Blackout and HSR among questions for Parliament

Monday's session to address issues related to Sept 18 disruption, High-Speed Rail deferment

Several parts of Singapore, such as Sembawang, were hit by a blackout in the wee hours of Sept 18, 2018.
Several parts of Singapore, such as Sembawang, were hit by a blackout in the wee hours of Sept 18, 2018.PHOTO: ST READER

The cause of Singapore's worst blackout in 14 years is one of the questions that MPs want answered when Parliament sits on Monday.

Four MPs filed questions on the blackout that occurred at 1.18am on Sept 18, plunging 146,797 residential and commercial customers in 19 areas into darkness for 38 minutes.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) wants to know the root cause, and what measures will be put in place to minimise the risk of a repeat.

Said Mr Liang, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry: "A disruption of this scale raises concerns about whether there are any systemic or deeper problems."

Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC) asked what safeguards are in place to ensure there are no power disruptions to critical services such as those in hospitals as well as street lights and traffic lights.

MPs also asked about the decision to defer the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project up to May 31, 2020.

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan is seeking details on how the $15 million that Malaysia will pay Singapore for aborted costs was decided upon.

He also asked which major works will be suspended as a result of the HSR deferment, and whether there are any ancillary projects that will continue in the interim.


"How did they arrive at the $15 million? Because that is much less than the actual amount spent (on the project) so far," Mr Tan noted.

Other issues that will be raised include the Lease Buyback Scheme, HDB's upgrading programmes and ministerial salaries.

Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) asked for all the components of the salaries paid to the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers.

Six new Bills will be tabled, including the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill. This upcoming Bill will grant the taxman powers to investigate serious crimes.

Nine Bills will be debated during next month's sitting, including the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill.

It introduces about 30 changes to improve the administration of elections. These include allowing election officials to abandon the vote count for the affected polling station when a sealed ballot box is lost or destroyed before the ballots can be counted.

In addition, the new batch of nine Nominated MPs will be sworn in on Monday. Eight of them received their appointment letters in a ceremony at the Istana on Wednesday.

The new faces include Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Xiu and labour economist Walter Theseira.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Blackout and HSR among questions for Parliament'. Subscribe