Who will be the new Speaker of Parliament? Or rather, who can?

The Speaker may or may not be a MP.

By Chan Cheow Pong | August 8, 2017

Former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob resigned on Aug. 7 from her political posts to run for the highest office in the land.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong will be Acting Speaker until Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong nominates a new Speaker of Parliament when parliament next meets.

New speaker to be elected in September

The next parliament sitting is in September.

According to the Constitution, electing the new Speaker by Members of Parliament (MP) will be the first order of business, as the post cannot be left vacant during parliament proceedings.

Source: Constitution of the Republic of Singapore

In any case, it is clear from the constitution that the Speaker may or may not be a MP, but he or she must possess the qualifications to stand for election as an MP as provided in the Constitution.

Among the nine Speakers since 1955, there were two Speakers who were not Legislative Assemblymen or MP.

They are Sir George Oehlers (1955 – 1963) and Punch Coomaraswamy (1966 – 1970), who were both lawyers.

“Unexpected” choice possible

Candidates considered to be in the running include Charles Chong and also the other Deputy Speaker Lim Biow Chuan.

Former Deputy Speakers such as Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng and Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah are also potential candidates.

However, a report in Lianhe Zaobao on Aug. 8 also quoted a source saying that the new Speaker could an “unexpected” choice.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair and Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai were named in the report as probable candidates to become Speaker.

The last three Speakers of Parliament were from the minorities. In the last decade, the nominations of Michael Palmer (remember him?) and Halimah as Speakers had been lauded as progressive moves in local politics.

Against the backdrop of a reserved election for the Presidency, it remains to be seen if the next Speaker will also be from a minority race.

About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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