Order Order | First Blog
09 Nov 2023
MY FIRST HUNDRED DAYS
Settling into my new office at Parliament House.
Today marks my 100th day as the 11th Speaker of Parliament. It has been a busy and productive time. I thought this would be a good occasion for me to take stock, and share what my colleagues and I have been doing.
I have named this blog “Order, Order” because these are the first and last words said at every Sitting. The word “order” is also used by the Speaker to call the attention of the House to an agenda item, or a specific procedure. The blog itself is not a new idea. It started with my predecessor, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. I am grateful for his efforts to demystify the workings of Parliament for the general public, and I intend to continue this.
With our Nominated Members of Parliament, on the day they were sworn in.
I took office on 2 August 2023, which was coincidentally when the current batch of Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) were sworn in. We have had four sittings since then, during which matters of national importance and concern were discussed, such as our crackdown on the recent money laundering case. I was happy to hear the contributions of all our new NMPs, and took the time to get to know them over some coffee. Each of them brings unique insights from their areas of work and expertise, which can only enrich our debates. I also had similar chats with our Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, and Leader of the Opposition Mr Pritam Singh, as I settled into my new role.
I was honoured to witness another person assume office during this period—Singapore’s 9th President, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The Elected President plays an important role in the legislative process, as bills that have been passed in Parliament can only become laws with the President’s assent. I attended President Tharman’s inauguration, and look forward to working with him in the days ahead.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s gracious hosting of the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit.
The work of Parliament goes beyond the chamber. An important and significant part of it is diplomatic, as we affirm ties and deepen the trust and understanding with friends from around the world. In my short time as Speaker, I have had the privilege of meeting with my Australian and Malaysian counterparts and several Ambassadors, as well as receiving parliamentary delegations from China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. I represented Singapore at the 9th G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit (P20) in New Delhi, where I spoke on Singapore’s Green Plan, and measures that Parliament House has adopted to support it. While there, I managed to meet up with my counterparts from the UK, Egypt, Oman, Australian, China, Japan, Indonesia, the Netherlands and of course, India.
Taking a wefie with participants of the Singapore Model Parliament.
As Speaker, I also get to meet people outside of politics, who are interested in understanding more about our system of government. I enjoyed a dialogue with around 45 MBA Fellows from Nanyang Business School, who quizzed me on my role, leadership, and geopolitics. They were all working while pursuing their MBA, which is no mean feat. I had an equally meaningful exchange with students participating in Singapore Model Parliament 2023, where they role-played MPs debating new laws. I hope the experience gives them a deeper appreciation for the kinds of considerations that go into policy-making!
Some of the charitable causes I continue to be involved in, as Speaker of Parliament.
I am glad to be able to continue my support for several organisations and their worthy causes: Food from the Heart, Dementia Singapore, the Society of Physically Disabled, the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, and NTUC’s U Care Fund. I took part in my 7th Football with a Heart charity football match along with fellow MPs, as well as former national football stars such as Lim Tong Hai and Malek Awab! I am also very proud of our Parliament staff for volunteering with the Anglican Senior Centre. They are befriending seniors over several months, and I joined in for a couple of visits.
Some of you may know that I enjoy playing many sports and will also do some jogging from time to time. However, despite having been an MP since 2006, I only stepped inside the Parliament House gym for the first time in recent years! The gym is small but has a good variety of equipment, and I was glad to see both parliamentary colleagues (both present and former MPs) and staff using it as well. We must always make time for our health.
With some of the good folks who keep Parliament running behind the scenes.
There has been a lot to keep me and my team occupied during these first hundred days. While I am not new to Parliament, and have previously served as Deputy Speaker, being the head of the legislature comes with another level of responsibilities. I am therefore most grateful to my staff for helping and supporting me in my work. There is so much they have to do before, during and after each sitting, that the public does not see. Over the years, I have seen their workload increase with more sittings, longer sittings, and more parliamentary questions, motions, and bills. Nevertherless, they have kept parliamentary sittings smooth and efficient. I am fortunate to have them as my colleagues and look forward to working closely with them in the months and years ahead.
It certainly has been an eventful and memorable first 100 days for me…. never a dull moment for sure.