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Non-Constituency Members of Parliament: What's Next for the Scheme?

  • Description
  • Praise
  • About the Editors
  • Four decades have elapsed since the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme was introduced in 1984. It has been raised and debated at every general election since — even as Singapore's political landscape has seen major changes since the scheme was introduced, when the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) had nearly complete domination of Parliament.

    To its proponents, the NCMP scheme has been an extraordinary instance of the PAP government's magnanimity in allowing 'best losers' from opposition parties to enter Parliament. To cynics, the scheme was designed to stave off the challenge to the PAP by guaranteeing voters a minimum level of opposition representation, to encourage them to vote for the PAP. Regardless of the perspective taken, the innovation of the NCMP scheme has been central to the question of political representation in Singapore.

    This book looks at the evolution of the scheme, with contributions by the NCMPs themselves, providing a platform to discuss whether the scheme is still relevant today, and how it could be changed. It captures views from both the PAP and the opposition, as well as from political observers.

    Key Features:

    • This is the first full book on the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme in the 40 years of its history
    • This is also the first significant book on Singapore's politics that brings together contributions from both the People's Action Party (PAP) and the major opposition parties in Singapore, as well as from former Nominated MPs (NMPs) Walter Woon and Eugene Tan, a former political desk journalist and other political observers
    • The NCMP scheme is tied to the development of politics in Singapore. The book presents a platform for discussing the scheme, and other political reforms more generally, as Singapore enters a phase where the opposition has made in-roads into a PAP-dominated Parliament
  • “First, I welcome a book on Non-Constituency Members of Parliament. The scheme is 40 years old and a book on it is overdue. This book complements Anthea Ong's excellent book on Nominated Members of Parliament. Taken together, the two books make an important contribution to our understanding of the Singapore Parliament and political governance in Singapore.”
    Professor Tommy Koh, Special Adviser, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore

    “My friends Jenn Jong and Hoe Yeong have put together an important book about a key aspect of our Parliament and Constitution. There is an expectation that, as the Singapore electorate evolves, so must our electoral system and Constitution. To ensure that the best decisions are made when it comes to that evolution, it is critical to understand the history, fundamental motivations and effects that the NCMP scheme has and continues to have. This book is an important reading for all Singaporeans and those who wish to better understand politics in Singapore.”
    —Nicholas Fang, Former Nominated Member of Parliament

    “The NCMP scheme remains an issue that is raised and debated at every general election since it was introduced in 1984. Before reading this book, I harboured the view that the scheme inherently works against the long-term good of the opposition in Singapore. Now, I side with one of the architects of the scheme and a contributor to the book, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, that it is a kind of insurance scheme for democracy. I also agree with Walter Woon, instead of considering NCMPs to be 'also-rans', they should be recognised as representing the voters who did not vote for the ruling party. These views run contrary to the conclusion of the book, written by Loke Hoe Yeong and Yee Jenn Jong. But the spirit of the book allows for many views, which is why I enjoyed reading and also learning about the Singapore Parliament and political governance in Singapore from the different narratives.”
    Woon Tai Ho, Channel NewsAsia founding editor and author

    “This book is a great resource that captures the debate surrounding this scheme from many different voices. The NCMP scheme in its current form does not come close to addressing the huge and potentially de-stabilising gap between Opposition seats in Parliament and the Opposition's share of the popular vote. Were it not for this, it is unlikely that the People's Action Party (PAP), which has said that growing the Opposition is not its priority, would have retained the scheme. To seriously address that gap, the playing field needs to be made less unlevel. But to move beyond being a small presence in Parliament, the Opposition needs to go beyond being good NCMPs and MPs, important as that is. It needs to convince voters to embrace a viable end-goal — to first remove the PAP's parliamentary supermajority and then one day present itself as an alternative government. That would be the ultimate stabiliser for Singapore politics.”
    —Leon Perera, Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and Former Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC

    “This is a most timely volume — conspectus, commentary and critique — all in one. A must read for anyone vaguely interested in Singapore politics.”
    Kevin Y L Tan, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, Visiting Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University

    “Any serious student of Singapore politics will find this book a useful and timely addition to the field. The Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme is a mainstay in our current political system and is thus worthy of such an analysis. A unique thing about this book is that it is edited by a former NCMP and an academic; having both a practitioner's and an analyst's perspectives makes it much richer and sharper, in my opinion, as both of them complement each other. The book also features thoughtful pieces by other academics and observers. The editors have done a good job in ensuring that different perspectives are put forth in it, from those who are supportive of retaining the scheme to those who are more sceptical of it. It is this diversity of thought that ultimately makes this book a compelling read.”
    Walid Jumblatt Bin Abdullah, Assistant Professor, School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University

  • Loke Hoe Yeong is the author of The First Wave: JBJ, Chiam & the Opposition in Singapore. He is currently Head of Research at a City of London trade association.

    Yee Jenn Jong is an author, politician, entrepreneur and a former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP). He is also the author of the bestseller Journey in Blue: A Peek into the Workers' Party of Singapore. As an active participant in Singapore's political scene at a time when the opposition started to entrench itself into the political system as well as a former NCMP, Jenn Jong is able to offer unique perspectives on this topic.

ISBN: 9789811293801
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 200
Year Published: 2024
Language: English