The Parliament wrapped up a marathon Committee of Supply debate on March 8, 2021, after hundreds of cuts were taken, which were the highest in the past decade.
But there was time to pay tribute to the women of Parliament, in honour of International Women's Day.
Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin observed that some ministers distributed slides and factsheets during their speeches, and light-heartedly added that due to "FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)", he wanted to do the same.
He then gave himself permission (as the Speaker) to distribute not handouts, but bouquets of flowers.
“Mr Speaker, may I have your permission to distribute some handouts to our fair Members on occasion of today being International Women’s Day”
“Yes, please proceed.”
If I may put this to all of you in Parliament: The question is that this being the year of celebrating our better halves in family and society, we, the lesser halves here in Chamber, present a small token to say ‘thank you’ to all our ladies here, whether serving as MPs, NCMPs, NMPs, Clerks, Interpreters, and our wonderful assistants.
As many as are of that opinion say ‘Aye’? To the contrary say ‘No’?
I think the Ayes have it, the Ayes have it."
Token of appreciation
Deputy Speaker Christopher de Souza, among others, could be seen walking around the benches distributing flowers to the women Members of Parliament.
Tan then called for a vote on the following statement:
"Question is, that this being the year of celebrating our better halves in family and society, we the "lesser halves" here in Chamber present a small token to say thank you to all our ladies here. Whether serving as MPs, NCMPs, NMPs, clerks, interpreters and our wonderful assistants."
It passed easily.
"Now we may not realise that this year is also the 60th anniversary of the Women's Charter in Singapore. We began putting in place these moves many years ago in 1961. We continue to strengthen our efforts over the years.
Today we have high literacy rates, low maternity mortality rates, high life expectancy, high full-time employment rates, or just simply providing a safe environment for womenfolk to operate it. I raise this as a first reflection that what we do is often built on the hard work of all our predecessors."
Be grateful for who we are, and "not focus exclusively on the negative"
Tan also added that there will always be shortcomings and areas for improvement, but called upon his listeners not to forget the efforts of those that have come before, and not to focus exclusively on negative issues while forgetting the wonderful work that has been done over the years.
Tan also observed the "growing consciousness and passion for not just the material but also our heart and soul". He noticed that MSE received the most attention (with 80 cuts), followed by MCCY (with 50 cuts).
Tan's concluding reflection was to ask everyone in Parliament to be "grateful for who we are".
He thanked all members of the House for the "decorum befitting our Parliament, and I thank you for it".
Top image from MCI YouTube channel.