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Saturday, February 17, 2007

GOH Chok Tong lies - Ministers who lose can remain

Goh Chok Tong Lies – Ministers Who Lose Can Remain

Some time ago, I posted "Ministers who lose elections CAN remain ministers" in which I posted Warren Fernandez' Straits Times article for the 1997 General Election.

Many of you posted replies, some quoting the Constitution to show it couldn't be possible.

I noted Warren's tone in which he seemed very sure and emailed him. He replied and said essentially that at that time, there was debate on whether a PAP Minister who lost should be nominated as a Nominated Member of Parliament AND AS A NMP, THEREBY QUALIFY TO BECOME A MINISTER.

While that is politically unethical, reprehensible and maybe even impossible, IT IS NOT ILLEGAL. In short, the PAP now has, through the NMP scheme, a backdoor entrance for a defeated Minister to remain a Minister simply by nominating him as a NMP.

That could be the whole rationale for the NMP scheme and not any fancy debating skills for a wider repertoire of discussion in that seemingly august body, which is nothing but a rubber stamp with even less of a use.

I cannot post Warren's email but it is short and covers exactly the point, namely, that a defeated Minister can simply be nominated a NMP and waltz back into the Cabinet.

Since elections are the primary definition of a democracy and elected office the primary means of legitimate democratic rule, this backdoor provision, though never tried, is a potentially troubling matter to all who want to see fair play and playing by the rules.

However, this could work to the opposition's advantage.

The very knowledge that a Minister can be defeated and still remain a Minister means that there is now no good reason to vote for him in a GRC.

So, voters, show your hand!

Robert Ho 21 Aug 01