PM Lee to nominate Seah Kian Peng as next Speaker of Parliament

Mr Seah Kian Peng is an MP for Marine Parade GRC. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong intends to nominate Mr Seah Kian Peng as the next Speaker of Parliament, said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement on Friday.

Mr Seah, 61, is an MP for Marine Parade GRC. He was Deputy Speaker between 2011 and 2016.

The role of Speaker is currently vacant, following Mr Tan Chuan-Jin’s resignation on Monday over an affair with former Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui, who has also resigned.

Deputy Speaker Jessica Tan is currently the acting Speaker.

PM Lee will nominate the new Speaker at the next Parliament sitting starting on Aug 2. At the same sitting, he will be delivering a ministerial statement.

Responding to The Straits Times’ queries on Friday, Mr Seah said it was a privilege and honour to be nominated by PM Lee for the post.

“There is a process to the appointment and so it is a bit premature to talk about plans,” he said.

Mr Seah had in Parliament’s July session witnessed the passing of a Private Member’s Bill that he had tabled, on amendments to the Maintenance of Parents Act.

The Bill was introduced in May and debated for three hours in July. Mr Seah had chaired a workgroup comprising nine MPs to review the Act.

On whether his work on the Act had concluded, Mr Seah said the work is “fortunately done”, as the second and third reading of the Bill were successfully passed at the last sitting.

The baton is now handed over to the Ministry of Social and Family Development to operationalise the changes, he added.

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PM Lee said on Monday that the resignations of Mr Tan and Ms Cheng were necessary to maintain the high standards of propriety and personal conduct that the People’s Action Party has upheld all these years.

At a press conference on Monday, he said he had learnt about the “inappropriate relationship” between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng some time after the 2020 General Election, and had counselled both of them – most recently in February 2023.

But he came across recent information that “strongly suggested that the relationship had continued”.

“I think it’s simply inappropriate to have a Speaker having a relationship with one of the MPs... It is not appropriate, it’s not acceptable,” he said.

At the first sitting of the 14th Parliament following the 2020 General Election, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah had proposed that Mr Tan be the Speaker, and this was supported by Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin.

With this proposal, the Clerk of Parliament declared Mr Tan to have been elected Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Tan then took the oath of allegiance and assumed the Chair of the House.

Duties of the Speaker

According to the Parliament website, the Speaker presides over the sittings of the House and enforces the rules prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament for the orderly conduct of parliamentary business. 

Elected at the commencement of a new Parliament by MPs, the Speaker may or may not be an MP, but must possess the qualifications to stand for election as an MP, as provided for in the Constitution.

The website states that in carrying out the duties in the House, the Speaker must remain impartial and fair to all MPs. 

The Speaker regulates and enforces the rules of debate, decides who has the right to speak, and puts the question for the House to debate on and vote. 

He does not take part in the debates of the House, but can abstain from or vote for or against a motion, if he has an original vote as an elected member. The Speaker has no casting vote.

The Speaker also acts as the representative of the House in its relations with other Parliaments and outside bodies.

He welcomes visiting dignitaries, and represents Parliament at national events and during official visits abroad. 

The Speaker is overall in charge of the administration of Parliament and its Secretariat.

The Speaker is assisted by two Deputy Speakers, who are currently Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, and Ms Tan, an MP for East Coast GRC.

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