I refer to the article “New Speaker urges lawmakers to remain accessible, relevant” (Straits Times, Sep 12).

It states that “Newly elected Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday called on MPs to work with him to make Parliament the institution that “reflects the voices of the people so that we can query, answer and debate in a manner that provides hope and clarity”.

He also urged them to be accessible and relevant as they play an important role in upholding parliamentary democracy.

Giving his first speech as Speaker, Mr Tan pledged that he will be impartial and fair as well as firm. “I want to facilitate good, free-flowing debate where the desired outcome is better policies and laws,” he said, reminding MPs to debate vigorously and maintain mutual respect.

Mr Tan, in thanking his former Cabinet colleagues and fellow MPs, noted the crucial role of Parliament in a parliamentary democracy.

He said: “The legitimacy of the laws we enact rests on the scrupulous attention we – on both sides of this House – pay to the reasoned debate which accompanies the passing of each law.

“No one doubts that our goal in these sittings must be to advance the interests of all Singaporeans.”

He also said the presence of opposition colleagues in the House is “a strength and positive step towards constructive contestation of ideas”.

With such contestation set to be more complex, and the proliferation of new ways for people to get across their views, MPs also need to “engage beyond this House, to tap the collective wisdom that lies without”, said Mr Tan. “We need to present the voices and needs of our individual constituents, but we need also to stand for a united Singapore, to speak with one voice in a fissiparous world.”

He said it was “not a bad thing” that this sparked discussion, adding: “We do need fellow Singaporeans to be involved, and to gain a deeper understanding of not just the Speaker’s role, but also that of Parliament, its proceedings and how all of us contribute to making Singapore a better home for our people.”

I would like to congratulate and applaud the new Speaker of Parliament, as his debut speech is in my opinion, the best that I have ever heard from all the previous Speakers of Parliament’s maiden speeches that I have listened to.

I particularly liked his following remarks:-

“urged them (MPs) to be … relevant as they play an important role in upholding parliamentary democracy”

“make Parliament the institution that reflects the voices of the people”

“be impartial and fair”

“good, free-flowing debate where the desired outcome is better policies and laws”

“the crucial role of Parliament in a parliamentary democracy”

“our goal in these sittings must be to advance the interests of all Singaporeans”.

However, sadly, the day of his appointment has coincided with another earth-shattering matter, that may go down in our history as a day in infamy.

Very sadly, arguably, our Government may have lost what little relevance and credibility that it may have had, in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans, if we just look at what has happened in just only the last seven days:

Sep 11 – “PE: Names & reasons for rejection “secret” – hundreds may stand in next election?

Sep 11 – “CPF: Why some offered 22, 24, 30 years, etc, monthly retirement payout?

Sep 11 – “Healthcare: 9,000 more jobs – What % jobs now to S’poreans?

Sep 10 – “IP insurers incurring losses: What about MediShield Life?

Sep 10 – “Get CDA top-up, eggs, milk – depends on where you live?

Sep 10 – “PE: Mainstream media commentarities – missing the obvious quality?”

Sep 10 – “7,618 caught cheating on transport fares: Many poor people?

Sep 9  – “Donations down 36%, lowest welfare spending in the world?

Sep 9  – “EP: Govt prepared to pay political price – change to “political gain”?

Sep 8  – “CPF: Amount due to members – $348b, %?

Sep 8  – “PE: No rallies – who or what are we afraid of?

Sep 7  – “CPF: “No action is required if you wish to start your payouts at age 70”?

Sep 7  – “WP so unlucky, won’t speak on EP in Parliament after all?

Sep 6  – “Tan Chuan-Jin as Speaker is a promotion, not a demotion

Sep 5  – “2005: The year the flood gates opened for foreign workers?

My fellow Singaporeans – what are your thoughts and views on the above?


Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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