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Pritam Singh praises Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, in maiden parliamentary speech as Leader of the Opposition

"In your few short years in office, you have sought to increase public awareness of Parliament and its work through new methods of communication, such as engaging younger Singaporeans through social media," said the new LO

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In his maiden parliamentary speech as Leader of the Opposition (LO), expressed his appreciated for the work ruling party politician Tan Chuan-Jin has done in his office as Speaker of Parliament.

The Workers’ Party () secretary-general was made Singapore’s very first LO, a day after the 2020 general election in which his party was elected to an unprecedented 10 seats in Parliament in its very first polls under Mr Pritam Singh’s leadership.

After Mr Pritam was appointed LO, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin met with the opposition leader for lunch and the pair reportedly had a friendly chat – a rarity, given how members of the ruling party and the opposition generally do not mingle together.

Mr Pritam pointed out how Mr Tan has acted fairly in his role as Speaker, in his very first speech as LO when the 14th Parliament of Singapore convened for the first time on Monday (24 Aug). Speaking on behalf of his WP colleagues as well as the two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament from the , Mr Pritam congratulated Mr Tan on his re-election as Speaker of Parliament.

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He added: “Since your election as Speaker in 2017, you have given WP MPs appropriate time to engage the Government of the day on the issues that matter. We trust that you will continue in the same vein.”

Appreciating Mr Tan’s efforts as Speaker, the LO said: “In your few short years in office, you have sought to increase public awareness of Parliament and its work through new methods of communication, such as engaging younger Singaporeans through social media. In doing so, you have encouraged Singaporeans to take an active interest in Parliament as an Organ of State that is fundamental to our democracy.

“Mr Speaker, you have done so in step with the changing norms of society and without losing sight of the formality and serious purpose of Parliament as a central pillar in our system of Government.”

Mr Pritam also asked the Speaker to help make politics more accountable and better accessible to all Singaporeans, particularly through Select Committees. He called on Mr Tan to “continue to explore ways to demystify the work of Parliament and to better enable Singaporeans to appreciate law-making and debates on policy imperatives and trade-offs.”

Pointing out that Parliament has a massive direct and indirect impact on each and every Singaporean and local businesses, he said that “it is only appropriate that we amplify the choices, and the reasons behind the decisions made or not made in Parliament more widely.” He added that he hopes Singaporeans are driven to gain a deep understanding of the issues that are debated in Parliament.

Mr Pritam added that Mr Tan’s advice and expertise is also valued beyond Singapore’s shores. Recalling an incident that occurred during an official visit to Malaysia, last March, the WP chief said:

“Beyond our shores, I along with our other Parliamentary colleagues joined you in an official visit to Malaysia in March last year. The courtesy visit to the Malaysian Parliament of the Dewan Rakyat was a highly successful one.
“I recall the moment our delegation had just taken our seats in the Malaysian Parliament’s visitor’s gallery when the matter of a Malaysian MP’s ejection from their Parliament was being fiercely debated and vigorously challenged.
“I do not think it was a coincidence that another Malaysian MP stood up and invited the Dewan Rakyat to seek your advice from the visitor’s gallery as to whether such a removal of an MP was proper! Though we have not experienced such an episode ourselves in the Singapore Parliament in recent memory, it is clear that your views on how such a matter should be handled are valued in the region!”

Mr Pritam also recalled how Mr Tan invited former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang to join him on an official visit to the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly and said, “Sir, your active interest in engaging parliamentarians of our closest neighbours is something that has not gone unnoticed.”

Expressing his view that the House will lean on Mr Tan’s leadership as Singapore traverses the uncertain future ahead, he added:

“Indeed, as this generation of Singaporeans traverses a more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world than before, we would be remiss to ignore our closest neighbours and the context of Singapore’s place in our neighbourhood and the wider world. I am sure the House will continue to look forward to your leadership in such official functions which also includes meeting Singaporeans overseas and flying the Singapore flag high.”

Congratulating Mr Tan once again, the LO said: “Sir, on behalf of the opposition MPs and NCMPs, we wish you a successful term as Speaker of this House. We will continue to support your efforts in raising the esteem of our Parliament and our country, both in and out of this Chamber. Congratulations.”

Watch his speech in full here:

Speech by Pritam Singh, Leader of the Opposition, on the election of the new Speaker of Parliament

Delivered by Pritam Singh on 24 August 2020——————–Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Workers’ Party (WP) MPs and the (PSP) NCMPs, congratulations on your re-election as Speaker of Parliament.Since your election as Speaker in 2017, you have given WP MPs appropriate time to engage the Government of the day on the issues that matter. We trust that you will continue in the same vein. In your few short years in office, you have sought to increase public awareness of Parliament and its work through new methods of communication, such as engaging younger Singaporeans through social media. In doing so, you have encouraged Singaporeans to take an active interest in Parliament as an Organ of State that is fundamental to our democracy. Mr Speaker, you have done so in step with the changing norms of society and without losing sight of the formality and serious purpose of Parliament as a central pillar in our system of Government. When Parliament opened after the President’s Address in 2016, I spoke on the tremendous scope available to Parliament, and more specifically, through Select Committees, to make our politics more accountable and better accessible to all Singaporeans.Mr Speaker, I hope that you can lend your weight to this and continue to explore ways to demystify the work of Parliament and to better enable Singaporeans to appreciate law-making and debates on policy imperatives and trade-offs. Parliament’s direct and indirect impact on each and every Singaporean and our businesses are massive, and it is only appropriate that we amplify the choices, and the reasons behind the decisions made or not made in Parliament more widely.In doing so, I hope Singaporeans are in turn driven to understand the issues we debate deeply – but always in the context of a small and multiracial society which has to balance and accommodate many different viewpoints and shifting norms.Beyond our shores, I along with our other Parliamentary colleagues joined you in an official visit to Malaysia in March last year. The courtesy visit to the Malaysian Parliament of the Dewan Rakyat was a highly successful one.I recall the moment our delegation had just taken our seats in the Malaysian Parliament’s visitor’s gallery when the matter of a Malaysian MP’s ejection from their Parliament was being fiercely debated and vigorously challenged. I do not think it was a coincidence that another Malaysian MP stood up and invited the Dewan Rakyat to seek your advice from the visitor’s gallery as to whether such a removal of an MP was proper! Though we have not experienced such an episode ourselves in the Singapore Parliament in recent memory, it is clear that your views on how such a matter should be handled are valued in the region! You followed up with another visit in the later part of 2019 with an official trip to the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly or Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Republik Indonesia where you invited former WP Secretary-General MP Low Thia Khiang to join the delegation. Sir, your active interest in engaging parliamentarians of our closest neighbours is something that has not gone unnoticed.Indeed, as this generation of Singaporeans traverses a more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world than before, we would be remiss to ignore our closest neighbours and the context of Singapore’s place in our neighbourhood and the wider world. I am sure the House will continue to look forward to your leadership in such official functions which also includes meeting Singaporeans overseas and flying the Singapore flag high.Sir, on behalf of the opposition MPs and NCMPs, we wish you a successful term as Speaker of this House. We will continue to support your efforts in raising the esteem of our Parliament and our country, both in and out of this Chamber. Congratulations.Video credit: CNA

Posted by The Workers' Party on Monday, 24 August 2020

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