Debate on ministries’ budgets: Communications and Information

From The Backbench

Non-constituency MP Leon Perera
Non-constituency MP Leon Perera
Nominated MP Mohamed Irshad
Nominated MP Mohamed Irshad
Dr Teo Ho Pin
Dr Teo Ho Pin
Ms Tin Pei Ling
Ms Tin Pei Ling
Mr Low Thia Khiang
Mr Low Thia Khiang
Mr Liang Eng Hwa
Mr Liang Eng Hwa
Mr Saktiandi Supaat
Mr Saktiandi Supaat
Mr Lim Biow Chuan
Mr Lim Biow Chuan

NON-CONSTITUENCY MP LEON PERERA

Benefits to sharing govt survey results

Results of public opinion surveys conducted by the Government should be published as they would be beneficial to many stakeholders, said Mr Perera. With the information, citizens could, for example, better calibrate their actions, such as in writing letters to the media, or expressing views on social media.

Mr Perera noted that some survey results are already made public by the Government's feedback unit, Reach. But he called for the adoption of a rule that all ministries and agencies publish the results of opinion surveys they commission, provided they do not impinge on national security or sensitive matters.

"Government surveys are conducted using public funds," said Mr Perera.

NOMINATED MP MOHAMED IRSHAD

Recourse for victims of data breaches

Mr Mohamed Irshad proposed the setting up of a tribunal to allow victims of data breaches to seek compensation for any losses they may have suffered.

He cited Uber's revelation in December 2017 that the personal information of 380,000 users in Singapore had been compromised in a data breach the year before. "After the breach had occurred and before Uber's admission of the said breach, it was reported that victims of the data breach were preyed upon by the hackers who used the stolen personal data to cause even more harm to the victims," he said.

He also cited last year's SingHealth cyber attack, noting that there does not appear to be any remedy available to the victims.

DR TEO HO PIN (Bukit Panjang)

Mobile app to support lifelong learning

Calling for moves to build on collaborative efforts between the National Library Board (NLB) and SkillsFuture Singapore to get Singaporeans to upgrade their skills, such as through workshops, Dr Teo suggested tapping the NLB mobile app to recommend books to users for self-learning.

He said that with users' consent, the app could be used to collect their data and preferences. It can then recommend books, e-books, audio books and videos to users, to aid in their self-development and learning.

Dr Teo also called for more interactive learning pods - which are available at Yishun Public Library and the library@harbourfront - to be placed in other libraries in Singapore.

MS TIN PEI LING (MacPherson)

Smart seniors for a smart nation

In the digital economy, it is critical to ensure that those who are unable to access digital technologies, such as the elderly, are not left behind, said Ms Tin.

While the future generations of seniors will be more educated and tech savvy, the current generation of seniors must not be neglected, she added.

"We need to harness technology to supplement our shortage of eldercare manpower and help more seniors live independently in the comfort of their own homes and community," she said. Leveraging technology can also help seniors stay connected to news and information, to support networks, and to families and friends, she noted.

MR LOW THIA KHIANG (Aljunied GRC)

Commercialise defence technology

There could be a systematic push to commercialise defence technology in Singapore, said Mr Low.

He noted that while universities and Agency for Science, Technology and Research research institutes have offices of technology transfer to support the commercialisation of research and innovation, there is no such setup for the government sector. The biggest potential lies in the commercialisation of military technology, he added.

In this area, the Israelis have become renowned worldwide for effecting technology transfers, from commercialised military technologies to civilian applications, which benefit their economy, he noted.

MR LIANG ENG HWA (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

More support for trade associations

More support and encouragement should be given to trade associations and chambers, which are key enablers in Singapore's economic transformation drive, said Mr Liang.

With their outreach and networks, these representative organisations can be " influential multipliers" and can help bring more companies on board sectoral transformation efforts, such as the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), he added.

But these associations have given feedback that they do not have sufficient manpower and are under heavy workloads and pressure to participate in the ITM efforts, he pointed out.

MR SAKTIANDI SUPAAT (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC)

Concern over credit sales agreements

Businesses offering instalment payment plans can help the lower-income to own big-ticket items, such as furniture, without having to pay upfront for them, said Mr Saktiandi.

But he asked if there should be regulations on credit sales agreements, or the types of marketing done by credit sales companies to entice buyers.

Citing interactions with his residents, Mr Saktiandi said some of them were baited by low upfront costs and misleading advertisements - leading them to run into arrears because they were unable to cope with the instalment plans. He noted that some merchants used vouchers and freebies to entice customers.

MR LIM BIOW CHUAN (Mountbatten)

Cooling-off period for beauty packages

Consumers who buy beauty and slimming service packages should be given a cooling-off period, during which they have the right to a refund, said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore, said the watchdog received 1,917 complaints against businesses in the beauty and slimming industry last year, making it the sector with the highest number of complaints.

The complaints involve businesses exerting undue pressure on customers, among others. He suggested making it mandatory for contracts offered by beauty and slimming companies to have a cooling-off period.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'From The Backbench'. Print Edition | Subscribe