Singapore-based Indian-origin politician Pritam Singh made history on Monday when Parliament awarded him duties and privileges as the leader of the city state’s opposition.
Mr Singh’s Workers Party won 93 out of 10 parliamentary seats in which he contested the July 10 general election, making it the largest opposition presence in Singapore’s parliamentary history.
As soon as the proceedings of the House commenced on Monday, one of the first orders of business, by Indrani Rajah, leader of the House, to formally recognize Mr. Singh, 43, as the country’s first opposition leader, was 43 years old. Was a statement.
“With more opposition MPs” reflecting a strong desire among the people of Singapore for greater diversity of views in politics “, as the Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong) said in his swearing in speech .. It is timely and It is appropriate that the position is formally recognized by the Leader of the Opposition, ”said Indrani, who is also of Indian origin from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
The PAP has an absolute majority in the House with 83 elected members.
The House passed a resolution to double Mr. Singh’s speaking time from 20 minutes – which is allocated to backbenchers – to 40 minutes, the period allotted to office holders.
As reported by Channel News Asia, Mr. Singh took a seat directly from Prime Minister Lee.
This is similar to practice in other countries that formally recognize the role of the leader of the opposition, Indrani said.
After the general election, Prime Minister Loong had said that Mr. Singh would be named Leader of the Opposition in the 14th Parliament, and would be given the support and resources of the staff to perform his duties.
The former has been the de facto leader of the opposition, such as the Singapore People’s Party chief, Chim Si Tong. However, this is the first time the post is being officially recognized.
Indrani, 57, reiterated during her address on Monday that Mr. Singh would be given an office in Parliament, staff support and resources, as well as additional allowances.
The Leader of the Opposition will usually be given the right of first response among MPs to ask the main questions to Ministers on policies, bills and motions in Parliament.
This will be at the discretion of the Speaker and subject to the existing conventions.
As leader of the opposition, Mr. Singh’s duties include leading and organizing the parliamentary business of the opposition. He may also serve on other duties such as attending official state functions and attending visits and meetings with members of the government and public service.
Indrani said that she would also receive briefings by the government from time to time on confidential issues, and the matters to be briefed would be determined by the government.
These duties and privileges are based on conventions and practices of other Westminster-style parliamentary systems, but reflect adaptation to Singapore’s political and parliamentary context.
“With greater diversity of views, we can expect more robust debate and, in some cases, faster exchanges. But we must work to ensure that diversity is the cause of polarity for a country or people. No, “Indrani said.
“Experience elsewhere shows that unity in diversity is not a sure outcome. Our goal should be to exploit this diversity of ideas in a constructive way, so that we as a parliament can better serve the interests of Singapore and Singapore.” “
Indrani said that the role of the Leader of the Opposition in Singapore will develop with the politics of the country.
He said that the aspiration of this House should always be to live up to the expectations of our people and create a political system that focuses on serving Singapore and Singapore to the best of our abilities, adding that as he congratulated Mr. Singh Granted. Nominated Leader of the Opposition.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)