From The Backbench

Nominated MP Walter Theseira
Nominated MP Walter Theseira
Mr Gan Thiam Poh
Mr Gan Thiam Poh
Mr Louis Ng
Mr Louis Ng
Ms Cheryl Chan
Ms Cheryl Chan
Mr Christopher de Souza
Mr Christopher de Souza
Dr Chia Shi-Lu
Dr Chia Shi-Lu
Non-constituency MP Leon Perera
Non-constituency MP Leon Perera
Mr Murali Pillai
Mr Murali Pillai


Public housing's role in integration

Alternative forms of Housing Board home ownership could be considered for high-valuation areas, to ensure public housing continues to integrate all types of Singaporeans, and the lower-income have a wide choice of locations at which to live, said Dr Theseira.

This could be in the form of equity-sharing with the HDB, meaning the purchase of a flat in a high-valuation area is heavily subsidised, and when it is sold, the profits or losses are also shared with the Government, he said.

Another option is shorter-term leases with guaranteed subsidised resettlement on lease expiry. He also said the prices of flats in towns close to the city centre or well-connected to amenities appear to be driven up by well-off Singaporeans.


Building BTO flats ahead of time

To reduce the waiting time for young couples buying new flats, Mr Gan asked if the Ministry of National Development could continue to construct Build-To-Order (BTO) projects ahead of time.

He said such buyers could enjoy a shorter waiting time of 11/2 years or less, allowing them to move into their own homes sooner, instead of living at their parents' homes.

Most couples postpone having a child until they get their own place, he added. This is not ideal as many are getting married when they are in their 30s.

The typical waiting time for BTO flats is three to four years. For BTO projects built ahead of order, the waiting time is between two and three years.


Tackling cat abandonment

Micro-chipping and licensing pet cats are measures which could be strengthened to deter cat abandonment, Mr Ng said.

Calling it a heartless act, he said abandonment is one reason for the increase in the stray cat population. This has caused problems as cat feeders struggle with the sudden increase in numbers and residents also suffer disamenities, he added.

While it is easy to enforce the strict pet abandonment laws for dogs - as they are microchipped and licensed, so their owners can be traced - there are no such requirements for cats.


More features for OneService app

Ms Chan gave several suggestions on how the OneService app, a channel for residents to report municipal issues, could be improved.

If the app was connected to lift service providers or rescue units, for example, residents trapped in lifts could receive help more quickly, and this would be useful in emergencies or if the person had a medical condition, she said.

Besides being a feedback tool, it can be a channel for residents to give ideas on how their estates can be improved. Information on community services suitable for seniors can also be put on the app, she added.


Train medical cyber-security experts

Set up a medical cyber-security academy to train a core group of experts in protecting medical information, Mr de Souza suggested.

Such an academy would ensure that those operating in the specialised sphere of medical information are well-trained, and that standards are kept high across the various healthcare clusters.

These experts would be able to share best practices and "steadily raise the industry standard" for protecting medical records.

DR CHIA SHI-LU (Tanjong Pagar GRC)

Review alcohol consumption limit

The latest findings on alcohol, which were published in highly regarded medical journal Lancet, concluded that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

Given the findings, Dr Chia said the Health Ministry should review its recommended limit for regular alcohol consumption, which stands at two standard drinks a day for men and one standard drink a day for women.

According to the study, alcohol use accounts for nearly one in 10 deaths globally among people aged 15 to 49.


Adopt value-based healthcare system

Adopt the system known in the United States as value-based healthcare, in which healthcare institutions are paid based on patients' health outcomes, rather than the amount of services they deliver, Mr Perera said.

"It involves practices like sharing of data across physicians to prevent redundant testing, and adjusting payments to hospitals based on good care best practices," he said.

He asked if the Government would study the value-based healthcare approach and consider adopting it across the healthcare system if trials are successful.


MediShield Life for community hospitals

Allow national health insurance scheme MediShield Life to be used for patients who are directly admitted to community hospitals, Mr Murali said.

He acknowledged that MediShield Life was designed to provide coverage for large acute hospital bills, and that there is a need to guard against cost escalation if patients at community hospitals can tap it.

"Nevertheless... there are benefits in right-siting the care of the patients at an appropriate healthcare institution so that precious resources in acute hospitals are not unnecessarily stretched," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'From The Backbench'. Print Edition | Subscribe