The Debate in 2 Minutes

The Debate in 2 Minutes

How foreign workers should be housed and treated was discussed in Parliament yesterday, as 11 MPs participated in the debate on the Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill before it was passed.

During question time, issues such as appeals for Pioneer Generation benefits and rodent population control measures also got an airing.

Bigger dormitories, bigger responsibilities

Operators of large dormitories that house at least 1,000 foreign workers will come under compulsory licensing rules from the second half of the year. A commissioner with powers to arrest errant operators will also be appointed.

The stricter regulations will soon come into force, after Parliament passed the Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill yesterday.

Keeping an eye on smaller dormitories

While debating the Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill, MPs took the opportunity to ask if more could also be done to keep an eye on smaller dormitories as well.

A few suggested that the new legislation should cover smaller dormitories too, while others asked if the existing regulations that govern smaller dormitories can be pulled together and incorporated in another Bill.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin responded by saying the current regulations which apply to such dormitories are comprehensive, and that enforcement would be stepped up to make sure the rules are adhered to.

More qualify for Pioneer Generation benefits after appeals

Another 642 seniors will get Pioneer Generation benefits after their appeals to qualify were approved by a review panel.

These seniors were not yet Singapore citizens by Dec 31, 1986 - one of two criteria to qualify under the $8 billion benefits package.

But after their appeals, a 10-member panel looked into details such as when they came to Singapore and their contributions to society.

The other criterion for an individual to be counted among the pioneers is that he must be 65 or older last year.

Winning the rat race

Over 35,000 rodent burrows were found and destroyed last year as part of efforts to keep the rat population down, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu said.

To cut off the rodents' food sources so that they will stop propagating, the National Environment Agency will send out more enforcement officers to make sure food outlets follow good hygiene practices and not add to the rodent problem.

When and why the HDB compulsorily acquires flats

The Housing Board seizes flats in compulsory acquisitions when their owners have committed major infringements, such as subletting units without official permission.

It also does so - and as a last resort - when flat owners persistently refuse to pay their mortgage arrears despite efforts by the HDB to help them.

Still, in such instances, the HDB helps them buy a smaller place. Between January 2012 and December last year, the HDB seized 202 flats.

This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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