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Indranee Rajah dismisses WP’s suggestion to set up Select Committees for Ministries

WP MPs advocate for cross-party standing select committees for ministries to oversee legislation and policy changes. Indranee Rajah dismisses, deeming it potentially unproductive, citing Singapore’s strong international standing in governance and transparency.



SINGAPORE:  Leader of the House Indranee Rajah on Thursday (7 March) rejected a proposal put forth by Workers’ Party Members of Parliament to establish Standing Select Committees for each Ministry or group of related ministries.

Ms Indranee questioned the effectiveness of having numerous committees overseeing various ministries, contending that requiring every ministry to answer to a standing select committee would be impractical and time-consuming.

She pointed out that setting up a committee for each ministry necessitates a significant time investment and would compel ministries to allocate already scarce resources towards reporting to and preparing responses for these committees.

“These are resources which could be spent on important policy work, ” Ms Indranee added, highlighting the increasing demands on ministries due to longer, busier, and more frequent parliamentary sittings.

“There is a cost to this as it eats into the time that the ministries have for their policy and other work.”

“For these reasons, creating standing select committees for every ministry would do little to enhance accountability or increase productivity or efficiency,” she said.

Mr Giam advocates for cross-party Standing Select Committees for Ministries

Participating in the Committee of Supply (COS) debate in Parliament, Mr Gerald Giam, WP MP for Aljunied GRC, highlighted that Parliament currently has seven Standing Select Committees. but none of these are specific to individual Ministries.

He drew attention to established practices in other legislatures, citing examples from the UK’s House of Commons and Australia’s Parliament.

In these systems, Standing Select Committees dedicated to specific government departments play a crucial role in scrutinizing government actions, policies, and spending, he said.

Mr Giam called on Parliament to set up Standing Select Committees for each ministry or group of related ministries, consisting of MPs from all political parties represented in Parliament.

One of the key benefits emphasized by Mr Giam is that these committees could discuss legislation or major policy changes before they are officially tabled, allowing for more room to work out compromises before public positions are taken.

“After thorough scrutiny of legislation and policies, the select committees can make recommendations to Parliament before bills and motions are debated and voted on by all MPs.”

“This process will lead to more informed and constructive debate and better decision-making in Parliament. The committees thus help to contribute to more effective governments build political consensus, and strengthen national unity, ” Mr Giam added.

Ms He Ting Ru advocating for parliamentary relevance and accessibility

Meanwhile, Ms He Ting Ru, WP MP for Sengkang GRC in her speech highlighted that Parliament is where the authority of the Government stems and is ultimately the body that

She also discussed the key principle of the speaker’s impartiality and the necessity for the speaker to be seen as impartial at all times and highlighted various approaches in different jurisdictions to uphold the principle of the speaker’s impartiality, such as not participating in votes or having a system of rotation.

Turning to the importance of ensuring that Parliament is relevant and accessible, she noted that citizens must believe that Parliament is a place where the people’s concerns are debated and their voices are heard.

To build respect for Parliament as a lynchpin for Singapore’s democracy, she said that it must be ensured that Singapore’s policy, law-making and accountability processes flow through the Parliament first and foremost.

In her address, Ms He emphasized the significance of the means chosen to discuss matters of public interest in Parliament.

Using examples like the Ridout Road issue and CPIB’s investigation into former Minister Iswaran, she highlighted the restricted nature of Ministerial Statements, limiting members to brief clarifications, with standing orders prohibiting debates.

“While a full motion means that any member wanting to make their views known on the matter, had up to 20 minutes to make a speech not including clarifications.”

She hence suggested that a means through which Parliament obtains regular and better dialogue and input from the public is by the use of Parliamentary Committees.

She also said that having members of the public, experts and different interest groups provide evidence as was the case in the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, can ensure more voices are heard and lead to interested parties being able to watch the proceedings and thus understand the complexity of the issues being considered.

“Maintaining the principle of parliamentary transparency and openness can only encourage and advance more participatory democracy and better governance, ” she added.

Ms Indranee: “Unproductive” for every ministry to have to answer to a Standing Select Committee

In response, Ms Indranee echoed with Ms He’s call that the principle of the Speaker’s impartiality is not in dispute and reiterated that the speakers in the house have upheld these principles, and any deviations have been addressed.

Ms Indranee explained that issues were presented through Ministerial Statements, the normal way of providing information to Parliament and members had the opportunity to ask questions.

“Not doing it by motion simply because it doesn’t present itself for a matter for resolution, but it does not preclude anybody else from raising a motion if they wish to.”

Regarding the proposal for more select committees, she questioned the effectiveness of having numerous committees overseeing various ministries.

Ms Indranee argued that Singapore’s governance, transparency, and low corruption levels are already well-regarded internationally.

“I think the question that we have to ask ourselves is in the other countries where they have these multitudes of select committees, are they necessarily better governed? do they necessarily have better outcomes? Are there parliaments more efficient? Is there government more trusted?”

“Having more standing committees or more select committees would not be very productive, ” she claimed.

“For example, it would be unproductive for every ministry to have to answer to a standing select committee, setting up a committee for each ministry requires significant time.”

Instead of standing select committees for each ministry, Ms Indranee advocated for convening ad-hoc select committees when necessary.

She cited the example of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, which studied a specific issue over eight months.

She emphasized the thoroughness of this targeted committee’s work, involving public consultations, written representations, and oral evidence.

“Since most of our policy issues are crosscutting, the value of setting up ministry-specific committees is also questionable.”

“What we have is a system that works when the ministries have a policy, it is brought to Parliament, either motion or during the budget debate, which has a broader overview sometimes when a specific act is being passed.”

Ms Indranee stressed that Parliament, as a whole, serves as a comprehensive forum where every member can ask questions, participate in debates, and ensure public engagement.

She emphasized that a Select Committee functions as a miniature version of the entire Parliament, allowing for a thorough examination and discussion of specific issues.

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This bi+ch see her face also du lan already.

Aiyah, … why bother lah !!!

Even if they had run with WP’s proposal, only to appear accommodating and altruistic, … this regime would almost certainly put their “own or at least, affiliated” members into this or any selected, special or senior committee !!!

So, end the fuss please, … it’s a dead end you’re heading into with no known solution, not in SillyPore anyway !!!

You don’t know who is the judge in the political system, don’t you? The judge answers to the House he presides over which all members are part of. He decides how ministries under him are run. He won’t submit to your judgment of his affairs “apart” from the house he presides over in which you are members. Your intent is accountability.The powerful judge is accountable in his House under him, in which you are part of. Dont see the problem there? You are part of a House in which you can never be the…..judge. The fool here constantly walk into… Read more »

Another Fake Ministar claimed to rep Sheeps and speaks for sheeps. Go and commit harakiri.

Be reminded your speech on Keppel Briberies Corruption is so hollow, designed to cover up for PAP high officials which so many people can tell.

The other is your abhorrent behaviour of showing your true colours throwing files and papers flying in the air as tho Parliament is your CB WHORE room for all your PAP prostitutes.

Be very very mindful who pay your stink salary.