I refer to the article “WP ‘balloted out’ in move to speak on reserved election” (Straits Times, Sep 7).

It states that “A move by Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim to speak on the elected presidency when Parliament sits on Monday has failed.

The WP announced in a Facebook post this week that the motion filed by Ms Lim, an MP for Aljunied GRC, had been “balloted out” as two other MPs wanted to speak next week. Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai’s motion on “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options” was picked, it added.”

Comment: So, we end up with the very important and time-sensitive issue of the elected presidency, being placed behind the arguably even more important and urgent “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options”

“Under Parliament’s rules, when more than one adjournment motion is filed, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker draws lots to decide which MP gets to speak. Such a motion allows an MP to speak for up to 20 minutes before the sitting adjourns. All MPs who have filed motions are invited to witness the draw, along with staff from the Parliament Secretariat.

Ms Lim filed her motion, titled “Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election – Policy Decision or Legal Question”, on Aug 28, and announced she had done so in a Facebook post that day.

The topic deals with the issue of how and when the Government should start counting the five presidential terms of office needed to trigger a reserved election.

“In its post, the WP said Parliament notified MPs on Aug 30 that Mr Murali and Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair had filed adjournment motions on Aug 29. Mr Nair’s motion was on “The Future of National Service””.

Comment: Perhaps “The Future of National Service” is arguably a very important and urgent matter, since it is now 52 years after national service started.

Comment: What a coincidence that two other MPs filed motions the day after (Aug 29) WP’s filing (Aug 28)?

“Parliament’s Standing Orders state that “the right to raise a matter on the motion for the adjournment of Parliament shall be allotted to one Member only for each sitting day, if necessary by ballot, under the directions of the Speaker””.

Comment: Since WP was balloted out on the Parliament sitting day of 11 September – do the rules allow that they be allowed to speak on the next sitting day? Does it mean that perhaps by the time that the WP is allowed to speak – the presidential elections may already be over? Do the rules allow the Deputy Speaker (since the Speaker has resigned to stand for election as the President) to have the discretion to decide on which motion to allow first, without having to go through a ballot?


Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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