3 newcomer MPs named deputies in line-up of GPCs

The new line-up of committees made up of backbenchers that will scrutinise government legislation was announced yesterday, with three newcomer MPs named as deputies.

All 12 of these government parliamentary committees (GPCs), however, will continue to be led by experienced MPs. GPCs were introduced in 1987 by the People's Action Party (PAP) to act as a form of shadow opposition by scrutinising the legislation and programmes of ministries.

The new line-up, unveiled in a statement by the PAP yesterday, shows four MPs getting leadership positions for the first time.

These new chairmen are: Mr Vikram Nair for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Mr Christopher de Souza for Home Affairs and Law, Mr Patrick Tay for Manpower and Mr Seah Kian Peng for Social and Family Development.

Mr Nair, an international arbitration lawyer, said his legal background would be helpful in looking at treaties and treaty obligations.

"The legislation in this area usually doesn't get a great deal of attention in Parliament," he said. "As for foreign affairs, it helps to keep our relationships with other countries strong, while defence is essential to our existence."

Mr Tay, a unionist, wants to focus on the challenges faced by the rapidly changing labour pool - specifically, the growing number of professionals, managers and executives, and the ageing workforce.

Three former deputy chairmen have also moved up to be chairmen: Mr Alex Yam for National Development, Mr David Ong for Culture, Community and Youth, and Ms Denise Phua for Education.

The three first-term MPs who are deputy chairmen were nominated by their fellow GPC members.

They are Mr Amrin Amin for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Mr Chong Kee Hiong for National Development, and Ms Sun Xueling for Communications and Information.

Mr Chong, chief executive of OUE Hospitality Trust, said: "The most important thing is to listen to as many views as possible, be able to gather feedback for current policies and anticipate future needs."

GPCs also serve as an additional channel of feedback on government policies. Typically, they are for two years. The GPCs begin their duties when the 13th Parliament opens on Jan 15, four months after the September general election this year.

Two ministries, once combined, now have their own GPCs: National Development plus Environment and Water Resources ministries.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, who led the old GPC, now heads the GPC for the Environment and Water Resources.

Said Mr Amrin: "GPCs act as an extra pair of eyes for legislation. MPs, with their areas to focus on, will meet ministry officials to find out their plans and priorities.

"This keeps Parliament debates focused and informed, and the Government accountable to the people."

Leaders of GPCs

Communications and Information

Chairman: Mr Zaqy Mohamad

Deputy chairman: Ms Sun Xueling

Culture, Community and Youth

Chairman: Mr David Ong

Deputy chairman: Dr Lim Wee Kiak

Defence and Foreign Affairs

Chairman: Mr Vikram Nair

Deputy chairman: Mr Amrin Amin


Chairman: Ms Denise Phua

Deputy chairman: Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar

Environment and Water Resources

Chairman: Ms Lee Bee Wah

Deputy chairman: Mr Gan Thiam Poh

Finance plus Trade and Industry

Chairman: Mr Liang Eng Hwa

Deputy chairman: Mr Cedric Foo


Chairman: Dr Chia Shi-Lu

Deputy chairman: Dr Lily Neo

Home Affairs plus Law

Chairman: Mr Christopher de Souza

Deputy chairman: Mr Edwin Tong


Chairman: Mr Patrick Tay

Deputy chairman: Mr Zainal Sapari

National Development

Chairman: Mr Alex Yam

Deputy chairman: Mr Chong Kee Hiong

Social and Family Development

Chairman: Mr Seah Kian Peng

Deputy chairman: Ms Tin Pei Ling


Chairman: Mr Sitoh Yih Pin

Deputy chairman: Mr Ang Hin Kee

This article was first published on November 14, 2015.
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