Ex-national swimmer, conservation scientist among nine new Singapore NMPs

Nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) have been selected to serve in Singapore’s Parliament. — Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information pic via TODAY
Nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) have been selected to serve in Singapore’s Parliament. — Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Jan 14 — A former national swimmer who is now a director at the Global Esports Federation and a renowned conservation scientist are among the nine new faces selected as Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs).

Mark Chay Jung Jun, 38, represented Singapore in the Olympics Games in 2000 and 2004 and is a multiple gold medallist and a record holder at the Southeast Asian Games.

He is currently also a national para swimming coach at the Singapore Disability Sports Council and chairs the Singapore National Olympic Council Athlete’s Commission.

Conservation scientist Koh Lian Pin, 44, recently returned to Singapore under the National Research Foundation’s Returning Singaporean Scientist Scheme to helm the new Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He is the sixth recipient of this scheme which seeks to attract overseas-based Singaporean research leaders back to Singapore to take up leadership positions in Singapore’s research institutes.

Professor Koh is also a member of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce to guide Singapore’s economic recovery out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other seven new NMP appointees are:

● Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, 48, principal technical officer of SP Group and vice-president of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)

● Janet Ang Guat Har, 61, chairman of Sistic

● Cheng Hsing Yao, 48, group managing director of GuocoLand Limited

● Economics professor Hoon Hian Teck, 61, from the Singapore Management University

● Raj Joshua Thomas, 41, a partner at law firm Tang Thomas LLC who is president of the Security Association of Singapore

● Dr Shahira Abdullah, 33, an associate consultant with the dental surgery team in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

● Dr Tan Yia Swam, 40, president of the Singapore Medical Association, who is also the clinical director of Thomson Breast Centre

All nine of them are new to the role.

Announcing this in a statement today, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said that they were selected from a group of 61 individuals who had submitted their names to be considered for the post from Oct 26 to Nov 23.

This was more than the 48 and 36 submissions in the previous two nominations, in 2018 and 2016 respectively.

The President will appoint them for a term of two and a half years starting from Jan 21 and the new NMPs will take their oath at the next sitting of Parliament in February.

Social entrepreneur Anthea Ong, 52, and Singapore Chinese Orchestra executive director Terence Ho Wee San, who had served as NMPs from 2018, had put their names in the ring for a second term, but were not appointed.

They were part of the previous batch of NMPs, which included labour economist Walter Theseira and paralympic swimmer Yip Pin Xiu. They had stepped down when Parliament was dissolved on June 23 last year.

Among others who had submitted their papers this time round are primatologist Andie Ang, 35, from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund; Johann Annuar, 46, executive director of non-profit organisation Engineering Good as well as playwright and poet Nabilah Said, 35.

In a statement, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who chaired the Special Select Committee which chose the NMPs, said it was not an easy task for the committee to nominate the nine NMPs as many “high calibre candidates” had stepped forward for consideration.

The current nine were determined after “careful deliberation”, he added, pointing out that they collectively have “creditable accomplishments in their individual fields and a good grasp of issues they are passionate about”.

“I thus look forward to the rich diversity of insights and experiences they can bring to the House when we debate matters concerning Singapore and Singaporeans,” he said.

Leader of the House Indranee Rajah added that they are a “good slate” who have distinguished themselves through contributions to society or in their respective fields, and whose specialised knowledge “will add to the depth and breath of the debates in Parliament”.

“I look forward to the fresh perspectives and ideas the new NMPs will bring to Parliament as we work to help Singapore navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and emerge stronger,” she said.

Thanking those who had applied to be NMPs, she added: “"It was not possible to select everyone and we had the very difficult task of selecting nine out of 61. However, we greatly appreciate the interest shown by all applicants.”

In a statement issued by NTUC following the appointment, Samad said he looks forward to expressing the concerns and aspirations of workers and their families as Covid-19 continues to impact the lives and livelihoods of many.

He hopes his efforts will help workers achieve better wages, welfare and work prospects.

The NMP scheme was introduced in 1990 to provide alternative non-partisan views in Parliament.

Up to nine NMPs serve during each term, which lasts for two-and-a-half years.

The selection process started with an invitation for members of the public and seven functional groups to submit the names of those to be considered from Oct 26 to Nov 23.

The seven groups were: Business and industry, labour, the professions, social service organisations, civic and people sector, tertiary education institutions and the media, arts and sports organisations.

The NMPs were then picked by the special committee of eight MPs, who would interview the shortlisted candidates, agree on the final nominees and recommend them to the President, who appoints the NMPs.

The committee is made up of Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang, Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee and Maliki Osman, Workers’ Party MP Leon Perera and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and Speaker Tan. — TODAY

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