2nd-6th sittings of the 14th Parliament (31 Aug-4 Sep 2020)


In these sittings, Parliament debated both the President’s Address delivered on 24 Aug 2020 and the accompanying addendums from the ministries. The week-long debates are also seen as a way for MPs, especially newly elected ones, to leave an impression through their first speeches of the Parliamentary season.

The sittings also saw Christopher de Souza (PAP) and Jessica Tan (PAP) elected as Deputy Speakers of Parliament.

The next sitting of Parliament has yet to be announced.

Jump to the topics here:

📣 Leader of the Opposition😷 COVID-19
🏭 Trade and industry💼 Employment and wages
✈️ Foreign employment🤝 Social support and inclusivity
🏠 Housing💰 CPF and retirement
📚 Education🪑 Politics
✌️ Race and religion🍃 Environment and climate change
🎨 Arts and media
📣 Duties and privileges of the Leader of the Opposition (LO)
  • Indranee Rajah (Leader of the House, PAP): 
    • Pritam Singh (WP), as LO, will have his speaking time doubled, from 20 mins (for regular MPs) to 40 mins.
    • Will sit directly opposite the Prime Minister.
    • Will have an office in Parliament, staff and support resources, and an allowance.
    • Will have the right of first response in asking questions of ministers.
    • Will be briefed on certain confidential issues.
    • Will be expected to lead and organise the parliamentary business of the opposition.
    • May be expected to attend state events and meetings with the public service.
😷 COVID-19 impacts and policy responses
  • Derrick Goh Soon Hee:
    • Many were excluded from SIRS due to means-testing. Additional data points could have been used proactively to identify those who should still have been considered for the scheme.
  • Desmond Choo Pey Ching:
    • Work with the private education sector to suspend student loan repayments/interest during this period.
    • Incentivise employers, via the Jobs Growth Incentive, to convert trainees into full-time staff after their traineeships end.
    • Provide subsidies and loans for second diplomas and degrees.
  • Edward Chia Bing Hui:
    • Extend the COVID-19 repayment scheme to more categories of debt. 
    • Directors should not be liable for insolvency trading if the insolvency period arises from 1 February 2020.
  • Hany Soh Hui Bin:
    • Implement transitional parking of about 15 minutes grace period for food delivery riders.
    • Provide designated food delivery pick up points at all commercial malls.
  • Hazel Poa (NCMP, PSP):
  • Heng Swee Keat (Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance):
    • Tap on Development Expenditure for further spending to support the economy, instead of tapping on reserves.
  • Sun Xueling:
    • Assist newlyweds to reduce delays caused by COVID, make it easier for new families to get housing faster, and provide interim rental housing to young families facing delays in getting their home.
🏭 Trade and industry
  • Desmond Lee (Minister for National Development):
    • Drive digitalisation and adopt more advanced building technologies to enhance productivity in order to attract more Singaporeans to the construction sector.
  • Edward Chia Bing Hui:
    • Broaden key performance indicators for offering support to Singaporean enterprises.
    • Expand current grant schemes through measures such as assisting enterprises with seed capital and public financing.
    • More targeted manpower policies in different industries.
    • Promote more joint venture opportunities.
  • Edwin Tong Chun Fai (Minister for Culture, Community and Youth):
    • MCCY and NYC will set up a “YouthTech” programme to equip 1,000 youths (in its first iteration) with digital skills and training and deploy them to the community to help others upskill in these fields.
  • Leon Perera (WP):
    • Government should use revenues from land sales that generate approximately $15 billion/year for investments.
    • Government reserves should be used in the context of Singapore’s long-term growing needs.
  • Louis Chua Kheng Wee (WP):
    • Government success should have a more holistic and multidimensional approach; refers to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index and New Zealand’s “well-being” budget in 2019.
  • Shawn Huang Wei Zhong:
    • Push for Singapore to be a leader in emerging technologies.
💼 Employment and wages
  • Chong Kee Hiong:
    • Allow employees to take up two jobs/roles to build complementary skill sets.
  • Desmond Choo Pey Ching:
    • Improve protection and income security for the self-employed. Better establish if they are contractors or employees and what their relevant responsibilities are. Create legislation on unfair contract terms while establishing standards to guide service buyers and freelancers in the interim.
  • Gan Thiam Poh:
    • Provide a $1,000 Wage Income Supplement each month for lower income workers.
  • Jamus Jerome Lim Chee Wui (WP):
    • Criticises Progressive Wage Model and says that incentives for upskilling have become loopholes for employers to retain workers on lower wages; reiterates support for an across-the-board minimum wage.
  • Joan Pereira:
    • Need for more certified career coaches to guide mid-career job seekers.
  • Josephine Teo (Minister for Manpower):
    • Work with EDB and MAS to engage firms to improve workforce profiles.
    • Engage the HR community to improve hiring for Singaporeans.
    • Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (TAMEM) updated accordingly to ensure fair and responsible retrenchment. Breaches of agreements are enforced by suspending work pass privileges.
    • Discussed with global companies that Polytechnic diploma holders are equally qualified hires in order to shift recruitment criteria away from a degree bias.
    • Expanded outreach to increase awareness of SGUnited Traineeships and SGUnited Skills programmes.
  • Koh Poh Koon:
    • Explore a sectoral wage benchmark in sectors currently not covered by the PWM.
    • Expand PWM quicker and make it universal to cover all low paying jobs.
  • Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister):
    • The Progressive Wage Model has helped alleviate the burden on employers and will be expanded to other sectors over time. 
    • Social safety nets should be paid for out of current revenues. The Government should not be drawing from past reserves.
  • Leon Perera (WP):
    • Suggests that a wage of SGD 1,300/month covers household expenditures without transport and that not everyone earning that level or less is covered by the PWM.
    • Says that the issue isn’t setting a minimum wage but setting one that is too high and that Singapore’s low unemployment compared to countries with minimum wage legislation isn’t necessarily because they have minimum wages.
  • Louis Chua Kheng Wee (WP):
    • Unemployment needs to be dealt with through the German Kurzarbeit model (short time work programme).
  • Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
    • Make it illegal for employers to ask interviewees and employees about their marital status and their plans to have children. 
    • Need for legislation that allows employees the right to flexible work arrangements.
  • Melvin Yong Yik Chye:
    • Explore “right-to-disconnect” legislation.
  • Mohd Fahmi Aliman:
    • Provide a higher Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payout for workers in essential services.
    • Greater differentiation in WIS payouts between full- and part-time workers.
  • Poh Li San:
    • Consider raising the retirement age to 70.
✈️ Foreign employment
  • Ang Wei Neng:
    • Set up a National Human Resource Committee to develop guidelines on best practices, receive feedback from companies, and work with educational institutions and training providers to train Singaporeans for higher level jobs.
  • Christopher de Souza:
    • Penalise dormitory operators that violate laws or regulations by disgorging a certain percentage of their profits.
  • Foo Mee Har:
    • Transparency in selection requirements.
    • Implement dependency ratios or quotas for EPs, with differentiated ceilings and salary levels for different sectors. 
    • Ensure capabilities and skills transfer to local employees.
    • Require senior executives to sign off on employment offers to EP holders and declare compliance with the relevant requirements.
  • Gan Siow Huang (Minister of State for Manpower):
    • Upgrade jobs that are not popular with locals.
    • Retain Singaporeans over foreigners if employers have a need to retrench.
  • Gan Thiam Poh:
    • Introduce quotas and levies for EPs.
    • Increase productivity in the construction industry.
  • Gerald Giam Yean Song (WP):
    • Increase protection of the interests of migrant workers, such as fair employment treatment.
  • Joan Pereira:
    • Step up oversight of the hiring process, the actual hires, and the types of roles given to locals and foreigners.
    • Strengthen reporting hotlines to enable easier whistleblowing and reporting of errant employers.
  • Josephine Teo (Minister for Manpower):
    • In response to Leong Mun Wai’s comments on foreign employment, the Minister pointed out that locals in PMET jobs have increased from 3 in 10 (1990s) to 6 in 10 today and that the growth of locals in PMET jobs is not attributable to an increase in PRs.
    • MOM to continue supporting firms that retain and hire locals, supporting the cost of skills retraining for employers (especially mature workers), plugging hiring gaps with attachments and skills training opportunities for mid-career individuals.
  • Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister):
    • The Government is raising the S Pass salary floor while paying attention to market conditions and adjusting accordingly.
    • There must not be an over-concentration of a single foreign nationality in companies. If left unchecked it can cause social resentment and workplace problems. 
  • Leong Mun Wai (NCMP, PSP):
    • Reduce new work pass approvals and renewals.
    • Distinguish between Onshore and Offshore companies. Onshore companies will have a foreigner-citizen ratio cap and tightened regulations. Offshore companies, those that predominantly sell products and services overseas that Singaporeans are also not yet able to produce, will be subject to minimum capital and business spending requirements.
    • Reinstate localisation as an important key performance indicator and stipulate a succession plan to replace foreign managers at the end of their visa period.
    • Only allow further visa extensions if a manager is due for promotion and their previous position is taken up by a Singaporean.
    • Remove job role/rank as a consideration for citizenship and have a stricter set of naturalisation criteria.
  • Liang Eng Hwa:
    • Give greater consideration in tenders to firms using more productive methods and lower reliance on migrant workers.
    • Invite firms with investments in productivity to work alongside planners at an early stage to incorporate more efficient construction processes.
    • Reform processes, such as the criteria for en-bloc development or the need for large public projects, to reduce the need for migrant workers.
  • Patrick Tay Teck Guan:
    • Raise EP and S Pass qualifying salaries, differentiate qualifying salaries for certain sectors, and implement a tiered EP quota system for high- and mid-skilled PMETs.
    • Unionise workers for governmental protection.
    • Enhance enforcement against companies with disproportionate hiring of foreign PMETs through mandatory audits/penalties/publishing of names.
  • Pritam Singh (LO, WP):
    • Pass anti-discrimination legislation and impose penalties for discriminatory practices.
    • Develop a stronger regime of deterring foreign workers with schemes such as a mandatory educational credential assessment, with the cost borne by the EP or S Pass applicant.
  • Saktiandi Supaat:
🤝 Social support and inclusivity
  • Carrie Tan:
    • Measures like the Baby Bonus scheme have not been effective in raising the birth rate. Consider the root causes behind women’s decision to delay marriage and childbirth.
  • Chong Kee Hiong:
    • Do not base financial assistance schemes on housing types.
    • Consider a category system, where each person based on circumstances and needs is assigned to a category and receives a relevant set of benefits for a period of two years, afterwhich the category status is reviewed.
  • Christopher de Souza:
    • Support schemes should assess home ownership, not just place of residence. Personal income can be an alternative to using per capita income based on household income if the per capita income will disqualify a Singaporean from support.
  • Desmond Lee (Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration):
    • Harness technology to improve case management and processes.
    • Preserve human touch of building trust and empowering and respecting the individual and family.
  • Don Wee Boon Hong:
    • Share data in the National Electronic Health Record with Social Service Offices (SSO), with client authorisation, to expedite cases.
    • Share SSO data with schools to automatically provide financial support schemes to qualifying students.
    • Provide respite care for care-givers of disadvantaged families.
  • Gerald Giam Yean Song (WP):
    • Decrease processing time in testing for social assistance schemes through increased use of technology.
    • Drive down healthcare costs for Singaporeans, especially for senior citizens and chronically ill patients.
    • Push for improvement of public transport and pedestrian infrastructure accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Hany Soh Hui Bin:
    • Suggests MOE and MinLaw collaborate to introduce courses targeting seniors to increase awareness and knowledge of laws (e.g. consumer rights and importance of estate planning).
    • Work towards a more inclusive public transport system to support the less ambulant (e.g. barrier-free covered walkways that extend to all HDB estates, lifts at overhead bridges and community buildings).
  • Jamus Jerome Lim Chee Wui (WP):
    • Expand ComCare.
    • Establish an official poverty line.
  • Joan Pereira:
    • MOM should work with MSF to alert the latter in the event of any job termination. Materials should then be sent proactively to affected employees/families to check if they need help.
  • Leon Perera (WP):
    • The case for Redundancy Insurance is bolstered by the difficulties in implementing and administering the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme on short notice.
    • Social safety nets need to be less cumbersome for applicants. Reduce elements that may discourage applicants from seeking help entirely (such as asking to interview relatives, or having to bring multiple forms).
  • Lim Biow Chuan:
    • Equal support for Singaporeans regardless of housing type.
  • Kwek Hian Chuan Henry:
    • In means-testing, look at a combination of non-housing assets, income, and per capita housing equity of the occupants.
    • Add pathways for the downgrading of hospital wards during hospitalisations.
  • Seah Kian Peng:
    • Grant civil servants more discretion when assisting vulnerable groups.
  • Sim Ann (Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information):
    • Push for more seniors to be familiar with basic digital functions to meet increased digitalisation in the face of COVID-19 changes to social interaction.
  • Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim:
    • Amend the Administration of Muslim Law Act to widen the jurisdiction of Sayariah Courts to include mediation and arbitration handling inheritance and donations-related issues.
🏠 Housing
  • Christopher de Souza:
  • Kwek Hian Chuan Henry:
    • Create reverse mortgage options for those living in private housing.
    • Remove barriers for borrowing against housing equities, even for those beyond age 70. 
    • Review policies on housing grants for seniors who want to move from private housing to public estates.
    • Upgrade infrastructure and accessibility in private estates.
  • Gan Thiam Poh:
    • Remove income ceiling for first time HDB buyers.
    • Construct more HDB flats of a bigger size.
  • Chong Kee Hiong:
    • Price HDB flats lower and adjust the home price to annual income ratio downwards.
    • Measure the affordability of flats based on a tenure of less than 25 years, to provide more flexibility for buyers to restructure loan repayments.
  • Leon Perera (WP):
    • Government should urgently address the expiring leases of HDBs.
  • Sylvia Lim Swee Lian (WP):
    • Ethnic Integration Policy could be causing economic hardship to minority families because of limits placed on selling their flat.
💰 CPF and retirement
  • Hazel Poa (NCMP, PSP):
    • Ensure that the CPF system provides payouts that are adequate for retirees when costs and wages rise over time. 
    • Explore a hybrid system where individuals can build up retirement sums as much as they can while the Government assists after their retirement to cope with the effects of inflation.
  • Jamus Jerome Lim Chee Wui (WP):
    • Increased flexibility for CPF monies.
📚 Education
  • Gan Thiam Poh:
    • Free childcare for all children under the age of seven.
  • Hany Soh Hui Bin:
    • Consider a framework for all schools to adopt and work towards as a measure of performance and world-class standards of excellence.
  • He Ting Ru (WP):
    • Encourage greater inquisitive exploration and focus less on rote learning.
  • Jamus Jerome Lim Chee Wui (WP):
  • Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
  • Sun Xueling (Minister of State for Social and Family Development; Education):
    • Increase government-sponsored pre-school places from 50% to 80% by 2025.
    • Increase use of software in teacher recruitment, progression, and development.
    • Scale up KidSTART.
    • Change the PSLE scoring system and shift away from emphasis on only academic achievements.
    • Ensure more holistic assessment of capabilities and avoid unhealthy competition in the Direct School Admission for secondary schools.
    • Cut fees for six Special Education (SPED) schools by 25% and enhance early intervention programmes for SPED students in preschool.
  • Vikram Nair:
    • “Socialise” pre-school and possibly make it compulsory.
🪑 Politics
  • Derrick Goh Soon Hee:
    • Create a more citizen-centric governance model, such as by focusing on customer experiences, the practice of agility, applying data analytics, and incorporating feedback quickly.
  • Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister):
    • There will always be Opposition in Parliament to hold the Government into account through the Non-Constituency Members of Parliament.
    • People must vote according to whom they trust to run the system, voting Opposition simply because “others will vote for the PAP” is a “free-rider mentality” that will make the system fail. 
    • Singapore will still work on “auto-pilot” if the PAP were to hand over to an Opposition Party, but this will not be in the interest of Singapore’s prosperity.
  • Leon Perera (WP):
    • Incentivise wealthy Singaporeans to set up philanthropic foundations that not only provide charity but also research policy issues (e.g. Lien Foundation).
    • Address the perception that non-profit organisations (NPO) receiving state funding will risk losing funding if they publish research or ideas that contradict the Government.
    • Provide matching grants to NPOs that aim to address public policy issues if they have a track record of good contributions to public debate.
  • Lim Biow Chuan (Deputy Speaker of Parliament):
    • Government should be open to constructive criticisms and rational debate, urge government to not treat politicians from other parties as enemies.
  • Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap (WP):
    • Live Parliamentary broadcasts can ensure greater transparency. 
  • Murali Pillai:
    • Parliament should invest in a new IT system to streamline recording of parliamentary activities such as attendance, number of times MPs speak, Motions, etc. While the Hansard has such information, there should be a focus on making such information accessible. 
  • Pritam Singh (LO, WP):
    • Form more Select Committees. More multi-partisan Standing Select Committees to scrutinise the ministries in policy and spending. More Ad Hoc Committees to help function as investigative committees on specific issues.
    • Further improvements to Select Committees, such as longer lead time for submissions, publishing written submissions at least 2 weeks before hearings, scheduling hearings over more days, and releasing an interim report for public scrutiny.
    • The Opposition cannot search for alternatives properly without access to data that the Government withholds.
    • Cannot call those who vote for the Opposition “free-riders”. MPs who are voted in are tasked to represent the voters wholeheartedly.
    • Having Opposition in Parliament has made the Government listen harder, this has come to mean something to Singaporean voters.
    • The Opposition must not see growth in members for the sake of growth. There is no desperation for power, the Opposition seeks to bring Singapore forward.
  • Raeesah Khan (WP):
    • Lower the voting age to 18.
✌️ Race and religion
  • Sylvia Lim Swee Lian (WP):
    • Conduct a national exercise to study the progress made by society towards being race-blind. The scope should include the relevance of existing ethnic classifications, public disclosure of race-based data, the amalgamation of current self-help groups based on race, how to preserve multiracialism in elections less “intrusively”, and the retention or modification of the HDB’s Ethnic Integration Policy.
    • “Open dialogue” needed regarding the effectiveness of racial Self Help Groups.
  • Vikram Nair:
    • A “laissez-faire” approach to minority integration could result in isolation of Muslim minority groups; stresses the importance of integrating Muslims into politics.
  • Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim:
    • The M3 approach (integration of Malay Muslims through the efforts of MUIS, MENDAKI, and MESRA) could be used to enhance integration and build community spirit for other communities.
🍃 The environment and climate change
  • Alvin Tan Sheng Hui (Minister of State for Culture, Community, and Youth; Trade and Industry):
    • Encourage ground-up initiatives, such as “Bring Your Own Container” which has reduced plastic waste.
    • 55,000 new jobs will be created in the sustainability sector over the next decade to develop high-tech agriculture and aquaculture. 
  • Desmond Lee (Minister for National Development):
    • Transform Singapore into a nature city, plant one million trees together with Singaporeans, and develop green buildings, towns, and transport networks.
    • Increase the energy-efficiency of industries by building expertise that opens up new opportunities.
  • He Ting Ru (WP):
    • Decrease the gap between enterprises and access to green financing. Green bonds form 1.4% of Singapore’s total corporate debt market. 
    • Encourage green initiatives from a young age.
  • Kwek Hian Chuan Henry:
    • Conduct forums for environmental groups and youths that will provide them with the latest policy research and innovations in technology.
    • Publicise the mechanisms for regulating emissions, including the administrative measures behind carbon taxation.
    • Set up an independent environmental impact assessment and audit outfit to assess proposals for emission reduction efforts.
🎨 Arts and media
  • Raeesah Khan (WP):
    • Set up an independent body for the arts to oversee licensing and funding.
  • Tan Kiat How (Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office):
    • There should be a government agency that takes charge and develops a citizen-centric perspective on social media issues.
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