How Parliament Works
Singapore’s Parliament functions by making laws, controlling the state's finances and acting as a check on the government.
The only time that Parliament is presided by the President of Singapore is at the Opening of Parliament, and on this occasion, the Head of State will outline the challenges ahead for the new government.
The other sessions of Parliament are presided by the Speaker who enforces the rules for the orderly conduct of parliamentary business as prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Before any law is passed, it is first introduced in Parliament as a Bill, usually by a Minister on behalf of the Government, although any Member of the House can introduce a Bill known as a Private Member's Bill. At the Second Reading, the proposed law is debated, before it goes to a Third Reading for closer examination before a law comes into being.
Members of Parliament (MPs) act as a bridge between the community and the government by ensuring that the concerns of their constituents are heard in Parliament. This is through Question Time at the start of each sitting and also during debates.
The first Parliament of Singapore convened in 1965 and is modeled on the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy where Members of Parliament are elected by registered voters during General Elections held every five years. In the current 13th Parliament, there are 89 MPs chosen in the 11 September 2015 General Election, representing either a Single Member Constituency (SMC) or a Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
There are seats for Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs). The Constitution provides for the appointment of up to three NCMPs who stood but did not win by popular vote in a general election.
Also sitting in Parliament are Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs), who serve for a term of two and a half years and are appointed by the President of Singapore on the recommendation of a Special Select Committee of Parliament chaired by the Speaker. NMPs are not connected to any political parties and are appointed to ensure a wide representation of community views in Parliament.
The Singapore Parliament can meet at any time of the year.
The date of the sitting can be specifically named by Parliament upon its adjournment or, if no date is fixed, the next session will be announced later by the Speaker.