Who is Mr Low Thia Khiang’s least favourite Disney character?
What is Mr Chan Chun Sing’s least favourite dish in a Chinese restaurant?
What is his least favourite dish in a French restaurant?
What is Mr Daniel Goh’s least favourite Oscar-winning movie?
Zero Duckweed Thirty.
What is Willie Nelson’s favourite bath toy?
His rubber duckie weed.
These are duck times indeed.
It all started on Wednesday in Parliament.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:
“I intend to amend the constitution during this term to give NCMPs the same voting rights as constituency MPs...
“They will be equal in powers although not in responsibility and scope to constituency MPs because they are non-constituency and they do not have specific voters to look after. But there is no reason at all to perceive NCMPs as second class.”
He added he would “also increase the number of opposition MPs, including NCMPs, in this House from the next General Election” from nine to 12.
“But regardless of election outcomes, the NCMP scheme ensures a stronger opposition presence in Parliament, so that if the Government wins overwhelming, nationwide support, it will still have to argue for and defend its policies robustly.”
But for opposition leader and Workers’ Party (WP) chief, Mr Low, the Non-Constituency MP scheme isn’t all it’s quacked up to be.
He said in an interview:
“NCMP is just duckweed on the water of a pond. You don’t have roots unlike elected MPs where you have a constituency, run a town council, and you get close in touch with your residents. You can sink roots there.”
And from that one statement, “duckweed” became the word of the week, spreading like, uh, weeds.
Feathers were ruffled in Parliament as People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs cried fowl over Mr Low’s botanical analogy.
Ms Rahayu Mahzam said that NCMPs are not like duckweed as they can also contribute to parliamentary debates and grassroots work. “Grassroots”, get it?
Mr Edwin Tong said: “Now, suggesting that the NCMPs create duckweeds, I don’t think that’s true. As the member Rahayu mentioned earlier, you really make what you will of it yourself.”
Government Whip Chan Chun Sing said:
“In response to Mr Low’s earlier point, I will be the first to say that if any of my PAP MPs dare call the NCMPs second-class citizens, I as the Whip will put them in their place.
“But on the other hand, please do not call them ‘duckweeds’ because even in a pond, the duckweeds have a purpose. Let us respect each other. Let us respect the different roles that we play in this House, be it MPs, NCMPs or NMPs.”
A backdrop to all this is that WP had earlier filed a motion for Mr Daniel Goh to take the NCMP seat rejected by Ms Lee Li Lian.
On Friday in Parliament, Mr Chan took the aquatic flora drama to the next level by adding to the motion an amendment that says:
“But regrets that Ms Lee Li Lian having stood as a Workers’ Party candidate and received the highest vote share among all losing opposition candidates, has now decided to give up her NCMP seat to another candidate from her Party with a lower vote share, contrary to the expressed will of the voters.
“And that the Workers’ Party supports this political manoeuvre to take full advantage of the NCMP seat, even as its secretary-general criticises NCMPs as just duckweed on the water of the pond.”
The motion was passed with WP abstaining from voting on its own motion.
It just quacks me up that somewhere in our Government, there is a formal legal document with the word “duckweed” in it.
As for Mr Goh, who is now an NCMP thanks to what we shall call the Duckweed Motion, he seems to have pretty much accepted being “duckweed Goh”.
On his Facebook page, he wrote:
“If my country sees fit that I contribute as duckweed, then it is my honour to be duckweed Goh. It is no insult; it is a privilege.”I guess you can say he is taking it like it’s water off a duck’s back.
Duckweed is so hot now that even Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan waddled onto the bandwagon.
Speaking in Parliament on Friday about improving rail reliability being his top priority, Mr Khaw said:
“You just look at me, look at my hair. I think it’s in a mess of maybe duckweed, multiple colours, you know. I promised my wife that I will make time to go and dye it before Chinese New Year.”Hey, at least no one’s calling him duckweed Khaw.
- Published in The New Paper, 31 January 2016