SINGAPORE: A total of 89 Members of Parliament and 2 Non-Constituency MPs from the opposition Workers' Party were sworn in on Friday afternoon (Jan 15), with Mdm Halimah Yacob sworn in for a second term as Speaker of Parliament.
“I am humbled by your trust and confidence in me. It is a duty that I do not take lightly as I understand the tremendous responsibilities and expectations that follow this appointment,” said Mdm Halimah.
In an address from the Speaker’s Chair following the taking of the oath, she had this piece of advice to the members of the 13th Parliament: “Speak from your heart. Regardless of your party, you are first and foremost a representative of the people, and must act in their best interest.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was first of the ministers to be sworn in, followed by Coordinating Ministers Teo Chee Hean (National Security), Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Economic and Social Policies) and Khaw Boon Wan (Infrastructure). This is the first time in Singapore's political history there are three Coordinating Ministers in Government.
Also taking the oath on Friday was Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu. She is the first female Leader of the House and the first woman to helm a full ministry in Singapore. She will be assisted by Deputy Leader of the House Desmond Lee, who is Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development.
Ms Fu paid tribute to the Mdm Halimah, who was elected in 2013, saying the Speaker’s impartiality and decisiveness have gained the respect of all Members of the House.
"You championed passionately for the disadvantaged in Singapore. You pushed for fair treatment of workers and fought on behalf of those in need. You sought to ensure that Singapore is a country where all Singaporeans have fair access to opportunities and can enjoy the fruits of our progress," said Ms Fu.
“WE WELCOME SINCERE, SERIOUS DEBATE”
The Leader of the House noted the coming session of Parliament will present MPs with many difficult but necessary decisions.
"To provide Singaporeans with quality living, our infrastructure and landscape must be refreshed, our economy must continue to be dynamic, and our social safety nets must be strengthened. We must build good homes for people to live in, provide an efficient transport system for commuters, continue economic restructuring to create good jobs for our workers, and educate our students to be ready to take on those good jobs,” she said.
"We must also continue to maintain quality and affordable healthcare and give Singaporeans the care that they deserve. We must do all these amidst an uncertain global environment and certain internal challenges, including those of a changing demographic with a fast ageing population."
These concerns are complex and facing up to them will involve trade-offs and energetic debate on the course of action to take, Ms Fu said.
"We welcome sincere, serious debate from Members as we discuss these vital issues affecting all Singaporeans, decide on the future that we want to create and launch the next chapter of our country’s story together."
Those sworn in include 21 first-time MPs and NCMPs Leon Perera and Dennis Tan. NCMP-elect Lee Li Lian from the Workers' Party declined the post.