Debate on ministries' budgets

MPs' Suggestions

Parliament yesterday heard debates on the budgets of three ministries - manpower, education and communications and information.Here are some suggestions by MPs:

JOBS FOR OLDER WORKERS

Redesigning jobs to raise the productivity of older workers should be a key component of each industry transformation map, said Mr Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC). For example, resources could be pooled by firms to develop best practices, and to modify tools for use off-the-shelf by older workers.

WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES

The Employment Act should be changed to define clearly what constitutes "unfair" dismissal, to better protect people with disabilities from being dismissed without explanation, said Nominated MP (NMP) Kuik Shiao-Yin. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) can also require companies, or help them, to accommodate, where reasonable, workers who become disabled while employed.

WORK PERMIT HOLDERS

Jobs for work permit holders should be posted in a portal, so workers can avoid paying high recruiter fees to middlemen, said NMP Kok Heng Leun. The costs currently deter them from reporting mistreatment for fear of losing their jobs, he said.

He also asked if the South Korean model, where the government employs these workers, could be used here to offer greater protection from unscrupulous employers. Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said it is impractical for Singapore due to the high number of foreign workers here.

PRE-SCHOOL TEACHERS

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) suggested pre-school educators be seconded to lower primary school levels and that lower primary school teachers should also spend some time in kindergartens.

This will help them better understand the transition required of pupils as they progress to primary school. It could also help educators identify those with learning challenges earlier.

The new National Institute of Early Childhood Development could run programmes for stay-at-home parents and grandparents or retirees.

TV SPORTS CONTENT RIGHTS

Mediacorp and pay TV operators StarHub and Singtel should jointly go after sports content rights - starting with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where Singapore athletes will be competing, suggested NMP Ganesh Rajaram. This is to prevent last-minute deal-making, like for the Rio Olympics telecast two years ago, making it tough to get sponsorship and advertising.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'MPs' Suggestions'. Print Edition | Subscribe