From the Backbench

MPs propose better skillset matching for NS stints, better insurance protection for servicemen

West Coast GRC MP Rachel Ong suggested that new skills NSmen picked up outside of NS could be factored into their reservist postings. PHOTO: ST FILE

Rachel Ong (West Coast GRC)

Tapping NSmen's civilian skillsets

The SAF should consider recognising the competencies of operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) in their civilian lives, even as it moves towards digital transformation, green technology and other new capabilities, said Ms Ong. She suggested that the new skills they picked up outside of NS could be factored into their reservist postings.

The current system returns most NSmen to their original units that they were in during full-time national service when they return for training.

Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC)

Skills-based deployment for NSFs

Some flexibility could be exercised to redeploy a full-time national serviceman (NSF) to a posting more compatible with his skillset, said Mr Chong.

He also questioned if Mindef could better engage the families and employers of national servicemen to get fuller support for their deployments.

Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC)

Seventh pillar of Total Defence

Climate defence should be made the seventh pillar of Total Defence, said Mr Wee, echoing a previous call by Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC).

"Having climate defence as the seventh pillar of Total Defence will send a powerful message to all Singaporeans and the world about how seriously we are tackling climate change and our level of commitment to environmental sustainability," he said.

"Going forward, this consideration will underpin all major decisions we make and facilitate more effective defence coordination."

Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC)

Raising insurance quantums

The current $150,000 each for Mindef's Group Term Life and Group Personal Accident insurance coverage could be raised to provide better coverage in the event of death or total permanent disability of the serviceman, suggested Workers' Party MP Mr Giam.

In response, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said that the quantum of coverage is reviewed periodically, and that "all relevant factors" are taken into account during these reviews.

Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC)

Help firms stay resilient amid tensions

In view of tensions between the United States and China, there should be measures in place to help Singapore firms and the economy remain resilient, Ms Yeo said.

This is because local firms may be affected by the economic impact of these tensions, including possible restrictions on access to markets and the movement of people.

Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC)

Educate Singaporeans on foreign policy

With the strategic balance in the world shifting due to tussles between world powers like the United States and China, the Government will need to continue to engage Singapore citizens on its foreign policy, said Mr Choo.

He noted that the dynamics of international relations are now frequently being played out on social media, and asked for updates on how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can better help Singaporeans understand bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

Nominated MP Raj Joshua Thomas

Protect MFA officers from Covid-19

Singapore's foreign service officers have played a critical role in providing consular support and comfort to Singaporeans overseas, amid the pandemic, and many remain in countries where they are exposed to Covid-19 risks, said Mr Thomas.

He asked if there are plans for them to be vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as other measures to protect them against the virus at their overseas missions.

Edward Chia (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

Help local firms understand Asean better

Training courses offered to firms and workers as part of industry transformation maps should include content on supply chains, business strategies and the cultural context of how things are done in Singapore's neighbouring countries, Mr Chia said.

This will help Singaporeans get a deeper cultural understanding of Asean, and help ensure stable business partnerships between local firms and those in countries in the region

Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC)

Helping residents access e-services

Urging the Government to do better for the less IT savvy, Dr Tan cited two Clementi residents' experiences. One wanted to get a licence to be a security officer and was told to submit an application online, but he does not have a computer. The other resident could not go online to apply for his wife to be a permanent resident on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's website. After appealing for help, he was redirected back to the e-service system.

"It can be regressive when digitalisation of services, makes it harder for the less well off, less literate, less IT savvy to go online," said Dr Tan.

Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC)

Revisit White Paper on religious harmony

This may be a good time to revisit the 1989 White Paper on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony, which sought to deal with insensitive proselytisation, said the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Singh said radicalism and extremism are also subjects that deserve closer attention today.

He highlighted "the critical point" of the paper, which said that the purpose of separating religion from politics is not to determine the validity of religions or ethical beliefs, but rather to establish working rules in which multiple faiths can accept differences between them and coexist peacefully

Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC)

Traffic fines: Allow instalment payment

Mr Faisal called on the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider allowing instalment payments for traffic fines specifically for low-income first-time offenders who are beneficiaries of financial assistance schemes such as ComCare.

He said that this would not lessen the intended effect of fines as offenders would still have to bear the full amount of the fine. Such compassionate consideration will prevent further aggravation of their financial struggles, he added.

Nadia Ahmad Samdin (Ang Mo Kio GRC)

Offer offenders more targeted help

The point when offenders are incarcerated can be very destabilising for families said Ms Nadia, who acknowledged that the Yellow Ribbon Community Project and Family and Inmates Through-care Assistance Haven have provided support for inmates and their families.

She questioned if the Government would consider more targeted intervention that could be used to monitor and break cycles of inter-generational offenders. She also asked if more measures could be put in place to better support their families.

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