Singapore’s Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh yesterday (24 August) called on re-elected Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin to continue exploring ways to increase the accessibility of the legislative body’s policymaking process to Singaporeans.
In his first speech as Leader of the Opposition yesterday (24 August), the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Member of Parliament (MP) referenced his previous call in 2016 for the establishment of Parliamentary select committees on significant matters such as population.
“I hope you can lend your weight to this, and continue to explore ways to demystify the work of Parliament, and to better enable Singaporeans appreciate lawmaking and debates on policy imperatives and trade-offs,” he said.
Mr Singh said that given the “massive” impact of Parliamentary business on every citizen, it is “only appropriate that we amplify the choices and the reasons behind the decisions made or not made in Parliament more widely”.
“In doing so, I hope Singaporeans are in turn driven to understand the issues. We debate deeply, but always in the context of a small and multi-racial society which has to balance and accommodate many different viewpoints and shifting norms,” he added.
Drawing attention to Mr Tan’s previous efforts in making the Parliamentary process more accessible to the public via social media, Mr Singh said that Mr Tan has “encouraged Singaporeans to take an active interest in Parliament as an organ of state that is fundamental to our democracy”.
Recalling an incident during a courtesy visit to the Dewan Rakyat — Malaysia’s Lower House of Parliament — in March last year, Mr Singh said that “it is clear that your views on how such a matter should be handled are valued in the region”.
“I do not think it was a coincidence that another Malaysian MP stood up and invited the Dewan Rakyat to seek your advice from the visitor’s gallery as to whether such a removal of an MP was proper,” he stressed.
Such courtesy visits, Mr Singh posited, also demonstrate soundness and awareness of Singapore’s position “in our neighbourhood and the wider world”.
“Indeed, as this generation of Singaporeans traverses a more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world than before, we would be remiss to ignore our closest neighbours and the context of Singapore’s place in our neighbourhood and the wider world,” he added.