Alternative 'Parliament'

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The cut-and-thrust of parliamentary debate was in full force one Saturday afternoon in June. But it was not a special sitting of Parliament.

Instead, it was a mock Parliament that was sitting on that June 14 afternoon at PAP Headquarters. And just who were the government ministers, backbenchers and opposition MPs? Young PAP members who were role-playing. There were even media members in attendance, again YP members.

To inject a sense of realism, the Speaker was a lady in parliamentary robes, who was armed with a gavel to maintain order in the procedures. She wielded her powers when necessary - fairly and firmly to both sides of the House - including exercising the guillotine to remind MPs to keep to their allotted time when speaking. Neither did she spare the gavel to bring order to the proceedings.

The ministers and key opposition members wore dark suits, as befitting their roles. And like in the real Parliament, there was only a sprinkling of female MPs.

The media blogged, their comments projected on a screen, lending a real time environment to the session.

The June 14 mock parliament debated something that's close to Singaporeans: education. Both the government and opposition had mapped out their respective white papers on education. There will be two more sessions on July 5 and July 12 to discuss education and inequality.

This article was first published in the July 2014 issue of Petir Magazine.

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