Skills training, chicken culling to be raised in Parliament

The Budget will be delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday.
The Budget will be delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday.

The recent flap over the culling of chickens in Sin Ming is among matters that will be raised in Parliament on Monday, ahead of the unveiling of the annual Budget by Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat.

Mr Heng is scheduled to start speaking at 3.30 pm.

The question on the culling of 24 free-range chickens last month will be raised by Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC).

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it carried out the culling following complaints from residents and health concerns.

After a public outcry, AVA said it was done due to a bird flu risk.

Mr Ng is one of three MPs who will ask how the authorities handle complaints on wildlife.

Mr Ng wants to know if AVA sets a threshold on the number of complaints before culling animals, and if it had considered asking people to adopt the chickens, or other more humane solutions.

"I'm hoping AVA does not apply such a standard and is basing its action on scientific reasons," he said.

"We can't have knee-jerk reactions every time there are complaints about animals."

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) will ask how many bird-related complaints there were in the past three years, and what is being done to solve the problem of birds feeding on leftover food at hawker centres.

Another concern of MPs is support for Singaporeans to acquire skills through training and further education.

Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh wants to know if the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme can be extended to workers who wish to study for a first or second degree. The scheme is for fresh polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education graduates to work and further their studies at the same time, by receiving structured training for qualifications in their field of work.

"There are a number of specialised industries with degree requirements on the rise, such as cyber security. It'll be good if there's help for people considering a mid-career switch to these sectors," he said.

Chong Zi Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Skills training, chicken culling to be raised in Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe