Debate in 2 minutes: Manage, not ban, online gambling

Yesterday's sitting devoted more time than usual to parliamentary questions, with lively debates on topics such as online gambling and jobs.

Eight new Bills were introduced, while a Bill to amend the Central Provident Fund Act was passed after eight MPs spoke on it when the proposed changes were debated.

Manage, not ban, online gambling

Allowing some form of legal but tightly controlled online gambling is a "realistic and clear-minded" approach as opposed to a complete ban, said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee. He was responding to MPs' concerns over allowing Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club to launch online gambling options for local punters.

Despite police efforts, online gambling persists, he said. Last year, almost 300 people were arrested for illegal gambling, with about 50 charged under the Remote Gambling Act. About 90 per cent of those arrested for illegal football gambling and over a third of those arrested over illegal lotteries were involved in online gambling.

Paralympians get equal support

On whether Olympic and Paralympic medallists should receive equal rewards, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that instead of focusing on post-podium rewards, "we believe our role is to support our athletes up front in their journey to the podium". She stressed that in terms of support, the Government does not discriminate between able-bodied athletes and para-athletes.

Tackling economy and job woes

Three ministers addressed worries about the slowing economy and weak job market, with MPs having filed 16 questions on those topics.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang said that if Singapore slips into a downturn, the Government may consider contingency measures, depending on the nature and severity of the situation.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran noted that business costs for firms have moderated, and Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say announced a new jobs marketplace to better match job seekers to jobs.

CPF changes strike a balance

A Bill to amend the Central Provident Fund Act was passed yesterday, with eight MPs speaking in the debate.

One hot issue was the provision to let members withdraw a limited lump sum upon reaching an eligible age, with some MPs calling for more flexibility and others urging caution.

The proposed change strikes a balance between flexibility and safeguarding retirement adequacy, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say. Other changes included having payouts under the Retirement Sum Scheme begin automatically when a member turns 70.

Eight new Bills introduced

A Bill to amend the Constitution with regard to the elected presidency and Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) schemes was among eight new Bills introduced.

Other Bills include proposals to have a licensing regime for credit bureaus, changes to laws on merchant shipping, fire safety, telecommunications, national registration, parental leave, and income tax.

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