Singapore GE2020: Despite Opposing NCMP Scheme, PSP Accepts Offer, Names Two

PSP announces Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa as the two NCMPs who will cooperate with the Workers' Party to form an opposition alliance

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will take up the two Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats after all. After the General Election on July 10, it was confirmed that PSP's West Coast GRC candidates would be offered the two NCMP seats since they emerged as the "best losers". But considering PSP's stance on the scheme, there were doubts whether the party would accept this path to parliament.

However, on July 14, PSP announced that assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa from the West Coast GRC will accept the seats. Although Dr Tan initially claimed that he would not accept NCMP if offered, he did not oppose to the idea of his party members taking it up.

PSP lost the West Coast GRC narrowly to People's Action Party (PAP) in the GE2020. In the five-seat GRC, PSP scored 48.31 percent of votes compared to PAP's 51.69 percent, thus becoming the "best losers". PSP line-up included party chief Dr Tan Chen Bock, Hazel Poa, Jeffrey Khoo, Leong Mun Wai and Nadarajah Loganathan. PAP team consisted of Minister of Communications and Information S Iswaran, Ang Wei Neng, Desmond Lee, Foo Mee Har and Rachel Ong.

PSP named Hazel Poa (left) and Leong Mun Wai as the two NCMPs Progress Singapore Party

"Many of you have been wondering whether PSP will take up the NCMP seats. We have decided that we will take it up," Dr Tan said at a press conference in Bukit Timah shopping centre.

Change in Stance

However, it was not just Dr Tan who objected to the NCMP scheme, terming it as a PAP ploy to sway voters from voting opposition candidates. The NCMP-elect Leong too had reservations against the scheme. During the election campaign, he said, "It was an attempt to confuse the voters and distract them from casting the vote for the alternative camp."

But in a change of heart, Leong said the 48 percent of votes PSP got in the West Coast GRC, it was a significant number for them to be heard inside parliament. "I had some personal objection to the scheme. Nevertheless, I am humbled by the trust the party has placed in me. More importantly, the 48 percent of the voters need their voice to be heard and all the Singaporeans who have supported us in the campaign," he said during the presser.

Poa also echoed his statement, adding that she believed accepting it before an election would have weakened the efforts of making the government listen.

To Cooperate with WP

Now, Workers' Party with 10 MP seats will be the main opposition party, having won two GRCs (five-seat Aljunied and four-seat Sengkang) and an SMC (Hougang) in the election. PSP's NCMPs will accept WP secretary-general, Pritam Singh, as their leader and will cooperate with him to form an opposition's alliance.

"Pritam and I have been good friends and we share many common ideas. So, it's good that we will be like a team now. I hope to see a good exchange in debates between the ruling PAP and the new alternative group," said Dr Tan.

Pritam Singh and Dr Tan Chen Bock
PSP chief Dr Tan Chen Bock (right) shares a cordial relation with WP's Pritam Singh Facebook/ Pritam Singh

WP in the past years was the sole opposition voice in parliament with six MPs. But with PSP NCMPs, their voice will only grow. WP chairwoman Sylvia Lim said her party was ready to work with PSP to form a constructive opposition.

"There will be ample opportunity, I believe, in the coming years for us to work collaboratively as much as possible with any party who should decide to take up the NCMP seats to move the agenda forward and to play our role as constructive opposition," she said on Sunday, July 12.

However, despite being an opposition party, WP will not just object on the basis of political differences. Rather, to come out of the economic and health crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they will cooperate with PAP (ruling party) to take the country out of sufferings.

"The whole country has to unite to come out of this situation. So, I think we should be very focused on what is at stake here, rather than think about the political position that the parties should take or should hedge," said Singh, who will be named the opposition leader in parliament.