and the environment also present opportunities amid the crisis.
President Halimah will present the instruments of appointment to the NMPs at the Istana next Thursday, and the NMPs will take their oath at the next sitting of Parliament next month.
Here are more details about the nine new NMPs, provided by the committee.
1. Mr Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab
Mr Abdul Samad is one of three vice-presidents of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the general secretary of the Union of Power and Gas Employees and chairman of the NTUC Oil, Petrochemical, Energy and Chemical Cluster of Unions. He has been involved with the labour movement for the last 14 years.
As NTUC vice-president, Mr Abdul Samad guides the work of NTUC committees. He represents the trade union movement on the boards of SkillsFuture Singapore and the NTUC Learning Hub and is part of the NTUC team in the National Wages Council. Mr Abdul Samad was a recipient of the Public Service Medal in 2020.
2. Ms Janet Ang Guat Har
Ms Ang is currently chairman of Sistic.com and non-executive director at Singapore Press Holdings. She was appointed Singapore’s non-resident ambassador-designate to the Holy See in 2020.
Ms Ang also chairs the boards of the NUS Institute of Systems Science and Singapore Polytechnic, and is the deputy chair of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Foundation. In SBF, she chairs the digitalisation committee that works closely with government agencies, trade associations and chambers of commerce to address the digital needs of Singapore businesses. She was conferred the Public Service Medal in 2019.
3. Mr Mark Chay Jung Jun
Mr Chay is director of the secretariat of the Global Esports Federation and a national para swimming coach at the Singapore Disability Sports Council. He was a national athlete and represented Singapore in swimming at the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004.
Mr Chay is a multiple gold medallist and a record holder at the South-east Asian Games. He was named Sportsboy of the Year in 2001 and Sportsman of the Year in 2002. He was appointed chief de mission at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He continues to contribute by serving as chairman of the Singapore National Olympic Council Athlete’s Commission.
4. Mr Cheng Hsing Yao
Mr Cheng is currently group managing director at GuocoLand Singapore. He is also first vice-president of the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore and executive committee member of the Urban Land Institute Singapore.
Mr Cheng is a board member in the National Parks Board and serves as a member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Design and Advisory Committee and the Heritage and Identity Partnership. He is also co-chairman of BCA’s integrated digital delivery steering committee and the central procurers panel. Mr Cheng received the Public Administrative Medal (Bronze) in 2006 during his service with URA.
5. Professor Hoon Hian Teck
Prof Hoon is currently dean of the School of Economics at the Singapore Management University. He has published widely in macroeconomics, international economics and the Singapore economy and brought recognition to Singapore through his many book publications and academic journal articles as well as his visiting professor appointments at Columbia University and Harvard University.
Prof Hoon was the recipient of the Fulbright Research Scholarship in 2001 and was a member of the Tripartite Committee for Low-wage Workers and Inclusive Growth from 2015 to 2017.
6. Professor Koh Lian Pin
Prof Koh is a globally recognised conservation scientist who has recently returned to Singapore under the National Research Foundation’s Returning Singaporean Scientist Scheme to helm the new Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
He is the sixth recipient of this scheme, which seeks to attract overseas-based Singaporean research leaders back to Singapore to take up leadership positions in Singapore’s research institutes.
Prof Koh is currently professor of conservation science, technology and policy at the NUS’ Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce to guide Singapore’s economic recovery out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
7. Mr Raj Joshua Thomas
Mr Thomas is a partner at law firm Tang Thomas and director of TwinRock, a security agency. He is currently serving as president of the Security Association Singapore (SAS). During his tenure as SAS president, the association was recognised by the labour movement for its contributions to workers when it received two May Day Awards (Partner of Labour Movement) in 2018.
He also serves as a volunteer lawyer under the Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. As chairman of the NUS Political Science Department’s Singapore Forum on Politics and Policy, Mr Thomas contributed in encouraging dialogue and engagement with policymakers.
8. Dr Shahira Abdullah
Dr Shahira is an associate consultant with the dental surgery team in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. She is also serving her first term as a member of the 16th National Youth Council (NYC). Prior to her involvement in NYC, Dr Shahira has been a dedicated youth leader and was the immediate past vice-president of Mendaki Club, with a focus on enhancing career development opportunities for youth.
In 2019, she was appointed by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth as one of the SG Youth Action Plan members to reach out to the youth on their vision for Singapore 2025.
9. Dr Tan Yia Swam
Dr Tan is a medical doctor and currently clinical director at Thomson Breast Centre. She is one of the youngest persons and the first female to be elected president of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) in 2020 and is also a member of Singapore’s Academy of Medicine.
She has been a member of the SMA’s editorial board and council member since 2008 and the SMA news editor from 2014 to 2020. She is also a member of the Association of Women Doctors, Singapore.
Dr Tan received the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine dean’s award for teaching excellence in 2013 and the Singapore Health Quality Service Award (Gold) in 2018.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.