BY CHARISSA YONG, Straits Times
LAWYER Chia Yong Yong, 52, will make history as the first wheelchair user to have a place in Parliament.
The president of SPD, formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled, is one of nine new Nominated MPs (NMPs) chosen to give fresh perspectives on the social and economic challenges Singapore will face in the coming years.
The others are Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Thomas Chua, 60; veteran unionist K. Karthikeyan, 55; social entrepreneur Kuik Shiao-Yin, 36; Board of Architects Singapore president Rita Soh, 55; doctor and former national sailor Benedict Tan, 47; labour economist Randolph Tan, 50; veteran historian Tan Tai Yong, 51; and banker Ismail Hussein, 51, who is a director of the Association of Muslim Professionals.
They were selected by a parliamentary committee chaired by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob. It included two ministers and five other MPs, including Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, a member of the committee, said the panel looked for new NMPs who could add to discussions on issues Singapore faces.
These include ageing, economic restructuring and productivity, sporting excellence, a better living environment, retaining Singapore’s heritage and appreciating its history, challenges of working mothers, youth aspirations, and entrepreneurism, said Dr Ng, who is the Leader of the House.
The youngest among the nine is Ms Kuik, who is expecting her first child.
The nominees will be appointed by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana on Aug 26. That is when their 21/2-year term will begin.
They will take their oath when Parliament next sits on Sept 8.
The final nine NMPs-to-be were chosen out of 36 candidates whose names were submitted earlier this year by members of the public or functional groups.
All 36 were considered by the selection committee in its assessment of suitable candidates for appointment as NMPs, said the Clerk of Parliament yesterday.
Unsuccessful candidates included blogger Roy Ngerng, as well as Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan and businessman R. Dhinakaran, both of whom were outgoing NMPs seeking a second term. Their terms expired last Friday.
The NMP scheme began in 1990 to provide more alternative voices in Parliament.
Madam Halimah said the panel looked for candidates who could use their specialised knowledge to add to the depth and breadth of debates in Parliament.
Also taken into account was “the candidates’ ability to contribute alternative ideas and fresh perspectives”, she said, “as this will help Singapore navigate challenges in the years ahead”.