[UPDATE at 11:30pm, adding Png's statement sent to media]
Workers’ Party (WP) Hougang by-election candidate Png Eng Huat has revealed he didn't want to be considered for the post of the non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) last year.
"I actually took my name out of the ballot for the NCMP post. Because I have a personal stand against the NCMP scheme, so that's why my name wasn't in the ballot. So I don't think DPM knows all of these,” Png said in an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Monday.
In a statement released to the media, he explained his fundamental opposition to the premise behind the NCMP scheme.
"My personal stand goes back to the time when the NCMP scheme was introduced," he said. "I do not wish for a government to dictate the number and type of opposition members we can have in Parliament."
He went on to explain that before the May polls, he had already "made it clear" to WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, as well as his running mates in the WP East Coast team, that he would not want to be considered for an NCMP position, should it become available to them.
Png was responding to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s Sunday rally speech where the latter questioned if Png was the best candidate WP could offer to residents.
Teo said at the rally, “Png’s message [at WP’s Saturday night rally] was only: send me to parliament. But think about it. WP didn’t send him to parliament when they could have done so. The East Coast team didn’t choose Png. If he is their best man, why not choose him?”
He added, “Voters have a right to ask why WP didn’t send him to parliament when they had the chance to, and yet they ask you to send him in?”
Under the NCMP scheme, the three best-performing losing opposition candidates or team at last year's May elections were included to be part of Parliament. WP’s five-member team in East Coast GRC qualified to be part of the scheme.
The WP eventually selected Png's fellow East Coast GRC candidate Gerald Giam to be NCMP.
The scheme has been criticised in the past because the NCMP cannot vote on issues relating to the amendment of the constitution, public funds, vote of no confidence in the government, and removing the president from office.
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