[EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr Liew Kai Khiun was previously described as a professor of History at NTU. This has been corrected to professor of Media. Apologies.]
by Reuben Wang
WHO wants to be a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP)? Many, many people, as it turns out. Although there are only nine slots available, 41 individuals have submitted applications to the Special Select Committee of Parliament for consideration – five more than the last nomination process in 2014.
We don’t even know who all 41 of the nominees are – Parliament has not made that known. However, we have pieced together scattered media reports of who we know to have submitted proposal forms. Not all their personal information was provided by the various media so we thought we would do a little digging to fill in the blanks on their ages and backgrounds (You’re welcome).
Of the 41 men and women in the running, here are 13 candidates more or less confirmed by media reports:
- Professor Alex Siow, 61, professor of computing at NUS
- Assistant Professor Liew Kai Khiun, 43, professor of media at NTU
- Mr Kok Heng Leun, 52, artistic director of a theatre company
- Mr David Lee, 50, head of an events management company
- Mr M. P. Kathiresan Raj, 59, security guard
- Mr Ooi Boon Ewe, 74, ex-tuition teacher and optimistic GE candidate (Actually, ST said he successfully applied, while TNP said he missed the deadline.)
- Mr Eric Tan, 61, former member of the Workers’ Party’s Central Executive Committee
- Ms K. Thanaletchimi, 50, vice-president of the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union
- Mr Mohamed Nawaz, 36, business owner
- Ms Felicia Low, 39, arts activist
- Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, 39, former NMP and entrepreneur
- Mr Thomas Chua, 62, former NMP and entrepreneur
- Mr Jeremy Tan, 41, treasurer of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation
Whether or not these 13 will make the shortlist is anybody’s guess. News reports did not say how many would be shortlisted, but they did give a hint of who might make the cut. We took their names and did a bit more digging. Here’s what we found:
- Professor Alex Siow
Prof Siow has received nods from the Singapore Computer Society and Academy of Medicine. The Academy of Medicine has been tasked by the Speaker of Parliament to find representatives for “the professions” sector. Prof Siow is currently a professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) School of Computing, and is the director of the faculty’s Strategic Technology Management Institute. Previously, he was the Chief Information Officer at HDB and has worked at Starhub in various leadership positions from 2005 to 2012. He is one of two NMP candidates backed by the Academy of Medicine.
- Ms K. Thanaletchimi
Ms Thanaletchimi, 50, has the backing of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), one of the organisations Parliament asked to put forward names. She currently sits on various NTUC committees representing various interests including industrial relations, working women, mature workers, to membership, sports and the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute.
- Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin
Ms Kuik has served as an NMP from 2014 to 2015 and is seeking renomination. We have previously covered the unlikeliness of NMPs to be renominated for a second term (you can read it here), but some believe their experience still gives them an advantage over other nominees. She had a strong showing as an NMP during the last two years, representing the “youth” sector. Outside parliament, she is an entrepreneur who runs a wide variety of businesses – including restaurant chain Food for Thought, design firm Think Tank, and School of Thought, which organises educational seminars about civic consciousness for schools.
- Mr Kok Heng Leun
Mr Koh is the artistic director and co-founder of the bilingual theatre company Drama Box, and has directed more than 60 English and Chinese plays. He currently serves on the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Programme Committee. Mr Kok received the Young Artist Award from the National Arts Council of Singapore in 2000 and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Culture Award in 2003. In 2006, he was presented the Outstanding Young Person (Culture) award in recognition of his contribution to the local arts scene. This will be his second attempt to get nominated as an NMP, having done it in 2014.
Why isn’t the complete list available to the public? While Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) are relatively well known due to their General Election campaigns, the process behind inducting NMPs into parliament is more opaque – we will likely not know who is being nominated until days before their swearing in. So, this week’s reports on the nominations may be the first and last time we get to know more about these potential NMPs before they get selected. More transparency would be welcomed, especially since it looks like there will be twice as many NMPs as NCMPs in the 13th Parliament.
However, even the majority of the 41 proposal forms submitted over the past few days are a mystery. The organisations appointed by the Speaker of Parliament “to seek the views of their constituent organisations and to submit names of suitable candidates to the Special Select Committee for consideration“, including Singapore Business Federation, the People’s Association and NUS, are mostly unwilling to disclose the names of those who they have endorsed for the job.
A seat in parliament comes along with public scrutiny and spotlight. If one of the reasons for the secretive nature of the list is because it is meant to spare failed candidates their feelings (or egos), then we have to ask: Are these individuals really prepared to be in the hot seat – where the spotlight is sure to be even more uncomfortable?
Featured image by Najeer Yusof.
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