An office in Parliament, staff support, and additional allowance are some of the things Pritam Singh will be given to fulfil his new designation.
The duties and privileges of the Leader of the Opposition were outlined in the first session of the fourteenth Parliament of Singapore on Aug 31.
This is the first time the position is being formally recognised and ascribed to specific duties and privileges.
Leader of the House Indranee Rajah said: “Now, with more Opposition MPs – reflecting a ‘strong desire among Singaporeans for a greater diversity of views in politics’ as noted by the Prime Minister in his swearing-in speech – and a constitutionally guaranteed minimum of 12, it is timely and appropriate that the position of the Leader of the Opposition be more formally recognised.”
Ms Indranee, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, went on to outline the following privileges and duties for Mr Pritam Singh:
1. The leader of the main opposition party typically takes the seat directly opposite the Prime Minister in this Chamber during Parliament sittings, similar to the practice in other countries that formally recognise the role of the Leader of the Opposition.
2. He will be given an office in Parliament, staff support and resources, and double the allowance of an elected MP – or $385,000 a year.
3. The Leader of the Opposition will generally be given the right of first response among MPs to ask the lead question of Ministers on policies, Bills and motions in Parliament. This will be at the discretion of the Speaker, and subject to existing speaking conventions.
4. The Leader of the Opposition will also be given a longer speaking duration for speeches than other MPs.
The House later passed a motion to extend Mr Singh’s speaking time from 20 minutes to 40 minutes, the duration usually given to officeholders.
Mr Singh may also be called upon to attend official state functions and take part in visits and meetings alongside members of the government and the public service.
He will also from time to time receive confidential briefings by the government on important national issues such as security and external relations – especially in the event of a national crisis or emergency.
As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam Singh will lead and organise the opposition’s Parliamentary business in the following areas:
1. Presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, Bills and motions;
2. Scrutinising the Government’s positions and actions in Parliament; and
3. Nominating opposition members for appointment to Select Committees, including Standing Select Committees such as the Public Accounts Committee.
Ms Indranee said: “The role of the Leader of the Opposition in Singapore will evolve with our politics. It must always be the ambition of this House to live up to the expectations of our people and create a political system that is focussed on serving Singapore and Singaporeans to the best of our abilities.”
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