Backbenchers to introduce Bills on animal cruelty and human trafficking in Parliament

They propose changes to laws on cruelty to animals and human trafficking

Backbenchers will introduce two Bills to change the laws on cruelty to animals and human trafficking when Parliament sits on Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014.

Since independence, there have been only three other instances when MPs put forward what is termed a Private Member's Bill, compared with the typical government Bills proposed by ministers.

Five PAP MPs will propose amendments to the law governing animal welfare. They want stiffer penalties for repeat animal abusers. The proposed amendment to the Animals and Birds Act will also let the authorities adopt codes that set standards for animal welfare in Singapore.

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Yeo Guat Kwang, who is leading the charge against recalcitrants, said his Bill is a balanced one that takes in the concerns of all parties involved. "While there are people who abuse animals, there are also some who think their pet is more important than a neighbour," he said.

The Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill is being initiated by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, who has been speaking in Parliament on the subject since 2008. He has said "a single, dedicated law to combat human trafficking will be more effective and easier to enforce".

Singapore Management University law don and former Nominated MP Eugene Tan said proposing such Bills will give "PAP MPs the chance to... show they are aligned with specific causes".

According to the Order Paper from Parliament yesterday, the House will also debate the Remote Gambling Bill. If passed in its current form, it is arguably the strictest anti-online gambling regime in the world. The authorities would, among other measures, get powers to turn off access to unauthorised remote gambling websites with the help of Internet service providers, and block payments to and from these sites.

For question time, which precedes the Bills, Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng is among three MPs who have filed questions on why To Singapore, With Love, a documentary on political exiles, was given the "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the Media Development Authority (MDA).

Said Mr Baey: "I'm interested in how the MDA gives a rating. I've spoken to Pin Pin and it seems like there wasn't any engagement between her and MDA. There should at least be a dialogue." Film-maker Tan Pin Pin is appealing against the MDA rating.

Two MPs have filed questions on the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They want to know if it poses an increased security threat to Singapore, and what diplomatic pressures can be asserted on the group.

rachelay@sph.com.sg