The Singapore Parliament in session / photo

Former Ministers and spouses of President and Ministers seated in Gallery because of long-standing tradition in Parliament

Just this week, the Parliament sat to listen to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to make their Ministerial Statement over the allegations that have been made against PM Lee by his two siblings, Dr Lee Weiling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. Both siblings had accused PM Lee of abusing his authority as the Prime Minister for personal agenda.

PM Lee made his opening statement to the Parliamentary debate on 3 July and ended with a closing statement on 4 July stating that the allegations made against him by his siblings had no basis and asked that the matter to be closed so that the country can move forward with other more important matters.

At both the Parliament sessions, PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Holdings, was present during PM Lee’s speech. She was seated alone at the VIP gallery but there had been no mention as to what capacity was Ms Ho there at the gallery (refer to the diagram below for where Ms Ho was seated).

In a written query to the Parliament, The Online Citizen asked if it can shed some light as to what capacity was Ms Ho was sitting in the VIP Gallery in.

Parliament wrote back in response to the query,  “The Gallery seats a diverse group of people, including those from the non-government sector. These categories include guests such as our Olympians, Paralympians and members of Committees on Legislative Reform; and foreign dignitaries such as visiting Speakers, Ministers, MPs and Ambassadors.  Former Ministers and spouses of the President and Ministers are seated in the Gallery because of long-standing tradition in the House. Guests may also be seated there for practical reasons such as security and ease of access by an MP’s caregiver.”

However, a search online does not seem to show any write up of the said-tradition or examples where former Ministers and spouses of President and Ministers appearing at the VIP gallery. TOC has dropped another query to Parliament to ask for past instances of such occurrences and will include their response when they reply.