Tan Chuan-Jin Responds After Leong Mun Wai Complained About Not Being Able to Ask Questions in Parliament


Progress Singapore Party’s Leong Mun Wai is now under fire once again after his public complaint on Facebook about not being able to ask questions was addressed in Parliament by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

Cut-off Time for Questions

Mr Tan clarified on Monday (7 March) that not all Members of Parliament (MPs) will get the chance to ask their clarification questions due to a cut-off time.

In fact, there were other MPs from the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) whose requests to ask for clarifications were also denied in order to stick to a predetermined time limit, said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan said he was sure MPs understand the process of the debate on ministries’ budgets, but that it was “opportune for me to refresh everyone’s memories”.

Responding to Leong Mun Wai’s Comments

This came after Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai had tried to ask questions at the close of the debate on the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) budget earlier in the afternoon.

“I said there are still questions. The debate is not over when there are still questions,” said Mr Leong. Mr Tan replied that time was up, and Parliament would be moving on.

Shortly following this exchange, Mr Leong commented on Facebook on his own post about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike.

Image: Facebook (Leong Mun Wai 梁文辉)

In his comment, he said he had “a number of clarifications to make” in Parliament about the GST issue.

“But the Speaker didn’t even give me the chance,” he commented. He added in a separate comment: “Completely ridiculous!”

Gives Speaking Opportunities to Members from Various Parties

Mr Tan said that in calling upon MPs to speak, he gives opportunities to members from various parties and that he keeps track of who has been called upon and who has not.

“Different members have opportunities to speak at other times, so we’d like to give that airtime to different members as well,” he said, in reference to the full debate that covers every ministry’s budget.

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MPs have all been sent reminders on the cut-off times for each ministry’s debate and can file parliamentary questions if they have further queries or were unable to raise their questions by the end of the debate, he added.

Acknowledging that MPs are all passionate about their respective topics, Mr Tan said, “Many of you text me grumbling about why, how come you got an important question to ask, but you can’t ask. I hope that you bear with me for that.”

Allocated Time for Debates

Mr Tan went on to explain the structure of the debates on each ministry’s budget.

Of the time allocated to each ministry’s budget debate, 40 per cent comprises cuts (MP’s short speeches), 50 per cent is for the response from ministries, and 10 per cent is allocated for clarifications.

The debate on each budget ends once the respective cut-off time is reached, according to Parliament’s Standing Order 92(7A).


Mr Tan noted that when clarification time is reached but the cut-off time has yet to expire, it is at his discretion whether members continue with the debate.

“In the earlier debate, for example, with the Ministry of Manpower, we had finished the clarification time, and we continued all the way until (the cut-off) time,” he said.

Mr Tan said he felt it was useful to remind all members of how the process works for Parliament’s record, given recent social media posts by various MPs.

You can watch his full speech here:

Leong Mun Wai Continues

If you thought Mr Tan’s reminder would silence Mr Leong, you are wrong.


On CNA‘s Facebook post of Mr Tan’s speech, Mr Leong commented that Parliamentary processes and procedures have “changed over time and become too restrictive”.

He further questioned, “Does it make sense to artificially stop a debate when MPs have not ask their questions. What’s the role of the MP?”

Netizens have also expressed their opinion on this issue, with comments varying between agreeing with Mr Leong and others being displeased with his behaviour.

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Featured Image: Screengrab of Youtube (The Straits Times) + Facebook (Leong Mun Wai 梁文辉)