Tan Chuan-Jin reminds public that MPs have other options besides Adjournment Motion to raise issues

The Adjournment Motion is just one of the ways MPs can raise issues in parliament.

Darryl Laiu | October 01, 2020, 04:29 PM

In a Facebook post on Oct. 1, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin reminded the public that the "adjournment motion" is just one way that issues can be aired in parliament.

This was in in response to ongoing comments about why PAP Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng's proposed motion on secondhand smoke was chosen over WP MP Sylvia Lim's proposed motion on the criminal justice system pertaining to the high-profile Parti Liyani case.

In a Facebook post, Tan wrote: "Some seem to take issue with it and the way it is managed. But from the strident calls and accusations made by some, it appears that they believe that MPs are denied the chance to air topics of importance and it is left to the vagaries of chance."

"Perhaps they might have forgotten about a more substantive route to take. MPs can move motions beyond just the Adjournment Motion route," added Tan.

Raising a Private Member's motion

Apart from the adjournment motion, an MP can simply "motion" to raise an issue in parliament. According to the Parliament's Glossary, there are however a few significant differences.

An MP will need to give at least three clear days' notice to raise an adjournment motion. On the other hand, an MP will need at least seven clear days' notice to raise a "private member's motion".

The motion must also be supported by at least one other MP and no more than five. However, a minister only requires two days' notice to raise motion.

The structure of the debate between the two motions is also different.

In an adjournment motion, the member who raised it is allowed to speak for up to 20 minutes on their subject matter. The minister responsible for the subject then has up to 10 minutes to reply.

However, in a private member's motion, the MP will make an opening speech and the debate will be opened to all other MPs.

At the end of the debate on a private member's motion, the motion is put to a vote. An adjournment motion is not put to a vote.

You can see Tan's Facebook post below:

Parliamentary questions

MPs can also raise questions to any minister on any matter in his portfolio, or to other MPs for issues they may be responsible for.

MPs can file up to five questions for each sitting day, of which not more than three can be for an oral answer. At least seven clear days' notice is required for all questions.

The relevant minister will give a verbal response to questions for oral answers, following which, any MP can then ask supplementary questions.

Private member's bill

A private bill is a draft law introduced by a MP that is not a minister.

At least four clear days' notice must be given for the introduction of a private member's bill.

The bill must have been printed in at least three successive publications of the Government Gazette before a MP can introduce it in parliament.

After the bill's second reading in parliament, it must be referred to a Select Committee which will hear the views of any affected party who has presented a petition to parliament on the bill.

Substantive motion

A MP can also raise a substantive motion to raise an issue.

According to the Parliament's Glossary, a substantive motion is a self-contained proposal drafted in a way to express the decision or opinion of the House.

The MP who proposes the substantive motion will have the right of reply, i.e. they can speak again after all questions have been posed.

Next seating on Oct. 5

While Lim's adjournment motion was not selected for the next seating of parliament on Oct. 5, Ng has said that he intends to speak up on both his proposed issue of secondhand smoke and the Parti Liyani case.

Tan also wrote in his post that in the next seating of parliament, MPs have raised "a fair number" of parliamentary questions on the Parti Liyani case.

Despite Lim's unsuccessful adjournment motion this time, it looks likely that the case will still be discussed in Parliament.

Related stories:

We deliver more stories to you on LinkedInMothership Linkedin

Top photo adapted from Gov.sg/YouTube and Tan Chuan-Jin/Facebook.