UPDATE: Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin has clarified that “nothing odd or out of the ordinary” occurred to bar the WP from speaking on their motion. He clarified that the two competing bids for PAP were not suddenly filed and that the ballot was conducted above board in a Facebook post after the WP reported the results of the ballot:
The Workers’ Party’s (WP) adjournment motion regarding the reserved presidential election has been “quashed” once again as Members of Parliament (MPs) vote to debate a motion on “preserving green space,” at the next parliamentary session on 2 Oct. The decision was made through a ballot conducted by Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin yesterday.
The WP said in a Facebook post that their adjournment motion titled “Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong – policy decision or legal question?” may be subject for ballot once more if parliament convenes again on 3 Oct.
The WP had previously raised the same adjournment motion for debate on 28 August – well before the Presidential Election went underway.
The motion was filed to debate parliament’s decision to count from appointed President Wee Kim Wee instead of elected President Ong Teng Cheong, on the recommendation of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, to trigger a reserved election set aside for Malay candidates since there hasn’t been a Malay president for the last 5 consecutive terms.
If the Government had chosen to count from President Ong Teng Cheong, the last election would have been open to all races. Only the election after this would have been a reserved one, under new amendments to the Elected Presidency scheme that were instated this year.
Just like the last time the WP was blocked from raising the motion, two competing bids were suddenly filed before the WP could speak on the matter and MPs eventually chose to debate People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Dr Intan Azura’s “Preserving Green Space and Heritage in Jalan Kayu Constituency.”
Another ruling party MP, Vikram Nair, had also filed an adjournment motion on “The Future of National Service” that was part of the ballot yesterday. Nair’s motion was also considered at the last ballot in which PAP MP Murali Pillai’s “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options” motion emerged victor over Nair’s topic and the reserved election motion.
Even though President Halimah Yacob has since assumed office in the reserved election by means of a walkover, the party remains dogged in clarifying the circumstances that triggered a reserved election. When Sylvia Lim filed the motion to debate the issue once again last month, the Party said:
“In the wake of intense public discussion after the parliamentary debates and a court case on the reserved presidential election, the Workers’ Party believes it is in the public interest for the Government to clarify this issue surrounding the election of our Head of State.”
WP’s Adjournment Motion on Elected Presidency Balloted Out of 2nd October Parliamentary SittingParliament received a…
This latest turn of events comes after WP Non Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera explained the reason why MPs from the party do not ask more questions in Parliament, earlier this week.
Perera attributed the WP’s perceived silence to the short duration of parliamentary sessions and the fact that there are 83 ruling party MPs and only 9 WP MPs and NCMPs. He also cited the fact that questions that are permitted to be asked each day parliament convenes is capped at a quota of three oral questions and two written questions per day.
The NCMP said that these factors limit the number of questions the WP is able to ask in the House and revealed five questions that he had filed to ask in parliament that remain unanswered from August, July and even as far back as April 2017.