Role for Speaker of Parliament in 4G leadership too

This week's Cabinet reshuffle marks the changing of guard in the Government as the fourth-generation (4G) parliamentary leaders take up more and increasingly diverse roles (Reshuffle marks new phase in changing of guard; April 25).

However, one 4G leader is conspicuously missing: Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

Indeed, the Speaker may seem powerless in influencing executive policies, with his power possibly limited to only the administration of parliamentary debates.

Yet, as elected MPs have, and will, become more diverse in their backgrounds, ideologies and policy goals, debates in Parliament will become more robust and perhaps heated (Greater diversity with more office-holders from private sector: Experts; April 25).

The administrative role of encouraging better debates, regulating toxic ones and reconciling opposite arguments will, thus, become much more important.

Since becoming Speaker, Mr Tan has expanded the role, with new initiatives to better engage Singaporeans in the legislative processes happening in Parliament.

For example, he has set up a new blog "to make Parliament even more accessible" and "explain and demystify the parliamentary process" (Tan Chuan-Jin launches Speaker's blog - From The Chair; March 28).

With the electorate shifting towards a millennial-dominated one, policies will be best communicated online in the future.

By launching the blog, Mr Tan is keeping this group - which consumes most of their news and facts online, will wield considerable voting power in the near future, yet has been accused of being apathetic - engaged in and informed on local democratic processes.

Mr Tan is leading the charge to encourage the younger generation to take part in policymaking, as their participation is vital towards the building of a more democratic country representative of its population, especially in a world of increasing deliberate online falsehoods.

Although he is not in the Cabinet, he has proven that he is still part of the 4G leadership in spirit.

Ng Jun Jie

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Role for Speaker of Parliament in 4G leadership too'. Print Edition | Subscribe