Shanmugam: WP wasn't honest about NCMP

K Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The Workers' Party (WP) should be honest in rejecting the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme instead of "trying to speak with both ends of the mouth", Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

He accused the opposition party of not revealing its real reason for rejecting the scheme: The WP does not like voters being given more choices.

Mr Shanmugam told reporters yesterday that the NCMP scheme ensures "you vote for the PAP and you still get opposition candidates".

By opposing it, the WP effectively wants to limit voters to a "direct choice" between the PAP and the Workers Party, or other opposition parties, he said at the sidelines of a community event.

WP's Lee Li Lian: "Amendments by the PAP were both unfair to the WP and an attack on me personally."Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam: "We don't want people to have an additional choice...we want to fill in the third NCMP seat."
Government whip Chan Chun Sing: "We want to see the third NCMP seat filled. What troubles us is the manoeuvering behind."
WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang: "An NCMP is just duckweed on the water of a pond."

Mr Shanmugam was commenting on Friday's parliamentary debate on the WP's proposal to fill the third NCMP seat.

The WP moved a motion for the seat to be declared vacant so another of the party's candidate can take it up, after the seat was turned down by the party's Punggol East candidate Lee Li Lian.

Mr Shanmugam said there would have been no way to argue against the WP, if it had spoken the "truth" and said: "We don't want people to have an additional choice, nevertheless, we benefit from it and therefore we want to fill in the third (NCMP) seat."

Over an intense two hours on Friday, the People's Action Party (PAP) and WP crossed swords in the House over the principles of the NCMP scheme, and whether NCMP seats can be willy-nilly transferred from one candidate to another.

The WP ended up abstaining from voting on its own motion after Government Whip Chan Chun Sing introduced an amendment to "reflect the truth". But the motion was passed with PAP MPs voting unanimously to support it.

During the debate, WP NCMP Leon Perera had also said he was against the scheme in principle as it was detrimental to Singapore's development, noted Mr Shanmugam yesterday.

"If it's not good for Singapore, why are you doing it? Their points are filled with contradictions."

Responding in a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Perera said Mr Shanmugam had presented a "false choice between either rejecting an NCMP seat or accepting it with gratitude and praise".

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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