A parliamentary moment for hero Schooling

(From left) Mr Colin Schooling, Joseph Schooling and May Yim Schooling at Changi Airport on August 15.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

For the first time in Singapore's history, an athlete will take centre stage in Parliament.

When the House sits today, a proposal will be made to congratulate national swimmer Joseph Schooling on winning Singapore's first Olympic gold medal.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced that Parliament would move a motion to recognise the win on his Facebook page on Saturday, adding that Schooling said he would attend the sitting.

Read also: The story of Schooling

A motion is a proposal for MPs to get something done or to express an opinion on a topic of interest.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob told The Straits Times yesterday it would be a first, as is fitting for the historic win at the Rio Olympics.

"This is our first Olympic gold medal so we don't have a past experience," Madam Halimah said, adding that Schooling had flown Singapore's flag high.

The 21-year-old swimmer upstaged the greatest Olympian of all time to win Olympic gold, when he beat US swimmer Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly in Rio on Saturday morning.

Schooling brings home Singapore's first Olympic Gold

His record-breaking time of 50.39sec pipped Phelps' 51.14sec.

The Straits Times understands that a minister will be moving the motion today - that is, make an opening speech to explain the rationale and objectives for his or her proposal. MPs can then register their interest to speak, and the debate will be open to the floor.

At the end of the debate, the House votes to endorse the motion, usually by acclamation.

Madam Halimah said that this would all take place before Parliament takes its mid-afternoon break, typically around 4pm.

MPs told The Straits Times they received an e-mail message about the motion on Saturday.

Read also: Big homecoming for Joseph Schooling

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Community and Youth, said he would be among those supporting the motion.

"(It) is something quite unique, as far as I know this is something that has not been done before in the 10 years I've been in Parliament," he said.

Weightlifter Tan Howe Liang had brought home a silver medal in the Rome Olympics in 1960. At that time, Singapore was under British rule, and had a legislative assembly instead of a Parliament.

PM Lee, announcing the plan for the motion on Saturday, had said that he looked forward to seeing Schooling today, and to personally congratulate him on the win.

The Parliament sitting begins at noon, and members of the public who wish to attend can view proceedings from the public gallery.

This article was first published on Aug 15, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.