On 30 June 2018, the Straits Times reported that the NTUC is backing one of its members to become a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP). (See photo, right)
The would-be NMP is Mr Arasu Doraisamy, the General Secretary of the Port Workers’ Union, an affiliate of the NTUC.
If I were a member of the Special Select Committee which recommends NMP candidates to the President, I’d give very low priority to candidates from the NTUC.
The reason is simple: we already have the NTUC chief himself as a Cabinet minister, several other ministers from the NTUC, and also ordinary PAP MPs who are also from the NTUC, in Parliament.
Aren’t these union ministers and MPs enough channels for union members and leaders to feedback to? Why do these members also need to be in Parliament as NMPs?
This is especially so when MPs from the ruling party will be playing an even bigger role in the unions.
Just last November, it was reported that all PAP MPs will be more involved in the NTUC and its affiliate unions (58 of them).
What would more NMPs from the NTUC in Parliament bring to the table?
From this report by the Straits Times on 30 June, of the NTUC’s nominee for the NMP post, it seems the would-be NMP shares the same thinking and supports what the NTUC is already doing.
For example, he says he “will be focusing on” the need for workers to “train, retrain and reskill.”
Isn’t this already being done? Hasn’t this been the call by the govt and the NTUC for many years now? Why do we need another MP to parrot this in Parliament?
And incidentally, Mr Arasu is also in the Central Committee of the NTUC itself (where there are 4 PAP ministers), with easy access to the NTUC Union Chief, Ng Chee Meng, who is also a Cabinet minister.
In other words, Mr Arasu already has a direct line to the heart of government.
Why would Mr Arasu need to be in Parliament?
According to the Government web page, Factually, it explains what NMPs are supposed to do in Parliament:
“NMPs in Parliament help to ensure a greater diversity of voices in the House. They contribute independent and non-partisan views in Parliament.”
Keep in mind that the NTUC and the Government have always boasted of their “symbiotic relationship”. It is thus curious what “independent and non-partisan views” an NMP from the union – and one who is from the NTUC’s Central Committee itself – would bring to the table, if not to support the prevailing positions of the government on issues?
And even if he could bring independent views to Parliament, couldn’t he do so via channels within NTUC itself, which is headed by several PAP ministers?
I fail to understand why we would need one more union NMP in addition to the already many union ministers and MPs currently in Parliament – unless, of course, these ministers and MPs have done a woeful job of representing the views of members, which I am sure is not the case.
We really don’t need another pro-govt MP to regurgitate or reiterate support for govt policies – that’s not what the NMP scheme is for – especially when there are only 9 NMP positions available.
I’d rather the NMP seat be reserved for other nominees from other sectors, or other members of the public.
Just in November last year, 2017, it was reported:
“All 82 PAP MPs, “where possible”, will also be advisers in the 58 unions, two affiliated associations and 62 professional associations and guilds under NTUC, it said.
“Currently, there are 71 PAP MPs who are advisers to unions.”
*To be clear, I do not support the NMP scheme because Parliament should only be for elected members who have the moral authority given to them by the people and not by a panel or a committee.