The call for checks and balances on ruling party People's Action Party (PAP) during General Election is a common refrain among opposition parties and its supporters.
With GE2020 in full swing, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has revealed some details about the make-up of the next Parliament.
In a Facebook post on Thursday (June 25), he stated that there will be 93 elected MPs in the next Parliament, up from the current 89. The Constitution will also ensure at least 21 alternative voices in Parliament after the next general election, Teo noted.
The 21 alternative voices comprise nine Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP) and 12 Opposition Members of Parliament, including Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP).
The nine NMPs will "offer non-partisan perspectives on arts/culture, sports, the sciences, business, industry, the professions, community service or the labour movement".
Teo added: "There will be up to 12 NCMPs from among the remaining opposition candidates who have received the highest votes, to guarantee at least 12 opposition MPs in Parliament, compared to nine in the last Parliament."
NCMPs to get full voting rights
In addition, these NCMPs will now have full voting rights and will be able to vote on the following issues:
- Constitutional amendments
- Supply bills for the budget
- Money bills
- Motions of no confidence in the Government
- Removal of the President from office
This expansion of voting rights for NCMPs is an amendment made to the NCMP scheme in 2016. Despite having similar eligibility requirements as an elected MP, NCMPs were not allowed to vote on the above-mentioned issues prior to the change in 2016.
The NCMP scheme was first introduced in 1984 by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He reasoned that the presence of NCMPs would help younger Singaporeans learn about what the opposition was capable of doing. This was because NCMPs were all opposition party members who ran during the general election but did not win.
Lee added that the presence of NCMPs would provide a chance for younger MPs from PAP to hone their debating skills whilst acting as a check and balance against governmental misconduct.