SINGAPORE – Worker’s Party chief Pritam Singh, who will be formally designated as the Leader of the Opposition, said he will give more details on his party’s approach in Parliament for the coming term when the House reopens next month.
He also indicated on Tuesday (July 28) that he would extend his support to the Progress Singapore Party’s two Non-Constituency MPs, given the staff and resources he will have.
Said Mr Singh: “I will speak in greater detail on the approach the Workers’ Party will take in Parliament over the next term, and what the public can expect during the debate on the President’s address next month.”
Parliament will reopen on Aug 24 with the President’s Address, and the debate on it will start a week later, on Aug 31.
There has been much interest in the resources to be accorded to Singapore’s first Leader of the Opposition after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced following the July 10 polls that the Government will formally designate that role to Mr Singh.
The Government on Tuesday set out the duties and privileges of the role in a statement.
In a Facebook post after this, Mr Singh said he had met with Leader of the House Grace Fu and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday about his appointment as Leader of the Opposition.
Posting a photo of Erskine May’s Treatise On The Law, Privileges, Proceedings And Usage Of Parliament, he noted that many Commonwealth Parliaments recognise it as the “bible” of parliamentary practice.
“The broad scope of duties, privileges and remuneration extended to Singapore’s Leader of the Opposition as outlined in the joint press release largely follows the spirit of the convention towards the Leader of the Opposition as practised by the UK Parliament,” he said, referring to the statement issued by the Government.
He added: “Members of the public would be aware that the formal designation of an LO is a new one in Singapore’s political history.”
Mr Singh’s new duties include leading and organising scrutiny of the Government’s positions and actions, and leading opposition in presenting alternative views during debates on policies.
He will also be consulted on the appointment of opposition MPs to select committees, and may sometimes be asked to attend official state functions and meetings alongside members of the Government and the public service.
To ensure he can fulfil his role, the Aljunied GRC MP will be accorded certain privileges.
These include, among other things, having the right of first response among MPs and also being given a longer speaking duration for speeches, equivalent to that given to political officeholders.
He will also get briefings on issues of national interest, such as on national security and external relations, on top of the government data and information available to other MPs.
As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Singh will get double the allowance of an elected MP, and his annual package will be $385,000. He will also receive an allowance to hire up to three legislative assistants and will be provided with a secretary to support him administratively in Parliamentary business.
The WP has 10 elected MPs in Parliament, including its leader.
Mr Singh had said previously that the WP’s efforts in Parliament for the coming term will be centred on bread-and-butter concerns, such as jobs for Singaporeans, healthcare for seniors and cost of living concerns.
He also said that a key aspect of the party’s focus “will cover political issues that have a direct impact on transparency, accountability, balance and fairness”.
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