Parliament debate set to focus on security, economy

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore's security and economy are two topics set to dominate the week-long Parliament sitting on the President's Address, starting on Monday.

MPs are worried about jobs for people amid the economic slowdown and stock market turmoil.

They are also concerned about fortifying security agencies well enough to meet terror threats, a need made more urgent by the recent Jakarta blasts, followed by news of the arrests of 27 Bangladeshi foreign workers for plotting to launch terror attacks in their home country.

The two topics were highlighted by President Tony Tan Keng Yam a week ago in Parliament, in an address that set out the Government's goals and policies for its new five-year term.

MPs will debate the issues identified in the speech as well as the plans of the various ministries.

Administrative issues will be among the first to be settled on Monday.

They include the appointment of the two Deputy Speakers, who are expected to be Mr Charles Chong (Punggol East) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten).

Seven MPs will also be appointed to the powerful Committee of Selection, which picks MPs to sit on Parliament's various committees. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will take part in the debate.

The first MP slated to speak is Mr Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who will focus on the importance of security.

"I'm going to call for strong support for a continued healthy budget for both the Home Team as well as the Defence Ministry," he said.

This, he added, will ensure "we have the best equipment, infrastructure and technology to assist the men and women in uniform who keep our borders, air space, seas and neighbourhoods safe".

Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) will focus on the need to transform the economy from one that adds value to one that creates value.

He will suggest ways the Government can encourage companies and individuals to develop innovative capabilities and encourage society as a whole to be more open to risk-taking.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) wants to know how the Government will help young jobseekers and other vulnerable segments of the workforce should the economy worsen.

Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan) will call for greater community involvement in caring for seniors.

Parliament is also expected to debate and vote on the Workers' Party motion to let its 2015 General Election candidate Daniel Goh occupy the Non-Constituency MP seat that its former Punggol East MP, Ms Lee Li Lian, rejected.

This article was first published on January 23, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.