The Peak (Singapore)


Although more than 90 NMPs have served in Parliament to date since the scheme became permanent in July 2010, its political relevance and contributi­ons are still up for debate three decades on.


■ Cardiologi­st Professor Maurice Choo and businessma­n Leong Chee Whye were the first Nominated Members of Parliament to be sworn in in December 1990.

“There was an Advisory Council for how to make Singapore more disabledfr­iendly, which I served on with Dr Tony Tan. Some of the things we asked for didn’t happen, like making the MRT accessible to the disabled… but politics always reflect the times, and I think we did make some good recommenda­tions.

Another significan­t one was a National Review Committee — coming up with a 10-year plan for national health policy which I think we did a good job with. In hindsight, I think some of these might have been more useful than making speeches in Parliament. In making speeches, you share your thoughts and principles, your views on where Singapore could be going and what the challenges are. But practical things, like making Singapore more wheelchair-accessible... you need to talk, yes, but you need to do as well.”

— Maurice Choo

■ National Youth Council member and Associate Consultant (Orthodonti­cs) at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Shahira Abdullah is one of nine incumbents who started their two-and-a-half-year term in early 2021.

“I think [being an NMP] has made me listen to people’s problems a lot more and differentl­y.

You know sometimes it’s just like “Oh, okay, okay,” but now I tend to dive a bit deeper and try to understand further, so that I can try to offer solutions or do something more meaningful in Parliament. When you listen, you do it to try and help. For me now, it’s always like: What can I do? What can I ask in Parliament? Overall, I would say that I have matured for sure. At the start of my term, my aim was to do my job as an NMP properly, and if I want to do this, it means I have to step up for certain things. It’s not about sitting there in the Chamber and just listening; it’s a lot of work.”

— Shahira Abdullah

■ Audrey Wong is a cultural policy expert, civil society advocate, arts and cultural scholar and the arts community’s first representa­tive appointed as an NMP in July 2009.

“When my fellow NMP Viswa Sadasivan tabled a motion on the National Pledge, a lot of people signed up to speak on the Motion because it was something that was so deeply emotional. I remember I was really very nervous because I think it was one of the first times I actually spoke in the House. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was also present, and he was kind of sitting opposite me. And I’m like, wow, you know, one of the very first things I’m going to say in this highest law-making body, which is going to be transmitte­d everywhere, is going to be said right in front of the Minister Mentor.

You really do feel that weight of responsibi­lity because you realise this forum is truly massive — it really is national, and you have to be responsibl­e for what you’re saying.”

— Audrey Wong

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