From the Chair | Reflections for 2022
06 Jan 2023
In 2022, all Members were able to sit on the same floor of the Chamber, after two years of Safe Management Measures.
For many of us, the start of a new year is a time of reflection, a time for us to look back on the memories and lessons year just past, as we prepare ourselves for the next one. In this spirit, here are some of the highlights of our Parliamentary calendar in 2022.
Last year was a turning point in Singapore’s journey towards Covid resiliency. Thanks to our collective diligence and cooperation, we saw a gradual easing of Safe Management Measures throughout the country. In Parliament, Members were able to sit together on the same floor within the Chamber for the first time in two years.
We had constructive debates on many pressing issues. The world is facing challenges in climate change, inflation, the energy crunch, and the war in Ukraine, all of which have domestic implications. We also looked to the future, endorsing White Papers on the development of Singapore Women, as well as the Healthier SG plan. We examined our national values, as we repealed Section 377A of the Penal Code and protected the definition of marriage in the Constitution.
We did these over 232 hours of Sittings. The House passed 42 Bills, took decisions on 8 Substantive Motions, and heard 12 Ministerial Statements. 18 Adjournment Motions were tabled. 2,779 Parliamentary Questions were answered, be it orally in the Chamber or via Written Answers.
Singapore’s delegation to the 43rd General Assembly of the Asian Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in Cambodia.
The reopening of borders worldwide also meant that more diplomatic activities could resume in person. We welcomed several visiting delegations to Parliament House, including some of my foreign counterparts such as Mr Om Birla, Speaker of India’s Lok Sabha, and Mr Azhar Azizan Harun, while he was Speaker of Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat. I also led a delegation to the 43rd General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) GA, the first after two years of virtual meetings. A pity A/P Jamus Lim was not able to join us—he was part of the delegation, but unfortunately caught Covid just before we flew off and had to remain in Singapore to recover!
With my counterpart Mr Vuong Dinh Hue, Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam.
I also made an Official Visit to Vietnam and was met with warm hospitality from the Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding on enhancing co-operation between our legislatures. I look forward to more interaction between both parliaments.
On 4 Jul 22, Parliament House welcomed its first student visitors since the start of the Covid pandemic.
The resumption of in-person activities saw us welcome visitors back to Parliament House. The Visitor Centre reopened, and we have been conducting tours for the general public as well as students.
I am glad we were able to once again host this year’s Singapore Model Parliament, an annual event organised by REACH where students from junior colleges, polytechnics, ITE and universities role-play Ministers, backbench MPs and debate public policies. This provided an opportunity for students to gain a deeper and richer appreciation of the trade-offs involved in policymaking. It must be quite exciting for them to do this in the very same building where laws of the land are actually made!
Our official Instagram account crossed 10,000 followers in June 2022. Thank you for all the online encouragement and the DMs sent. We also launched #ParlRewind, a series of posts on milestones in our Parliamentary history, as well as #ParlBasics, which introduces the fundamental concepts of Parliament to a general audience. We are exploring how else we can share what Parliament does in a way that is accessible and meaningful.
The use of disposable cups has been phased out in Parliament House.
One important thing we are doing is throwing our support behind the Singapore Green Plan 2030, through various Green Parliament initiatives. While we are not a big organisation, every little action counts. We have phased out single-use cups and plastic bags, installed energy and water-efficient fittings throughout the Parliament building, and started to distribute documents to MPs digitally via the MP@SGParl app. We have also made a concerted effort to consume less electricity during Sittings by adjusting the air conditioning to achieve ambient temperature in the Chamber of 25 degrees Celsius.
2022 also marked my 5th year as Speaker of Parliament. The time has gone by quickly, and I remain grateful to the support of my staff and Parliamentary colleagues who have all worked together to carry out the crucial duties and roles of Parliament.
The year that stretches ahead of us will bring fresh challenges but also new opportunities. I look forward to constructive debates in the Chamber that will contribute to the betterment of Singapore and the lives of all Singaporeans in 2023. And so as we ring in the new year, let us take heart that we are not alone – we are on this journey together as Team Singapore, working with determination, fortitude and courage for ourselves, our nation and our future. Onward and forward, Singapore!