Parliamentary questions for 3 September 2019

The Singapore Parliament will sit at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, 3 September 2019, for the 110th session of the 13th Parliament.

*35 oral questions and 12 written question had been scheduled to be asked.

Four Government Bills will be read for the 2nd time:

    1. Resource Sustainability Bill [Bill No. 20/2019] – (Minister for the Environment and Water Resources) – Second Reading.
    2. Work Injury Compensation Bill [Bill No. 21/2019] – (Minister for Manpower) – Second Reading.
    3. Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 22/2019] – (Minister for Social and Family Development) – Second Reading.
    4. Variable Capital Companies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill [Bill No. 23/2019] – (Second Minister for Finance) – Second Reading.

Below are the questions filed towards the various Ministers

[toggle title=”Prime Minister” state=”close”]

*Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is the current adoption rate of PayNow and PayNow Corporate; (b) whether the adoption rate has met the Government’s target; (c) what is the current adoption rate of QR code payment in Singapore, especially at hawker centres; and (d) what is the plan to further push the adoption rate of cashless transactions in Singapore.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Prime Minister what is the rationale for reducing the amount of childcare leave from six days to only two days when the child turns seven years old.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Prime Minister whether there are plans to improve the regulation regime of credit rating agencies in Singapore to reachieve equivalence status with the regulation regime of the European Union.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Foreign Affairs” state=”close”] [/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Transport” state=”close”]

*Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Transport whether the Ministry will consider making it mandatory for all bicycles and PMDs to be fitted with laser lights which project a symbol of a bicycle or PMD on to the path five metres ahead, to warn pedestrians that there is a cyclist or PMD approaching them.

*Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Transport whether LTA will review the punishment for selling non-compliant PMDs.

*Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Transport whether LTA will review the punishment against riders of PMDs who cause injuries to pedestrians.

*Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Transport whether he can provide an update as to when will the 2012 Amendment to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability to Maritime Claims (LLMC) 1976 be introduced in the Merchant Shipping Act.

*Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Transport in respect of shared-PMD services, whether operating from private or public premises (a) what measures are in place to ensure that tourists and other foreign visitors are familiar with PMD riding regulations before they are allowed to rent the devices; and (b) whether such measures will be included in the operators’ licensing requirements for both types of services.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for National Development” state=”close”]

*Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) since the introduction of the Lease Buyback Scheme, how many appeals have been received from HDB flat owners who wish to apply for the scheme but have yet to fully pay up for the housing loan due to financial hardship; (b) how many of such appeals have been granted on compassionate grounds; and (c) whether the Ministry will change the rule for such applicants.

*Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar: To ask the Minister for National Development whether the Ministry will consider providing special additional housing grants and special priority for adults with special needs to live near their parents or caregivers when they apply for their first HDB flat.

*Mr Yee Chia Hsing: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether there can be additional measures to ensure that pet bird shops do not get their sources from illegal smugglers of pet birds; and (b) whether the penalties for illegal smugglers can be increased to include caning and confiscation of vehicles used.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Health” state=”close”]

*Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether the public hospitals’ admission process can be streamlined to enable the frontline and medical staff to ascertain the patient’s financial status at the time of treatment, admission or prior to bill issuance; and (b) what is the current process for patients to be referred to the hospital’s social service officers for financial assistance.

Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Health for each year from 2013 to 2018 (a) what is the number of caregivers broken down by caregiver type, such as family member or domestic worker, who have used the Caregivers’ Training Grant; and (b) which is the most popular caregiving course.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Home Affairs” state=”close”]

*Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what legal tools are present to deter the taking of video or camera footage of police officers, or officers from security agencies, who are attending to a crisis or security threat, especially where taking of such footage interferes with the officers’ ability to de-escalate the threat and secure public safety.

Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs of the 940 overstayers arrested in 2018, what is (i) the number of Social Visit Pass overstayers and Work Pass overstayers respectively and (ii) the duration of overstaying for the 20th percentile, 50th percentile and the 80th percentile.

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether sensitivity training is provided to the police and other first responders to facilitate responding to victims of violence in connection with sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, including LGBTQ victims of family violence and intimate partner violence; and (b) how such training is conducted, if applicable.

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether divorced, widowed or separated non-Singaporean mothers of Singapore Citizen children under the age of 21 can be automatically granted a Long Term Visit Pass/Long Term Visit Pass-Plus if they fulfil certain background conditions; and (b) if so, whether the Ministry can make public this list of conditions for the automatic grant so as to assure such mothers and their children of a stable family life.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Communications and Information” state=”close”]

*Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what proportion of Government documents that are more than 25 years old and hence are part of the public archives are contained in the publicly accessible NAS Archives Online; and (b) what proportion of Government documents declassified each year for the past five years have become part of the publicly accessible NAS Archives Online.

*Mr Yee Chia Hsing: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information whether additional measures can be introduced to tackle the issue of spam SMSes from illegal moneylenders and sports betting syndicates.

[/toggle] [toggle title=” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance” state=”close”]

*Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) to what extent the policy of using past reserves to fund land reclamation will be applied to finance the projected $100 billion cost of climate change protection measures announced by the Prime Minister; and (b) what are the roles of the President and Parliament in approving or overseeing the use of past reserves for land reclamation-related climate change protection measures.

*Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether the Government Electronic Business (GeBIZ) policy can be reviewed so that nascent small and medium-sized enterprises can qualify as Expenditure and Policies Procurement Unit Suppliers, or Building and Construction Authority Suppliers, and thus have more opportunities for growth; and (b) whether alternative modes of assessing a company’s financial strength can be adopted in place of the current practice where historical financial statements are used.

*Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance whether guidelines will be given to the procurement departments in the Ministries and statutory boards to allow for a contract variation of their existing outsourced services contracts to factor in the possible cost increase that will be faced by service providers due to changes in CPF contribution rates or any policy-related changes that affect the wage cost.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance whether measures are being adopted to reduce instances of overly conservative budgeting or budgeting approaches which tend to under-state the eventual real surplus on Government accounts.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Education” state=”close”]

*Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Education with regard to giving our ITE and polytechnic students more regional exposure under the Global Education Programme (a) whether there will be more funding resources to support overseas internship opportunities; (b) whether there is concrete and strategic support for regional interaction and exchanges in the cultural, arts and sports fields; and (c) how effective is the opportunity fund in supporting students from low-income families.

*Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Education for each of the six local autonomous universities (AUs) (a) what is the size of their endowment fund in each of the past five years; (b) what is the current amount of funds and reserves accumulated; (c) what are the top five uses of these funds; and (d) how much of these funds have been used in each of the past five years.

*Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Education (a) in the past 10 years, how many former school sites have been returned to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA); (b) how many former school sites are still left vacant as of 2019: (c) whether the Ministry has plans to re-develop these sites; and (d) as of 2019, how many former school sites have been renovated for a different use.

*Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Education (a) what measures are in place to detect, minimise and combat bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, at educational institutions; (b) whether these measures differ by the level of the educational institution, from secondary schools through post-secondary institutions; and (c) whether teachers, staff and administrators receive training to handle such incidents sensitively.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Law” state=”close”]

*Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng: To ask the Minister for Law (a) what is the income criterion for citizens seeking pro-bono legal services from the Legal Aid Bureau; (b) what are the avenues by which average-income families can access legal services at an affordable cost especially if they do not qualify for the pro-bono legal services; and (c) whether the Ministry can communicate these avenues of access to all citizens.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Manpower” state=”close”]

*Ms Jessica Tan Soon Neo: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what programmes are in place to support companies in making work and the work environment age-friendly to enable companies to leverage on the competencies of their older employees and for older workers to do their best work; (b) what is the progress of companies establishing and adopting more age-friendly work practices; and (c) what is the progress of companies retraining their older workers to enable them to take on new opportunities within the organisation.

*Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) for each year in the past five years, among foreign domestic workers (FDWs) found to have borrowed money from licensed moneylenders, what is the median number of months between their first arrival in Singapore and the first loan they take; and (b) whether the Ministry can provide an update on whether a study has been conducted on this issue and, if so, what are the top three reasons for the sharp rise in the number of FDWs borrowing from licensed moneylenders.

*Mr Zainal Sapari: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) since 2017, what is the number of foreign workers with injuries or occupational diseases sustained at work who have filed a claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act; (b) what is the breakdown of the nationalities of these claimants; (c) how many have been successful in their claims; and (d) what are the actions taken to discourage false claims.

*Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the current percentage of workers in the online food delivery industry who are foreigners; (b) how do the foreigners qualify to work in this industry; and (c) whether the Ministry will take steps to ensure that these jobs in the delivery services are restricted to only Singaporeans.

Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) in each year from 2013 to 2018, what is the number of male domestic workers; (b) what are the reasons cited by applicants to justify the hiring of male domestic workers; and (c) whether there are any plans to allow more men to work as domestic workers and, if so, what are the reasons.

Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng: To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry can commission an audit of all insurance companies to ensure (i) they approve the applications of workmen’s compensation insurance coverage for employees with disabilities and (ii) all employees with disabilities are covered for workmen’s compensation.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Social and Family Development” state=”close”]

*Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the current percentage of transnational families that are living under the Public Rental Scheme; (b) how many of these families also require services from other Ministries such as learning support or medical subsidies; (c) whether the Ministry has considered a family-centred approach with one key social worker who assists and facilitates the transnational families in accessing the services they need; and (d) whether there are plans to invest more resources for transnational families to include job skills and language-based training, and providing language interpreters in schools to better help the integration of the foreign parent.

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development in each of the last three years, what is the utilisation rate of Government-Paid Childcare Leave among eligible employees, disaggregated by age group and gender.

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development for 2017 and 2018 (a) what is the take-up rate of parent-care leave by public servants; and (b) what is the number and percentage of private companies that currently offer parent-care leave.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Trade and Industry” state=”close”]

*Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry how Singapore-based SMEs, Regional HQs, MNCs, and the workforce can protect themselves from the side effects of a US-China trade standoff and how can capitalising on innovation help these organisations overcome such side effects.

*Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Government will continue to encourage investment in the Amaravati city project following the change in the stance of the Government of India in respect of seeking funding for the project.

*Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what measures are being taken to nurture local start-ups and talent in electronic game development and E-sports; and (b) what results have been associated with these efforts to date.

*Mr Ong Teng Koon: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Ministry can consider requiring interest rates advertised for car loans to be calculated using the Effective Interest Rate method, which is based on the outstanding principal of the loan, instead of the Flat Rate method, which is based on the original principal of the loan.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Culture, Community and Youth” state=”close”] [/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for Defence” state=”close”]

*Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Defence whether the application form used by members of the public to apply for National Day Parade (NDP) 2020 tickets can include a question for the applicant to indicate whether they want (i) a single-use plastic bottle (ii) a reusable bottle (iii) an NDP plastic bag for trash and (iv) an NDP funpack bag.

[/toggle] [toggle title=”Minister for the Environment and Water Resources” state=”close”]

*Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) since the deployment of surveillance cameras by NEA to address the high-rise littering problem, how many of those caught were repeat offenders; and (b) whether the Ministry will look into further measures to deter such offences and explore further use of technology to bring such offenders to task.

*Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the Ministry can provide an update on the trend of highrise littering over the last three years; (b) how effective have NEA’s enforcement actions been in arresting the culprits; and (c) whether there are plans to further improve the high-rise littering situation.

*Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the situation of high-rise littering in housing estates has worsened; and (b) whether there can be a greater deterrence if the public is able to report and submit visual evidence to NEA similar to how the public can now report errant PMD users.

*Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) in the past year, how many reports from the public have been received and how many of such reports have resulted in prosecution of the culprit on environmental issues such as littering and dumping; (b) what is the standard protocol for NEA to handle such reports; and (c) when the identity of the perpetrator is known, how long will enforcement action take.

Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in 2017 and 2018, what is the total amount of food waste generated in Singapore by (i) all the hawker centres (ii) all the hotels (iii) all the caterers (iv) all the meat importers and distributors and (v) all the pre-packed food manufacturers.

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