Remarks by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin embarrassing but he is unlikely to be censured, analysts say

Political observer Eugene Tan said that apart from personal accountability, the Speaker can be dealt with by Parliament’s Committee of Privileges (COP), which can censure him.

The Singapore Management University associate professor of law explained that the Leader of the House can refer a matter involving unparliamentary conduct or breach of parliamentary privilege to the committee. As the COP is chaired by the Speaker, if the matter involves the Speaker, then the Speaker will be suspended from serving on the committee.

An MP can also try to move for the Speaker to be referred to the COP, but this requires the MP to secure the requisite support from the House.

But while Mr Tan’s remarks were “inappropriate”, they were not “egregious”, the associate professor said. Two analysts felt that the matter may end with the Speaker’s apology.

“As the matter is probably treated as closed by both MP Jamus Lim and the Speaker, it is unlikely that there is life in the matter,” said Assoc Prof Tan.

“It may well be that the Speaker may regard it as appropriate for him to apologise to the House when parliament next sits again.”

Ms Nydia Ngiow, managing director for Bower Group Asia Singapore, also thinks there may not be a need to pursue the matter, given that Assoc Prof Lim has since accepted Mr Tan’s apology.

“I don’t think that there is a need to pursue the matter further when it appears that both parties have appeared to consider the matter closed,” she said.

She pointed out that in 2021, when Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan was heard making pointed comments against Progress Singapore Party’s Leong Mun Wai, no further action taken after he apologised to the Non-Constituency MP.

Back then, Dr Balakrishnan was caught on mic saying “He’s illiterate” and “Seriously, how did he get into RI (Raffles Institution)?… Must have been a lousy school”.

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