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MPs to question ministers on YOG, housing and foreign workers

The following are some of the questions tabled by MPs for the Parliamentary sitting on 15 September, Wednesday. You can view the rest of the questions in the Order Paper here.

Questions for Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad: To ask the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (a) what is the final amount spent for the inaugural Youth Olympics Games(YOG); (b) why is the actual amount spent much more than initially budgeted; (c) what are the factors that contributed to this increase; (d) how does this compare with other Games conducted on a similar scale; (e) how does the Ministry rate its performance on the organisation of the YOG; and (f) what returns can Singapore expect from the amount spent on the programs, talent, infrastructure and volunteers for YOG.

Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (a) why is the final budget for the Youth Olympic Games more than triple the original estimate; (b) where were the additional funds drawn from; (c) whether any of his Ministry programmes were cut back for this purpose; and (d) what was the amount paid for the tickets purchased by the Ministry of Education and whether this was also part of the YOG budget.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports whether the convenient daily free shuttle bus services running at hourly basis from various HDB towns to Resorts World Sentosa have attracted more Singaporeans to gamble at the casino at a higher frequency and whether it has resulted in an increase in problem gambling cases in the neighbourhoods.

Er Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (a) what were the criteria used in the selection of the 16 community clubs to screen the recent World Cup matches; (b) whether the Ministry will consider extending the screening of high-profile sporting events to all community clubs in future; and (c) how can a repeat of the issues in securing World Cup broadcasting rights be prevented in the future.

Mdm Cynthia Phua: To ask the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports so as to protect children whose parents are divorcing (a) whether the Ministry will review the present arrangement and require that the matrimonial flat/house be sold and sale proceeds be shared by both parents; and (b) whether the Ministry will differentiate between ownership and occupation of the property by allowing the parent who has custody of the child to (i) stay in the flat/house until the child is working; or (ii) pay rental for the flat/house to the former spouse until alternative housing is available.

Mdm Cynthia Phua: To ask the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (a) how many children were affected by divorce/separation of their parents in each of the last 5 years and how many

of these children went through counselling; (b) whether the Ministry will make it compulsory for parents to send their children for counselling before their separation and divorce are completed; and (c) whether the Ministry will conduct a survey on the impact of divorce on children, including the emotional impact, to better address the needs of these children.

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Questions for Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development:

Mdm Ho Geok Choo: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether there will be enough Executive Condominiums and flats under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) to cater to the needs of those with a monthly income of $8,000 to $10,000; (b) whether there will be an increase in the prices of DBSS flats; and (c) how will the Ministry ensure that there will be enough DBSS flats and their prices are within the means of all those who are eligible.

Mr Viswa Sadasivan: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) how does the Government address the issue of HDB flat owners, especially ethnic minority owners, who have difficulty selling their flats because of the restrictions under the Ethnic Integration Policy; (b) how many such owners have had to sell their flats below market valuation; and (c) whether in such cases, the Government will consider buying back the flat from the owners at market valuation or offer a cash top up equal to the deficit, to demonstrate that such owners will not be unduly penalized because of restrictions resulting from a government policy.

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Questions for Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education:

Mdm Halimah Yacob: To ask the Minister for Education (a) what is the rationale for abolishing the Primary One year-end examinations; (b) how will the Ministry address parents' concerns that their children may not be adequately prepared for major primary school examinations including the PSLE; (c) whether such parental concerns will result in greater pressure on the children as parents put them through additional afterschool programmes; and (d) what training and additional resources will be provided to teachers to help them handle the changes effectively.

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Questions for Mr Wong Kan Seng, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister:

(For written answer), Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs whether the Government has detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act any person believed to have been organising drug trafficking activities which involved Yong Vui Kong, an inmate on death row.

Assoc Prof Paulin Tay Straughan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many applications were received for permanent residency in 2009 and 2010 and what is the proportion that was successful for each year; (b) what is the profile of those who were successful in their applications; (c) whether the fall in proportion of permanent residents (PR) is due to more stringent immigration policies; and (d) what are the implications of this restriction on PRs on the old-age support ratio for Singapore in the long term.

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Questions for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong:

Mdm Halimah Yacob: To ask the Prime Minister in light of the 2010 Census which shows that the Malay share of the resident population has slipped from 14.8% in 1970 to 13.4% this year (a) what can be done to prevent the present population mix which has contributed to racial and religious harmony from further declining; and (b) what measures have been taken to attract Malay foreign talent into Singapore.

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Questions for Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Manpower:

Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether he will consider a requirement for employers of foreign workers to show proof of accommodation that will be provided for their workers before they are issued with work permits to ensure appropriate housing for the workers; (b) what is the number of workers who have been found to be housed in inappropriate accommodation in the last 3 years; and (c) whether heavier sentences, such as longer jail terms, can be imposed on errant employers to deter repeat offenders.

Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Manpower in view of the recent award of approximately $1 million by the High Court to a worker who was paralysed from a workplace accident and that the Commissioner of Labour awarded him only $182,000, whether the Ministry will consider raising the maximum compensation amounts in the Work Injury Compensation Act so that the maximum amount in the Act is in tandem with what the courts award.

(For written answer), Mdm Halimah Yacob: To ask the Minister for Manpower in light of a recent incident where a foreign worker threatened to jump from a crane because of unpaid wages, whether the Ministry will provide an update on the measures that have been taken to prevent the exploitation and abuse of foreign workers, especially those working in the construction sector.

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Question for Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong:

Mr Teo Siong Seng: To ask the Senior Minister (a) if he will provide details of the S$30 billion currency-swap agreement between the People's Bank of China and the Monetary Authority of Singapore; and (b) what impact will this have on Singapore's trade and investment linkages with China.

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Questions for Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Water Resources:

(For written answer), Mdm Ho Geok Choo: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the Ministry approves of the plan to erect a wall in front of Liat Towers to alleviate potential or likely floods; (b) whether it will recommend the building of such walls outside buildings prone to flood waters; and (c) what other alternatives are being explored.