Parliament Shorts

A speed limit in parks and park connectors for cyclists is part of several measures being considered by an advisory panel.
A speed limit in parks and park connectors for cyclists is part of several measures being considered by an advisory panel.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Nearly six in 10 private sector employers gave low-wage workers earning up to $1,000 a minimum pay hike of $60 in 2014.
Nearly six in 10 private sector employers gave low-wage workers earning up to $1,000 a minimum pay hike of $60 in 2014. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Speed limits for cyclists

Cyclists in Singapore may soon have to observe speed limits in parks and park connectors.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said yesterday a speed limit for bicycles was part of several measures being considered by an advisory panel headed by Parliamentary Secretary for Education andSocial and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

Set up last July, the panel is looking at a comprehensive set of rules and norms governing the use of bicycles and other personal mobility devices, such as motorised kick scootersand "hoverboards".

Mrs Teo was reply to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who had suggested that speed limits be introduced for cyclists in parks and park connectors.

She, however, dismissed another suggestion for bicycles to be licensed, saying it would not be effective and was not required in most countries.

Downtown Line fares

Fares for various stages on the Downtown Line (DTL) seem inconsistent because the Public Transport Council (PTC) wanted to ensure that senior citizens and the disabled do not pay more than what they would on an older line, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.

He was replying to Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who had asked why fares for DTL stations between Bukit Panjang and Newton, for instance, were exceptionally high.

The new DTL, Mr Khaw said, runs roughly parallel to the North-South Line, where fares for the two groups are capped at 88 cents instead of 92 cents for newer lines.

PTC applied the fare structure of the North-South Line so that senior and disabled commuters will continue to enjoy the 88-cent cap on journeys between stations.But since the actual distance of such a trip on the older line is longer than that on the DTL, other commuters end up paying more as the fare structure of the older line applies to them.

"Understandably, such an approach gives rise to some inconsistency in the fares framework. But the PTC did so in order to take care of the interests of the more vulnerable commuter groups," said Mr Khaw.

Spending on haze subsidy

More than $3.3 million was provided under the Haze Subsidy Scheme last year to help children, the elderly, and lower- to middle-income Singaporeans with their haze-related medical treatments, Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said in reply to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera.

The scheme, which ran fromSept 16 to Nov 23 last year, provided subsidies for more than 77,000 patients seeking treatment for conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and conjunctivitis.

Under the scheme, pioneers paid $5 and other eligible Singaporeans paid $10 at participating clinics and polyclinics for haze-related conditions. Public assistance cardholders got fully subsidised care.

Dr Lam also said ST Dynamics is developing N95-equivalent masks that can fit children's faces.

'No' to overseas postal voting

Allowing overseas voters to vote by post carries secrecy and security risks and the method will not be used for now, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Ballot papers can be lost or tampered with during postal delivery. They may also not be mailed back in time to be counted. Voting by ballot papers at overseas polling stations is still the simplest and most transparent method for now, he added.

Mr Teo said this in a written reply to NCMP Dennis Tan, who asked the Government to consider postal voting for overseas voters.

Unemployment rate up for PMETs aged 50 and above

The unemployment rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 50 and above who are working as professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) was 3.1 per cent last year, up from 2.7 per cent in 2011. In the same period, the unemployment rate rose from 2.1 to 2.7 per cent for PMETs in the 40 to 49 age group, but it fell from 2.2 to 1.9 per cent for the 30 to 39 age group, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said in reply to Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC).

6 in 10 companies gave minimum pay hike of $60

Nearly six in 10 private sector employers gave low-wage workers earning up to $1,000 a minimum pay hike of $60 in 2014, following the recommendations of the National Wages Council (NWC) that year.

Three in 10 made the increase permanent by adding it to the workers' basic pay, the Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said.

The proportion of Singaporeans and permanent residents earning a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000 from full-time work has declined from 9.8 per cent in 2012 to 6.8 per cent in 2014, Mr Lim said in reply to Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

HDB partial resale levy waiver: Nod for 1 in 3 bids

The Housing Board received 7,600 appeals for resale levy waivers from 2010 to last year, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in reply to NCMP Leon Perera.

Of these, 3,500 were for full waivers and 4,100 for partial waivers.

While the HDB disallows the full waiver of levies, about one-third of the appeals for partial waivers were successful, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Parliament Shorts'. Print Edition | Subscribe