High-quality debate shows how Parliament should work: PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has pointed to the speeches made by several MPs during last week's debate on the Budget as hallmarks of the high quality of debate in Parliament here.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has pointed to the speeches made by several MPs during last week's debate on the Budget as hallmarks of the high quality of debate in Parliament here. PHOTO: ST FILE

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has pointed to the speeches made by several MPs during last week's debate on the Budget as hallmarks of the high quality of debate in Parliament here.

In a Facebook post last night, Mr Lee said: "By international standards, our Parliament is less dramatic than some others, but the quality of our debate is high."

Many People's Action Party MPs have spoken, offering criticisms, seeking explanations and championing passionate causes, he noted.

"But they were not the only ones with something to say," he added.

He singled out the speeches made by three Nominated MPs.

STANDING UP FOR S'PORE

...when it comes to foreign policy and international relations, all parties must share the same basic premises, and speak up for Singapore.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG

He noted that Mr Kok Heng Leun spoke on how arts and culture "can help bond and build resilience in society at a time of upheaval and uncertainty" and Associate Professor Randolph Tan, an economist, is tracking Singapore's economic restructuring efforts closely.

Mr Ganesh Rajaram talked about his mother's dignified response in the face of prejudice.

Said Mr Lee: "These three NMPs exemplify the purpose of the Nominated MP scheme. They are not in politics, and would not otherwise have had a voice in Parliament.

"But they have brought their expertise and experience to bear, and enriched the public discourse."

He added: "Some opposition MPs made good speeches too."

He pointed out that opposition MP Low Thia Khiang, leader of the Workers' Party, had "set out succinctly how the strategic landscape is changing, and how this challenges our foreign policy".

Mr Lee wrote that it is natural for the Government and opposition to have different values, policies and programmes.

"But when it comes to foreign policy and international relations, all parties must share the same basic premises, and speak up for Singapore," he said.

He added: "This is how parliamentary democracy is supposed to work.

"Sometimes we fall short of this ideal, but in the case of these four speeches, we have not done badly."

The debate on the Government's Budget started last Tuesday and continues this week with the House debating the ministries' budgets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 05, 2017, with the headline 'High-quality debate shows how Parliament should work: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe