Before I start, I must state that it is really regrettable that I have to criticize Mr. Low Thia Khiang in this post. I always have high regards of him and even regarded him as my First Teacher for my initiation into Singapore Opposition Politics. Even though we may have differences in opinions but I have always given him the respect of a teacher or "shifu" to me.
However, this NMP issue is just blatantly against the very fundamental principles of Democracy and Democratic Electoral Process. It is just too important to me as a matter of principles, to state categorically that even my "shifu" is just obviously wrong to be involved in this undemocratic process of selecting NMP.
When I read the news on Asia One with regards to the Select Committee of Nominated MP (NMP), I was quite puzzled with the composition of the Select Committee. It was reported that Mr. Low Thia Khiang, Secretary General and Party Whip of Workers Party, was included as a member of this Select Committee.
Members of the Special Select Committee are:– Speaker Halimah Yacob (Chairman)– Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defence and Leader of the House-Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs– Dr Janil Puthucheary– Ms Ellen Lee– Low Thia Khiang– Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs– Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information
I am puzzled because as far as I can remember, when I was still a CEC member of WP, WP's position was that NMP should be abolished. This was written in GE 2006 WP Election Manifesto. I double check on WP website for its GE 2011 Manifesto, this position has not changed. It is clearly stated in Chapter 1, Section B, Para 5 that "The Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) scheme should be abolished."
Thus, I am really puzzled why Mr. Low Thia Khiang accepted the appointment of member of the Select Committee of NMP! Mr. Low in particular, was strongly against the NMP scheme. When the parliament was debating about Constitutional Change to include the NMP scheme, he was seen clapping his hands after Dr. Tan Cheng Bock has categorically stated his stance of opposing the NMP scheme.
The first doubt surfaces in my mind is, has Mr. Low or WP change their stance with regards to NMP scheme? If not, why is Mr. Low in the Selection Committee of NMP?
Before any WP apologists would jump in and use GRC as a justification for Mr. Low's involvement in this NMP Selection Committee, I will make distinctions between the two different issues.
First of all, even if WP or any other opposition opposition parties are against the GRC system and call for its abolishment, but do they have any CHOICE of not contesting in GRC? If they are not going to contest in GRCs, then they will make PAP very happy as that is exactly what PAP wants: to monopolize power without the need to fight for seats! And the ONLY way of changing the GRC system is to beat PAP in its own game and rules until it loses power. This could only be done by contesting in GRCs and win the seats there!
Thus for the issue of GRC system, it is a matter of the lack of alternative ways to effect a change if we do not contest in GRCs. i.e. the ONLY way to change the GRC system is to contest the GRCs even though we are against it.
But for this NMP scheme, you do not need to participate in the whole selection process which inevitably give legitimacy to the whole scheme, in order to get rid of the scheme. Thus there is absolutely no legitimate reason, in my opinion, for anyone who oppose this NMP scheme to get himself involved in the Selection Committee at all. He is practically giving support and legitimacy to the NMP scheme which is totally undemocratic by being part of the Selection Committee.
Such contradiction is just too glaring to ignore. It is a matter of big principle here; Democracy is definitely not through appointment politics. Anyone who wants to sit and speak in parliament, must go through the democratic electoral process to earn his right of representation of his constituents. The votes he gets from his constituents are the basis of his right to be part of the parliament. This is why anybody who really believe in Democracy, any self respecting Democratic fighters would go against NMP scheme as it is allowing people to walk into parliament via the backdoor. It is just blatantly wrong for Mr. Low to be involved in the Selection Committee of NMP and yet declaring his objection to this NMP scheme. He has the right and choice to decline the appointment to the Selection Committee but he chose to be involved instead.
I raise this issue here because this is of public interests and not some private matters which should be taken lightly. I believe many WP supporters, like me, would like to know why this is so. Why Mr. Low has done something which seemingly contradicted WP's as well as his own stance against NMP. Has WP and Mr Low changed their stance with regards to NMP? Have they lost their Democratic Principles? Are they just paying lip service to their belief in Democracy? Do they believe in Democracy at all?
Well, only Mr. Low Thia Khiang can explain these questions and the contradiction of his action and the words embedded in WP Manifesto.
Goh Meng Seng
After Note: Some people have suggested it may be good for Mr. Low Thia Khiang to be in the Selection Committee so that he can ensure good people and not just Pro-PAP people are nominated as NMP. They are afraid that PAP anyhow choose people to be NMPs.
I would say first of all, he is just one person against several other PAP MPs in the committee and I doubt he can prevent any "Pro-PAP" or mediocre people to be nominated as NMPs. Furthermore, if he is NOT in the Selection Committee, these "bad choices" would be seen directly as the choices of PAP alone and Singaporeans can blame PAP for that. However, now that Mr. Low is in the committee, things will not be that straight forward at all. These bad choices (if any) will be seen as the COLLECTIVE CHOICE of both PAP and WP.
This is where the legitimacy that LTK has given PAP on this NMP scheme!