As Leader of the Opposition in Singapore’s 14th Parliament, chief of the Workers’ Party (WP) Pritam Singh will seek to extend his support to the two Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs).
Mr Singh in a Facebook post on Tuesday (28 July) said that he will “confer” with the PSP NCMPs in relation to “the assignment of staff and resources to support the Opposition’s efforts in Parliament”.
Prior to taking up seats as NCMPs, Leong Mun Wai served as PSP’s assistant secretary-general while Ms Poa served as vice-chairman. They have since stepped down to fully focus on their duties as NCMPs in the new Parliament term, which will open on 24 Aug.
Mr Singh said today that he will also “speak in greater detail on the approach The Workers’ Party will take in Parliament over the next term and what the public can expect, during the debate on the President’s address to Parliament next month”.
Access to confidential briefings on select matters pertaining to national security and invitations to state functions are among privileges Mr Singh will gain access to as Singapore’s first Leader of the Opposition.
The Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House in a statement on Tuesday (28 July) said that Mr Singh will be granted the right of first response among Members of Parliament (MPs) and to ask the lead question to the ministers on policies, bills and motions, subject to existing speaking conventions.
He will also be allocated time to make speeches equivalent to that of political officeholders such as ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
Mr Singh will receive around S$385,000 as the Leader of the Opposition, which is double the allowance of an elected MP. He will also have an office and a meeting room in the Parliament House, as well as a secretary to assist him with administrative matters regarding parliamentary business.
Touching on the duties and privileges given to the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker and Leader of the House said that they were derived from other Westminster parliamentary systems such as Australia and the United Kingdom — where the position is formally designated — as well as Singapore’s “own circumstances”.
While the majority of Singaporeans has still given the PAP the mandate to govern Singapore, the recent election has also demonstrated “a strong desire among Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics” and “more robust debate of policies and plans”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his speech at the swearing-in ceremony at the Istana yesterday.
The ruling party must acknowledge it and “evolve our political system to accommodate it, while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose”, he said, noting that formally designating the status of the Leader of the Opposition is one of the ways to do so.