Forum: Change Act to include role of Leader of the Opposition

The Parliament House.
The Parliament House.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

While I applaud the Government's move in reaching across the political divide and empowering the Workers' Party to better fulfil its parliamentary duties, I think the role of Leader of the Opposition (LO) should not have its terms and conditions simply set out through announcements without legal force (Parliament sets out duties, privileges of Leader of the Opposition, July 29).

The additional resources accorded to the LO will cost public money. Laws should be drawn up to govern how much money should be allocated, and for what purposes.

The Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act governs the rights and entitlements of Parliament and its members and office-holders.

I suggest the Government introduce a Bill to insert its proposals for the LO role into this Act. The opposition MPs can speak up or propose amendments to the Bill if needed.

The Act should also be amended to ensure the "Leader of the Opposition" title is accorded automatically to the leader of the largest non-governing political party in Parliament, who is also an MP.

This ensures that opposition leaders are, in future, appointed to the role independently by the decision of the electorate, rather than leaving it to the decision of the Government.

Soon Hao Jing

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'Change Act to include role of Leader of the Opposition'. Print Edition | Subscribe