Drones, taxi apps on MPs’ agenda

PROPOSED laws on the use of drones in Singapore and third-party taxi booking services like GrabTaxi will be debated when Parliament sits on Monday.

They set out, for the first time, guidelines, restrictions and fines on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and taxi-calling apps such as Uber, Hailo and GrabTaxi.

The Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Billrequires an operator to apply for a permit to fly a drone that weighs more than 7kg or is within 5km of an aerodrome, or when it is used for commercial purposes.

The Third-Party Taxi Booking Service Providers Bill says these providers must apply for a Land Transport Authority licence to operate.

They must also provide basic customer support such as lost-and-found services, and avenues for complaints. Other rules include banning bidding and pre-trip tipping for taxi services.

Both Bills were introduced in Parliament last month by the Ministry of Transport.

The Parliamentary Order Paper released yesterday shows MPs have filed questions on various issues. These include the SkillsFuture programme, Singaporeans buying property in Iskandar Malaysia and transport operator SMRT collaborating on a bid for Singapore's fourth telco licence.

The SkillsFuture programme gives each Singaporean a credit account to fund training courses. Its Earn and Learn initiative, which features tie-ups between schools and industry partners, will initially target 17 sectors, including aerospace engineering.

Nominated MP Thomas Chua is concerned other sectors, like the motor vehicle industry, will not be able to attract new blood as institutes of higher learning focus on the "future growth" areas.

He wants to know how long it will take before the others come under the programme.

SMRT's announcement, meanwhile, has led Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) to ask whether the Government intends to set conditions to ensure public transport services are not compromised.

The penalty system for transport disruptions may have to be adjusted, he said.

Returns from other businesses like telcos, which can be very lucrative, could bring about a change in business priorities, he noted. "If the fines don't cause enough pain for them to take it seriously and focus on their core business of providing public transport, then the regulator has to do something."

And concerns over a residential property glut in Iskandar Malaysia have led Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) to ask how Singapore banks will be safeguarded against major loan defaults by buyers.



This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.