Debate In 2 Minutes

Instead of poring over proposed laws, MPs yesterday debated two topics close to the hearts of many.

They highlighted challenges faced by women and suggested ways to help them juggle the demands of family and work. The MPs also discussed how to strengthen Singapore's fight against drugs.

Combating drug issues

There is a new generation of drug abusers, warned Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

The number of students and professionals caught for drug offences has risen yearly, he said.

More than 350 students have been caught for drug abuse over the past three years, while 70 professionals and managers were arrested for such offences last year.

Reviewing marital rape

Married women should be accorded the same protection as unmarried women, which is why the Government is actively reviewing the issue of marital immunity for rape, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin. He stated that violence against women is "unequivocally wrong".

More flexi-work in the works

The Government will do more to encourage more companies to adopt flexible work arrangements, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

He updated the House on what the Government is doing to help women juggle work and family commitments. He also said the Government will not mandate the transfers of Central Provident Fund savings between spouses, as this is too intrusive.

Raising racial and religious issues

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli criticised Mr Faisal Manap's (Aljunied GRC) tendency to raise divisive issues relating to the Malay/Muslim community in Parliament.

Mr Masagos said Mr Faisal's approach could potentially make some in the community feel different in their minds, and even "unjustifiably" treated unequally.

Mr Faisal disagreed that he was sowing discord, and said he has the right as an elected MP to voice the community's concerns in Parliament.

Rehoming wildlife

Wildlife in Tengah, a secondary forest area in the west where Singapore's first "forest town" will be built, will be shepherded to adjacent vegetated areas unaffected by development in the short term. This will reduce the potential impact of works on wildlife, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

SAF's training needs in Australia to be met

While the size of proposed training areas in Queensland, Australia, will be substantially reduced, the Singapore Armed Forces' training requirements can still be met, said Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung.

This will be done through improving existing training areas and better scheduling of training activities, he said, citing Australia's Department of Defence.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe