'This conversation seems very intimate': 5 highlights from Parliament

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng responding to a quip by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin about their "intimate" conversation.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng responding to a quip by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin about their "intimate" conversation.PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Parliament wrapped up its week-long sitting on Friday (Sept 4) with eight MPs speaking during the debate on the President's Address.

Here are some highlights from the 6-hour sitting.

1. Day in the life of a digitally savvy Ah Ma

In a Mandarin speech, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann imagined a day in the life of a digitally savvy senior, which she said could be "any Ah Ma in the neighbourhood".

In the morning, she checks the Transport.SG app to find out when her bus will arrive. She sends a selfie to her family WhatsApp chat group, uses PayNow to buy groceries and picks up prescription medication from a parcel locker.

The Ah Ma does not stop there - she watches videos on YouTube, reports stagnant water on the OneService app, tracks her daily step count with the Health Promotion Board's Healthy365 app, reads e-newspapers on the National Library Board app and uses SingPass mobile to check in to a shopping mall with SafeEntry.

More seniors will be able to enjoy such conveniences with the help of the Seniors Go Digital movement, Ms Sim said.

2. Give delivery riders grace period for parking

First-time MP Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) revealed that she had paid a visit to Mr Abdul Rahman, a Foodpanda delivery rider who went viral after he was filmed waving to bystanders from his motorcycle from the back of a mobile column during the National Day Parade last month.

She said Mr Rahman, a resident in her Woodgrove ward, shared with her the some of the difficulties faced by delivery riders like himself, including the occasional fine imposed by the Land Transport Authority or shopping mall management for parking offences.

Ms Soh suggested a "transitional parking" 15-minute grace period for food delivery riders be implemented and that shopping malls provide designated food delivery pick-up points.

 

"This will provide a win-win situation that reduces the risk of fines and clamping charges for illegal parking, enabling a smoother food collection and delivery process."

3. MPs come to grips with new processes

The first session of Question Time in the new term of Parliament saw MPs getting used to processes old and new.

New MP Ng Ling Ling (Ang Mo Kio GRC) read out her parliamentary question for Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in full, which prompted Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin to remind MPs to simply state their question number.

When Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) stepped up to the podium to ask Mrs Teo a question, he stood directly across her, separated only by the clear perspex screen put in place as a safety measure against Covid-19. MPs usually speak from microphones near their seats, but now have to speak from the podium as their rows of seats do not have the clear screens.

Mr Tan quipped that their conversation "seems very intimate with you standing there", prompting laughter from the House.

In her response, Mrs Teo said she feels "very close to Mr Louis Ng" in terms of thinking and values, which was met with further laughter.

The Speaker also reminded MPs to keep their supplementary questions brief and "cut the preamble".

4. Tan See Leng's exchange with WP's Gerald Giam


Second Manpower Minister Tan See Leng responded to a speech by Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam on protecting foreign worker interests, in Parliament on Sept 4, 2020. PHOTOS: GOV.SG

A speech from Workers' Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) on protecting foreign worker interests prompted a response from Second Manpower Minister Tan See Leng.

There are multiple mechanisms to protect the workers' welfare, said Dr Tan, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry. But he noted that the Government has no jurisdiction over employment agencies in the workers' home countries.

Dr Tan also thanked Mr Giam for suggesting a portal for employers to list available jobs so workers do not have to go through intermediaries to find new work once their contracts end. He said: "If you have more ideas, this is constructive feedback, we would welcome them as well."

Mr Giam said he appreciated the attention being paid to the issue, and noted that he was calling for more transparency on the part of employers, not the Government.

5. Ministers spar with NCMP over remarks on DBS CEO

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said he was troubled by Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai's expression of disappointment at Singapore not having a homegrown chief executive at DBS Bank.

The bank's CEO Piyush Gupta was born in India and became a Singaporean in 2009.

 
 

Mr Leong had made the remark in his maiden speech on Tuesday.

The minister on Friday urged him to consider what message he was sending, especially to naturalised Singaporens and the world.

"We have painstakingly built an open and inclusive economy that is able to create opportunities for Singaporeans by welcoming competitive enterprises and talent. It is a precious asset that we must not squander," said Mr Iswaran.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said it would be wrong to set a quota or rule that there "must be a Singaporean CEO, born here, before we declare success".