Keeping to his habit of making parliamentary processes transparent to laymen, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin shed more light on how Parliamentary Questions (PQs) are cleared in a recent Facebook post.
The 14th Parliament of Singapore opened this Monday (24 Aug) and Mr Tan already has “tons” of PQs to clear. Sharing a photo of a computer screen showing the Parliament Integrated Papers System, Mr Tan described the process through which PQs are cleared before parliamentary sittings.
PQs that are filed by the MPs will be first checked by Mr Tan’s colleagues in Parliament who will ensure that the questions are in good order, before submitting the questions to Mr Tan for clearance. Mr Tan will clear each question, group the questions thematically and assign the questions to the respective ministries who are expected to respond during the 90-minute Question Time segment that marks the beginning of each parliamentary sitting.
In a Facebook post published this afternoon (26 Aug), Mr Tan assured: “EVERY question would be answered. Those that are not orally answered during the PQ session can be either rolled over to the following session or converted to written answers. The MP asking the question can decide which route to take.”
Pointing out that all parliamentary proceedings are available to the public, Mr Tan wrote: “All answers are available to the public in the form of the footage compiled at the end of the day, unedited, on CNA, and in the Hansard, which the MP will also ‘vet’ before publishing. The sittings are also open to the public who can then verify if what is repeated is accurate or not. Everything is available to the public.”
He added: “From time to time, some politicians and public will hint that questions are being avoided or there isn’t any transparency. It is not structurally possible to mask anything up 😷😁”
Tons of PQs to clear!! 😱This is our Parliament Integrated Papers System. Parliamentary Questions are submitted by MPs….
Although Mr Tan is a prominent member of the ruling party, he has won praise for acting fairly towards the opposition since he became Speaker in 2017. Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh even praised Mr Tan’s work in his maiden parliamentary speech as Leader of the Opposition (LO), this week.
Mr Pritam said: “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.”
Delivered by Pritam Singh on 24 August 2020——————–Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Workers’ Party (WP) MPs and the Progress Singapore Party (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