SINGAPORE — In a statement released on Friday, the Workers’ Party expressed its disappointment over an incident involving Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who was recorded making a derogatory remark towards WP Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC Associate Professor Jamus Lim during a Parliamentary sitting on 17 April.
The video, which captured someone audibly whispering “fxxking populist” as Assoc Prof Lim concluded his speech on Hard Living in Singapore, has sparked controversy and raised questions about parliamentary conduct and impartiality.
The Workers’ Party statement stressed, “It is paramount that everyone has confidence that the Speaker presides over Parliamentary debates in an impartial manner. The Speaker is a referee for political debate at the highest level, maintaining order and providing guidance on Parliamentary procedures. It is appropriate for public concerns over this issue to be addressed in Parliament.”
Assoc Prof Lim’s speech was focused on the plight of those facing economic difficulties in Singapore. He criticised the government’s approach towards defining poverty and called for a more comprehensive understanding of ‘basic needs’.
In his argument, Assoc Prof Lim urged for the establishment of an official poverty line to better identify and aid economically vulnerable groups.
The Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin has since admitted to being the person behind the derogatory whisper.
He has also publicly apologised for his remarks, explaining that they were ‘private thoughts’ he had inadvertently voiced out.
Asst Prof Lim has accepted the apology and has been praised by netizens for his graciousness and magnanimity.
PSP calls for motion on the independency and impartiality of the Speaker
Meanwhile, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), in a statement released on Friday, filed a motion to be debated in the upcoming parliamentary sitting in August.
The motion reads, “That this House reaffirms its commitment to the need for the Speaker of Parliament to be independent and impartial, and for Parliament to be a fair arena for all.”
The PSP expressed that the incident has called into question parliamentary privileges, professional ethics, and the impartiality and independence of the Speaker’s office, thus warranting a full parliamentary debate.
It added that its NCMPs will share their views on potential parliamentary reforms during the coming debate, underscoring the need for both the Speaker and the parliamentary procedures to ensure fairness.