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Jan 10 sitting of Parliament: MPs to debate Omicron's impact, vaccines for young children among other issues

SINGAPORE — The pandemic looks set to dominate next week’s parliamentary sitting, with at least 20 Members of Parliament (MP) filing questions about Singapore's response to the Omicron variant, the vaccination of young children, as well as whether vaccination differentiated measures will apply in schools.

Jan 10 sitting of Parliament: MPs to debate Omicron's impact, vaccines for young children among other issues

Parliament will hold its first sitting of the year on Jan 10, 2022.

  • More than 120 questions were filed by Members of Parliament for oral answer in next week's sitting
  • Many questions revolved around the pandemic, including whether vaccination differentiated measures would apply to young children now that they are eligible to be jabbed
  • Others will be asking about the health effects of the vaccine on kids
  • Some MPs also filed queries about domestic violence, mental well-being of healthcare workers, as well as the new property cooling measures

SINGAPORE — The pandemic looks set to dominate next week’s parliamentary sitting, with at least 20 Members of Parliament (MP) filing questions about Singapore's response to the Omicron variant, the vaccination of young children, as well as whether vaccination differentiated measures will apply in schools.

MPs raised more than 120 questions for the first sitting of the year on Monday (Jan 10), covering a span of topics that include the impact of recently announced property cooling measures, support for domestic and sexual violence victims, and migrant worker quotas.

Nevertheless, a large proportion of the questions revolved around Covid-19, such as the mental well-being of healthcare workers amid the pandemic, border measures and vaccinated travel lanes, and whether TraceTogether is still necessary to gain access to malls, shops and eating outlets.

The first question of the day will come from Mr Yip Hon Weng, MP for Yio Chu Kang Single Member Constituency, who filed a question on whether vaccination differentiated measures — which would impose stricter access rules for unvaccinated people — would apply to unvaccinated children in schools and public spaces.

The query was echoed by other MPs on both sides of the House, such as Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Darryl David from the People’s Action Party, Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru from the Workers’ Party, and Ms Hazel Poa, a Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party.

Ms Poa also proposed an adjournment motion on differentiated measures for unvaccinated people, which is set to be debated at the end of Monday’s sitting.

Her party colleague, Mr Leong Mun Wai, wrote on his Facebook page that several attempts to raise questions about such measures in Parliament were “unsuccessful”, which is why the party decided to file the motion.

“The latest and most draconian of all (differentiated measures is to forbid) the unvaccinated person to report at the workplace even with a negative pre-event test from Jan 15, 2022. In addition, we are concerned whether the measures will be extended to the children also,” wrote Mr Leong, also an NCMP, earlier this week.

Singapore began the national vaccination exercise for children aged five to 11 in December, following approvals from health authorities for paediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be used on those in this age group. 

More than 42,000 primary school children have received the first shot of the vaccine so far.

Other MPs including Mr Yip, Dr Lim Wee Kiak from Sembawang GRC and the WP’s Mr Dennis Tan from Hougang SMC have filed questions about the side effects of the vaccine on young children and if there are any local studies on the topic.

Some also filed queries about the impact of the Omicron variant on the economy, foreign manpower, and on border measures and vaccinated travel lanes.

Besides Covid-19, there will be queries about tighter cooling measures for private and public property which were announced last December.

Ms Foo Mee Har, MP for West Coast GRC, filed a question on whether such moves would render home ownership "out of reach" for young couples, while Mr Sharael Taha from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC asked about the impact of property cooling measures on gig workers and the self-employed.

Following the parliamentary questions, Parliament is scheduled to debate eight Bills, including amendments to the Women’s Charter, Intellectual Property Act, and the Legal Profession Act.

A group of six PAP MPs in the ruling party’s Government Parliamentary Committee for Sustainability and the Environment have also filed a motion to call for a low-carbon society.

At least 15 PAP MPs will speak on the motion, as well as Nominated Member of Parliament Koh Lian Pin, a conservationist scientist.

MPs have also filed 79 questions for written answers, including a question from Mr Seah Kian Peng of Marine Parade GRC on how police officers are trained to interact with victims of sexual misconduct and the number of related complaints against officers.

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Parliament vaccination Omricon COVID-19 TraceTogether

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