Singapore politics coming of age

Worker's Party secretary-general Pritam Singh will assume Leader of the Opposition designation

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Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh poses for a photo with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the swearing-in ceremony of new office holders at the Istana on July 27 – Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information
By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |

Singapore’s political landscape took a significant step in its coming of age when it gave an official stamp to the opposition leader.

Pritam Singh, secretary-general of the Worker’s Party (WP) that rocked the recent general elections, becomes the first to assume the Leader of the Opposition (LO) designation.

In the past, Singapore’s legislature had not formally recognised the position and its opposition lawmakers received scant regards.

“As with any new political appointment, the role of the LO will evolve as our political system develops,” according to a joint statement by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House.

The position now gives Pritam staff and resources, and a total annual package of $385,000, which is double the allowance of an elected MP.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong made the promise soon after winning the 2020 General Election.

In the final tally of the 13th national polls, PAP won 83 seats while the WP took 10 seats, including a surprise victory at the new group representation constituency (GRC) of Sengkang. WP won six seats in the last parliament.

In the statement, it was noted that the LO position was not provided for in either the Constitution or the Standing Orders of Parliament.

“Singapore’s legislatures have never had formal Leaders of the Opposition, not even in the 1950s and early 1960s, when there were substantial numbers of opposition legislative assemblymen.

“Mr Lee Kuan Yew led the People’s Action Party as the largest opposition party in the Legislative Assembly between 1955 and 1959, and Dr Lee Siew Choh led the Barisan Sosialis as the largest opposition party in the Legislative Assembly between 1961 and 1963. Neither Mr Lee nor Dr Lee were formally designated Leader of the Opposition,” it added.

It said that LOD will also received briefings on issues of national interest.

“In addition to the government data or information available to other MPs, the LO will receive confidential briefings by the Government on select matters of national security and external relations, and in the event of a national crisis or emergency,” it said.

 

RELATED STORY:

Pritam Singh leads a stronger Singapore opposition (Asia Samachar, 11 July 2020)

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