States Times Review Post Saying 70 PAP MPs Absent on January 9 Is Erroneous



Screen grabs of a nearly empty parliament have been circulating online to give the impression that the PAP majority house has poor attendance record and that the MPs are skiving and not interested in participating in the parliamentary debates.

Attendance records in Parliament show that only the Speaker of Parliament and five other MPs were marked absent on January 9, the date when, according to a post in the States Time Review, more than 70 ministers were allegedly absent for the session.  The news outlet reported that during that day, only Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was the senior Minister who was present. Allegedly, Minister Chan Chun Sing, Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister Ong Ye Kung were all absent.

However, the truth is, being absent at the time the photo was taken does not mean that the ministers were absent for the whole day.

Contrary to the States Times Review, per Parliament records, it was only the Speaker of Parliament, along with five other ministers, who were absent that day.

Below is a copy of Parliament records for attendance on January 9.

This begs the question as to why Ministers and MPs were marked present in the session, despite being absent during Minister Grace Fu’s speech?

As a precedent, we can look into former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s attendance records in Parliament. He was marked present for all sessions wherein he made an appearance, even if these appearances were only for a few minutes. He was often brought in and out of the room by Parliament aides, especially during the Question and Answer portion of the session. This tells us that MPs are marked present even if they are only at the session for a short while.

However, most Members of Parliament are regular with their attendance.

There were times when as few as 24 Members of Parliament are actually present, especially during speeches given for debates. Some Ministers don’t deem their attendance necessary or important even when they are addressed directly during speeches—for example, the speeches made during the debate on the Administration of Justice bill.

It’s possible that this is partly why the government does not live stream sessions in Parliament, so that citizens do not see how much of little their Members get engaged during debates.

However, news agencies have a live stream of the sessions broadcast to them. Members of the media also live tweet these sessions, so the public usually has no problem live streaming sessions through Facebook or YouTube.

The government has alleged that there is no need to livestream, since the demand for such real-time news is low, and there are manpower and needed resources to consider. However, the truth is, should the government decide to stream these sessions, they can say yes to The Online Citizen’s offer to live stream them free of charge to the public.

Parliament has so far had no response to this offer. This runs counter to the practice in many developed democratic countries, where legislative or parliamentary sessions are live-streamed for free, and archives are made widely available.  Otherwise, the government comes across as refusing to be transparent, perhaps having something to hide.

Many netizens agree that there should be live broadcasts online

Some feel that the allowance that Members of Parliament receive should be taken away from them when they don’t attend sessions



  1. I think if MPs want to continue serving, they must clock in a minimum of 85% attendance at parliament sessions and each session, they must be there for the whole day for their attendance to be considered valid.
    Just like most of the courses we attend have requirements, shouldn’t the MPs have a higher standard to uphold?
    Please be responsible and accountable!
    It’s no longer about the big allowance they receive, it’s more about personal integrity here!

  2. Liddat everyone can sign in for work, class, whatever, then leave the place to attend to other matters.
    Liddat that also similar to those mrt engineers signing but never did the maintenance.
    Liddat, why the need to have actual parlimentary sessions or even so, many well paid mps…

  3. Would you be sitting in class learning if your teacher takes the exam for you. Same case here, can’t speak against, be present will have to protect leader better chowkeng. Not that i support them it shows that they are not bothered to understand and debate just sit in if its my turn read my script and chow. They should be replaced.

  4. Mps takes it ad a part time job and drawing $20k per mth plus various directorship in Govt-link companies. Do you think they have their heart and time for those who have voted them. And in some cases, those voters themselves are jobless.

    Why are these voters are so dumb and stupid.?? And voters for these greedy and selfish idiots. Really the most stupid people in the whole world.

  5. Dear independent Singapore, if appearing for a fraction of the time for parliament is considered “attendance” I wonder if is it okay for the rest of the country to also appear for a fraction of their work, school or NS even.
    After all, 上梁不正下梁歪,the lower echelon of society must learn from the most moralistic upper echelon and also these DOGS who support them in such endeavours!

  6. Being present for a few minutes don’t mean the person should be marked present. Like this, all MPs come in for a while and then leave Parliament for the rest of the day. This is why livestreaming is needed so we the citizens know which are representing them and who are not.

  7. (A repost from my blogpost)
    January 6, 2018
    Pros and cons of allowing live simulcasts of debates in Singapore Parliament — the pros have it hands down!
    Dear Honorable Speaker, allow me here to first convey my congrats — albeit belatedly, 4 months overdue:-) — to your Speakership accession. Though there are ensuing talks whether yours is a genuine appointment upgrade or merely a sideways career move, I chafe at any such untoward implication — for I see nothing but positives stemming from your current office ascension. For starters, your present advancement is redolent of the past tenure of Singapore’s longest-serving Parliament Speaker, the Hon. Yeoh Ghim Seng (1970-88) — who BTW according to Wiki is also the world’s longest-serving Parliament Speaker on record (outserving even America’s longest-lasting revered House Speaker Sam Rayburn of 17 years by one). Speaker Yeoh and you arrived at the high office round about the same age; he was 52 and you 48; his was at a transformational period of a fast-developing young Republic then and yours now at a fast-changing, high-tech era of post-SG 50. There is much anticipation bruited about your ‘modernising’ the house for the 21st century in line with best parliamentary practices elsewhere. Will fellow citizens at long last be allowed to listen in or watch in real time via radio/TV/Internet their elected MPs/Ministers at work? … that would surely be a keenly followed item of priority on your agenda as the 10th Parliament Speaker in the days ahead. Without more ado, here are 6 compelling reasons I believe you should countenance/allow it:
    1. All modern democracies allow it in some form: the U.S. started its live TV feed of their pols at work some 40 years ago, approved then by the legendary House Speaker Tim O’Neill back in the late seventies that started the funding of three public C-SPAN TV channels, one radio station and subsequently a group of websites that provide streaming media and archives of C-SPAN programs. Dollar for dollar, they turn out to be the most worthwhile, informative/educational public TV programs on how Congress ticks. …

  8. Whatever it is, if I recall correctly, required certain percentage of attendance, before starting a meeting in grassroots organisations

    Furthermore, this is Parliament and is tax payer money and elected MP and selected M. There should be a disciple or code of conduct and absentee must inform in advance and provide written reason, same apply to last minute absent with emergency situations

    This situation of low attendance is unacceptable. Pardon me if I am wrong, Speaker of Parliament must give verbal warning and end parliament on that day and PM has to apply disciplinary action and make known to the citizens and this will be of the key factor whether we should or should not support election candidates as they fail to make use and voice our citizens opinion or feedback

    When late LKY is in command, I dont recall above situation exist under his leadership

  9. Not surprising. Afterall what is there to debate? What is there to differ? Who in the PAP dares to challenge the King Makers and get kicked out of the money train? Any surprise why this government is devoid of imagination, creativity, and a spirit of daring do? The government is locked in one failing mindset, unable to turn new tricks!

  10. What can suka suka walk in, walk out, come in when session oready beign…har? where’s the f**king discipline and respect..ehh this is Parliament hor..not some kucing kurap forum lah…and tax payers PAY damn high bills just for U buggers to be present to be present for what? 4-6 P sessions per year???..Like that also PONTENG, LEPAK some where else, come late?..KNS.

  11. If its ok to walk in and out and attend part of the session.
    Then, you are telling me that, touching just the thigh of a girl is not molestation, because never touched buttock, the breast or the cunt.
    Knn..isnt MP should be attending the whole session 100%?
    How are they going to help the people if they only listen to part of the session or thru words of mouth?