NCMPs and NMPs

April 16, 2011 at 1:52 am | Posted in But Seriously | Leave a comment

There’s been talk about NCMPs so I thought I’d just share some information because there seems to be some confusion as to their powers.

39. — (1) Parliament shall consist of —
(a) such number of elected Members as is required to be returned at a general election by the constituencies prescribed by or under any law made by the Legislature;
(b) such other Members, not exceeding 9 in number, who shall be known as non-constituency Members, as the Legislature may provide in any law relating to Parliamentary elections to ensure the representation in Parliament of a minimum number of Members from a political party or parties not forming the Government; and
(c) such other Members not exceeding 9 in number, who shall be known as nominated Members, as may be appointed by the President in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Schedule.
(2) A non-constituency Member or a nominated Member shall not vote in Parliament on any motion pertaining to —
(a) a Bill to amend the Constitution;
(b) a Supply Bill, Supplementary Supply Bill or Final Supply Bill;
(c) a Money Bill as defined in Article 68;
(d) a vote of no confidence in the Government; and
(e) removing the President from office under Article 22L.

25. —(1) The President shall appoint as Prime Minister a Member of Parliament who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament, and shall, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint other Ministers from among the Members of Parliament:
Provided that, if an appointment is made while Parliament is dissolved, a person who was a Member of the last Parliament may be appointed but shall not continue to hold office after the first sitting of the next Parliament unless he is a Member thereof.

So what does this mean? Well… It means a NCMP can vote on all bills, save financial, constitutional, no confidence and presidential impeachment bills. They have full rights of members, including introduction of bills (save the four types they cannot vote in I think) and can also second bills. They can debate on bills, introduce motions/ amendments, and vote on them. It appears that they can be Ministers if the party of government chooses to include them (same can be said of NMPs) although practice so far has not seen a NMP or NCMP appointed minister. NCMPs and NMPs can be Prime Minister too it appears, although parliamentary practice has generally precluded that. They are counted as part of the Quorum. They also enjoy full rights under the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act.

Just thought I’d share because there seems to be lots of misconceptions about the NCMP scheme.

On Carrots and Upgrading

April 13, 2011 at 10:08 am | Posted in But Seriously | Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this whole issue for a long time, and I have come to some conclusions:

  1. Pork barrel politics will happen in any representative democracy. All politics is local and most residents care about municipal issues. Politics in the US is like that too; most people have a good opinion of their local representative but think the legislature sucks. This is largely because politicians bring home the bacon. If you had a representative who always talked about big national issues but never improved the local area, he’ll be out at the next election. Taken to the extreme, you get multi-million dollar bridges to connect 17 people to the mainland
  2. It makes perfect sense to talk about your plans for municipal improvements before the elections. It makes no sense to say “vote for me even though you have no idea what I will do for the locality.” The average voter will not vote for you at all. Upgrading the buildings in the estate is part and parcel of improving the local area, so offering it is part of electioneering, and makes sense.
  3. It is up to the local politician to try and fight for upgrading. It doesn’t just come because he’s a PAP politician. He has to bug HDB to look into it and to plan for it. He has to decided which precinct gets it, and has to fight for more precincts getting upgrading with HDB. A friend, formerly from HDB, told me that an opposition MP did not even submit the upgrading proposal. If he had, HDB would process the proposal and eventually offer upgrading. He just gave up because he thought that he had no chance. Instead he let PAP steal his thunder by obtaining some form of upgrading.

In my opinion, part of being an MP is to take care of local issues and upgrading the area is part of the job. Mr Goh Meng Seng noted on TV that there are no local issues in the area NSP wants to contest, only national ones, and that the Town Council was doing a good job. Before he forgets, town council boards are made up of political party members and MPs. The professional managers still take directions from the board, and MPs do feedback to them what areas need to be worked on. It’s part of the job.

Some MPs do this job better than others, and there is no denying that. Residents in an area will know if their MP is taking care of local business or not. I do agree that more can and should be done. I think the Opposition parties should also offer upgrading as part of their local election package. In know the opposition MPs do try to do some minor municipal works as well, but they should include it in their election package. Keep bugging HDB, keep disturbing LTA… Eventually they’ll get down to it. If they refuse, then at least you can say you tried real hard, but they are being obstructionist. It’s better than not trying at all.

As for myself… I promise to put my pens away and clear my dustbin daily.

Isn’t this a bit too far?

March 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Posted in But Seriously | 6 Comments

I may not know much about the tort of defamation, but I suspect this innuendo is crossing the line.

We are not sure even when the previous relationship ended and when the new one started. While TR did not openly say it, they are casting aspersions left, right and center. I suspect innuendo is enough for a piece of information to be defamatory (can some legal eagles correct me if I am wrong).

I find this extremely disappointing, and if any political party actually supports TR, they are definitely not getting my vote. To support such a highly irresponsible site is to be a poor judge of character. I am glad that not all bloggers are quick to make up facts.

What I find more disappointing is the list of comments that are generally willing to indulge in this fantasy. These are my fellow voters and citizens who are so willing to latch on to untrue innuendos instead of making informed decisions. I just wish there were more well thought out pieces. I agree with Chemical Generation that there is just too much attribution bias going around the internet.

People are too willing to see that Ms Tin is 28 years old, and ignore that she has served in Holland-Bukit Timah for over 7 years at the grassroots level. That is more than some opposition candidates or parties combined have done (let’s be honest duckies, we all know who they are). I am sure the number of hours she has put in far outstrips most other candidates from all parties. People want to focus on who Ms Tin’s husband is, but forget that she started volunteering before her husband got to where he is. People cry nepotism, but remember that nepotism is the reward of position to one’s relatives. Her husband did not appoint her to a civil service position. Ms Tin was selected by a political party to stand for elections. For all we know, Ms Tin’s grassroots work was what helped her husband’s rise in the civil service.

I know we cannot get rid of attribution bias, but we have got to look carefully at what is being presented. I think it is very improper for TR to throw out innuendo that is not even fact. Their childish and irresponsible behaviour hurts the opposition cause as a whole and tars all opposition supporters in the same ugly stroke. I know many opposition supporters to be reasonable people, and I hope they start to condemn such awful and hideous behaviour.

I feel saddened indeed at the state of political discourse in some corners of our fair internet.

How the Hell do we know?

March 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Being Me, But Seriously | 7 Comments

[Disclaimer: I know Dr Janil Puthucheary personally]

I find it very interesting that people make such a big deal about Dr Janil Puthucheary’s father and his history. Some folks will find any reason to not vote PAP, even going as far as to cast aspersions about Janil’s filial piety. As an outsider, I have no real idea what the younger and elder Puthucheary’s relationship is like. I only know Janil and have never met the elder Mr Puthucheary.

I feel rather incensed that outsiders feel as if they know the relationship between father and son better than the parties themselves. So I had to go online to check out what the older Mr Puthucheary feels about his time in Singapore (before moving to Malaysia). As far as I can tell, I do no think that he begrudges what happened to him. I’m not saying that he didn’t suffer, I’m saying that he put it behind him. I think the older Mr Puthucheary did not transmit any sense of anger or hate to his children, which is a good thing. I would never dream of burdening my sons/daughters with my personal struggles. Unlike most folks, the elder Mr Puthucheary is a generous and big hearted man, he doesn’t hold long grudges and is willing to accept and support the choices his son makes. I can only hope that I will be as generous and supportive a father as he has been to Janil.

As for Janil, I believe he has very strong empathy for the residents that he works with. I knew him before he popped up as a possible candidate for the PAP, and I believe that he is truly sincere and passionate about serving the residents. He has a great sense of humour, friendly and is a very helpful person. He spent time talking to the residents in a gentle manner and tried to figure out how he could better help them. He really didn’t mind dishing out free medical advice to the other volunteers who asked.

I do not see a problem for fathers and sons to disagree about politics and to join different parties. And I agree with the older Mr Puthucheary that service to the community is far more important than the ideology. I leave the ideological bickering to the party hacks on all sides. All I know is that, I would vote for Janil because of his character and personality. Unfortunately, I doubt he will be standing in my constituency.

So I ask all the sensible Singaporeans out there to judge my friend by his personality and not the history of his father, especially when his father does not harbour any ill will to those who made him suffer.

I will say one thing about his first press conference though… He really needs to relax more and practice more. Hah!

Election Fever

February 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Posted in But Seriously | Leave a comment

I go for holiday for a week, and I come back to election fever in Singapore.

It seems there was a pseudo-political debate on TV while I was on my flight back.

(1) The issue of gerrymandering has popped up. Redistricting was first introduced, to the Mother or all Parliament, to prevent rotten and pocket boroughs through the Reform Act 1832 . Redistricting occurs in the US usually after the decennial census: 36 controlled by State Legislatures, 7 by independent or bipartisan bodies. 3 allow independent commissions to draw it up and then have the legislatures approve them.

Personally I think the redrawing this time is less ridiculous, with less weird and wiggly lines, save for Marine Parade. They should rename it since it seems to be moving further away from the coast. Heh.

(2) Another issue was whether the opposition will contest more than half the seat. I think most of the opposition isn’t too willing to state one way or another, save for the Reform Party (RP). Kenneth Jeyaratnam (KJ) seems to be blowing hot and cold over an SMC seat (most likely Radin Mas). I thought he wanted to tackle MM Lee in Tanjong Pagar GRC for old time’s sake. Perhaps having lost yet another chairman and some key members the RP has lost the fire to take on Tanjong Pagar GRC.

Heh. Petty opposition infighting came up. I was waiting for that. It appears that KJ does not want to form a coalition, unlike their counterparts in Malaysia, who are at least trying to get along. Perhaps that’s why there seems to be a bit of unhappiness regarding RP’s inclusion/ merger/ takeover of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) and de facto control of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)

(3) Based on my own observation, I think the National Solidarity Party (NSP) under Goh Meng Seng (Goh) will not win. He thinks national issues will matter and that local issues are not big on the ground. The one thing I have learnt from studying US Foreign Policy is that “all politics is local.” Michael Palmer (Palmer) really stressed on the People Action Party’s main strength, which is having a strong presence on the ground, with a huge party machinery to win. I think it was highlighted by one of the opposition speakers that they lack the manpower, and I personally think that is their biggest weakness. No party machine, no win. That’s how it works in politics. KJ noted that he had 110 members in RP before the falling out, and they wish to contest 2 GRCs and 3 SMCs. With about 12 candidates, the party will be stretched thin with about 10 volunteers per candidate. I know that most PAP SMC campaign teams are made up of at least 100 volunteers. I am sure rabid opposition supporters will argue “quality over quantity,”  but I suspect that the numbers game is still and important factor in winning elections, regardless of whether it is in Singapore or overseas.

(4) Also wasn’t Goh Meng Seng a Workers’ Party (WP) candidate at the last election? If KJ mentioned that the opposition is “divided” because of its ideology, then Mr Goh seems to be an “ideal” candidate to unite the NSP with WP since he seems to be able to bridge the ideological gap.

(5) It seems the PAP speakers had a better grasp of the budget than Goh. KJ shined better when it came to the economic section of the talk. I suppose his training as an economist will come into play when he goes on the hustings, but if that’s all he can shine in, then he won’t win a seat, be it SMC or GRC.

I thought that Palmer’s final parting shot suited my dry sense of humor.

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