The Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh took to his Facebook on Tuesday (28 July) to announce that he will allocate 50 per cent of his salary as Leader of the Opposition for assisting the low-income residents, the Party’s community programmes, as well as charitable causes.
Mr Singh started his post by expressing that it is an honour and privilege for him to serve as an elected Member of Parliament (MP) and be appointed as Leader of the Opposition in Singapore.
“It is an honour for me to serve as an elected MP in Singapore. Equally, it is a privilege to be appointed as the Leader of the Opposition,” he wrote, adding that he and his Party “are lucky to have opportunity” to serve the country.
As he was appointed as Leader of the Opposition in Singapore’s 14th Parliament, Mr Singh said that he had discussed with his wife about arising from his appointment and both of them had felt strongly that “a percentage of the salary should be used for a greater purpose“.
“After putting the girls to bed, my wife and I knew there were some things we wanted to talk about arising from the LO appointment. Amongst other things, we spoke about what the salary increase would mean for our family. Both of us felt strongly that a percentage of the salary should be used for a greater purpose,” he shared.
As such, Mr Singh stated that half of his salary as Leader of the Opposition – after tax deductions – will be allocated for the following causes:
- To assist low-income residents in Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC and Sengkang GRC through the Workers’ Party Community Fund (WPCF) and/or the WP Grassroots Committee; or
- Community programs in Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC, Sengkang GRC; or
- Charitable or worthy causes; or
- Workers’ Party specific needs.
Expressing his gratitude and appreciation in receiving the additional support and remuneration, the WP’s chief also noted that this appointment will require more investment of his time as well as “longer hours away“ from his family.
“The LO appointment carries with it many additional responsibilities that I will have to shoulder. The road ahead will not be easy but I thank Singaporeans for their support and encouragement,“ he remarked.
As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Singh had earlier stated that he is seeking to extend his support to the two Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs).
In a separate Facebook post yesterday, he 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”.
On top of the double allowance of an elected MP – around S$385,000, as Singapore’s first Leader of the Opposition, Mr Singh will be granted access to confidential briefings on select matters pertaining to national security and invitations to state functions.
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 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.
Beyond this, Mr Singh 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 on Monday (27 July).
The ruling party must acknowledge it and “evolve our political system to accommodate it, while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose”, he asserted, noting that formally designating the status of the Leader of the Opposition is one of the ways to do so.