In his speech, Mr Pritam said that the announcement of the Leader of the Opposition position came as a surprise to WP, but added that the party will set its “own standards and chart an independent course”.
In her speech, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah noted that “it is timely and appropriate that the position of the Leader of the Opposition be more formally recognized”.
Not only was the Workers’ Party (WP) Chief’s speaking time increased from 20 minutes to 40 minutes, he will also be given an office in Parliament, staff support and resources, as well as an additional allowance, said Ms Rajah.
She added that the Leader of the Opposition will generally be given the right of first response among MPs to ask the lead question of ministers on policies, Bills and motions in Parliament, and that his duties include leading and organising the opposition’s parliamentary business.
Following the General Election, Prime Minister Lee had said that Mr Pritam will be designated the Leader of the Opposition in the 14th Parliament, and that he would be given staff support and resources to perform his duties.
He leads nine other opposition MPs from the WP, including four newcomers from Sengkang GRC. There are also two Non-Constituency MPs from the Progress Singapore Party.
However, Mr Pritam noted that in other Westminster parliaments, the Leader of the Opposition is not considered the leader of all opposition parties in Parliament.
This will also be similar in Singapore, he added.
He said: “The Progress Singapore Party has its own principles and ideology that are distinct from the Workers’ Party. Mr Leong and Ms Poa may propose policies and promote ideas very different from, and even in disagreement to those from the Workers’ Party. It is possible that they may support government policies that we disagree with, or vice versa.
However, where our position positions match and are in the best interest of Singapore, I look forward to collaborating with PSP NCMPs. Taken together. This would make for healthy debate in this house, where policies are debated on their merits and principles, rather than in support or opposition to the government”. /TISG