The Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MPs) will not be attending the National Day Rally (NDR) because of a clash in timing with a grassroots event they have been planning since last year.
This is believed to be the first time that no WP representatives will attend the yearly event since the party’s parliamentary presence increased after the 2011 General Election.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the WP confirmed that its nine MPs, including its two Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs), would not attend the rally on Aug 23.
The WP spokesperson noted that invitations to the rally are sent to individual MPs, not to the party, and said the MPs had “informed the organising committee accordingly”.
The date of the WP’s grassroots event — an SG50 celebration dinner for residents — was decided in December, added the spokesperson.
The rally usually takes place two Sundays after National Day, with the date confirmed closer to the NDR. Opposition and Nominated MPs have been attending it since 2007.
Before that, opposition MPs had never been invited to the rally, which is a platform for Singapore’s Prime Minister to explain policy directions and priorities, as well as challenges facing the nation.
In 2004, in reply to a parliamentary question, the Prime Minister said opposition MPs could not be expected to help the Government rally the ground to support its policies.
WP NCMP Yee Jenn Jong told TODAY this would be the first time he would be absent from the Rally since entering Parliament in 2011. “By the time we received the NDR invitation, we had already planned our National Day event,” said Mr Yee, who received the invitation in June.
“I think I need to commit my time to the residents who have supported us,” added Mr Yee, who had paid for a table for supporters and friends invited to the dinner.
Nevertheless, he said he intends to catch up on the NDR speech after that.