Committee of Supply debate

Out of the box

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC)
Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC)

In Parliament yesterday, the spotlight was on transport, the environment and social issues. Some creative suggestions were made by MPs on the penultimate day of the debate on ministries' budgets. Joanna Seow highlights five of them.

COMMITTEE TO STUDY TRANSPORT CHANGES

With the many possible changes to transport models in the near future, Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) proposed that a Future Transport Committee be formed to review regulations on all forms of current and predicted ground transport.

"We must look at both the economic and social impact, shifts in the transport paradigm, (and) what this means for commuters and Singaporeans whose rice bowls would be impacted, such as (by) autonomous vehicles," he said.

BASE WATER TAX ON PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION

Consider placing households in water conservation tax bands based on the average consumption of each household member, rather than total household consumption, said Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC).

Progressive water taxation at the household level could disadvantage large families living under one roof, some of whom are lower-income families, he said. "Each person may be trying his best, saving water, but the amount adds up if you have many people at home," he said.

CELEBRATE FAMILY MILESTONES

To appreciate seniors and celebrate strong marriages, the President can send congratulatory messages to Singaporeans on their 100th birthday and beyond, as well as to married couples on their 60th anniversary and further jubilees, said Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok).

Communities can also celebrate such significant milestones with these people and their families. Family values can contribute to strong community ties and a caring nation, Mr Murali added.

MORE DATA ON YOUTH

A nationwide "Youth in Singapore" questionnaire, done annually, would provide fresh year-on-year data on young people.

This could be used to create an "always relevant and powerful programme" of alternative stress-relievers, such as sports or dance classes, so that young people do not have to turn to risky activities such as drinking, drug abuse or online gambling.

Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin made the suggestion, pointing to a similar survey and programme done in Iceland, which helped reduce the proportion of young hard-drinkers, cannabis users and daily smokers.

HELP SMALL CHARITIES RAISE MORE FUNDS

Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) urged that smaller voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) be allowed to raise funds through trade fairs.

These smaller charities "are able to reach out to the needy at a personal level and with great speed", he said, but they do not have many opportunities to raise meaningful donations effectively.

"Giving the trade fair quota to these VWOs will also help bring awareness to their presence in the community and the good work they have done," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'Out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe