Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Communications and Information

Ideas of the day

Mr Liang calls for tenders that seek to encourage innovation.
Mr Liang calls for tenders that seek to encourage innovation.
Mr Zagy said faster surfing speeds would help unleash entrepreneurial potential
Mr Zagy said faster surfing speeds would help unleash entrepreneurial potential
Ms Sun said interim libraries can be set up in containers for newer housing estates.
Ms Sun said interim libraries can be set up in containers for newer housing estates.
Mr Gan suggests removing the income ceiling for couples buying new HDB flats.
Mr Gan suggests removing the income ceiling for couples buying new HDB flats.
Dr Lim said a national hot springs park will be a popular attraction for Singaporeans
Dr Lim said a national hot springs park will be a popular attraction for Singaporeans

The spending plans of the Finance, Communications and Information, and National Development ministries were discussed. MPs spoke about future plans for Singapore's infrastructure. Chong Zi Liang highlights five ideas suggested.

BOOSTING INNOVATION THROUGH GOVT CONTRACTS

Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) suggested that government tenders should specify problems that need solving, rather than simply prescribe solutions.

He described these as tenders that seek to encourage innovation.

Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said government agencies were already embarking on this path. For instance, the Infocomm Development Authority and the Sentosa Development Corporation recently called for ideas to enhance guest experience for visitors to Sentosa.

ENHANCING WIRELESS NETWORK

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked for the government-backed free public Wi-Fi network Wireless@SG to be enhanced, as its speed was slower than the 4G mobile network.

Faster surfing speeds would give Singaporeans more real-time data and help unleash entrepreneurial potential, he said.

Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary replied that Wireless@SG's speed will go from 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps, which he said is faster than 3G speeds.

The number of hot spots will double from 10,000 to 20,000 by 2018.

LIBRARIES FOR NEWER ESTATES

Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) proposed that interim libraries be set up in newer estates which do not yet have the population to justify a full-fledged library.

She said, for instance, that such libraries can be set up in containers.

In response, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said such temporary libraries are already being set up. He said the National Library Board can provide a seed book collection and train volunteers to run them.

In Sengkang, volunteers have set up a community library in a container because Sengkang Public Library is temporarily closed.

REMOVE INCOME CEILING FOR BUYING NEW FLATS

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) said the income ceiling for couples buying new Housing Board flats, which is at $12,000 now, should be removed so that all Singaporeans getting married can buy a flat.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong replied that the ceiling was just raised last year and the extra demand for flats will have to be dealt with first before considering a further change.

But the Government will continue to take steps to ensure more Singaporeans can buy new flats, Mr Wong added.

NATIONAL HOT SPRINGS PARK

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) suggested that the area in Sembawang where hot springs are located can be developed into a national hot springs park.

He said the park will be a popular attraction for Singaporeans, and can be managed by NParks.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said his ministry is "studying if we can sensitively enhance the area, in line with existing natural features, heritage and land use".

He added that if the area was to be developed, it must retain its rustic characteristics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Ideas of the day'. Print Edition | Subscribe