ASME president not seeking NMP nomination

With one week to go before nominations for Nominated Members of Parliament close next Tuesday, it is still unclear who will champion small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Parliament.

Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), told The Straits Times that he will not be seeking nomination.

The 40-year-old wants to focus on ASME after having just taken over at the association last November.

"There are many SME issues on the ground that need to be sorted out," said Mr Wee, adding: "This being my first term (as president), it is important that I focus on the association."

The question of who will speak up for SMEs in Parliament has arisen even as these businesses combat problems such as rising rents and a labour crunch after the Government tightened the inflow of foreign workers.

The private equity investment manager was nominated for the NMP position in 2011 when he was ASME vice-president, but was unsuccessful.

But the father of four has not closed the door on the NMP scheme in future. "I am open to considering it later on," he said.

SMEs have been represented by business leaders from the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) or ASME in the House under the NMP scheme.

Former presidents from either associations who were NMPs included former ASME president Lawrence Leow and former SCCCI presidents Tay Beng Chuan and Teo Siong Seng.

Mr Teo, an incumbent, has said that he will not be seeking another term. Seven of the current nine NMPs, including Mr Teo, will not be staying on.

So far, current NMPs who have said that they would be seeking another term are Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan and Mr R. Dhinakaran, managing director of Jay Gee Melwani Group.

NMP hopefuls who have emerged in recent weeks include National Trades Union Congress vice-president K. Karthikeyan, Theatre Box artistic director Kok Heng Leun and former national sailor Ben Tan.

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

NMPs are drawn from those in fields such as the business community, sports, trade unions, arts and social service organisations.

This article was published on May 12 in The Straits Times.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.