As you might already know, Parliament is set to reopen in July. On top of that, the speculation on the ground is that the next general election is likely to happen in September this year. With that in mind, it’s about time for us to take stock of how Singapore’s Members of Parliament have been performing.
We’ve already looked at the attendance records of Singapore’s parliamentarians, but now we want to see which MPs have engaged the most, specifically in terms of raising questions in the House.
According to records, Worker’s Party (WP) Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera has asked the most questions in total after 105 parliament sessions to date. So far, Mr Perera metaphorically put his hand up 203 times to ask questions in Parliament, closely followed by People’s Action Party (PAP) MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng Kok Kwang who posed asked questions on 173 occurrences.
Other top questioners include PAP MP Er Dr Lee Bee Wah (189) and Goh Thiam Poh (172) as well as WP NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong (154). Six out of twenty on our list are from WP, a significant percentage given that WP only takes up less than 10% of the total seats in Parliament (minus the NMPs).
On the other end, there were many MPs who did not ask any question at all including Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. Understandably, cabinet ministers and senior ministers tend to be the ones answering questions rather than asking them.
So excluding those officials, we looked at MPs who asked questions the fewest number of times. These include MP for Marine Parade GRC Edwin Tong (5), MP for East Coast GRC Jessica Tan (3), MP for Bukit Panjang SMC Dr Teo Ho Pin (3) and MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Teo Ser Luck (3), MP for Punggol East SMC Charles Chong (1), MP for Marine Parade GRC Goh Chok Tong (0) and MP for Radin Mas SMC Sam Tan (0). All of them are members of PAP.
We should note that Charles Chong is the Deputy Speaker, but that does not mean he doesn’t get to ask questions. His counterpart, Mr Lim Biow Chuan who is also the Deputy Speaker is in the top twenty of our list of most questions filed. The only question that Mr Chong filed was a question raised during the Oxley Road saga about the allegations against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Dr Teo Ho Pin is the Deputy Parliament Whip while Teo Ser Luck was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade & Industry right after the General Election but stepped down on 30 June 2017. Also, Edwin Tong became a Senior Minister on 1 July 2018, which means he only asked 5 questions during his one year and a half as an MP.
There were also three ministers, namely Dr Yacoob Ibrahim, Mr Lim Swee Say and Lim Hng Kiang, who stepped down on in 2018 but did not ask any question during their time as MP.
As for nominated members of parliament (NMP), Arasu Duraisamy and Douglass Foo did not ask any questions during their time in parliament. The highest number of questions asked by an NMP is 53 by K. Thanaletchimi who served as NMP between March 2016 to September 2018. Of the newest NMPs nominated in September 2018, Anthea Ong has asked the most questions, totalling 36.
Table of MPs who have asked questions the most and least number of times (Jan 2016 – May 2019)
Note that this list doesn’t include cabinet ministers or parliament appointees who have been appointed since the start of the parliament session.
Check out our article on the attendance records of MPs in Singapore’s13th Parliament.