New mothers will be able to breastfeed their children in public as the government will provide nursing rooms at all new bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs, including new MRT interchange stations, according to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday (26 March).
MP Louis Ng Kok Kwang brought up this issue in the Parliament yesterday (26 March) and he was happy to share the answers on his Facebook page. He assured mothers that they can breastfeed in public and on public buses and trains. Mr Ng also mentioned that mothers can breastfeed without a cover.
Expressing his appreciation and support for the mothers who are practising breastfeeding, he made it clear that mothers are welcomed to breastfeed in public without hesitation. Other than public places, he stated that the Ministry of Education will ensure all schools are equipped with lactation facilities within the next three years.
“The Ministry of Education, will ensure that ALL schools, Institutes of Higher Learning, Autonomous Universities, Polytechnics and ITEs are equipped with lactation facilities within the next 3 years Plus fridges will be made available for mothers to store their milk,” wrote Mr Ng.
Other than schools, many women are still concerned that SMRT encourages women to breastfeed before entering their stations. Mr Ng raised this issue on the Parliament, and the Ministry of Transport stated that they will advise the Public Transport Operators (PTO) to clarify on their websites so that mothers won’t be discouraged from breastfeeding in public.
“Many of you also shared that SMRT still says on their website, ‘Can I breastfeed or feed my children? For the comfort of other passengers it is best to feed your children before entering our stations.’ I raised this in Parliament as well and MOT ‘will advise the PTOs to be clearer in their websites or FAQs so that mothers are not deterred from doing so’,” as stated on Mr Ng’s Facebook post.
Regarding breastfeeding in public, Mr Ng asked the Minister for Home Affairs if there would be any regulations that prohibit mothers from publicly breastfeeding their children.
The Secretary to the Minister for Home Affairs, Sun Xueling, explained that there is no law that strictly prohibits mothers from breastfeeding in public. Although indecent exposures and appearing nude in public are technically criminal offences, mothers who are breastfeeding their children in public are generally not categorised as an offence.
“Indecent exposure and appearing nude in public are criminal offences. Mothers who are genuinely breastfeeding their children, in public are generally unlikely to fall under these categories. It is not possible to be more specific than that. To determine if any offences might be made out, Police would need to ascertain the specific facts of each case and the circumstances,” Ms Sun responded.
Mr Ng proceeded to ask Ms Sun to clarify if breastfeeding mothers could be prosecuted if they practise it in public without being covered up. Ms Sun stated that breastfeeding in public is not against the law.
“Breastfeeding in public places is not against the law. The Police will not intervene unless there are law and order concerns,” said Ms Sun.
Mr Ng raised another question regarding breastfeeding is allowed onboard public trains and buses. The Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport, Baey Yam Keng, responded that breastfeeding on public transport is not prohibited.
“Mr Speaker, Sir, breastfeeding is not prohibited on our public buses and trains. For those who prefer privacy while breastfeeding, we provide nursing rooms at key transport nodes and will continue to build more,” explained Mr Baey.
Mr Baey also confirmed that there is no regulation for mothers to be covered up while nursing their babies on trains and buses.