They want to be NMPs

SINGAPORE - Two men have stepped forward as potential Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) candidates.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) yesterday submitted its nomination of veteran union leader K Karthikeyan, 54.

It was sent to the Special Select Committee of Parliament for nomination by the Committee for appointment by the President as Nominated Member of Parliament.

Mr Karthikeyan is the vice-president of the NTUC Central Committee and General Secretary of the United Workers of Petroleum Industry.

Meanwhile, theatre veteran Kok Heng Leun, 48, has also declared his intention to represent the arts sector as an NMP.

The father of two children, aged 17 and 14, is the artistic director of Drama Box, a theatre group known for its interactive community plays in Chinese.

The New Paper spoke to both men on what they planned to do as NMPs. NMPs were 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.

HE'LL FOCUS ON ARTS ISSUES

Mr Kok Heng Leun, 48, artistic director of Drama Box.

Why do you want to represent the arts sector as an NMP?

We have seen the work of the other arts NMPs (arts lecturer Audrey Wong and actress Janice Koh) and they have been effective in initiating the process of bridging the gap (between the arts community and the policymakers). The work has started and should continue.

What I feel is needed is for platforms for dialogue between the arts community (to continue) and then we can bring forth this dialogue to the policymakers.

What are the things that you hope to bring up in Parliament?

I shall be focusing on arts issues, like the role of arts as part of our national identity and culture, as well as the role of the arts as part of community building, education and our life.

I also would like the policymakers to consider the arts an important component in their decisions.

Is there anything else you would like to champion?

I also have interests in other topics like education and health issues.

Whenever appropriate, I will speak on these issues if given the opportunity.

HE'LL GIVE VOICE TO WORKERS

Mr K Karthikeyan, 54, has been a union leader since 1986.

The father of two - a daughter and a son aged 22 and 21 respectively - has paid particular attention to workers' welfare and rights, workplace safety and health, as well as workers' skills and upgrading needs.

Why are you stepping up to the NMP plate?

I have served in the labour movement for 28 years, and I know the ground. That experience can be useful as I can help give a voice to the ordinary workers, especially when there are any policies that could impact on their livelihood.

What are the issues you hope to bring up in Parliament?

There are a few areas I am concerned with. One of these is the widening income gap among workers here. There is a view that the top end is getting more while the lower end earns less. I'd like to help tackle that issue. For example, what kind of help can we give to those who are earning less?

I am also concerned about the fate of mature and lower-skilled workers. How can we improve their skills so they can continue to be employed?

These are a few things I hope to bring forth in Parliament.

Are there any other issues you'd like to champion?

Workplace safety issues are important to me. Also, I am hoping to represent the sandwiched class or the PMEBs (professionals, managers, executives and businessmen). Many of them are worried about things like job security and the possibility of them being out of work because their jobs are outsourced, for example.

This article was published on May 6 in The New Paper.

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