Debate In 2 Minutes

The fourth and final day of this week's

Parliament sitting saw six Bills being passed, including one to allow the authorities to start collecting iris images of residents to facilitate immigration checks. MPs also had questions on defence, health and finance issues.

Putting Singapore first

Singapore's defence and foreign policy will continue to be based on putting itself in the best possible position to survive and progress, whatever the calculations or policies of other countries may be.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said this is why it pushes for joint exercises and cooperation with other countries, although he declined to address what he said were "theoretical" scenarios posed by Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who asked how Singapore would mitigate the risks should there be a major American departure from its strategy of a rebalance to the region.

Pre-implantation genetic screening

The Ministry of Health is reviewing the issue of pre-implantation genetic screening of embryos used in in-vitro fertilisation, and the National University Hospital will start a three-year trial next year.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said the ministry will look into ethical concerns and gather views from stakeholders and the public.

Singapore Savings Bonds take-up rate

About 35,000 people have invested some $970 million in Singapore Savings Bonds since they were launched in September last year.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will launch another publicity effort on the bonds next year.

More scope for telecoms regulator

To minimise disruptions to mobile signal coverage and quality, the Infocomm Media Development Authority(IMDA) can direct telcos and building owners to resolve disputes over the installation of telecoms equipment.

Changes to the Telecommunications Act also allow IMDA to direct building owners to cooperate, including mandating rent-free rooftop space for installing telecoms equipment.

Iris images to be collected

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) plans to start collecting iris images from Singaporeans and permanent residents from next year, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said.

The changes to the National Registration Act mean local travellers will soon be able to use their irises to verify their identity at automatic checkpoints here, as is being done in a number of other countries.

More leave for parents from Jan 1

From next Jan 1, fathers will be legally entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave, up from just one.

Unmarried mothers will also have 16 weeks of paid maternity leave - equal to their married counterparts - up from eight weeks, under changes to the Child Development Co-Savings Act approved yesterday.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Subscribe