Debate In 2 Minutes: Smaller GRCs


Yesterday's Parliament sitting opened with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong disclosing that a committee tasked to review electoral boundaries was convened two months ago.

The House also heard from Education Minister Heng Swee Keat about an ill-fated school expedition to Sabah's Mount Kinabalu.

Three Bills were also passed, including a constitutional amendment that lets the Government spend up to half of the long-term expected returns of Temasek Holdings.

Smaller GRCs

The next general election could see a rise in the number of smaller Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs).

PM Lee said he had asked the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee to consider shrinking the size of GRCs so that each would have fewer than five MPs on average.

He also asked the committee to consider having at least 12 Single Member Constituencies.

Hiring bias?

Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) have complained that foreign human resources directors are hiring people from their own countries for their companies.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said his ministry will scrutinise the hiring policies of companies with a "high concentration" of foreign professionals from the home country of their foreign HR directors, to establish whether PMEs' concerns are well-founded.

No end to adventure

Schools will continue to take students on adventure learning trips, and the Education Ministry will set up an advisory panel to raise the quality and safety of outdoor adventure programmes.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said such programmes are effective learning tools. But he added that trips to Sabah's Mount Kinabalu would be suspended for now.

DBSS defects

The Housing Board's role in overseeing Design, Build and Sell Scheme flats, which are projects undertaken by private developers, came under the scrutiny of several MPs yesterday. They wanted to know if the HDB steps in to fix defects.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said private developers take responsibility, as the sale and purchase agreement is between residents and the developer. But he said the HDB sometimes works behind the scenes to help find a resolution.

Concerns over spending rule

Several MPs expressed concerns yesterday over the move to include Temasek Holdings in the Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework, even as the House unanimously supported a constitutional amendment to allow it.

Some MPs asked if the investment company would be pressured to deliver results. To this, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said strong safeguards are in place to ensure Temasek's contributions to the Budget will remain sustainable. He also reiterated that its inclusion in the NIR framework will not change its investment strategies.

Tham Yuen-C

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe