Worker's Party MP Sylvia Lim is probably experiencing that odd feeling of deja-vu: according to the Workers' Party, she once again won't get to speak about the reserved presidential election at the upcoming Parliament sitting on Monday.
This was because her adjournment motion wasn't picked after once again, two other MPs had their delayed motions re-filed and the three were subjected to a ballot on Tuesday.
The other two motions were by Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar on the topic "Preserving Green Space and Heritage in Jalan Kayu Constituency" and Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair on "The Future of National Service". Intan's was selected, and like Lim's, Vikram's motion will also have to wait.
"WP’s Adjournment Motion on Elected Presidency Balloted Out of 2nd October Parliamentary Sitting
Parliament received a total of three bids at the close of the deadline for adjournment motions for the sitting on Monday 2 October.
At the ballot today conducted by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and witnessed by WP MP Sylvia Lim, the adjournment motion filed by Dr Intan Azura on the topic: "Preserving Green Space and Heritage in Jalan Kayu Constituency" was chosen for the sitting on Monday 2 October.
Should there be a sitting on Tuesday 3 October, Ms Sylvia Lim's topic: "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question?" may be subject to ballot again at the end of the sitting on Monday 2 October.
Currently, the other bid is by MP Vikram Nair on "The Future of National Service"."
WP's adjournment motion wanted the government to clarify whether the count on triggering the reserved Presidency from either President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong’s terms in office was a policy decision or a legal question.
In simple terms, an adjournment motion is the method a Member of Parliament can use to raise any matter for which the Government is responsible.
An adjournment motion is moved after a sitting day, and it is allotted to one Member only at each sitting, and if necessary — when more than one adjournment motion is filed for the same sitting — by ballot.
A Member is allowed to speak for up to 20 minutes on his or her subject matter, after which the Minister responsible for the subject may reply for up to 10 minutes.
Now as you might recall, this has become a bit of a pet topic for Lim.
On Feb. 6, during the Parliamentary debate on amendments to the Presidential Elections Act, she first raised concerns about this. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing then famously responded saying that she could “challenge this in the courts”.
Lim then filed her adjournment motion for the first time on Sep. 11, which came after Tan Cheng Bock, runner-up in PE2011, failed in his legal challenge against the decision to count Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first Elected President, instead of Ong Teng Cheong.
Two other motions were filed for that sitting; the one eventually moved for that particular sitting was “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options” by Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai, while the other was “The Future of National Service” by MP Vikram Nair, which was also filed again for Tuesday's ballot along with Lim's.
A fair process
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin wasn't ignorant of the voices from the ground regarding this either.
On a Facebook post on Tuesday evening (Sep. 26), he stated that "this reaction, if Sylvia's motion was not chosen, was not unexpected" and stated that nothing was out of the ordinary with the process, as other motions have been balloted out before too.
Having spoken to Lim, they both had agreed to "not go overboard with this", as there is a "robust and fair system in place respected by both sides of the house."Whether Lim will eventually be able to speak on her motion really depends on luck, and perhaps more importantly her tenaciousness.
With no free pass in sight from the PAP, she will have to keep filing the same motion, and keep on balloting for her chance to speak.
Hopefully, at some point lady luck will help her.
Top photo: Mothership file; screenshot from WP Facebook post