Parliamentary questions for 3 April 2017

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The Singapore Parliament will sit at 12 noon on Monday, 3 April 2017, for the 44th session of the 13th Parliament.

64  oral questions and 23 written questions have been scheduled to be asked.

6 bills will be introduced in this Parliament session.

  1. Merchant Shipping (Wreck Removal) Bill - Minister for Transport
  2. Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Bill - Minister for Transport
  3. Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material) Bill - Minister for Home Affairs
  4. Public Entertainments and Meetings (Amendment) Bill - Minister for Home Affairs
  5. Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill - Minister for Law
  6. Singapore University of Social Sciences Bill - Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills)

Three bills to be read the second time and would likely be passed on the same day of reading because the Peoples' Action Party holds majority seats in Parliament.

  1. Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 15/2017] – (Minister for Home Affairs)
  2. Public Order (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 16/2017] – (Minister for Home Affairs)
  3. Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 17/2017] – (Minister for the Environment and Water Resources)

There will also be a third reading of the Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Bill as reported from the Select Committee (Paper Parl. 5 of 2017) – (Minister for Health)

Public Order Bill will allow the Govt to stop ad-hoc assemblies

Clause 3 of the Public Order Bill inserts a new section 6A to require the organisers of an event (whether or not comprising or involving an assembly or a procession) to give the Commissioner a special notice of intention to organise the event if the event organiser reasonably expects the crowd size on the day of the event to exceed a certain number at any time during the holding of the event.

That number is to be prescribed by the Minister in regulations. Different numbers may be prescribed for different classes of events. The special notice must be given within the prescribed period, unless the Commissioner accepts shorter notice. The special notice must also be given in the prescribed manner and contain the prescribed information. Failure to give such notice or the giving of late notice is an offence.

An event organiser who fails to comply with the regulation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

This is likely to be applicable to events such as the former protest against the Population White Paper in Hong Lim Park which saw a crowd of more than 4000 individuals.

Below are the questions filed towards the various Ministers

Minister for Transport

Mr Yee Chia Hsing: To ask the Minister for Transport whether auto-deduction of toll charges at the Causeway/Tuas checkpoints can be implemented in place of the current system which requires manual insertion of a cash card.

Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what is the total number of dedicated rain shelters for motorcyclists along our expressways; (b) what measures are in place to ensure that these places are safe for motorcyclists when they seek shelter during rain; and (c) whether the Ministry can consider building more dedicated rain shelters for motorcyclists other than those found below overhead bridges.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what is the Ministry's position on the practice of taxi operators adopting surge pricing during off-peak hours to reflect market demand; (b) what can it do to prevent overcharging; and (c) how can passengers be given prior information on when the taxi companies are imposing the surge pricing.

Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Transport in the last three years, how many local motorists have successfully claimed insurance payouts from foreign motorists for (i) personal injury and (ii) vehicle damage arising from vehicle accidents within Singapore.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Transport whether the Road Opening Coordination Committee can improve its co-ordination among Government agencies to ensure that roads works carried out are minimised so that other road users are not inconvenienced.

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Transport with regard to the ground cave-in at a historic tomb within Greater Bukit Brown (a) whether the contractor had knowledge of ground conditions and exercised adequate supervision of tunnelling operations; and (b) how does LTA ensure that machine operators are adequately trained and experienced to handle tunnelling in historic, ecologically-sensitive and built-up areas.

Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) whether personal mobility devices will be allowed on buses and trains permanently; (b) whether there have been any cases of denied access and what are the reasons for such cases; and (c) how can the first-and-last mile experience be further improved for users of personal mobility devices.

Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what are the measures regulating the use and storage of bicycles operated by commercial bicycle-sharing companies; (b) what recourse do cyclists have when these bicycles take up their parking places; and (c) what recourse do residents and commercial entities have when such bicycles are left on their premises.

Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Transport under what circumstances has LTA waived the policy of non-transferability and permitted a transfer of COEs for Category A or B vehicles from one individual to another.

Minister for National Development

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what is the availability ratio of 2-room BTO flats to the number of applicants; (b) whether there are plans to increase the number of BTO flats for singles; (c) whether priority can be given to applicants who have applied at least three times but were unsuccessful; and (d) whether more 2-room flexi flats can be reserved for singles as they have fewer affordable options compared to others.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) in the past three years, how many enforcement actions have been taken by HDB on illegal subletting and/or overcrowding in HDB flats; and (b) what are the measures that the Ministry is taking to ensure that all HDB flat owners comply with the regulation including inter-Ministry joint collaboration.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for National Development whether NParks will consider installing more toilets along the park connectors.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether the Ministry can make public the results of all environmental impact assessments or studies done in relation to the development of Tengah; and (b) what are the plans for existing wildlife living in that area.

Mr Ang Hin Kee: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what is the response time for the deployment of technicians to the incident site where there is a system breakdown at HDB carparks which implement the electronic parking system (EPS); (b) how reliable is the existing centralised response system; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider decentralising the response system as more HDB carparks are implemented with the EPS.

Mr Vikram Nair: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what is the number of flats in blocks 685 to 690 of Woodlands Town that have reported their floor tiles cracking or popping from the time the flats were constructed to date; (b) what is this figure as a percentage of the total number of flats in the area; (c) what are the causes of these tiles cracking or popping; and (d) whether HDB will take any steps to assist flat owners who continue to experience such popping or cracking tiles in the coming years.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) in the last two years, what has been the number of reports received on floor tiles popping up or cracking; (b) what are its causes; and (c) how can HDB assist flat owners to deal with the situation.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for National Development if he will provide an update on the take-up rate of the non-exclusive and limited use of industrial premises for religious activities.

Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for National Development whether URA is (i) reviewing the rule of allowing developers to build large air-con ledges and balconies for non-landed residential properties without them being counted as part of the gross floor area and yet are allowed to be charged to buyers for such space and (ii) making it mandatory to state the floor areas dedicated for balconies, air-con ledges and other outdoor space in the floor plans of such properties during their launches.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what are the criteria to determine what type of fitness corners and equipment are built in an HDB estate; (b) how many of the existing fitness corners are catered for national servicemen for their IPPT training; and (c) whether these equipment also cater to other residents such as the elderly, teenagers and children.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) how many residents have complained about the free-ranging chickens at Sungei Api Api in the last year; (b) how many chickens have been culled at Sungei Api Api; and (c) whether AVA will consider vaccinating all free-ranging chickens against bird flu instead of culling them.

Mr Png Eng Huat: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) in the design of new HDB estates, whether there are any baseline functionalities defined to ensure adequate sheltered link ways; (b) whether HDB undertakes the design of new estates in-house or subcontracts the work to a panel of architects and consultants; (c) whether HDB has any system to track design compliance similar to the comprehensive management system to track the construction process of BTO projects; and (d) whether HDB assigns design works to architects and consultants based on cost or design considerations.

Mr Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for National Development how much Community Improvement Projects Committee funding has been extended to each Town Council via their respective Citizens' Consultative Committees in FY 15/16.

Mr Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for National Development in the presentation of gazetted annual estimates by all Town Councils, whether there is a standardised way to present the quantum of Community Improvement Projects Committee funding for each Town Council under the head of Town Improvement and Project Funds.

Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what is the progress of investigation by NParks on the incident at Botanic Gardens whereby a giant Tembusu tree fell and killed a park visitor and injuring several others; (b) whether NParks will consider increasing the frequency of inspection for trees above a certain age; and (c) what measures will be taken to prevent such similar incidents as Botanic Gardens is a popular outing place for locals and tourists.

Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for National Development over the past three years, how many contractors have been penalised as a result of complaints received on the quality and workmanship of works done under the Home Improvement Programme.

Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for National Development what criteria does HDB use when classifying estates as 'mature' or 'non-mature' and whether this criteria is made known to the public.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what is the projected number of five-year old private non-landed properties in 2017 and in the next three years whereby sellers will not be subjected to the seller's stamp duty; and (b) how many of these properties are in the Core Central Region and outside of the Core Central Region respectively.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for National Development how many HDB flats will reach their Minimum Occupation Period of five years in 2017 and in the next three years.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for National Development for each of the years in the past three years (a) how many single unwed mothers under the age of 35 have applied together with their children and without other family members to purchase or rent a flat from HDB; and (b) how many of such applications have been approved.

Minister for Health

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Health (a) what powers does the Ministry have to ensure good governance at private clinic groups to prevent the disruption of primary care services, and (b) whether the payment of medical claims by third party administrators to private clinics should be regulated to safeguard the financial viability of private clinics.

Ms K Thanaletchimi: To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether healthcare institutions have a diversity management policy; (b) whether the staff are provided training to handle diversity issues; and (c) whether human resource personnel are well trained to manage workplace diversity practices in areas relating to age, race/culture, gender, nationality, religion, and people with disabilities.

Ms K Thanaletchimi: To ask the Minister for Health whether the option of the additional four weeks of no-pay infant care leave that will be introduced for public sector employees will be extended to all public healthcare institutions and, if not, when will this be rolled out to these institutions.

Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the participation in the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system by private healthcare institutions including hospitals, general practitioners and institutions run by voluntary welfare organisations.

Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for Health what are the new features of the HealthHub portal and its utilisation rate.

Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef: To ask the Minister for Health how many people have applied, and been successfully approved, in the use of their Medisave funds under the Flexi Medisave scheme since its implementation.

Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef: To ask the Minister for Health whether the principles of inter-professional education and practice will be incorporated into the three strategic areas of focus identified by the Future Nursing Career Review Committee in developing a future-ready nursing workforce.

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Health (a) how serious is the space crunch for subsidised dialysis for patients with kidney failure; (b) how is the Ministry planning ahead for the increasing number of dialysis patients; (c) what is the current percentage of patients opting for home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis; and (d) what programmes are there to subsidise and support home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Health what is the estimated incremental cost of extending health subsidies to all Long Term Visit Pass holders for FY17/18.

Minister for Home Affairs

Ms Tin Pei Ling: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will review the relevant legislation to enhance the sentences for all types of sexual offences, with or without penetration and with or without violence, committed on minors.

Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will consider tabling new legislation or amending the Penal Code to introduce specific laws on child pornography.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the police will consider taking action to protect its reputation when persons make false and malicious allegations against the police.

Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many foreigners have committed criminal offences in the last year that have required them to be imprisoned; (b) how is this number compared with the previous years; and (c) what criminal offences will be deemed serious or heinous enough for the Government to revoke the immigration status of an offender, deport him from the country and bar him from re-entry, either indefinitely or for a specified period.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the past three years, how many people have been arrested for gang-related activities; (b) what are the authorities doing to outlaw gangsterism; and (c) in light of gangs using social media to recruit youths, what is being done to identify and educate at-risk youths.

Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many buses, goods vehicles and heavy vehicles have been involved in accidents in the last five years; (b) how many of these accidents have been caused by drivers holding work permits and S-Passes; and (c) what measures are there to help bolster the efforts of our enforcement officers.

Assoc Prof Randolph Tan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether police powers can be increased to enable more stringent enforcement to prevent incidents of public disorder at night clubs, bars and similar establishments.

Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what further measures does the Traffic Police intend to implement to enhance the safety of motorcyclists and their pillion riders using our roads.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs how many traffic roundabouts are there in Singapore and whether students taking their driving lessons are taught how to navigate traffic roundabouts.

Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what is the current police-to-population ratio in terms of including and excluding auxiliary police officers respectively.

Minister for Communications and Information

Dr Chia Shi-Lu: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) how will the Ministry ensure that SingPost improves its service quality; (b) what are the underlying causes for the numerous changes in its senior management team; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider de-privatising this essential public service.

Minister for Finance

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Finance whether the Ministry will consider releasing a draft Budget Statement for public consultation one month before the delivery of the Budget Statement in Parliament.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Finance whether the 2 percent cut in the budget caps for all Ministries and agencies from FY2017 onwards will result in hiring freezes or headcount reductions in the public service.

Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Finance in respect of the revenue earned from leases of Government land, what is the cut-off lease duration (in months or years) that is used to distinguish between revenue that is classified as operating revenue and revenue that is classified as a capital receipt under Sales of Land.

Minister for Education

Ms Sun Xueling: To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) (a) whether courses allowed under SkillsFuture are objectively assessed by the authorities as to how much they should cost and whether there is a negotiation process with training providers to keep course fees reasonable; and (b) whether there is an assessment of the courses to ensure that there are sufficient courses that can lead to tangible economic value-add for individuals rather than simply satisfying hobbies.

Ms Sun Xueling: To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) (a) whether a comprehensive review of the outcomes of SkillsFuture will be undertaken before the next tranche of SkillsFuture credits is announced; and (b) if so, what will be the parameters of such a review.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) how do schools monitor whether the primary and secondary school students are overloaded with homework which may deprive them of sufficient rest; and (b) how is the Ministry working with schools to encourage students to get sufficient sleep as recommended by the NurtureSG Taskforce.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) how many schools have yet to implement the additional breaks between lessons for students; (b) what is the Ministry doing to assess the effectiveness of these breaks; and (c) whether any tweaking is required to get better results.

Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) what is the current number of Government primary and secondary schools with lifts; and (b) whether there are plans to install lifts in all schools for barrier-free access for staff, outsourced workers and vendors.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) how many students in Singapore have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in each year over the past five years.

Minister for Law

Mr Yee Chia Hsing: To ask the Minister for Law whether the existing laws can be strengthened to increase the penalties against the author or publisher of fake news on the Internet.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad: To ask the Minister for Law (a) whether the Ministry will consider setting up an agency to look into the proliferation of fake news on the internet; (b) what are the Ministry's plans to correct false information in a timely manner; and (c) what is the Ministry's assessment on the likelihood that such news can be manipulated by foreign parties to influence society including election outcomes and social cohesion.

Minister for Manpower

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry can regularly collect and publish data on the percentage of the workforce who are engaged in freelance work or employed in contract positions and who are seeking employment in a permanent full-time job.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Manpower what is the rationale for the Ministry's reluctance to provide a breakdown of the number of foreign domestic workers in Singapore by nationality.

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Manpower with regard to SMRT's non-compliance with approved operating procedures since 2002 and till the fatal accident in March 2016 (a) whether the Ministry had inspected SMRT for workplace safety during this period; and (b) why did the system failures in management of workplace safety go undetected and uncorrected for so long.

Mr Thomas Chua Kee Seng: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what are the key challenges encountered by companies in applying for assistance under the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (LEDS); and (b) how can these issues be addressed.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether any study has been done to look into local employers' attitudes towards hiring older workers especially in the IT sector; (b) how many complaints has the Ministry received in the past three years on employment practices against older workers; and (c) what is being done to actively engage employers to encourage them to accept qualified older hires.

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) in the past three years, how many housing inspections have been conducted and how many employers have been found to have provided unacceptable accommodation for foreign workers; and (b) whether follow-up actions have been undertaken for all errant employers to ensure compliance with the regulations for acceptable accommodation.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Manpower what is the proportion of new jobs created in each of the last five years which requires a university degree.

Minister for Social and Family Development

Ms Sun Xueling: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development how can the Government better support the work of the Diversity Action Committee which looks at enabling women leadership and increasing the representation of women directors on boards of Singapore companies.

Minister for Trade and Industry

Mr Thomas Chua Kee Seng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) if he can provide a progress update on (i) the plan to second up to 20 public officers to interested Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) under the Local Enterprise and Association Development-Plus programme and (ii) the status of the $30 million that was set aside in Budget 2016 to support TACs to develop their capabilities.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) (a) whether the Ministry will set up a committee to look into any attempts against profiteering with the rise in water and electricity rates; (b) whether the Ministry look into setting up a mobile app to get feedback on profiteering; and (c) whether there are plans to guide and assist businesses to cope with the increase in business costs due to such rises.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) whether the Ministry intends to re-activate the anti-profiteering task force to step up surveillance against possible profiteering activities due to recently announced water price hikes.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) what is the progress in the provision of natural gas supply to all industrial estates to help industries reduce carbon emission.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) whether he can provide an update on the Global Schoolhouse initiative in light of the large number of private school closures in recent years.

Mr Thomas Chua Kee Seng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) whether public officers in charge of free trade agreements can be specialised in targeted industry sectors so that companies can directly approach them to get practical assistance for information and to resolve issues.

Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) (a) what is the progress in uplifting the productivity of the hotel industry; (b) how has the Business Improvement Fund helped companies in the tourism sector; and (c) what are the other plans to enhance productivity in the sector.

Minister for Defence

Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Defence (a) in the past three years, from which countries did most of the cyber-attacks on the Ministry's military data systems originate; (b) how long did it take the Ministry to detect the breach of its system in the February 2017 attack; and (c) what steps have been taken to strengthen the Ministry's IT systems.

Mr Vikram Nair: To ask the Minister for Defence (a) if he can provide an update on the Ministry's investigations into the cyber-attack on its IT system that took place in February 2017; (b) whether the perpetrators have been uncovered; and (c) what steps may be taken to prevent or minimise the risk from such attacks in future.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Defence given that the Australian government has backed down from compulsory land acquisition in Queensland to provide SAF troops with access to a bigger training area (a) how will SAF training be affected by the reduction in land size; (b) whether Singapore will be proposing any changes to the agreement with Australia; and (c) whether our proposed spending of A$2.25 billion will be reduced as a result.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) how many events have been held at the National Stadium and Indoor Stadium respectively in 2016; (b) how many events are expected to be held at the National Stadium and Indoor Stadium respectively in 2017; and (c) whether the number of event days at the National Stadium and Indoor Stadium meets the number promised by the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium when they were granted the contract.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth whether there are any plans to re-develop Katong Swimming Complex.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

Assoc Prof Randolph Tan: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether there are schemes targeted for hawker stall operators and their workers to get temporary job placement or training when their hawker centres are closed for extended periods for repairs and renovation works.

Mr Kok Heng Leun: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in light of the permanent closure of the Sungei Road flea market (a) how many of the vendors have been offered assistance and what kind of assistance has been rendered; and (b) how many vendors are not receiving these assistance and why are they not receiving them.

Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) when will plans for the proposed hawker centre in Choa Chu Kang town be finalised; and (b) where is it likely to be located.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) in the past three years, how many complaints have there been of dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets had defecated in public areas; (b) how can dog owners be encouraged not to let their pets urinate at the pillars in the void decks or the public park furniture; and (c) whether there was any enforcement action taken against these dog owners.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) in the last two years, how many motorcycles entering Singapore from Malaysia have been issued summonses for emitting vehicle noise beyond permissible levels; (b) whether there are plans to step up enforcement actions especially at BKE areas for vehicles that emit loud vehicular noise and causing disturbances to housing estates near the expressway; and (c) whether there are plans to review and lower the level of permissible noise emitted by vehicles.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) in the last three years, what percentage of companies in our industrial and commercial sectors are actively engaged in waste management and recycling; (b) what percentage of households are engaged in recycling; and (c) what measures are in place to improve the recycling rates for companies and households.

Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether the Government will build a wet market and hawker centre at Upper Serangoon Crescent or its vicinity in view of the new housing developments in the area.