COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

Thinking out of the box

Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure. Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained. Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship. Ms
Senior citizens doing exercises with Xuan, the robotic exercise coach designed by Ngee Ann Polytechnic students, at the Lions Befrienders Senior Activity Centre in Mei Ling Street. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Ms Cheng (Tampines GRC) suggests using robots to do household chores for seniors.
Ms Cheng (Tampines GRC) suggests using robots to do household chores for seniors.
Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure. Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained. Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship. Ms
Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure.
Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure. Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained. Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship. Ms
Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained.
Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure. Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained. Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship. Ms
Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship.
Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) thinks community ties can be boosted through SG Secure. Mr Choo (Tampines GRC) says that older Home Team officers are valuable assets to be retained. Mr Png (Hougang) wants stateless residents here to be granted citizenship. Ms
Ms Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) says residents should be protected from large gatherings of foreign workers.

At yesterday's Parliament sitting, MPs offered their take on how to deal with issues like active ageing, the risk of Islamophobia taking root, and a manpower crunch within the Home Team. Walter Sim looks at five memorable ideas.

TAP ROBOTS TO HELP THE ELDERLY

Numerous MPs have talked about the use of robots to help improve productivity for companies. Yesterday, Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) suggested using them to improve the standard of living for Singapore's elderly.

Citing how robots have boosted the accuracy and speed of services at hospital pharmacies in her Budget debate speech, she said they can also be used to perform simple household chores for the elderly.

She also suggested using health bands to monitor the elderly, especially those living alone. Such equipment can remind them to take their medication, and send alerts to healthcare providers or volunteers should there be health issues.



A WAY TO FIGHT ISLAMOPHOBIA

The spate of terror attacks around the world has led to the rise of Islamophobia. Singapore can combat this by strengthening community ties through SG Secure, said Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC).

Forging community ties should be a key thrust of the programme that will organise and train Singaporeans to handle crises and will be rolled out later this year, she said.

She said non-Muslims here know that Singaporean Muslims strongly reject terrorism and thus have no reason to distrust or be resentful towards them, but added: "I think the fear that Islamophobia will creep into our community is real."


RAISE RETIREMENT AGE OF HOME TEAM OFFICERS

To ease a manpower crunch, Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) called for the retirement age of Home Team officers to be extended to 62 years old, up from 55 today. Optional early retirement could still be offered at age 55, added the unionist.

Mr Choo, who was a cop for 14 years, said: "Home Team officers are like craftsmen. They polish their craft over time and it gets better with age."

Raising the retirement age will ensure their skills do not go to waste. It also helps these officers, as it is often too late for them to start on a new career when they are due to retire, and they typically end up taking extensive pay cuts.


RECOGNISE STATELESS RESIDENTS

Singapore should grant citizenship to the 1,411 stateless residents living here as of January this year, Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) said.

He said many of them are "more Singaporean than the thousands of new immigrants who are granted citizenship each year", having lived here all their lives.

Some have even "lived through the tumultuous years of nation building", he added.

"Some of them may belong to the Pioneer Generation, if only the colour of their identity card were pink."


FENCE OFF COMMUNAL AREAS IN LITTLE INDIA

Communal areas in Little India such as playgrounds and void decks should be fenced off to make sure "the old and young can get to use the space meant for them", Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) said.

She said crowds in the area have returned to levels before the Dec 8, 2013 riot, and residents must be protected from "the disamenities that can arise from large gatherings".

She acknowledged the contributions of foreign workers, but added: "Congregations of such high density are walking time-bombs and public disorder incidents waiting to happen." She also called for more recreation centres for foreign workers to be built outside Little India.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Thinking out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe