How Parliament works

Quick guide to terms like Sitting, Order Paper, Question Time, and Adjournment Motion.

Parliament House

Heard about the balloting for adjournment motions in Parliament recently? Factually finds out what an adjournment motion is, and why there is a need for balloting.

But first, here’s a quick overview of how Parliament works. 

The Parliament of Singapore can meet (normally described as a ‘Sitting’) at any time of the year. Once a date is decided, or called by the Speaker, a notice will be sent to the Members of Parliament (MPs).

MPs can send in notices of questions that they wish to ask the Ministers, amendments that they wish to propose to Bills already introduced, or issues which they want to discuss at the forthcoming sitting. All the items to be considered are printed in an Order Paper.

The Order Paper will be dealt with during the first 1.5 hours, called ‘Question Time’. Any outstanding questions will be saved for written answers or postponed to a later sitting. At the end of a sitting day, a motion for the adjournment of Parliament is moved. This is essentially a call to end the sitting.

After the call to end the sitting is raised, any MP can still claim the right to raise additional matters of public concern. This is an Adjournment Motion.

However, this right to raise matters is allotted to one MP per sitting. Should there be more than one MP claiming the right, the Adjournment Motion will be decided by ballot.

Adjournment Motions have happened on occasion. A few recent Adjournment Motions are below:

  1. Ms Sylvia Lim (3 Oct 2017) on the Reserved Presidential Election
  2. Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (2 Oct 2017) on Preserving Green Space and Heritage in Jalan Kayu Constituency
  3. Mr Murali Pillai (11 Sep 2017) on Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options
  4. Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang (1 Aug 2017) on Extending Parental Leave
  5. Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (8 May 2017) on Redundancy Insurance
  6. Dr Tan Wu Meng (6 Feb 2017) on Coordinating LED Night Illumination in our National Infrastructure
  7. Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong (9 Jan 2017) on Civil Claims for Negligence Arising from Safety Breaches during SAF Training

Hungry for more? Check out: What exactly does a Nominated Member of Parliament do?


This article is accurate as of Oct 2017. For latest updates, head over to

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