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Singapore Budget 2014: Changes to law to deal with community disputes being studied

The police may get more teeth to deal with public nuisances in the neighbourhood, with the Government looking into legislative changes to deal with the issue, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong says. -- ST FILE PHOTO:&nbsp
The police may get more teeth to deal with public nuisances in the neighbourhood, with the Government looking into legislative changes to deal with the issue, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong says. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

The police may get more teeth to deal with public nuisances in the neighbourhood, with the Government looking into legislative changes to deal with the issue.

This was revealed in Parliament on Wednesday by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, during the debate on his ministry's budget.

He was responding to Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC), who had asked if the Government was considering a change in the legal framework to deal with public nuisances.

Mr Wong said: "Our key thrust is on public education and mediation, but we recognise that there are cases which do require rules and penalties."

Mr Nair had pointed out that the authorities currently are unable to do much, because there are no clear rules on what is an acceptable level for various public nuisances.

Every year, government agencies receive more than 70,000 complaints about noise - residents' top peeve. Other common grouses include verbal abuse and the use of common corridor space.

Mr Nair, a lawyer, said exact rules may be developed as part of the public consultation exercise on the new community dispute resolution framework, which could see the setting up of a new tribunal in the second half of the year.

Under the tribunal, a judge will hear cases and have the power to issue orders. Those who refuse to abide by the orders may end up being prosecuted.

The move, announced by Mr Wong last Saturday, will give much-needed bite to the current community dispute resolution system, which is voluntary.

Further details will be revealed, following the consultation exercise which started on Sunday. The public consultation paper is available at http://www.mccy.gov.sg/communitydispute

Those interested in giving their feedback can e-mail community_dispute@mccy.gov.sg until April 21.