Non-Constituency MP (NCMP)
Not all is lost for opposition politicians who fail to get elected during a general election.
They may have lost the right to represent the constituencies they contested but there is a consolation prize for the best performing losers — a Non-constituency MP seat (NCMP).
This means that the most popular opposition members with the highest number of votes can still snag a seat in Parliament. They are allowed to engage in debate and enjoy the same voting rights as elected MPs.
The NCMP system guarantees a minimum of 12 opposition members in Parliament with effect from this coming election. If the opposition wins fewer than 12 seats, the highest polling losers from opposition parties will be elected as NCMPs to make up the remaining seats.
Sounds like a pretty good deal for those who don’t have the people’s mandate, doesn’t it? Well, the Opposition disagrees.
Mr Low Thia Khiang of the Workers’ Party compared NCMPs to “just duckweed on the water of the pond” to illustrate his view that they lack both political muscle and grassroots grounding.
Mr Lim Tean, the founder of People’s Voice, criticized the scheme for being a ploy to discourage voters from voting in opposition MPs because there is already a guarantee of opposition representation in Parliament.
Despite this, NCMP seats have never gone empty. Even when opposition members who qualify to become NCMPs reject their seats, such as Ms Lee Li Lian of the Workers’ Party in 2015 when she lost Punggol East SMC to PAP’s Charles Chong, it was taken up by WP’s Daniel Goh who was the next best candidate.