Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin: ‘I expect MPs to be able to substantiate what they say in Parliament’

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin on Jan 18, 2022, reminded Members of Parliament that he expects them to substantiate what they say in Parliament and would not hesitate to be firm when he has to be.

In the same Facebook post, he also added a code of conduct for members to observe in the Chamber.

May be an image of text
May be an image of one or more people and text that says "WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEMBERS TO SPEAK? Besides filing Parliamentary Questions, or giving speeches on Motions and Bills to convey their views on certain matters, a Member can also give explanations or clarifications in Parliament."

However, he clarified that these rules are not meant to restrict as he had stated before that he would take a more expansive approach to allow for freer debates in Parliament for all sides.

“Rather, it [the rules] manages the space so that we can be consistent, fair, allow business to proceed and provide time for more members to speak,” he said.

The expansive approach doesn’t mean members can do whatever they wish, he added.

“If every member decides to speak and debate and question just because they feel like they ought to, it’d be chaotic and it would be inappropriate. In these instances, when members are so denied that space to speak, it is because they have been out of order or there are no provisions for them to do so. When that happens, my role is to ensure discipline and to maintain dignity and order in the House.”

Here’s a definition of an explanation and its different types.

May be an image of text that says "WHAT IS A PERSONAL EXPLANATION? A Personal Explanation (PE) is short statement by a Member to explain, excuse, justify or apologise for his conduct with regard to a particular question or occasion, or to correct an alleged misrepresentation. No debate takes place upon the explanation."
May be an image of text that says "HOW PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS ARE MADE The Member must seek the Speaker's advance permission to make a PE, and submit the terms of the PE to the Speaker. No controversial matter may be brought up. No debate may arise upon the ΡΕ. The PE may be made after Question Time in accordance with the Order of Business under Standing Order 10. Under Standing Orders 25 and 10 of the Parliament of Singapore."
May be an image of text that says "OTHER TYPES OF EXPLANATIONS You may have heard other explanations made during Sittings, including: Ministerial Statements made by a Government officeholder to explain important issues of public interest. Clarifications by Members in the Chamber on their previous speeches. Under Standing Orders 23 and 48 ofthe Parliament of Singapore."

Thankfully, the Speaker added that in most instances, members have been responsible and matured in their behaviour and conduct.

In the first Parliament sitting of 2022, Progress Singapore Party’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai failed to back up his claims that some children were subject to vaccination differentiated safe management measures (VDS) in schools by their teachers, earning a rebuke from Leader of the House Indranee Rajah.

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You can read Speaker’s post here.

All photos: Tan Chuan-Jin Facebook page