Members of Parliament were in high spirits last night at a reception that followed the President's address.
They joked about their brief one-month break between the last Parliament sitting and last night's ceremony which marked the start of the second half of Parliament's five-year term.
Some, like Mr Zaqy Mohamad, an MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, are looking forward to more exciting times ahead. "You can expect swords to clash more often. It will be exciting times. So I look forward to it," said the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information.
Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, who will take on a new role as Minister of State for Health in August, is feeling the weight of his responsibilities. "Health is an issue all of us take seriously. But I'm ready for the challenge," he said. "I think we're all excited to start our debates."
Some MPs already feel the clock ticking. "There's a sense of urgency to do what we can, as best we can, before our term ends," said Ms Denise Phua, the new head of the GPC for Social and Family Development.
Though Parliament's recent recess was short, MPs seemed glad to be reunited. Some slapped each other on the back in greeting or shook hands as they struck up conversations. Some teased each other about the new roles they were taking on.
First-term MPs Tin Pei Ling and Alex Yam, who have been appointed deputy chairmen of GPCs, egged each other on to be the first to speak to the media. "Ladies first, right?" Mr Yam, an MP in Chua Chu Kang GRC, insisted.
Later, Ms Tin, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said she was looking forward to a robust second half. "Although in reality, Parliament sat just last month, symbolically it's a fresh start for everyone. We're recharged and ready to go."
Madam Halimah Yacob, who took over as Speaker of Parliament last January after Mr Michael Palmer resigned, said she appreciates the chance to preside over - not just participate in - the debate.
After a one-week break next week, Parliament will sit for five days from May 26 to debate the President's Address.
Last night, Mdm Halimah, who is also an MP for Jurong GRC, said: "Our MPs conduct themselves with great decorum and great respect. If you look overseas, Parliament can sometimes denegerate to a level that is not at all constructive.
"But our MPs know they represent the people and they respect each other."
This article was published on May 17 in The Straits Times.
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