From The Backbench

Encourage more social mixing and spur couples to share parental leave, say MPs

Jalan Besar GRC MP Denise Phua (left) and Nee Soon GRC MP Carrie Tan. PHOTOS: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - During Day 3 of the Budget debate on Friday (Feb 26), MPs made a number of suggestions, from spurring couples to share parental leave to protecting classified data better.

Here are some highlights.

Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC)

Encourage more social mixing

Larger organisations, especially those in sectors that tend to have more employees from one gender, such as nursing, teaching and the army, should get grants to run social activities.

Ms Phua mooted this suggestion in Parliament on Friday (Feb 26), noting that cash incentives are insufficient in boosting Singapore's total fertility rate over the years.

The grants can help the organisations create opportunities for more interaction in areas like sports, learning or interest clubs.

Carrie Tan (Nee Soon GRC)

Spur couples to share parental leave

To get men more involved in childcare responsibilities, Ms Tan proposed that fathers get an equal share of leave to take care of their newborns, by using two of the four months of maternity leave that mothers currently get.

She said: "This would have an equalising effect on hiring, and firms would find it easier to manage the absence of a staff member for two months instead of four."

To sweeten the deal, fathers can also be offered income tax reliefs currently being given to mothers if their paternity leave is fully utilised, she added.

Tampines GRC Cheng Li Hui. PHOTO: GOV.SG

Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC)

Protect classified data better

With the recent spate of information leaks, including one that identified the suspect and victim of a recent fatal stabbing in Tampines, Ms Cheng asked if more could be done to ensure public officials do not share classified information.

She said she knew the victim personally, adding that the public exposure made things even more difficult for the woman's three children, who were already having a tough time over the death of their parents.

She asked: "What can be done further to let officers better recognise and appreciate the severity of sharing this information publicly?"

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim. PHOTO: GOV.SG

Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC)

Minimise scam risks for bank transfers

Noting that different banks may have varying requirements when it comes to the security of transactions, Ms Lim said she welcomed a recent Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) proposal to mandate the types of information financial institutions must use to verify the identity of a person in the absence of face-to-face contact.

She asked if MAS has considered a suggestion to offer a cooling-off period for inter-bank transfers, and whether it is working with banks to help predict which customers might be more susceptible to scams, and "inoculate" them against falling prey.

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