Third time lucky for Sylvia Lim as her adjournment motion on the reserved Presidency was picked from the ballot

Thanks to Speaker Tan Chuan Jin, we're learning a lot about parliamentary proceedings.

Sulaiman Daud | October 02, 2017, 09:14 PM

Workers' Party Chairman Sylvia Lim will get to make her adjournment motion on the reserved presidency during the Oct. 3 Parliament Session, after her motion was picked from the ballot.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin shared the news on his Facebook page at about 7:00pm on Monday, Oct. 2, mentioning that Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair's motion on the future of National Service will be deferred "for the fourth time". You can see his Facebook post below:

In case you can't see it, here's the text:

"Just balloted for tomorrow's adjournment motion (3 Oct 2017). Sylvia Lim's motion has been picked. She was present for the draw, as she had been the previous round. Vikram Nair's motion would have to be deferred again for the fourth time. His topic is on the future of NS.

It is important to note that apart from the adjournment motion, we also do have a Private Member's Motion that doesn't require it to be balloted. Christopher de Souza is in fact tabling one tomorrow and will see quite a number of MPs speaking on it.

There are various platforms for every individual MPs to surface issues that concern them. Do make full use of these opportunities.

Thank you,


Third time lucky

Lim'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.

She first spoke on the issue on Feb. 6 during the Parliamentary debate, to which Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing replied that she could "challenge this in the courts".


Lim first filed her adjournment motion for the Parliament session on Sep. 11. This was after 2011 presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock failed in his legal challenge against the decision to count Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first Elected President, instead of Ong Teng Cheong. However, her ballot was not selected.

On Sept. 26, the WP posted on Facebook that Lim's ballot for the Oct 2. session of Parliament was not selected.

But now she will get to speak.

Private Member's Motion

However, Tan brought up another point regarding the Private Member's Motion. According to Tan, it is an alternative to the Adjournment Motion and does not need to be balloted. Christopher de Souza (MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) will table a Private Member's Motion of his own tomorrow. But what exactly is it?

According to the Parliament's Glossary, a Private Member's Motion requires seven days of notice. You must then get at least one other Member to support you, either by signing the notice of motion or rising in support of it the chamber. For some reason, you can't get more than five other members to support it. The MP who tables the motion then gives a speech about it. According to the Glossary:

"Debate on the motion is open to the floor after the Speaker proposes the terms of the motion in the form of a question. At the end of debate, after the reply by the Member in charge, the question is put before the House for its decision. The motion may be agreed to as it stands or with amendments (which themselves require a separate motion to be made) or defeated."

So there is an open debate allowing more than one MP to respond after a Private Member's Motion, that could potentially see Lim being heavily challenged by other MPs.

By comparison, the Adjournment Motion allows the MP to speak for up to 20 minutes on their chosen subject, after which only the Minister responsible for the subject can respond, for up to 10 minutes, which allows for a more focused debate.

In addition, a private member's motion after a debate may be defeated by a vote. An adjournment motion is not put to a vote.

The Workers' Party posted a short statement about this development on Facebook at about 8:00pm on Monday, Oct. 2. You can see the post below:

In case you can't see it, here's the text of their Facebook post below:

"WP’s Adjournment Motion on Elected Presidency Balloted for 3rd October Parliamentary Sitting

At the adjournment of Parliament's sitting on Monday, 2nd October, there were remaining two bids for adjournment motion. As there will be a sitting tomorrow, Tuesday, 3rd October, a ballot was conducted by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and witnessed by WP MP Sylvia Lim. Unfortunately, the bid by MP Vikram Nair on "The Future of National Service" was out-balloted again.

At the adjournment of Parliament's sitting tomorrow, Ms Sylvia Lim will be speaking on "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question?"

Everything's set, so let's wait and see what the Oct. 3 session of Parliament will bring.

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Related story:

WP MP Sylvia Lim’s motion balloted out a 2nd time, still won’t be able to speak on Presidential election

Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim re-files adjournment motion on the Elected Presidency for Oct. 2

Workers’ Party MP Sylvia Lim will not get to speak on the reserved Presidential election in Parliament after all

WP Chairman Sylvia Lim files motion in Parliament to debate decision to count Elected Presidency from Wee Kim Wee

Top image by Sulaiman Daud.