Remarks by Leader of the House, Minister Indranee Rajah, to thank Nominated Members of Parliament and SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam

PMO Ministers | 6 July 2023

Remarks by Leader of the House, Minister Indranee Rajah, to thank Nominated Members of Parliament and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam, on 6 July 2023.


Mdm Deputy Speaker, we are nearly at the end of today’s sitting but there are a couple of matters that need to be attended to first before we adjourn. First, today is also the end of the term for this cohort of Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) and it is also Senior Minister (SM) Tharman’s last sitting day in Parliament, with his last day in office being tomorrow. With your permission, I would like to make a few remarks in recognition of their service to this House.

Nominated Members of Parliament

The current cohort of NMPs

a. Mr Abdul Samad Bin Abdul Wahab

b. Ms Janet Ang Guat Har

c. Mr Chay Jung Jun, Mark

d. Professor Hoon Hian Teck

e. Mr Cheng Hsing Yao

f. Professor Koh Lian Pin

g. Mr Joshua Thomas Raj

h. Dr Shahira Binte Abdullah, and

i. Dr Tan Yia Swam

joined us in Parliament in most unusual circumstances. It was in the midst of a global pandemic and while we were still in DORSCON Orange. Their first experience of Parliament was one where all had to be masked and we had split seating, first 2 seats apart with some members having to sit up the Galleries. This gradually changed to 1 seat apart with all having to speak from the central table behind glass enclosures and having to wipe microphones and the tabletop with disinfectant wipes. The fact that all this now seems to be in the distant past shows how far we have come and what an amazing journey was made in this last two and a half years, a journey that this cohort of NMPs walked with us.

They covered several important milestones with us during their tenure:

a. Measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and position Singapore for a post-pandemic future;

b. Support to households through rising costs of living;

c. Singapore’s Green Plan;

d. The White Paper on women’s development;

e. The repeal of Section 377A and the Constitutional amendment regarding challenges to the definition of marriage; and

f. Support for the GST Bill, thereby ensuring the viability of publicly funded healthcare for Singaporeans in the years ahead, as our population ages.

They championed causes they cared deeply about, ranging from economic growth and employment opportunities, healthcare, sports, to sustainability. At the last Parliament sitting, three NMPs tabled the Motion on Supporting Healthcare to call for the Government to provide consistent and sustainable support for healthcare beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have presented their views passionately and contributed constructively to the robust debates in this House over the last two years. They were also mindful of what this Parliament represents and stands for. In the Committee of Supply earlier this year, Mr Cheng Hsing Yao made an important cut on “An Effective Parliament” and what that means, as well as the values and principles which underpin it.

The NMPs are leaving this House in very different circumstances from when they first joined. We are now back in DORSCON Green. Things have stabilised and life is mostly back to normal. While as a country and a people we still face many challenges, we are in a much better place than we were 2-3 years ago and we are now poised to move forward with the Forward Singapore exercise to refresh our social compact, and make Singapore a fairer and more inclusive society.

By their participation in this Parliament, they have helped to achieve this current state of affairs. I hope the NMPs will remember their time in Parliament fondly and that they will continue to give close attention to issues of national interest, follow parliamentary proceedings and contribute to our national building efforts in their personal or professional capacities.

Senior Minister Tharman

Today is the last sitting day for SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam as he has announced his intention to step down as a Member of Parliament.

SM Tharman has served as a Member of Parliament for more than two decades, since 2001. In fact, we entered Parliament at the same time in the same batch. In that time, he has made many contributions through his different Ministerial appointments, including Minister for Education, Minister for Finance, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, and most recently, Senior Minister. SM was also Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and chaired its Investment Strategies Committee, and was Chairman of the Economic Development Board’s International Advisory Council.

As Minister for Finance, SM Tharman, through his many Budget Statements in this Parliament, boosted our economic growth and helped steer Singapore through the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. He oversaw economic restructuring efforts, including chairing the Economic Strategies Committee post-crisis, to promote inclusive and resilient economic growth, and ensured fiscal sustainability. He introduced the Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework which provided additional resources for Government spending to benefit Singaporeans, while balancing today's needs and saving for the future needs of generations to come. He also introduced the permanent GST Voucher scheme to help lower- to middle-income Singaporeans cope with their GST expenses.

As Minister for Education, SM broadened the definition of merit and provided students with more educational pathways and opportunities to explore their diverse talents and excel in their chosen fields. He initiated major policy changes including the introduction of the Direct School Admission scheme and removal of streaming at primary levels.

In his economic and manpower portfolios, he pushed for inclusive growth that translates into good jobs and wages for all Singaporeans.

a. He led the SkillsFuture programme to encourage lifelong learning and upskilling among Singaporeans.

b. SM also paid special attention to uplift wages and improve retirement adequacy, especially for the lower-wage workers, through measures such as the Progressive Wage Model, Wage Credit Scheme, Workfare Income Supplement and refining our Central Provident Fund (CPF) system.

c. More recently, during the pandemic, SM chaired the National Jobs Council to safeguard jobs, and create employment and training opportunities for Singaporeans.

We will miss SM Tharman in this Chamber, not least his commanding presence and his erudite speeches. SM’s greatest gift is really in making very complex economic principles sound simple. At least, I thought they sounded simple. They sounded very profound; you weren’t quite sure exactly what he was saying, but it sounded like they made a lot of sense. We will also miss his wit and dry humour. I think most of all, we will miss a friend and a fellow Member of Parliament.


In conclusion, Mdm Deputy Speaker, on behalf of this House, I would like to place on record our appreciation to the NMPs and SM Tharman for their contributions to this House and service to the nation.