Debate In 2 Minutes

Yesterday's Parliament sitting opened with Speaker Halimah Yacob declaring the seat held by Bukit Batok MP David Ong vacant.

The House also debated and passed three Bills.

Making transfer appeals transparent

The school transfer process is fairer and more transparent if schools are allowed to consider transfer appeals only from students who meet their cut-off points.

Explaining the new rule that stipulates this, Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said taking in transfer students based on other non-academic criteria is not fair to students who did better at the Primary School Leaving Examination, but did not get posted to the schools.

Suicide risk test for students in distress

Not all students are assessed for suicide risk when they are asked to help in police investigations, said Mr Ng.

He said such screening may distress or confuse students who have not contemplated suicide.

School counsellors conduct such assessments only for those students who show signs of serious emotional distress or are known to have mental health issues.

New ERP system for congested roads

A decision has not been made yet on whether the new electronic road pricing (ERP) system will be implemented islandwide.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the satellite ERP system, which will go live in 2020, will be used only on congested roads for a start.

Shops can't show tobacco products

Shop owners will not be allowed to display their tobacco products from next year, to prevent impulse buys.

Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill passed yesterday, products such as cigarettes and cigars, will have to be hidden from plain sight in shops.

New law passed on mental capacity

People who lose the mental ability to make key decisions on their personal welfare and financial matters will get more help and protection under the law.

A Bill to update the Mental Capacity Act, passed yesterday, will allow the courts to appoint paid professionals such as lawyers or social workers to make decisions on behalf of the mentally incapacitated.

The courts can also step in earlier if the people given the power to make proxy decisions are not up to the task.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Subscribe