When The Workers’ Party—commonly thought of as the strongest opposition party in modern day Singapore—made history through their Seng Kang win on 10 July, citizens across the island were either celebrating or in distress, depending on which party they were rooting for.
With a grand total of 10 seats in parliament now, The Workers’ Party is slowly but surely making waves in Singapore’s political field, whether you like it or not. Since the swearing-in ceremony which happened on Monday, Pritam Singh, party chief of The Workers’ Party, has been appointed as the Leader of Opposition (LO), which spells additional parliamentary privileges as well as double allowance.
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In a move that has earned him the love and respect of many netizens, Singh has pledged to allocate half his remuneration for good such as to help his low-income residents, amongst other causes. On 11 July 2020, PM Lee announced that the Government will provide him with the “appropriate staff and resources” to enable him to carry out his duties as the designated LO.
Just what are those duties and parliamentary privileges, you might ask?
1. Lead the opposition in presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, Bills and motions.
2. Lead and organise the scrutiny of the Government’s positions and actions in Parliament.
3. Be consulted on the appointment of opposition members to Select Committees, including Standing Select Committees such as the Public Accounts Committee.
In addition to his parliamentary duties, the LO may be called upon to take on other duties such as attending official state functions, and taking part in visits and meetings alongside members of the Government and the Public Service.
Privileges and Additional Resourcing
The following will be accorded to the LO:
1. Parliamentary privileges
In Parliament, the LO will generally be given the right of first response among Members of Parliament (MPs) and to ask the lead question to the Ministers on policies, Bills and motions, subject to existing speaking conventions. The LO will also be given a longer speaking duration for speeches, equivalent to that given to political officeholders.
2. 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.
3. LO’s Allowance
The LO will receive double the allowance of an elected MP. The LO’s total norm annual package will be $385,000, inclusive of his allowance as an MP.
4. Staff Support
The LO will be provided an office and the use of a meeting room in Parliament House. He will also receive allowances to hire up to three additional Legislative Assistants. This is in addition to the allowances all MPs receive for one Legislative Assistant and one Secretarial Assistant. The LO will also be provided with a secretary to support him administratively with Parliamentary business.
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