Ebola, ISIS among topics for Parliament

Ebola, ISIS among topics for Parliament
Health workers wearing protective clothing at Duwala market in Monrovia on August 17, 2014.

THE twin threats of the deadly Ebola outbreak and militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will be discussed in Parliament when it sits on Monday.

At least three MPs want the Health Ministry to set out how it plans to step up efforts to counter any possible spread of the virus in Singapore.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked if the ministry would consider imposing a travel ban on the Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.

Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam asked whether screening measures at Changi Airport are effective in detecting the virus, given that it has an incubation period of 21 days.

Their questions are prompted by developments in Western nations.

In the first human-to-human transmission of the virus outside Africa, Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, was infected after she treated a compatriot who had returned from West Africa with the disease. She has since recovered.

In the United States, Dr Craig Spencer of New York City tested positive for Ebola six days after he returned from Guinea. He is in serious but stable condition.

As for ISIS, Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked whether the Singapore Armed Forces would join the global coalition to combat the terrorist group. The coalition includes the US and several Muslim nations.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said last month Singapore is seriously considering how it can be a helpful partner in the fight against ISIS.

Beyond the external threats, the local issues on MPs' minds include the Return Our CPF protest on Sept 27 and the state of the National Stadium pitch.

The protest rally was held at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park, around the same time as a charity carnival in a separate area of the park.

The protesters marched noisily around the carnival area and disrupted it. Six people, including bloggers Han Hui Hui, 23, and Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, 33, were later charged with committing public nuisance acts. They were also charged with organising a demonstration without approval.

The patchy pitch at National Stadium has led Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) to ask, among other things, how its unsatisfactory condition would affect Singapore's international reputation, "given that planned international events have been cancelled or rescheduled".

Taiwanese singer Jay Chou's concert was postponed from next Saturday to Dec 27. Also, a friendly rugby match between the Maori All Blacks and the Asia Pacific Dragons, scheduled for Nov 15, was cancelled.

During the sitting, one Bill will be introduced to amend the Industrial Relations Act. It seeks to let rank-and-file unions represent professionals, managers and executives, a move lobbied for by the National Trades Union Congress.

Ten Bills, however, will be debated, including two Private Member's Bills introduced last month by backbenchers to change the laws on cruelty to animals and human trafficking.

Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) will seek an adjournment motion to let her speak for up to 20 minutes on an issue close to her heart - cycling.

She will argue why Singapore needs to develop a national integrated cycling strategy and policy framework.

She told The Straits Times yesterday there is growing recognition of the benefits of cycling, but it still suffers from an image problem.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 1, 2014.
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