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Chin Swee Road toddler's death, Yale-NUS course on dissent among issues to be raised in Parliament

SINGAPORE — The death of a toddler at Chin Swee Road, the impact of oil supply disruption in Saudi Arabia on Singapore and the cancellation of a Yale-NUS College module on dissent are among the range of topics that will be raised when Parliament convenes on Monday (Oct 7).

Flowers, toys and sweets left outside the Chin Swee Road rental flat where the remains of a toddler were found on Sept 10, 2019.

Flowers, toys and sweets left outside the Chin Swee Road rental flat where the remains of a toddler were found on Sept 10, 2019.

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SINGAPORE — The death of a toddler at Chin Swee Road, the impact of oil supply disruption in Saudi Arabia on Singapore and the cancellation of a Yale-NUS College module on dissent are among the range of topics that will be raised when Parliament convenes on Monday (Oct 7).

Parliament will also debate amendments to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act which, among other things, will allow the Government to immediately order the takedown of an offensive post rather than wait 14 days.

Members of Parliament (MPs) filed 70 questions for oral answer, including four on the toddler who was discovered to have been killed in a Chin Swee Road flat.

All four MPs, including Workers’ Party (WP) MP Daniel Goh and Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Chong Kee Hiong, asked why the toddler’s death had not been noticed earlier by any ministry.

The toddler is believed to have been murdered in 2014, but her death went undetected for five years before her remains were found last month.

Three MPs filed questions about the Yale-NUS College module titled Dialogue and Dissent in Singapore, which was cancelled shortly before it was due to run from Sept 27 to Oct 2.

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar asked whether the cancellation of the programme “signals a more controlled and rigid education environment” in Singapore’s educational institutes and whether the move curtails the “academic freedom and the critical discourse necessary for academic richness and excellence”.

Nominated MP Anthea Ong asked what laws might have been broken by students, faculty or the institution if the module had proceeded. Fellow nominated MP Walter Theseira asked whether and under what conditions political dissent and activism in the Singapore context is a legitimate topic of academic inquiry in autonomous universities.

Separately, Dr Theseira asked the Minister of Home Affairs whether and to what extent it regulates or monitors the political activities of student groups in Singapore’s autonomous universities. He wants to know what can be done to assure students that they have the right to associate with and act for political and social causes in Singapore responsibly and within the law.

Dr Theseira has also filed an adjournment motion titled “A Liberal Education and Corruption of the Youth of Singapore”, in which he plans to argue that a liberal education, far from corrupting the youth, provides a source of strength for the future.

In his speech, he will talk about the role of a liberal education in society — to expose students to the intellectual methods for challenging conventional thought and motivate them to put their beliefs into action, he told TODAY.

He will also argue that a liberal education should not be a luxury for the elite but a foundation for lifelong learning and citizenship that as many should receive as possible, as the inability of an electorate to critically assess facts, policies and ideas is a threat to democracy.

Separately, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat and WP’s non-constituency MP Leon Perera asked about the impact the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities has on the Singapore economy and oil imports, and how this will affect oil and electricity prices here.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Chris de Souza noted that the attack had been carried out by a drone, and asked what the Singapore Government is doing to prevent a similar attack here.

Three MPs also filed questions on personal mobility devices (PMDs). One of them, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam, asked about public feedback since last month’s implementation of a ban on PMD use at void decks and common corridors across 15 town councils and whether the ban has dampened the number of reported incidents or had any impact on food and goods delivery so far.

Related topics

Parliament Chin Swee Road murder Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act oil prices

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