Story and Photos by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat
One could describe the function of Parliament as a process of national development. A process that sees Members of Parliament (MPs), Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) and Non-Constituency Members of Parliament convene to debate issues ranging from the passing of laws, review of policies, and even scrutinise our nation’s finances.
While snippets of Parliament on the news show the debates in progress, there are other facets to the parliamentary process, which encompasses hours of research, preparation and consideration with Singapore’s best interests at heart.
As part of its continuous efforts to develop its youth leaders and give them an experience of Parliament’s inner workings, Young NTUC and Young PAP recently collaborated on a model parliament session on 15 September 2018 at the NTUC Centre.
Culminating after a preparation period of two weeks, some 70 youth activists from both groups got to experience life as a politician as they role-played political positions such as cabinet minister and MP for both the ruling and opposition parties. The mock parliament session gave them the full experience, from preparing position papers, debating their positions with their peers, taking questions and even observing the actual parliamentary rules during the mock parliament sitting.
“It is heartening to see Young NTUC and Young PAP [People’s Action Party] eager to learn more about Parliament, and how the process brings different stakeholders together to develop a common path in the best interests of the nation.
“The parliamentary debates portrayed by the media may look straightforward, but I believe that this experience has helped them to gain a deeper understanding about the role of Parliament and the significance of the synergy between NTUC and PAP,” said Young NTUC Executive Secretary Desmond Choo.
Echoing that sentiment, Young PAP Executive Committee Chairman Janil Puthucheary, added: “It is vital for the next generation of activists and unionists to understand the deep personal relationships that make the partnership between NTUC and PAP effective for Singapore.”
A Deeper Appreciation
Recounting his experience, Dominic Yong, 28, from Young SMOU (Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union) shared: “As a young union leader, I appreciate the efforts of both Young NTUC and Young PAP in planning the model parliament session for all participants, affirming and strengthening the symbiotic relationship we share.
“This experience has allowed me to better understand how our parliament works. Through this exercise, I learnt that there is much preparatory work to be done before each sitting, and our Labour MPs and NMP work and prepare very hard to have Singaporeans, especially workers’ interests highlighted in the sittings. This is definitely a rewarding and meaningful experience, and I enjoyed the network with the Young PAP leaders while discussing concerns over topics such as personal mobility devices in Singapore. I look forward to more future collaborations between the two youth wings.”
Young PAP representative Samantha Lau, 23, added: “The only times I saw parliament was on the news when they showed small segments. So being able to go through the processes, formalities and deliberations that the MPs might have to go through as they sit there and have their topic debated was a real eye-opener for me.
“Being able to interact with participants from Young NTUC also offered different perspectives because of who they interact with in their organisations. Interacting with representatives from Young NTUC also allowed me to gain new insight about what the different unions do. It’s a better appreciation for what NTUC does, and how NTUC is helping workers stay relevant in a changing work landscape.”