Parliament in brief: 5 things you should know
SINGAPORE — Amendments to a 30-year-old law safeguarding religious harmony were introduced during Parliament on Monday (Sept 2), while Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng tabled a motion to call for easing of housing rules for single unwed parents under the age of 35. The following are some of the key highlights of the parliamentary session:
SINGAPORE — Amendments to a 30-year-old law safeguarding religious harmony were introduced during Parliament on Monday (Sept 2), while Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng tabled a motion to call for easing of housing rules for single unwed parents under the age of 35.
The following are some of the key highlights of the parliamentary session:
1. Preventing religions from influencing politics
In tabling a Bill to amend the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, the Government proposed having nationality requirements for those holding top leadership positions in religious organisations — such as the president, secretary and treasurer.
It also proposed making it compulsory for religious organisations to declare donations from foreign sources as well as any affiliations.
Another proposed change was to give the Government powers to order an immediate takedown of an offensive post, rather than wait two weeks.
2. Midge outbreak a nuisance
In an effort to quell an outbreak of midges — small, flying insects that do not bite — around Pandan Reservoir, national water agency PUB has increased the frequency and application of biological liquid larvicide in the reservoirs to help eliminate midge larvae.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, responded to questions from three MPs including Ms Foo Mee Har, MP of West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), who asked what measures were being taken to control the insect population.
Ms Foo said that residents living around the Pandan Reservoir found swarms of them in corridors, lifts, bus stops and in their homes.
3. Long-term disability insurance to be mandatory
The CareShield Life and Long-Term Care Bill was passed in Parliament, which will pave the way for the rollout of CareShield Life from next year.
CareShield Life, a new compulsory national insurance scheme to provide financial aid to those afflicted by severe disabilities, will replace the ElderShield scheme. CareShield Life premiums can be paid using one’s Medisave account under the national Central Provident Fund.
During the debate, several MPs asked how young Singaporeans under the age of 30 and are suffering from severe disabilities can also be supported since they would not come under CareShield Life.
4. Housing for single parents
Calling for an end to the “discrimination” against single parents, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng tabled a motion to seek greater housing rights for single parents aged under 35.
He called for the Government to publish a set of eligibility criteria in which a specific group of single parents under 35 can apply for and get a rental flat without needing a case-by-case review or appeal.
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development, said that the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will study Mr Ng’s suggestion that unwed single parents under 35 be allowed to buy a two-room flexi flat, and consider having a dedicated section on HDB’s website to address common housing queries from single unwed parents.
5. Hefty fines for repeat offenders providing short-term rentals
About 600 suspected cases of illegal short-term rentals have been investigated each year in the last five years, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in response to a parliamentary question filed by Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira.
The offenders comprise both property owners and tenants who are of various ages and a majority of them are Singaporeans, Mr Wong said.
The most severe of these cases involves a 62-year-old Singaporean man who faces 55 charges in relation to unauthorised short-term accommodation at properties in the Beach Road, Whampoa and Gopeng Street areas, among others, the authorities said.