Artistic director of Drama Box eyes NMP seat

Theatre veteran Kok Heng Leun wants to represent the arts sector as a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP).

Mr Kok, 48, who is artistic director of Drama Box, a theatre group known for its interactive community plays in Chinese, told The Straits Times yesterday that he wanted to continue the discussion on the role of arts and culture in community development as Singapore grows into a "vibrant and resilient city".

Talking about his decision to be a potential candidate, he referred to arts lecturer Audrey Wong and actress Janice Koh and said: "Both Audrey and Janice have worked very hard and brought up possible discourse on what arts and culture could mean in Singapore and (at) institutions. I think this dialogue should continue."

Ms Wong, 46, and Ms Koh, 40, were the two previous NMPs representing the sector.

Ms Koh's current 21/2-year term in the House will end in August.

Mr Kok, who has led Drama Box for two decades, was a recipient of the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award in 2000.

He was also named an Outstanding Young Person of Singapore in 2006 by the Orchid Jayceettes of Singapore, the women's chapter of the Junior Chamber International Singapore leadership organisation.

The NMP scheme was introduced in 1990 to provide alternative voices in Parliament.

The public has until May 20 to put up names of individuals they deem suitable for the role.

The arts community will hold a town hall meeting next Saturday to introduce potential nominees to the arts community. The person chosen by the arts community will be recommended to National Arts Council chairman Chan Heng Chee.

The arts, media and sports group is one of seven sectors that will nominate the next group of NMPs.

Earlier this week, law professor and current NMP Eugene Tan confirmed he will seek a second term in the House.

This article was published on May 3 in The Straits Times.

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