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Leong Mun Wai expresses disappointment over non-addressed issues about CCE lesson

NCMP Leong Mun Wai expressed disappointment as PQs on Gaza conflict content in CCE lesson were left unaddressed through a Ministerial Statement last week. PSP defers PQs to April 2024 for a more comprehensive discussion.



SINGAPORE: Mr Leong Mun Wai, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), voiced his disappointment with Education Minister Chan Chun Sing for not addressing MPs’ Parliamentary Questions (PQs) on Israel-Palestinian content within character and citizenship education (CCE) lesson through a Ministerial Statement.

He believed that this approach would have allowed for more time for clarifications and questions from MPs.

Underlining the significance of these concerns, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has decided to defer the Parliamentary Questions to the April 2024 session.

This delay aims to facilitate a more meaningful discussion with Minister Chan, ensuring adequate time for addressing the issues at hand.

Speaker denies NCMP Leong’s request to extend PQ time for CCE lessons

During last Thursday’s (7 March) Parliamentary sitting, Mr Leong and Ms Hazel Poa, both NCMPs from PSP, anticipated clarification from Minister Chan regarding Parliamentary Questions (PQs) on the CCE lesson issue.

As per the Order Paper on Thursday, a total of nine PQs related to the CCE lessons were filed by MPs, spanning from PQ13 to PQ21, including submissions from both PSP NCMPs and Leader of Opposition Pritam Singh.

Ms Poa inquired about making public the content of the CCE lesson on the Gaza conflict, whether any teacher has declined to deliver the lesson and how such situations are handled.

Mr Leong asked if primary school students are being taught about the conflict in the CCE lesson or otherwise. He also sought information on the levels at which students are taught about the conflict and how the content is differentiated based on students’ maturity levels.

Workers’ Party chief Mr Singh queried the Minister about the lessons gleaned from feedback and concerns expressed by certain parents regarding the perceived historical selectivity and alleged imbalance in the treatment of the conflict within the CCE curriculum.

At the onset of the parliamentary session, Mr Leong invoked Parliament Standing Orders 21(1) to petition the Speaker to reinstate PQ Times for 1.5 hours. He highlighted the potential inadequacy of the current schedule for Oral PQs to sufficiently address these significant issues.

Speaker Seah Kian Peng, who is also a People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, rejected Mr Leong’s request and preferred to maintain the originally allocated time.

“Our Question Time has been allocated as 30 minutes. I would like to keep it as it is, if there are questions which have not been addressed adequately, they can always be filed.”

Mr Leong, expressing the importance of the issue, asserted that the CCE lesson saga had garnered significant concern from Singaporeans.

He noted that Minister Chan had previously mentioned during the Committee of Supply (COS) debate that the PQs would be addressed today.

“It is just a simple act of yours to extend the timing, ” Mr Leong told the Speaker, “The PQ timing anyway was originally 1. 5 hours. If you don’t want to exercise that, then can I have your assurance that the related PQs will be at the top of the queue at the next setting?’

In response, Speaker Seah reiterated that the issues regarding the CCE lesson had been extensively discussed during the Ministry of Education’s COS debate.

“If the proceedings today are fast enough that we can cover as many questions as we can, and which is how I’ve always tried to progress for all debates.”

“In fact, you yourself sometimes ask very long clarifications, and that takes up time.”

“My style is to allow as many PQs we address in each question time. I’ve always asked whether it’s during question time or during Committee or Supply (debate) to keep clarification short and likewise, I ask the responses from the front bench to be also short. ”

“Let’s try to progress as fast as we can and as I said, I think there was some discussion earlier on this subject.”

“If there are other PQS we raise in subsequent sitting, it will be dealt with in accordance with the rules and Standing Order, ” the Speaker added.

Towards the end of the session, the Speaker noted the delayed start and said that there was just enough time for one final PQ — question 12 from Ms Nadia Samdin, a question just before the questions related to the CCE lessons.

Emphasizing brevity, both the MP and Minister were urged to keep their responses concise.

Mr Leong disappointed by lack of Ministerial Statement on CCE issue

Mr Leong on Friday (8 March) took to Facebook to express his disappointment as their PQs were not addressed orally during Question Time.

He said PSP believes that the reduced PQ times are inadequate, given the strict time limits for clarifications during COS debates, which must also be shared with clarifications on other issues raised by MPs.

He also expressed disappointment that on 7 March, Minister Chan chose not to answer PQs on the CCE lesson via a Ministerial Statement, which would have provided more time for clarifications and questions from MPs.

“This issue has understandably caught the attention of many Singaporeans and I am sure that many, like us, still have questions that we would like the Government to answer. ”

The PSP has decided to defer its PQs to the April 2024 Parliamentary Sitting to enable a more meaningful discussion on this topic with Minister Chan.

Mr Leong emphasized that while Parliament, like many other institutions in Singapore, is highly efficient in conducting its business, as Singapore matures as a democracy, there is hope for a better balance between efficiency and time spent on constructive debate.

“We hope that we can strike a better balance between efficiency and time spent on constructive debate, especially when sensitive issues that reach the heart of our social fabric are concerned.”

Minister Chan addresses CCE lesson backlash during 4 March COS Debate

Earlier, during the COS debate for MOE on 4 March, Minister Chan Chun Sing acknowledged the CCE lesson has stirred strong emotions amongst many. It is also reflected in the range of PQs filed by Members for upcoming sittings.

“I think I would say something here today (4 March) to allow members more time than the 30-minute PQ time on Thursday.”

He recognized feedback from both teachers and parents regarding the lesson materials and stressed the significance of addressing these concerns.

Addressing queries from MPs regarding the MOE’s CCE lesson on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Mr Chan emphasized the continuous commitment to enhance the delivery of CCE, especially in helping teachers equip students to navigate the complexities of the world.

Responding to online discussions and parental concerns about the lesson, he outlined plans to tailor the material for different age groups.

In response to an MP’s request for the release of the CCE lesson slides, Mr Chan confirmed that MOE decided against it.

He emphasized the limitations of slides in representing the nuanced teaching context and stressed the importance of face-to-face interactions to provide a more comprehensive understanding to concerned parents and the public.

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Its as clear as day why the speaker is always a PAP dog. LMW will never succeed in prying open locked answers from these people who are afraid of their very own shadow.

Government in Singapore needs to begin a fresh page.
Voters have to vote in a new party to be the new Government.

The other way is to have a revolution.
But many will be arrested and jailed, injured or killed.

We can do this peacefully and successfully.
Just vote a different party.

PAP is arrogant
PAP is smug
PAP is tardy

No more lessons for PAP.
No more PAP
Keep them out
Every single one of them.

Alamak! Would the speaker pofma Mun Wai?
Or the speaker better alot opposition more time to ask qs?

A speaker is like in football referee but our speaker is speaker Kayu, yes?

Any statements, debate or discussions that puts this regime in a bad and negative light or have them “exposed”, will trifecta~ly, … have time called, pofma~ed or side~stepped never to be addressed ever again !!!

A lot of talk but what exactly is the content that is going to be taught in schools at different levels? Why the hide and seek? If CCS is confident to continue with the teaching of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, he should lay out the modules to the Public. The teachings though not supposedly for historical reasons still has to have historical facts from the year 1933 when German Zionists Jews started exchanging assets in Germany for assets in Palestine under the guise of a tea company.