From today, the public may submit names of individuals for consideration to become Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) in the next term. They have a month to do so – the deadline is 4.30pm on July 6.
Nominees should have rendered distinguished public service, brought honour to Singapore, or have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, said the Office of the Clerk of Parliament yesterday. These fields are: arts and letters, sports, culture, the sciences, business, industry, the professions, social or community service, or the labour movement.
The NMP scheme was introduced in 1990 to provide alternative voices in Parliament. There can be up to nine NMPs each term, lasting 21/2 years. The current term ends in September, and The Straits Times has previously reported that at least half of the current nine NMPs are likely to step down then.
The NMPs who have confirmed they are leaving are Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Mr Thomas Chua, Mr Kok Heng Leun and Mr Azmoon Ahmad. Ms K. Thanaletchimi, a unionist, is also unlikely to continue because the NMP representing the labour movement usually serves just one term. Ms Chia Yong Yong said last night she has yet to decide while Associate Professor Randolph Tan declined comment.
Popular blogger Wendy Cheng, 34, also known as Xiaxue, has expressed an interest in stepping forward. She told The Straits Times last night that she intends to approach those who are supportive of her being an NMP – including some who are prominent figures in their fields – about submitting her name. She declined to name them.
The names of candidates are to be submitted to an eight-member Special Select Committee chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin. Its other members are Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
Besides submissions from the general public, seven functional groups – business and industry; the professions; the labour movement; social service organisations; civic and people sector; tertiary education institutions; and media, arts and sports organisations – are also invited to submit names of suitable candidates. Each has a coordinator appointed.
Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng, the coordinator of the business and industry group, told The Straits Times: “We will check with the trade associations, the chambers, and also individuals whom we think may have interest. Some people approach us to put their names forward as well.”
He added that this process usually takes a month or so.
After the submission period, the Special Select Committee will inform the MPs and seek their views on the names. It will then interview candidates and decide who to nominate as NMPs.
A person is qualified for appointment as an NMP if he or she is Singaporean, aged 21 or above and on the current register of electors. Among other requirements, he or she should also be able to take an active part in Parliament’s proceedings.