Netizens frustrated with balloting procedure in parliament that doesn’t prioritise urgent and important motions

Following the announcement by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin that People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Louis Ng was selected via a balloting procedure to speak on his motion on protection against secondhand smoke in homes at the next Parliament sitting in October over other seemingly more pressing motions, the internet was abuzz with criticism.

Specifically, the gripe revolves around the fact that Mr Ng’s motion was selected over the motion put forth by Worker’s Party (WP) MP Sylvia Lim on enhancing equity in the criminal justice system. Her motion relates to the recent Parti Liyani case where a former domestic worker was acquitted for theft charges brought against her by the Attorney-General’s Chamber (AGC) following a police report filed by her former employer, former Changi Airport Group Chariman Liew Mun Leong.

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai even took to Facebook on Wednesday (30 Sept) to say, “MP Sylvia Lim only stands a 20% chance of being drawn in the ballot process although most Singaporeans would probably prefer the Parti Liyani case to be heard first before Secondhand Smoke or any of the other matters raised by the PAP MPs.”

Netizens echoed this sentiments in the comment sections of the Facebook pages of TODAY, Straits Times, and Channel NewsAsia.

Many netizens slammed the balloting procedure directly, describing it as “ridiculous” and pointing out that motions should be selected based on importance and priority, nor via a random selection process.

 

One netizens suggested that deciding on motions to be discussed should be left to the people’s vote instead since Parliament is a space to discuss matters of importance to the people.

Another netizen urged for politicians to stop hiding behind parliamentary processes, saying that is the process does not yield the right outcome, it should be changed.

There was also a person who wondered if Singapore’s “expensive parliament” doesn’t have the time to discuss or debate issues that affect citizens and if that’s why it has resorted to balloting. He also asked, “is it because everyone is busy with their day jobs and this is just part time to them?”

Several netizens also criticised Mr Ng and his party, the PAP, for putting forth such a “lightweight” motion compared to the one suggested by Ms Lim. One netizens slammed his as  being a “useless MP”, while another suggested that PAP comes out with “lame” motions in order to block opposition motions.

One netizen in particular posited that Mr Ng’s motion looks like a “red herring” to avoid a deeper issue that will directly take aim as an influential person such as the former CAG Chairman. The netizen added that this issue is important and should tabled as soon as possible instead of dragging it till later when the issue is “diluted” in the public sphere.

Additionally, one netizen commented that he would be interested in seeing ministers be challenged with difficult questions on enhancing equity in the criminal justice system as brought up by Ms Lim in her motion as opposed to the “simple” question of protection against secondhand smoke as brought up by Mr Ng.

 

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September 2020