In case you missed it, here is a rundown of what went down in Parliament over the past 48 hours.
Day 1 (Aug 2): Straw man, red herrings and geothermal energy in Sembawang
It is no exaggeration to say that all of Singapore were eager to hear what Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong had to say in his ministerial statement about the string of unfortunate incidents that have rocked the Party. By mid-afternoon, the wait is over as the PM speaks, sincere and candid in his response on the CPIB probe into Iswaran and his handling of former Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and MP Cheng Li Hui’s affair. We learned about the balance of righting a wrong swiftly and decisively, and with compassion.
Sadly, just as clarifications were underway, that was when we encountered the strange tirade from the Leader of the Opposition. LO Pritam Singh lambasted the PAP about ‘selective standards’ while sidestepping questions on how he managed his party’s recent shortcomings. His insensitive re-iteration of a sexual attack on an ex-member of his party also left many scratching their heads and uncomfortable.
Thankfully, it was not entirely a session dominated by straw men and red herrings. There were moments of normalcy that saw Minister of State Faishal Ibrahim responding to MP Mr Desmond Choo’s question about tackling concert ticket scams and Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng raising the exciting possibility of exploring geothermal energy in Sembawang.
Of course, let us not forget the undisputed star of the day, newly minted speaker Mr Seah Kian Peng, whose first day in the role was anything but uneventful.
Day 2 (Aug 3): Radioactive fishes, road safety and a couple of bills
Sequels are rarely as good as the original, which might explain why in between clarifications on the Retirement and Re-employment Act and questions on a myriad of social issues, the second day of Parliament was characterised by the ordinary and the mundane.
Fielding questions from MPs Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC) over food safety, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu assured us that seawater quality around Singapore is unlikely to be impacted by Japan’s decision to dump radioactive water into the ocean. While we cannot help but be on the lookout for mutated fishes with an extra fin, the Minister shared that the National Environment Agency (NEA) will continue to monitor radiation levels in our food imports and environment.
Meanwhile, Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat provided us with the non-update update that, despite rumblings across the crossway, nothing is happening with the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project. “Singapore is willing to discuss any new proposal from Malaysia in good faith…but we have not yet received any.”
Moving on from the Q&As, it was time to amend old bills while introducing new ones, including a Retail Premises Bill that seeks to reduce the power imbalance between tenants and landlords. It signifies real benefits to our SMEs that can trickle down to our workforce in the tourism and retail sector. With laws not being the most easily understood of texts, we have our MPs to be grateful for as they dissect the bills and ask the right questions on our behalf, ensuring that Singaporeans will always benefit from these changes.
And finally, wrapping up the day in the spirit of social good, backbencher MP Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok SMC) raised an adjournment motion, calling on the Government to harness technology to build better road safety outcomes and save lives. It was most certainly a contrast to Day One, which saw the dressing up of personal grievances as a parliamentary motion.
As you can see, Parliament sessions are not that boring after all.
Photo Source: Singapore Parliament/ Grace Fu/ Faishal Ibrahim via Facebook