What exactly does a Nominated Member of Parliament do?

Here are some facts to set it straight:

What are the differences between elected MPs and NMPs?

The Singapore Constitution allows for three types of Members of Parliament (MPs):

• elected MPs (MPs);
• Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs); and
• Nominated MPs (NMPs).

Unlike MPs and NCMPs who gain their seats through elections, NMPs are appointed by the President for a term of two and a half years on the recommendation of a Special Select Committee of Parliament. Singaporeans are invited to submit names of citizens to this Special Select Committee which will nominate up to 9 suitable candidates to the President for appointment as NMPs.

NMPs have the same rights as the MPs to raise questions, suggest legislation and make their views and opinions heard by making speeches on all matters before Parliament. They are also allowed to vote on all matters before Parliament except the following:

• constitutional amendments
• motions to remove the President
• motions of no confidence in the government
• Supply Bills, and
• Money Bills.

How are NMPs selected?

Step 1: Singaporeans are invited to propose names of candidates to the Special Select Committee through advertisements and a press release to media.

To be an NMP, candidates are subjected to the same qualifying criteria as an elected MP, which are:

• Singapore citizen aged 21 years or above;
• Resident in Singapore for at least ten years;
• Name appears in the register of electors;
• Able to speak, read and write in at least one of the four official languages (English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil); and
• Not disqualified from being an MP under Article 45 of the Constitution.

Step 2: The names are submitted to a Special Select Committee of Parliament for consideration. The Committee is chaired by the Speaker of Parliament and seven MPs. As of August 2014, the Committee is made up of Speaker Madam Halimah Yacob, Dr Ng Eng Hen, Ms Grace Fu, Ms Sim Ann, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Ms Ellen Lee, Mr Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad, and Mr Low Thia Khiang. 

When assessing the candidates, the Special Select Committee will consider whether they have rendered distinguished public service, brought honour to Singapore, or excelled in certain fields such as the arts, the sciences, business, community service or the labour movement. The Special Select Committee will also bear in mind the need for candidates to reflect as wide a range of independent and non-partisan views as possible.

Step 3: From the names submitted, the Committee will recommend up to 9 names to the President for appointment as NMPs for a term of two and a half years.

As of August 2014, 9 new NMPs have been appointed. They include:

Chia Yong Yong

Thomas Chua Kee Seng

Karthikeyan s/o R. Krishnamurthy

Kuik Shiao-Yin

Mohd Ismail bin Hussein

Rita Soh Siow Lan

Dr Benedict Tan Chi'-Loong

Assoc Prof Randolph Tan Gee Kwang

Prof Tan Tai Yong

Why do we need NMPs?

NMPs in Parliament help to ensure a greater diversity of voices in the House. They contribute independent and non-partisan views in Parliament. As according to our constitutional laws, NMPs will have to vacate their seats if they decide to stand for elections.

NMPs represent the varied interests of a wider group of Singaporeans on other issues that might not otherwise get as much prominence in the House. For example, NMPs such as Ms Janice Koh, Ms Faizal Jamal and Mr Laurence Lien have voiced out on arts, environmental and social issues. Other noteworthy contributions from NMPs include the Maintenance of Parents Bill introduced by Prof Walter Woon and motions raised Mr Viswa Sadasivan.

Singaporeans who wish to find out more about the contributions of NMPs can check out the Singapore Parliament Reports and resumes of the current NMPs at the Parliament website.

Elections Department Website
Parliament's website
The Straits Times- Public Submissions for NMP nominations open from Tuesday
NLB Resources on NMPs
Parliament- Special Select Committee
Press Release on Nominated NMPs - August 2014

This article was first published on gov.sg: Factually on Aug 12, 2014