Parliament to discuss race, discrimination at Monday's sitting

Other topics on agenda include supply of BTO flats and impact of G-7-led global tax system reform

The topic of race and discrimination will be on the agenda when Parliament sits next Monday.

It has come under the spotlight after several recent racist incidents, and MPs have filed questions touching on a wide range of issues.

Around the world, social media has been used to both bring attention to racial discrimination and also amplify hate speech, and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) asked how racial insensitivities on social media can be addressed.

Ms Raeesah Khan (Sengkang GRC) and Nominated MP (NMP) Shahira Abdullah want to know how students can raise their concerns about educators with racist views. Their questions come after a Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer who harassed an interracial couple last month was also found to have made Islamophobic comments in a class in 2017.

MPs also filed questions on the Ethnic Integration Policy.

The policy sets quotas for flats in a block or precinct that can be owned by each racial group, to prevent development of racial enclaves. But some say it disadvantages minorities by restricting who they can sell to or buy from. Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) and Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) have asked if the policy can be reviewed.

NMP Raj Joshua Thomas, in an adjournment motion, will speak on the topic of building racial harmony in Singapore.

Another hot topic that will come up for discussion is the supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.

Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) asked whether a bigger proportion of BTO flats can be allocated to first-time home buyers, in the light of current delays to all BTO projects and longer waiting times.

Also on the agenda is how the Group of Seven-led reform of the global tax system will affect Singapore. The agreement allows countries to tax companies based on the profits generated in a country, rather than the tax home of the companies, and sets a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) was among four MPs who asked how Singapore plans to mitigate the impact to its corporate income tax revenue.

MPs also filed many questions on Covid-19, particularly on vaccines, such as whether students have suffered adverse reactions and the reasons for supply constraints.

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, meanwhile, asked whether the Government will commit to setting up a commission of inquiry to review its response to Covid-19.

The House will hear from Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in a ministerial statement on support measures for businesses and workers affected by Covid-19 measures.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Manpower Minister Tan See Leng will also deliver ministerial statements next week on Singapore's free trade agreements, such as the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

They said on Thursday that they would address these issues, in response to questions filed by Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa from the Progress Singapore Party.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2021, with the headline 'Parliament to discuss race, discrimination at Monday's sitting'. Subscribe