Debate In 2 Minutes

Parliament yesterday passed changes to the Road Traffic Act to regulate drivers of private-hire cars, and also accorded protection to Singapore's marine life.

The sitting opened with questions from MPs relating to Surbana Jurong's mass termination of 54 workers. The House heard that the infrastructure consultancy company's labelling of its employees as poor performers was not acceptable.

Manpower Minister raps Surbana Jurong

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday rapped Surbana Jurong for the manner in which it publicly labelled the workers it fired as poor performers.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) had said that the affected workers may have difficulties looking for a new job after being publicly criticised.

In response, Mr Lim said Surbana Jurong's actions were "not acceptable".

He said that employers who want to fire workers for poor performance should do so in a sensitive and responsible manner. They must also be able to substantiate their claim.

Poor performance in one organisation does not mean that the individual cannot do well in other places, he added.

Private-hire cars to be registered

Drivers of private-hire vehicles, such as those under car-booking operators Grab and Uber, will soon need vocational licences.

The vehicles must also be registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and marked with a decal identifying them as private-hire cars.

Changes to the Road Traffic Act passed yesterday will give the LTA powers to suspend these private-hire car services if their drivers flout the rules.

The amended Act also gives the LTA more flexibility to regulate autonomous vehicle trials here.

Better protection for marine parks

Fishing, collecting corals or mooring boats within the Sisters' Islands Marine Park without approval from the National Parks Board will soon be an offence.

The marine park will be designated a public park and be accorded protection, after changes to the Parks and Trees Act were passed in Parliament yesterday.

New rules specific to marine parks - such as restrictions on diving, the movement of vessels, and the dropping of anchors - will be made in due course, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

40% of applicants do not pick their flats

From 2012 to 2016, about two in five applicants selected to pick a new Housing Board flat did not do so.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong revealed the figures in Parliament yesterday when asked about the rejection rate of flats in the Build-to-Order or Sale of Balance Flats schemes.

Common reasons given by the applicants were that their preferred units had been snapped up, they wanted to apply for flats in other sales exercises or they had changed their minds and wanted to consider other housing options.

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe