While Singaporeans went about their daily lives on Sep. 14, 2021, Parliament was in session with a heated exchange of views on how Singapore can pursue its foreign talent policy moving forward, as representatives of the people got together to talk about securing jobs and livelihoods.
Finance minister Lawrence Wong had earlier tabled a motion about securing Singaporeans' jobs and livelihoods, stating that turning inward away from globalisation will create more problems for Singaporeans.
This was in response to Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai's motion on Singapore's foreign talent policy, with a particular focus on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), Singapore's free trade agreement (FTA) with India.
But little did the Members of Parliament know, they were in for a marathon session on foreign talent and immigration that would stretch for 10.5 hours, making it possibly one of the longest parliamentary sessions in Singapore to date.
Possibly the longest session
Parliament started at 11am on Tuesday, Sep. 14, only to end 13.5 hours later at 12:30am on Wednesday, Sep. 15.
And the one question the public would naturally have in mind: Did all the members stay throughout the 10.5 hours of speeches and debates on foreign talent?
Based on the livestream of the whole session, it could be observed at different points that members were free to move in and out of the chamber throughout the day and night.
Despite the ebb and flow of attendance, the chamber appeared full by early morning when members returned to vote on the motions that were debated.
One person stayed through it all: Tan Chuan-Jin
The one person who did stay throughout was the Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan-Jin, who had to preside over the entire seating from start to finish.
After the marathon session ended, he took to Facebook live for a few minutes to share about his thoughts on the day's proceedings -- as well as his McDonald's dinner, which the Health Promotion Board ought to have a word with him about.
Only had a 20-minute break
In the video, Tan said after sighing: "I don't know if anyone is still awake at this stage."
"It's been a long day, started off at 11 this morning. And just ended at about 12:30am next day."
"I need to check with my staff whether this is the longest session we have had in a very long time."
"I think last year in November we adjourned at 11:40, or something like that."
He continued, before rifling through his fast food meal: "Anyway, so just thought I would just say something at the end of this rather epic situation and have a small little unveiling."
Besides revealing his cold Filet-O-Fish® burger, Tan let on that he only had a 20-minute break some time in the afternoon, which occurred after a quarter past two.
As much as Singaporeans who are familiar with Parliament proceedings know them to be staid sit-down affairs, spontaneous and random banter and exchanges do occur quite a lot in the chamber.
Here are some highlights -- with timestamp for easy scrolling-- from the marathon session, which can be viewed in its entirety here:
49:07 | Beatboxing
1:33:03 | We're going to be here for very long
1:44:37 | Can I dial a friend?
1:45:00 | Answer cannot be found in a phone
2:01:50 | Making a lot of accusations there
2:03:07 | "Fulminate"
2:15:13 | Speaker of Parliament: "What we say in Parliament matters"
3:16:50 | Break exit chamber
3:35:24 | Resumption of seating, but much emptier chamber
6:02:50 | Chinese speech
7:39:38 | Jamus Lim
9:01:59 | A duck is a duck
10:02:15 | Light-hearted banter
10:27:30 | Conclusion
10:31:30 | Have dissent recorded
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Top photo via MCI livestream