No cause for suggesting filibustering in Parliament

In his letter "An appeal against filibustering" (Sept 30), Mr Francis Cheng insinuates that the Government has "denied" the Workers' Party's (WP) adjournment motion on the elected presidency and is filibustering.

This is apparently because some other MPs, myself included, had also filed adjournment motions for both the September and October sittings.

As one of the MPs who filed an adjournment motion at these sittings, I find the accusation of filibustering absurd.

I first filed my adjournment motion on the "Future of National Service" in July, for the sitting on Aug 1.

This year, Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary of national service, and the future of national service is of fundamental importance to Singapore's security and nation building.

As a national serviceman and chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defence, I was inspired by the NS50 commemorations to file this motion.

Two other MPs, Mr Louis Ng and Mr Murali Pillai, also filed adjournment motions for that sitting. A ballot was conducted and Mr Ng's motion was picked.

Mr Murali and I, therefore, refiled our adjournment motions for the sitting on Sept 11.

WP's Ms Sylvia Lim also filed her adjournment motion for this sitting.

Once again, a ballot was conducted and, this time, Mr Murali's motion prevailed.

Ms Lim and I, therefore, refiled our motions for the next sitting, which is today's.

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar also filed an adjournment motion for this sitting and, at the ballot, her motion was picked.

I have, therefore, refiled my motion for the next sitting and understand that Ms Lim has done the same.

The insinuation that I had filed my motion as some kind of filibuster is absurd, as I filed my adjournment motion in July, well before Ms Lim filed hers.

The rules of parliamentary debate are set out in the Standing Orders, which are regularly reviewed by a committee comprising both government and opposition MPs.

Standing Order 2(8)(d) sets out the procedures for adjournment motions, including that if more than one member raises an adjournment motion for a particular sitting, the Speaker may conduct a ballot to select the topic to be raised.

MPs, including Ms Lim, would be well aware of other parliamentary procedures, such as filing a private member's motion, which would allow them to raise a topic in Parliament without it being subject to a ballot and can be done anytime, if they wish.

Vikram Nair

Sembawang GRC MP

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2017, with the headline 'No cause for suggesting filibustering in Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe