Parliament goes into recess, to reconvene on May 16 with President's address

A view of the Parliament House on 5 December 2013. After a session that has seen significant shifts especially in social policy, Parliament has gone into a mid-term break for members to take stock of their work, and will reconvene on May 16. --
A view of the Parliament House on 5 December 2013. After a session that has seen significant shifts especially in social policy, Parliament has gone into a mid-term break for members to take stock of their work, and will reconvene on May 16. -- ST FILE PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After a session that has seen significant shifts especially in social policy, Parliament has gone into a mid-term break for members to take stock of their work, and will reconvene on May 16.

The new session will kick off with an address by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, outlining the Government's priorities, policies and programmes for the rest of its term ahead of the next election, widely expected to be held in 2016.

The House will then discuss these policies and programmes in its debate on the Motion of Thanks for the President's Address. Traditionally, this debate happens within a week or so of the address.

This recess, known as a prorogue, marks the mid-point of the Government's term, and is meant to give it time to map out its agenda and policies for the years ahead.

The first half has seen the Government adopting more social policies to address issues of stratification in society.

The past two years' Budgets, for instance, had focused on helping the elderly and low income. There was the $8-billion Pioneer Generation Package this year that will take care of some 450,000 elderly first-generation Singaporeans, and the $3.6-billion Wage Credit Scheme introduced last year that sees the Government funding wage increases for Singaporean workers.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a hint of things to come two weeks ago when he told reporters during a visit to London that there would be "a few more pieces" of social policy to be announced after Parliament reopens in May.

"But the broad scope of it, I have already sketched out at last year's (National Day) Rally, which is our rebalancing towards stronger social safety nets, towards making sure the paths upwards are open towards helping everyone to level up and improve their quality of life as well as standard of living in Singapore," he had said.

Since independence, Parliament has been prorogued 10 times, most recently in 2009.

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