The debate in 2 minutes

On the agenda

The Little India riot dominated Monday’s sitting, with two Cabinet members and 13 MPs debating it for about two hours. 

Other issues included the hospital bed crunch and the introduction of a Bill which will make prison inmates’ early release for good conduct conditional on their not reoffending.

More powers for police

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean tabled a new Bill empowering police to search people in Little India for alcohol, ban from the area those deemed a potential threat to public order and cancel business licences of those suspected to have flouted the law.

The new law will be valid for one year. 

He also said he had made the call to repatriate 57 foreign workers who joined or continued to participate in the riot despite being told to disperse.

‘No basis to claims of abuse of workers’

There is no basis to the claim of widespread abuse of foreign workers here, said Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, given the relatively few problem cases out of 700,000 work permit holders.

Still, Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) asked Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean for assurance that the Committee of Inquiry looking into the riot will explore any festering grievances with social exclusion or employment.

Meanwhile, some MPs wanted proof that alcohol played a role in the riot, while others called for stricter rules on the sale and consumption of liquor.Easing hospital bed crunch

The hospital bed crunch is being addressed in the short and medium term, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, including the addition of 1,200 more beds by the end of this year and at least six new hospitals by 2020. 

But the focus of care is to help seniors manage chronic conditions better, so they do not end up in hospital, he said.

‘No design flaw’ in MCE 

Motorists driving more carefully and not taking the best routes were partly why the new Marina Coastal Expressway saw jams, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. 

Now that the jams had eased, he added, this proved design was not to blame. 

But he agreed more publicity and signs of route changes would have helped.

A case of mistaken geography 

Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) named the incorrect sea in a parliamentary question on whether Singapore’s interests were affected by China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone last November.

He had listed the South China Sea rather than the East China Sea. 

He rose to attempt to make a change, and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob later reminded the House to file their questions properly. 

Tiered wages for cleaners

A new bill to amend the Environmental Public Health Act sets the stage for cleaning firms to pay workers based on a tiered wage system. 

Better aftercare for prison inmates

Five MPs rose to support amendments to the Prisons Act spelling out a condition that inmates released early must not reoffend while in remission, and a mandatory aftercare scheme for those at higher risk of recidivism.


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.