Packed agenda for first Parliament sitting of 2018

The first Parliament sitting of the year is expected to last three days.
The first Parliament sitting of the year is expected to last three days.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The agenda will be packed for the first Parliament sitting of the year, which will start on Monday (Jan 8) and is expected to last three days.

Besides the usual parliamentary questions, the introduction of Bills and debate, the session will be closely watched to see what Workers' Party (WP) Non-constituency MP Leon Perera will do, after he was asked to apologise for misleading Parliament by House Leader Grace Fu.

Ms Fu had taken him to task for saying Mediacorp had deliberately edited parliamentary footage on the elected presidency debates.

She asked Mr Perera to apologise at Monday's sitting.

Another unusual move will take place on Wednesday (Jan 10), when the Government will introduce a motion to ask Parliament to appoint a Select Committee to study the problem of deliberate online falsehoods.

The committee will also be tasked to recommend how Singapore should tackle the issue, the Law Ministry said on Friday (Jan 5).

The agenda issued by the Clerk of Parliament shows that during question time on Monday, the topics of corruption and criminal gains will dominate.

These include the bribery scandal involving Keppel Corporation's company, and scams involving public incentive schemes like SkillsFuture - crimes that had caught people's attention in recent weeks.

 

WP MPs have asked for more information on the Keppel case, which the Singapore-listed, government-linked conglomerate settled by paying US$422 million (S$567 million) in fines.

Keppel's offshore and marine unit had reached an unprecedented global resolution with criminal authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore, on corrupt payments totalling US$55 million made by a former Keppel agent in Brazil.

Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim wants to know the considerations in reaching this resolution, which she said had implications on local law enforcement and prosecutorial decisions.

Meanwhile, her fellow Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh asked how many Singapore government-linked companies or their subsidiaries have been investigated for corrupt practices here or overseas in the last 30 years.

The recent news that SkillsFuture Singapore had been cheated of $40 million in the biggest case of defrauding a government agency, has drawn questions from MPs as well.

Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad said many were talking about the case, adding that while such public incentive schemes cannot be too onerous, they also cannot be "so easy to scam".

Mr Zaqy asked why the measures put in place, after an earlier case of fraudulent claims, did not prevent the later $40 million scam. He also wants to know whether weaknesses have been found in controls.

The House will also debate seven Bills while four Bills will be introduced.