Parliament Shorts: Possible extension for HDB shops

Possible extension for HDB shops

Heartland shops sold on a 30-year lease will be taken back by the Housing Board when the lease expires, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong confirmed yesterday.

But HDB will consider allowing lessees to continue renting the shops after the lease expires, he added, saying it would have to be "in line with future planning intentions".

He was replying to Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan), who asked what will happen to these shops when their 30-year leases run out in a few years.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) asked if businesses would get any help when the commercial units they occupy are destroyed by fire.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said both HDB and JTC have measures to help tenants. For instance, for factory units, the HDB would carry out repair works and grant rent remissions.

Iras rejected 43,000 PIC claims

Of the 71,000 Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) claims investigated by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) between 2011 and 2015, more than half were rejected.

Responding to a question from Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC), Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said yesterday that Iras rejected 43,000 of these claims.

Another 1,500 of the claims investigated had already been approved and the funds paid out had to be recovered, she added.

Iras has clawed back $8 million of the $11 million paid out for such fraudulent claims.

In a separate reply to another question from Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) on government tenders, Ms Indranee said there are guidelines on how to draft contract specifications, but it is impossible to cover every scenario across different industries.

Tripartism and ethics in schools

Students learn about tripartism in Singapore through subjects such as social studies, history and economics, even though tripartism is not taught as a specific topic, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling said yesterday.

Responding to labour MP Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who asked if the topic should be taught in secondary schools, she said students are already learning about the history of the labour movement, and the importance of peaceful relations between workers and employers. At the junior-college level, tripartism is taught in history and economics classes, she added.

Answering another question about how schools foster the learning of ethics, Ms Low said all subjects in the curriculum are guided by a framework that focuses on values such as respect, resilience and integrity.

Students also receive character and citizenship education through stories and learning journeys, for instance.

Molest on trains not big problem

An average of 71 cases of molestation on MRT and LRT trains were reported each year over the last three years.

This makes up about 5 per cent of all outrage-of-modesty cases reported each year.

Revealing these figures yesterday, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said they should be seen in the context of the three million passenger trips made daily.

He added that a specialist unit from the police force has been patrolling the public transport network since 2009 to deter crime. The police have also been educating the public on the issue.

Hence, there was no need to put up warning signs in trains for now, he said, referring to Ms Lee Bee Wah's (Nee Soon GRC) suggestion.

Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera suggested having women-only carriages. But Mr Amrin said Singapore had not reached the stage where such drastic measures are required.

LTA mulls penalties for oil spills

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is considering imposing deterrent penalties on drivers responsible for oil spills, after four major spills on Singapore roads this year caused traffic snarls.

The LTA has claimed amounts from involved parties ranging from $5,000 to $200,000 for the cost of repairs to damaged roads in recent years, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng , responding to questions by Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC).

He added that there is no common profile of drivers involved. "Both local and foreign drivers and vehicles were involved," he said.

Most spills were caused by accidents or breakdowns, he added.

Mr Ng added that oil spills are not reflected in the Expressway Monitoring Advisory System (EMAS) signs as they are often not the root cause of a traffic incident. However, LTA will review how EMAS can be improved to better inform motorists of conditions on the roads.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline Parliament Shorts: Possible extension for HDB shops. Subscribe