The exchange of words in the House is supposed to be protected by parliamentary privilege. Without being turned into magnets for lawyers' letters of demand.
Mr Pritam Singh's (Aljunied GRC) parliamentary question on Monday, about Singapore's decision to abstain from a United Nations vote to upgrade Palestine status to a non-member observer state, was ignored by Foreign Minister Shanmugam. Instead, latter has issued a written reply, to challenge Mr Singh to state that a change in Singapore's position would make the country more secure. Making clear his pugnative stance, Shanmugam threatened to "take serious note if it was indeed the Aljunied MP's view". When the school bully asks you to meet you outside the class, should you respond?
Words spoken in the course of parliamentary proceedings are privileged, that is, immune from any action in the courts. This privilege allows Members to speak freely and frankly without fear of legal consequences, according to the Parliamentary Glossary on the website.
Dr Chee will have to wait a while before he get to test his oratory skills in parliament. Hopefully, the rules would not be changed by then. The 60.1 percent may be appreciate this: by giving the ruling party the "mandate", they are also providing carte blanche, the legal right to change the rules as they see fit. That's why the Punggol East by-election is important.