WP's Sylvia Lim will not speak on reserved election at Sept 11 Parliament sitting, adjournment motion not picked in ballot

Workers' Party (WP) MP Sylvia Lim had wanted to speak about the issue of when the Government should start counting the five presidential terms of office needed to trigger a reserved election, and filed the motion on Aug 28.
Workers' Party (WP) MP Sylvia Lim had wanted to speak about the issue of when the Government should start counting the five presidential terms of office needed to trigger a reserved election, and filed the motion on Aug 28.PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - A proposal by Workers' Party (WP) MP Sylvia Lim to speak on the Elected Presidency at the next Parliament sitting was not selected in a random ballot.

The WP said on its Facebook page on Tuesday (Sept 5) that the adjournment motion - titled "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question" - was "balloted out" of the Sept 11 sitting.

Ms Lim had wanted to speak about the issue of when the Government should start counting the five presidential terms of office needed to trigger a reserved election, and filed the motion on Aug 28.

However, two other MPs had also filed adjournment motions to speak on other issues.

The WP said in its Facebook post that Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai had filed a motion on Aug 29 titled "Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options". On the same day, Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair also filed a motion titled "The Future of National Service".

The opposition party said the MPs were told that the adjournment motions filed would be subject to ballot under Standing Order 2(8)(d).

The rule states that "the right to raise a matter on the motion for the adjournment of Parliament shall be allotted to one Member only for each sitting day, if necessary by ballot, under the directions of the Speaker".

Mr Murali's motion was picked in the ballot, said the WP.

"Accordingly, Ms Sylvia Lim would not be able to speak on her adjournment motion on 11th September," the party added.

Ms Lim's adjournment motion had to do with the reserved presidential election to be held this month, which is reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

An election is reserved for candidates from a particular racial group if no one from the group has held the highest office in the land in the past five presidential terms.

The Government chose to count from the final term of President Wee Kim Wee, who was the first president to exercise the powers of the elected president.

On this premise, the Sept 23 presidential election will be reserved for Malay candidates.

Others have argued that the count should be from the term of President Ong Teng Cheong, the first president elected by the people. Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock mounted a legal challenge on the issue but the Court of Appeal ruled that Parliament had the prerogative to decide when to start the count.