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PSP NCMPs to work with WP as 'alternative front'

Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai picked by PSP to take up NCMP seats

The choice of Hazel Poa (left) and Leong Mun Wai (right) to take up the NCMP posts was a unanimous decision among the West Coast GRC team, said Tan Cheng Bock.


TWO Progress Singapore Party (PSP) candidates at last Friday's General Election (GE) - Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai - say they are looking forward to the opportunity to work together with the Workers' Party (WP) as a constructive "alternative front".

The pair made these remarks on Tuesday at a media conference where it was announced they will take up the two available Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats in Singapore's 14th Parliament.

PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock - the leader of the party's five-member West Coast GRC team - said the two NCMPs will follow the lead of WP secretary-general Pritam Singh, the new Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Leong and Ms Poa are the assistant secretary-general and vice-chairperson of the PSP respectively, and contested with Dr Tan in West Coast GRC. They were the "best losers" at the GE, pulling in 48.3 per cent of the votes against the People's Action Party's (PAP) 51.7 per cent.

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This was the PAP's narrowest win in the election, in a constituency that has traditionally been a stronghold for the ruling party.

At the polls, the PAP scored 61.2 per cent of the popular vote, its second-lowest vote share since independence. The WP clinched a record 10 seats, including Sengkang GRC.

Mr Leong, who described Singapore as moving into a "new dawn" for political development, said: "What we are aiming for is constructive change in Singapore, so the result of this GE, I think, will be very conducive, going forward, for that change."

Dr Tan added: "I notice the fear factor has been reduced now. There is less of a concern (among voters) that if they vote opposition parties in, this country is going to collapse."

NCMP seats are usually offered to the opposition candidates with the highest percentage of votes among the losers if the number of elected opposition candidates falls short of a stipulated number.

A constitutional change in 2017 increased the maximum number of NCMP seats from nine to 12. With the WP taking 10 seats, two seats have become available for NCMPs.

Despite both having earlier reservations about the NCMP position, the choice of Mr Leong and Ms Poa to take up these posts was a unanimous decision among the West Coast GRC team and later discussed with the PSP's executive committee, said Dr Tan.

Mr Leong, 60, said he has "personal disagreements" with the NCMP scheme, but added that he was "humbled" by the trust his party had placed in him to take up the seat.

"Very importantly, the party now needs to represent the voters who voted for us," said Mr Leong, the founder of investment firm Timbre Capital.

Ms Poa, 50, acknowledged that she also had initial reservations on the scheme, as she was afraid it would weaken the ability of the government to listen. She entered politics a decade ago and was formerly secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party.

"The results of the election have demonstrated that my fears were unfounded. Voters can see what is at stake. I'm very much encouraged by the development," she said.

The NCMP scheme, introduced in 1984, came up again as a hot-button topic in this election, with opposition leaders criticising it for crimping the democratic process in Singapore.

Dr Tan - a former PAP MP for 26 years from 1980 to 2006 - dismissed it as the PAP's "ploy" to entice electors into voting only for the ruling party.

Asked about the party's plans to continue walking the ground, he quipped: "We are not the type who just come, we lose, then we run away. We will go to the ground. I will walk the ground, I will train all these young people on how to earn the votes."

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