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Foreign talent, teachers' working conditions, fire hazards in flats on agenda at Sept 12 sitting of Parliament

SINGAPORE —The issue of foreign talent is set to take centrestage during the sitting of Parliament on Monday (Sept 12), as 13 Members of Parliament have filed questions on the matter.

Foreign talent, teachers' working conditions, fire hazards in flats on agenda at Sept 12 sitting of Parliament
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  • Parliament will address foreign employment matters related to the new Overseas Networks and Expertise (One) Pass at its Sept 12 sitting
  • Manpower Minister Tan See Leng will deliver a ministerial statement on the five-year pass and its impact on Singapore
  • Questions on the welfare of teachers were also raised by several MPs, with an adjournment motion on appreciating and supporting the well-being of educators
  • Other questions relate to HDB flat fires as well as housing schemes and mental well-being

SINGAPORE —The issue of foreign talent is set to take centrestage during the sitting of Parliament on Monday (Sept 12), as 13 Members of Parliament have filed questions on the matter.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng is slated to deliver a ministerial statement in response to questions relating to the new Overseas Networks and Expertise (One) Pass and its impact on Singapore and Singaporeans.

Eight questions about hoarding and the prevention of fires in Housing and Development Board flats have been filed. 

An adjournment motion on the issue of appreciating and supporting the well-being of educators in Singapore was filed by Nominated MP Abdul Samad. 

ONE PASS, ENHANCING SINGAPOREAN LEADERSHIP

MP for Tampines Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Desmond Choo has asked how the Manpower Minister will ensure that Singaporeans continue to get access to senior level jobs; and how his ministry will prevent abuse of work passes such as the new One Pass by applicants.

The pass was announced last week to allow high-earners and high-achievers to live in Singapore without having to secure a job here first. It is meant for talent from any sector who earns a monthly salary of S$30,000 and above, or having “outstanding achievements” in the areas of science and technology, arts and culture, research and academia, or sports.

Questions have also been filed on the limit on One Passes issued annually, and the Manpower Ministry’s definition of the criterion of “outstanding achievements” for the issuance of the One Pass to individuals who do not meet the S$30,000 monthly salary threshold.

FIRES IN HDB HOMES, WELL-BEING OF EDUCATORS

West Coast GRC MP Rachel Ong asked the Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on whether regular assessments are conducted under the Hoarding Management Framework to ensure that housing units do not pose as fire hazards to their occupants and their neighbours. 

She also asked whether the current set of standard operating procedures under the framework is adequate and whether the installation of home fire alarm devices for all HDB rental flats has been completed last year.

Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, has asked for updates on the free installation of home fire alarm devices in public rental flats and whether the ministry will consider extending such installations to all lower-income households or households with at least one elderly person aged 60 and above. 

The total number of fire incidents in Singapore fell in 2021, with fewer fires in residential premises and non-building places, according to annual statistics released by the Singapore Civil Defence Force in February this year. Despite this, there were 194 cases with fire injuries in 2021 compared to 184 in 2020.

Following the Ministry of Education’s announcement that it will raise the salaries of educators, several MPs filed questions on work-life balance and mental health.

Hougang Single-Member Constituency (SMC) MP Dennis Tan Lip Fong from the Workers' Party asked the Education Minister Chan Chun Sing whether the ministry is considering other measures besides a pay increase to enhance teachers' working conditions, such as adding staff, amid concerns over work load and long hours.

Ms Hany Soh, MP for Marsiling-Yee Tee GRC, asked whether the ministry will be working with relevant agencies to ensure that the salary increment and benefits will also apply to MOE-seconded teachers in special education schools.

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng asked if MOE will remove the quota for each grade under the performance management system of stacked ranking for teachers.

In view of the pay increases of civil servants and teachers, Nominated MP Shahira Abdullah asked whether the salaries of asatizahs, or religious teachers, working in religious institutions will be reviewed so that they remain competitive. 

Questions relating to other topics include Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh’s question to the Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam on drivers and private-hire platform drivers who have committed at least one traffic offence in the past five years. 

Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai asked National Development Minister Lee whether the age criterion for the Lease Buyback Scheme of 65 years old may be lowered for disabled owners with difficulty securing jobs.

Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza queried on the safeguards in place for the SG Mental Well-Being Network to ensure that neighbours, members of the community and grassroots volunteers are equipped to assist those coping with mental health issues.

Ms Foo Mee Har, MP for West Coast GRC, asked if the Government would consider commissioning a special review to comprehensively review controls and checks in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic-related procurement and expenditure.

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