Party Whip

Updated: Feb 10

No, he does not do the Nae Nae

Think of the Party Whip as the discipline master of a political party.

But instead of caning party members caught smoking while underage or cheating in exams, the Party Whip ensures that they toe the party line in Parliament — which means supporting the party’s position in debates and votes or showing up in the House to vote.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) Whip is Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport as well as Communications and Information. The Workers’ Party Whip is the party’s secretary-general, Mr Pritam Singh.

Since the PAP is the ruling party, Dr Puthucheary is also the Government Whip. This means he is in charge of drawing up a list of MPs who will be speaking in each session of parliament and estimating the time required so it can be completed within schedule.

“Occasionally, he may ‘lift the whip’ and allow MPs to vote according to their conscience,” according to a statement on the Singapore’s Parliament website.

MPs are technically allowed to speak freely in House debates, but lifting the whip sends a clear signal they are allowed to disagree with the party’s position or vote against party lines.

The last time the whip was lifted was during a House debate in July 2017. Parliament was debating the public dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two younger siblings over former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s 38 Oxley Road bungalow. No vote was ultimately taken on that issue.

Other times included House debates over the Maintenance of Parents (Amendment) Bill (2010), the Human Organ Transplant Amendment Bill (2004 & 2009), the Nominated MP Scheme (1989, 1992, 1997 & 2002), multiple education reform Bills (1979, 2002 & 2004), and the Abortion Bill in 1969.

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