Penalties for traffic offences were increased last year to send a strong signal that irresponsible behaviour is unacceptable on Singapore's roads, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam. That is why it is not feasible to give blanket discounts on fines to a particular category of motorists as these rules must be enforced for all, he added.
He was responding to Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) who asked if the Traffic Police could offer an automatic instalment plan for comparatively minor offences, such as making illegal U-turns. Mr Singh said in some jurisdictions, the authorities give a discount when people promise not to re-offend. Many low-income motorists do not have the ability to pay the fines at one go, he added.
Replying, Mr Shanmugam said while the Traffic Police does allow some flexibility on a case-by-case basis, giving such a blanket discount could undercut the policy. The Government has to develop policies that are based on sound principles and stand by them, he added. On this count, the Road Traffic Act was amended last year because there is a cost on society and individuals when irresponsible drivers who are, for instance, under suspension or drunk, injure or kill people, he said. Traffic rules also have to be administered fairly and equally, he added.
Mr Shanmugam said there were other ways for MPs to help low-income offenders, such as through the use of community funds, which would allow deserving people to get help, while ensuring that sound policies are carried out on principled grounds.
He added that the Traffic Police had studied options which would allow people of different income levels to pay different amounts but found it did not quite work. "We haven't shelved it completely," he said, adding that they would look at Mr Singh's suggestions.