Starting today (4 May), all members of Parliament (MPs) must adorn face masks while present in Parliament, and can only remove it for a short while when delivering speeches, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.
“All members from today will wear mask within Parliament house and only remove them temporarily while delivering speeches in the chamber so you can be heard clearly,” he said while delivering his opening speech in Parliament today.
All the MPs who attended today’s session were also seen wearing face masks.
Mr Tan stressed that despite challenges that the country is facing, “the essential and fundamental role of Parliament continues”. In fact, he added that other countries around the globe are also doing their best to persevere during this unprecedented COVID-19 situation, and Singapore is no different.
As such, Mr Tan said that a Bill will be read today by Leader of the House Grace Fu, which looks into allowing Parliament and its committees to meet with members at two or more appointed places.
“This is why the Bill that the leader of the House will be introducing today is timely and significant. In the current climate of uncertainty brought by COVID-19, it is imperative that we prepare for exigencies such as the scenario which it is impossible, unsafe or inexperience for all members to meet at one place for parliamentary proceedings. So we must be prime and ready to swiftly respond should such exigencies happen,” he said.
He added, “The Bill therefore proposes an amendment to the Constitution to establish a legal framework for arrangements to be made for Parliament and its committees to meet and dispatch business with members being present at two or more appointment places, if necessary, under continuity arrangements.”
“The ultimate form and modalities of such continuity arrangements would be looked into once the Bill is passed,” he said. “We will learn where we can from other countries and other Parliaments and implement what works best in our Singapore contexts”.
At the end of his speech, Mr Tan also voiced the House’s “best regards” to Workers’ Party (WP) MP Low Thia Khiang who is currently in the intensive care unit (ICU) after suffering from a fall.
“We wish him a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with him,” Mr Tan added.
On 30 April, Mr Low fell at his home and suffered from a head injury. His injury was announced by WP on Sunday and noted that he is conscious and has his MP duties supported by his fellow MPs at Aljunied GRC.