Even if you’re apolitical and think that the Leader of the Opposition is merely a title bestowed on someone who’s abnormally tall and can speak well, you should know that the leader is Pritam Singh, the charismatic secretary-general of Workers’ Party.
But if you really think that Mr Singh got the title because he has a towering presence in the house, then you should really download our app, because anyone who has our app would know simi is a Leader of the Opposition.
If not, here’s a brief summary:
After the election, PM Lee said that Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh will be formally appointed the Leader of the Opposition.
This is when your head feels itchy and you go, “Wait, I thought Low Thia Khiang has been the ‘Leader of the Opposition’ since, like, 1819?”
Well, no: take note of the words “formally appointed”.
You see, there was no formality before this election: back in 1992, when the opposition presence in Parliament was starting to form, Mr Chiam See Tong, who was then with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), was referred to as the “unofficial leader of the opposition”, and was given a seat directly opposite the Prime Minister in Parliament.
That is why you can sometimes see an opposition party (usually Low Thia Khiang then Pritam Singh) member in the background when an MP is talking about important stuff like whether ice-cream and desserts taste better than Traditional Chinese Medicine.
But Mr Low wasn’t happy with just the term, who famously said this after his team won the first GRC in Singapore’s history: “Either you have a leader of the opposition, or you do not have it. There’s no need to have an unofficial leader of the opposition.”
Technically speaking, a Leader of the Opposition is a formal title bestowed on the leader of the largest minority party which is able and prepared to assume office in the event that the Government resigns.
According to PM Lee, Mr Singh isn’t just given a title and a good seat in Parliament as the Leader of the Opposition: he’ll also be given the staff support and resources to carry out this role.
PM Lee had said, “I told Mr Singh that with 10 MPs, I think it is right that he, the Workers’ Party leader, be formally designated as the Leader of the Opposition, and that he will be provided with appropriate staff support and resources to perform his duties.”
So what duties is he referring to?
And how much resources would he be getting? Would he also get a white Volvo car? Or is it a Mercs now? Would he have security guards in tuck-out short-sleeved shirts around him, too?
A day after the new Cabinet is sworn in, the offices of the Speaker of Parliament and the Leader of the House have revealed more details.
Unfortunately, it seems like he still won’t be chauffeured in a white Volvo or Mercedes or BMW whenever he goes, and the only person with tuck-out short-sleeved shirt hanging around him is just this guy:
Here’s what the inaugural Leader of the Opposition will get, and what he has to do.
Details About Leader of the Opposition in S’pore Revealed, Including His Allowance & Privileges
Firstly, there’s an abbreviation for the Leader of the Opposition : LO.
The authorities have come out with the system based on other parliamentary systems “as well as our own circumstances in defining the duties and privileges of the LO.”
So, why designate one now?
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They explained that the results of the 2020 General Election have “shown a strong desire among Singaporeans for a greater diversity of views in politics” and that “this trend is here to stay.”
Sengkang residents be like
Also, “designating a Leader of Opposition will recognise this desire while enabling our political system to evolve in a way that maintains our sense of national purpose.”
Here are duties of a LO:
– Lead the opposition in presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, Bills and motions.
– Lead and organise the scrutiny of the Government’s positions and actions in Parliament.
– Be consulted on the appointment of opposition members to Select Committees, including Standing Select Committees such as the Public Accounts Committee
There’s no specific requirement for the LO to come out with a Shadow Cabinet, though it might be too taxing for the LO to do all the three tasks by himself, so the LO, if he so desire, can appoint Nicole Seah as the Education Shadow Minister, appoint Nicole Seah as the Manpower Shadow Minister, appoint Nicole Seah as the Transport Shadow Minister and of course, Nicole Seah as the Bubble Tea Shadow Minister.
Reader Bao: Hand me a blanket
Why? Did you just cry a—
Reader Bao: That’s the coldest joke ever
The LO may be called upon to take on other duties such as attending official state functions and taking part in visits and meetings alongside members of the Government and the Public Service, and for that, he might finally be chauffeured in a white Volvo or Mercedes or BMW.
It doesn’t seem easy, because as you probably know, Workers’ Party might not want to give PAP a blank cheque, but you need to write something on the cheque.
So the LO would have these privileges to carry out his duties effectively:
In Parliament, the LO will generally be given the right of first response among Members of Parliament (MPs) and to ask the lead question to the Ministers on policies, Bills and motions, subject to existing speaking conventions. The LO will also be given a longer speaking duration for speeches, equivalent to that given to political officeholders (i.e. longer than MPs like Ah Hua Jie).
Briefings on issues of national interest.
In addition to the government data or information available to other MPs, the LO will receive confidential briefings by the Government on select matters of national security and external relations, and in the event of a national crisis or emergency. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
But those additional workloads would require more resources, and so the LO would receive these:
The LO will receive double the allowance of an elected MP. The LO’s total norm annual package will be $385,000, inclusive of his allowance as an MP. That’s about $32k a month, and all of a sudden, I feel like quitting my job and applying to be an LO.
The LO will be provided an office and the use of a meeting room in Parliament House. He will also receive allowances to hire up to three additional Legislative Assistants. This is in addition to the allowances all MPs receive for one Legislative Assistant and one Secretarial Assistant. The LO will also be provided with a secretary to support him administratively with Parliamentary business.
Pritam Singh has posted an update after meeting up with his security gu—I mean, meeting up with Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin over lunch that seemed to be catered for one instead of two:
He said he will “speak in greater detail on the approach The Workers’ Party will take in Parliament over the next term and what the public can expect, during the debate on the President’s address to Parliament next month.”
LO___I refer to the joint press statement dated 28 Jul 2020 issued by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and…
In the meantime, rumours have it that the duo hasn’t completed their lunch.
And on a side note, other than LO, politicians have been talking about NCMP (Non-Constituency Member of Parliament) in recent days. So, what’s an NCMP? Do you know that it’s just like an MP but the allowance is much lower? Watch this video to find out more:
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