How Active Are Your MPs in Parliament? Exploring MPs’ Attendance and Speaking Count

As Singaporean citizens, we cast our votes based on who we think can best represent us. Elected by the people, Members of Parliament (MPs) help relay and illuminate our everyday concerns to those in power. One way to gauge MPs’ performance is through their level of participation in Parliament. Before the 2015 General Election, the now defunct socio-political site The Middle Ground published a useful article looking at the parliamentary attendance and participation of each MP.

Five years and one election later, we thought it would be useful to revisit the topic to see if things had changed. 

MPs’ Parliamentary Attendance 

For starters, to discharge your duties as a Member of Parliament, you first need to be physically present. The job requires the MP to take on the role of a middleman: they must pay attention to the needs of their grassroot constituents and relay their woes and concerns to government leaders, all the while ensuring that important information from the top is efficiently passed downstream. Absenteeism in Parliament makes it hard for MPs to do either of these functions well. The Constitution of Singapore acknowledges the importance of parliamentary attendance. It says that if an MP is absent for 2 consecutive months from Parliament sittings or any committee of Parliament without getting permission from the Speaker, the MP’s seat will become vacant. 

While most MPs have a full-time job outside of their political duties, this cannot be a reason for them to neglect the responsibilities that come along with their role. In a letter titled “Rules of Prudence” in 2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasised to his party’s MPs that they are “all expected to attend all sittings of Parliament. If (they) have to be absent from any sitting, (they should) seek permission from the Government Whip.”

The present 13th Parliament (2016-2020) has a total of 100 MPs. As of now, there are only 132 Voters and Proceedings documents filed by the 13th Parliament. We combed through all of them to find out the attendance record of each MP.  

PartyConstituencyNameNumber of Sittings Attended (Out of 132)   
Workers' PartyAljunied GRCMr LOW THIA KHIANG127
Workers' PartyAljunied GRCMr PRITAM SINGH129
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRCMr CHRISTOPHER DE SOUZA132
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRCMs DENISE PHUA LAY PENG132
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRCMr LOUIS NG KOK KWANG132
People's Action PartyTampines GRCMr DESMOND CHOO132
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRCMr MELVIN YONG YIK CHYE132
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRCMr PATRICK TAY TECK GUAN132
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPsMr DENNIS TAN LIP FONG132
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCMr LEE HSIEN LOONG131
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRCMs LOW YEN LING131
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRCMr YEE CHIA HSING131
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRCMs JOAN PEREIRA131
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCMr ANG HIN KEE130
Workers' PartyHougang SMCMr PNG ENG HUAT130
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRCMr GOH CHOK TONG130
People's Action PartyMarsiling-Yew Tee GRCMr ONG TENG KOON130
People's Action PartyMarsiling-Yew Tee GRCMr LAWRENCE WONG130
People's Action PartyMountbatten SMCMr LIM BIOW CHUAN130
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRCMs INDRANEE RAJAH129
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRCMr CHONG KEE HIONG129
People's Action PartyJurong GRCMs RAHAYU MAHZAM129
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRCMr CHAN CHUN SING129
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPsMr LEON PERERA129
Workers' PartyAljunied GRCMs SYLVIA LIM128
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRCMr SAKTIANDI SUPAAT127
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRCMr LIANG ENG HWA128
People's Action PartyJurong GRCMr ANG WEI NENG128
People's Action PartyJurong GRCMr DESMOND LEE128
People's Action PartyJurong GRCDr TAN WU MENG128
People's Action PartyMarsiling-Yew Tee GRCMr ALEX YAM ZIMING128
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRCAssoc Prof Dr MUHAMMAD FAISHAL IBRAHIM128
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRCER Dr LEE BEE WAH128
People's Action PartyPotong Pasir SMCMr SITOH YIH PIN128
People's Action PartySembawang GRCMr VIKRAM NAIR128
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCMr DARRYL DAVID127
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCDr INTAN AZURA MOKHTRAR127
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCMr GAN THIAM POH127
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRCMr GAN KIM YONG127
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRCProf YAACOB IBRAHIM127
People's Action PartyTampines GRCMr BAEY YAM KENG127
People's Action PartyTampines GRCMiss CHENG LI HUI127
Workers' PartyAljunied GRCMr MUHAMAD FAISAL BIN ABDUL MANAP126
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRCMr CHEE HONG TAT126
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRCMr HENG CHEE HOW126
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRCDr LILY NEO126
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRCMr SEAH KIAN PENG126
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCDr JANIL PUTHUCHEARY125
People's Action PartyPunggol East SMCMr CHARLES CHONG126
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRC Ms FOO MEE HAR126
People's Action PartyMacPherson SMCMs TIN PEI LING125
People's Action PartySembawang GRCMr AMRIN AMIN125
People's Action PartySembawang GRCDr LIM WEE KIAK125
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRCMr LIM HNG KIANG125
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRCMr EDWIN TONG CHUN FAI124
People's Action PartySembawang GRCMr ONG YE KUNG124
People's Action PartyBukit Panjang SMCDr TEO HO PIN123
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRCMr ZAQY MOHAMAD123
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRCMr TAN CHUAN-JIN123
People's Action PartySengkang West SMCDr LAM PIN MIN122
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRCMs SIM ANN122
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRCMr KWEK HIAN CHUAN HENRY122
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPsAssoc Prof DANIEL GOH PEI SIONG 121
People's Action PartyFengshan SMCMiss CHERYL CHAN WEI LING121
People's Action PartyPioneer SMCMr CEDRIC FOO CHEE KENG121
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRCDr CHIA SHI-LU121
People's Action PartyYuhua SMCMs GRACE FU HAI YIEN121
Workers' PartyAljunied GRCMr CHEN SHOW MAO120
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRCDr KOH POH KOON119
People's Action PartyHong Kah North SMCDr AMY KHOR LEAN SUAN120
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCMs SUN XUELING120
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCMr ZAINAL SAPARI120
People's Action PartyJurong GRCMr THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM119
People's Action PartySembawang GRCMr KHAW BOON WAN119
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCMr NG CHEE MENG118
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCMr TEO CHEE HEAN118
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRCMs JESSICA TAN SOON NEO116
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRCDr VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN117
People's Action PartyRadin Mas SMCMr SAM TAN CHIN SIONG115
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRCMr LEE YI SHYAN114
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRCMr TEO SER LUCK113
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRCMrs JOSEPHINE TEO111
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRCDr NG ENG HEN111
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRCDr MOHAMAD MALIKI BIN OSMAN111
People's Action PartyTampines GRCMr HENG SWEE KEAT111
People's Action PartyBukit Batok SMCMr MURALI PILLAI110
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRCMr K SHANMUGAM110
People's Action PartyTampines GRCMr MASAGOS ZULKIFLI BIN MASAGOS MOHAMAD107
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRCMr S ISWARAN106
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRCMr LIM SWEE SAY96
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRCProf FATIMAH LATEEF98
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr ARASU DURAISAMY50
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr MOHAMED IRSHAD50
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs ANTHEA ONG50
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr TERENCE HO WEE SAN49
Nominated MPsNominated MPsAssoc Prof Dr WALTER THESEIRA49
Nominated MPsNominated MPsProf LIM SUN SUN46
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs IRENE QUAY SIEW CHING43
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr DOUGLAS FOO39
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs YIP PIN XIU33

*9 of the NMPs (Mr Arasu Duraisamy, Mr Mohamed Irshad, Ms Anthea Ong, Mr Terence Ho Wee San, Dr Walter Theseira, Prof Lim Sun Sun, Ms Irene Quay Siew Ching, Mr Douglas Foo, Ms Yip Pin Xiu) were elected to Parliament from the 83rd sitting onwards. Hence, their total attendance should be taken as 50.

**Murali Pillai was elected to Parliament on 9 May 2016 and attended Parliament from the 20th sitting onwards. Hence, his total attendance should be taken as 113.

***Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong took up the NCMP role from 4 Feb 2016. As such his total attendance should be taken as 126

1 Workers’ Party and 6 PAP MPs have attended all 132 sittings of parliament. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and cabinet members like Lawrence Wong and Chan Chun Sing have also been present for most sittings, with an attendance of 131, 130 and 129 sittings respectively. Meanwhile, Workers’ Party leader Low Thia Khiang and his successor Pritam Singh both attended 127 and 129 sittings respectively.

Amongst elected MPs, S Iswaran, Lim Swee Say and Fatimah Lateef attended the least number of sittings, with 106, 96 and 98 respectively. 

MPs’ Parliamentary Speaking Count 

Next, we turn our attention to the MPs’ individual speaking count. More specifically, we looked through thousands of Parliament Reports (or Hansard Records) to find out which backbenchers were most active and vocal. The number of sittings spoken at is a good indicator of how active they are in contributing to meaningful debate, which is critical to representing the many interests of different groups in the country. 

In “Rules of Prudence,” Prime Minister Lee expressed that he had “asked the Speaker to give all MPs, particularly new MPs, ample opportunity and latitude to speak in Parliament”. He went on to encourage MPs to “speak freely and with conviction,” and to “not shy away from robust debate”. 

Clearly, speaking up to illuminate pressing issues for their constituents are vital for MPs. 

Here’s how our MPs performed in Parliamentary debates: 

PartyConstituencyNameNumber of Sittings Spoken (Out of 131)
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRC
Mr LOUIS NG KOK KWANG114
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPs

Mr LEON PERERA 99
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPs

Mr DENNIS TAN LIP FONG96
Workers' PartyAljunied GRC


Mr PRITAM SINGH94
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRC


Er Dr LEE BEE WAH 92
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRC


Ms JOAN PEREIRA 87
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRC


Mr GAN THIAM POH86
Workers' PartyAljunied GRC


Ms SYLVIA LIM82
People's Action PartyTampines GRC


Mr DESMOND CHOO 79
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRC


Mr SAKTIANDI SUPAAT77
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRC

Mr CHRISTOPHER DE SOUZA76
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRC
Mr PATRICK TAY TECK GUAN76
Workers' PartyNon-Constituency MPsAssoc Prof DANIEL GOH PEI SIONG76
People's Action PartyJurong GRC


Ms RAHAYU MAHZAM 73
People's Action PartyBukit Batok SMCMr MURALI PILLAI 71
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRC



Ms SUN XUELING 71
People's Action PartyMountbatten SMCMr LIM BIOW CHUAN 67
People's Action PartyJurong GRC


Mr ANG WEI NENG 66
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRC



Mr ZAINAL SAPARI66
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRC

Mr ZAQY MOHAMAD65
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRC

Mr LIANG ENG HWA65
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRC


Mr MELVIN YONG YIK CHYE65
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRC


Dr INTAN AZURA MOKHTRAR63
People's Action PartyTampines GRC


Miss CHENG LI HUI 63
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRC


Mr DARRYL DAVID60
Workers' PartyHougang SMCMr PNG ENG HUAT 60
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRC


Mr SEAH KIAN PENG59
People's Action PartySembawang GRC


Mr AMRIN AMIN 59
Workers' PartyAljunied GRC


Mr LOW THIA KHIANG58
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRC

Mr YEE CHIA HSING58
People's Action PartyJurong GRC


Dr TAN WU MENG 58
People's Action PartyMarsiling-Yew Tee GRC
Mr ALEX YAM ZIMING58
People's Action PartyHong Kah North SMCDr AMY KHOR LEAN SUAN 57
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRC


Mr KWEK HIAN CHUAN HENRY57
Workers' PartyAljunied GRC


Mr MUHAMAD FAISAL BIN ABDUL MANAP56
People's Action PartyFengshan SMCMiss CHERYL CHAN WEI LING 56
People's Action PartySengkang West SMCDr LAM PIN MIN 55
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRC

Ms DENISE PHUA LAY PENG54
People's Action PartyNee Soon GRC


Assoc Prof Dr MUHAMMAD FAISHAL IBRAHIM 54
People's Action PartyMacPherson SMCMs TIN PEI LING53
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRC



Dr JANIL PUTHUCHEARY53
People's Action PartySembawang GRC


Mr VIKRAM NAIR52
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRC


Mr ANG HIN KEE49
People's Action PartySembawang GRC


Dr LIM WEE KIAK 48
People's Action PartyTanjong Pagar GRC


Dr CHIA SHI-LU 46
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRC


Prof FATIMAH LATEEF 45
People's Action PartyChua Chu Kang GRC

Ms LOW YEN LING44
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRC

Ms JESSICA TAN SOON NEO44
People's Action PartyMarsiling-Yew Tee GRC
Mr ONG TENG KOON 43
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRCMs FOO MEE HAR43
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRC

Prof YAACOB IBRAHIM42
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs ANTHEA ONG42
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRC


Mr CHEE HONG TAT41
Nominated MPsNominated MPsAssoc Prof Dr WALTER THESEIRA41
People's Action PartyBishan-Toa Payoh GRC


Mr CHONG KEE HIONG40
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRC


Mr EDWIN TONG CHUN FAI40
People's Action PartyAng Mo Kio GRC


Dr KOH POH KOON34
People's Action PartyPotong Pasir SMCMr SITOH YIH PIN 34
Workers' PartyAljunied GRC


Mr CHEN SHOW MAO32
People's Action PartyTampines GRC


Mr BAEY YAM KENG 32
People's Action PartyBukit Panjang SMCDr TEO HO PIN31
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRC

Dr LILY NEO31
People's Action PartyPioneer SMCMr CEDRIC FOO CHEE KENG 30
People's Action PartyHolland-Bukit Timah GRC

Ms SIM ANN29
People's Action PartyRadin Mas SMCMr SAM TAN CHIN SIONG 29
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr MOHAMED IRSHAD25
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRC

Mr LIM SWEE SAY22
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRC

Dr MOHAMAD MALIKI BIN OSMAN22
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs IRENE QUAY SIEW CHING22
People's Action PartyMarine Parade GRC


Mr TAN CHUAN-JIN21
Nominated MPsNominated MPsProf LIM SUN SUN20
People's Action PartyJalan Besar GRC

Mr HENG CHEE HOW 14
People's Action PartyPunggol East SMCMr CHARLES CHONG 14
People's Action PartyWest Coast GRC
Mr LIM HNG KIANG 14
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr TERENCE HO WEE SAN14
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr ARASU DURAISAMY12
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMr DOUGLAS FOO12
People's Action PartyEast Coast GRC

Mr LEE YI SHYAN8
Nominated MPsNominated MPsMs YIP PIN XIU8
People's Action PartyPasir Ris-Punggol GRC



Mr TEO SER LUCK6

*The official sitting report was not available for the 83rd Parliamentary Sitting and thus has been excluded from the tabulation of the speaking count.

**Tan Chuan Jin has been the incumbent Speaker of Parliament since 11 September 2017; Charles Chong and Lim Biow Chuan have been the Deputy Speakers of Parliament since 2011 and 2016 respectively. It should be noted that their speeches on behalf of the House were not counted towards their individual speaking count.

Out of all MPs, activist-turned-politician Louis Ng turned out to be the most vocal, speaking at an astonishing 114 sittings of Parliament. The “maverick politician” has spoken about various things over the years, ranging from wildlife protection to busking and even the 2020 Budgets. 

Following close behind are Workers’ Party MPs Leon Perera, Dennis Tan and Pritam Singh with a count of 99, 96 and 94 respectively, proving that opposition politicians are doing their part to make debates more robust and engaging.  

Another honourable mention would be PAP MP Lee Bee Wah, who spoke at an impressive 92 sittings of Parliament. Sis Flower, as she’s now affectionately called, rose to prominence after her often unintentionally humorous speeches and stories went viral on social media. The numbers seem to indicate that she’s more than just that.

Putting things together. Scatter plot created by Jeremy Chia.

While parliamentary attendance and participation might be a measure of performance, it is also important to look out for what politicians say and do. In the time that MPs do in fact speak up, are they actually reflecting your sentiments? Are they doing regular walkabouts, turning up at Meet-The-People sessions, engaging with residents? These are important considerations for voters and the biggest gauge of them all is coming up.

The ballot box.


Authors

Nelle Ng and Sheryl Yang

.


Correction: June 24, 2020

An earlier version of this article contained slightly inaccurate data pertaining to parliamentary attendance. These issues have since been corrected. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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