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Seah Kian Peng to be nominated as next Speaker of Parliament

Seah Kian Peng to be nominated as next Speaker of Parliament
Mr Seah Kian Peng is an MP for Marine Parade GRC.

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong intends to nominate Mr Seah Kian Peng as the next Speaker of Parliament, said the Prime Minister's Office in a statement on Friday (July 21).

Mr Seah, 61, is an MP for Marine Parade GRC. He was Deputy Speaker between 2011 and 2016.

The role of Speaker is currently vacant, following Mr Tan Chuan-Jin's resignation on Monday over an affair with former Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui, who also resigned.

Deputy Speaker Jessica Tan is currently the acting Speaker.

PM Lee will nominate the new Speaker at the next Parliament sitting starting on Aug 2. At the same sitting, he will be delivering a ministerial statement.

PM Lee said on Monday that the resignations of Mr Tan and Ms Cheng were necessary to maintain the high standards of propriety and personal conduct that the People's Action Party has upheld all these years.

At a press conference on Monday, he said he had learnt about the "inappropriate relationship" between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng some time after the 2020 General Election, and counselled both of them - most recently in February 2023.

But he came across recent information that "strongly suggested that the relationship had continued".

"I think it's simply inappropriate to have a Speaker having a relationship with one of the MPs... It is not appropriate, it's not acceptable," he said.

At the first sitting of the 14th Parliament following the 2020 General Election, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah had proposed that Mr Tan be the Speaker, which was supported by Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin.

With this proposal, the Clerk of Parliament declared Mr Tan to have been elected as Speaker of Parliament. Mr Tan then took the oath of allegiance and assumed the Chair of the House.

Duties of the Speaker

According to the Parliament website, the Speaker presides over the sittings of the House and enforces the rules prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament for the orderly conduct of parliamentary business. 

Elected at the commencement of a new Parliament by MPs, the Speaker may or may not be an MP, but must possess the qualifications to stand for election as an MP, as provided for in the Constitution.

The website states that in carrying out the duties in the House, the Speaker must remain impartial and fair to all MPs. 

The Speaker regulates and enforces the rules of debate, decides who has the right to speak, and puts the question for the House to debate on and vote. 

He does not take part in the debates of the House, but can abstain from or vote for or against a motion, if he has an original vote as an elected member. The Speaker has no casting vote.

The Speaker also acts as the representative of the House in its relations with other Parliaments and outside bodies.

He welcomes visiting dignitaries, and represents Parliament at national events and during official visits abroad. 

The Speaker is overall in charge of the administration of Parliament and its Secretariat.

The Speaker is assisted by two Deputy Speakers, who are currently Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, and Ms Tan, an MP for East Coast GRC.

ALSO READ: Tan Chuan-Jin, Cheng Li Hui affair: Some ask why this long to reveal it, others say PM Lee took more 'gentle and human' approach

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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