Debates and TikTok dances: Students get a taste of being MPs at Singapore Model Parliament

Debates and TikTok dances: Students get a taste of being MPs at Singapore Model Parliament
PHOTO: AsiaOne

Their speeches are unlikely to have any impact on how the country is governed now, but that does not mean the students – close to 300 of them – are taking it lightly.

The two-hour mock parliamentary debates that AsiaOne attended at Parliament House last Saturday (Oct 15) are part of this year's Singapore Model Parliament (SMP).

SMP is a curated programme that provides youths an opportunity to better understand the parliamentary process and trade-offs in policymaking, and a platform to debate issues close to their heart.

Hailing from junior colleges, polytechnics, Institutes of Technical Education and local universities, the participants passionately debated and proposed policies on a range of social issues.

These include gender, education and economic equality, as well as the social integration of foreigners and new citizens.

The eighth edition of the week-long SMP organised by Reach, in collaboration with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and supported by Parliament House, is the first to be held in person since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The theme of SMP 2022 is #YouthMatters.


In a doorstop interview with the various media outlets, Senior Minister of State Tan Kiat How shared how the programme is not just about getting the students to talk about issues that they are passionate about.

It's also an important platform for them to understand where each other is coming from, Tan said, adding that the participants come from a diverse group with different life experiences and perspectives.

"They come together to talk about issues that are important to us – inclusivity, equality and issues about moving forward as a nation. These are all important issues and the voices of youth are especially important in these topics."

Before the mock debates, the SMP participants were given a crash course in the parliamentary system and politics through a series of workshops.

The students also engaged in dialogues with Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Law Rahayu Mahzam.

There was also a social night where the Gen Z participants networked, and danced on TikTok.

Tan, who gamely did the Uncle Raymond dance with some of the students, said: "People come, get to know each other and have fun.

"They also have robust debates to get to know each other's perspectives. At the end of the day, they realise some things are common to everyone and we move forward together."

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