ICYMI, 5 underrated highlights from Parliament that affects all of us

It’s been a long week in Parliament, with issues explained, bills read, and motions debated. There were statements addressing the Ridout properties, amendments to the Maintenance of Parents Act and Women’s Charter, a misguided call by the Opposition to abolish the Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and a renewed commitment to celebrate sporting successes.  

But in between all that, PAP MPs have not forgotten their constituents. Whether it be wild boars running free or long waiting times at the polyclinic, your concerns are our MPs’ worries. They will always speak up on the issues that matter to you. 

Tan Wu Meng and Janil Puthucheary: Improving accessibility to polyclinic appointments 

Met with worried residents unable to get a polyclinic booking online despite multiple attempts, MP Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) questioned how we could improve the accessibility of polyclinic appointments. 

In his reply, Senior Minister of State (SMS) Janil Puthucheary shared that the Government has since put in short-term measures to address the increased demand at our polyclinics.  

According to SMS Janil, all polyclinics will set aside some slots for walk-in patients with urgent medical needs and elderly patients, especially those who are frail and have mobility issues. In addition, they will try to leverage telemedicine as much as possible and contract private GPs to help deliver the service. 

Louis Ng and Eric Chua: Promoting social mixing among our youths

Friending bias is real. After all, it is human nature to gravitate towards people who are most like us. But according to studies, a lack of mixing between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds can lead to a demise in social mobility. With so much at stake, it has driven MP Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) to ask whether the Government has specific policies to encourage social mixing. 

To that, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (SPS) Eric Chua shared that with mobility being a long-term outcome to address inequality since independence, public policies in Singapore will always consider how best to promote social mixing, including between different income groups.  

“Besides providing opportunities for students from different schools to interact with one another (and with the larger community), we have also sought to increase the social capital of those from low-income backgrounds through volunteering and mentoring opportunities,” noted SPS Chua.  

Edward Chia and Tan Kiat How: Managing our wild boar population  

Wild boars – not a problem until one of them comes charging our way. And following two incidents involving wild boars in quick succession, MP Mr Edward Chia (Holland–Bukit Timah GRC), concerned for the safety of his constituents, raised the question of what measures have been taken to manage our growing population of wild boars. 

In response, Senior Minister of State (SMS) Tan Kiat How shared that besides removing wild boars from the vicinity, NParks has installed exclusion fences to reduce the possibility of them entering housing estates.  

Additionally, NParks will continue to take a comprehensive, science-based approach to managing our wild boar population, shared SMS Tan. This includes habitat modification, movement management through fencing and public education to ensure public safety. 

Koh Poh Koon and Patrick Tay: Rooting out workplace discrimination  

Fairness matters, and the proposed Workplace Fairness Legislation (WFL) is one way we protect workers from discrimination based on their nationality, age, sex, race and language. But what will be the potential impact of legislation on workplace culture, asks MP Mr Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC). Will this generate a climate of hostility and ill will where the law gets brandished around at every perceived slight? 

Addressing the question, Senior Minister of State (SMS) Koh Poh Koon shared that strengthening workplace fairness through legislation should be done with an eye on resolving disputes at source and emphasising mediation rather than litigation. After all, workplace harmony is an invaluable hallmark of Singapore’s employment landscape and needs to be protected too. 

Desmond Lee and Denise Phua: Improving housing options for low-income singles  

Living with a flatmate is fun in your twenties. But for low-income singles with limited housing options, sharing personal space with a stranger can easily lead to conflict. This view is echoed by MP Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), who shared about the frequent appeals she receives from tenants in rental flats who desire more privacy or cannot get along well with each other. 

In recognition of these issues, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said that the Government will launch a new type of rental housing called the Single Room Shared Facility (SRSF) this December.  

“With the SRSF, we aim to provide more privacy for tenants while making good use of limited space. The shared facilities and communal spaces will (also) enable social interaction and reduce the risk of social isolation,” shared Minister Lee.  

Additionally, HDB has been retrofitting old rental flats with partitions so that tenants can enjoy more privacy. As we move forward to build a more inclusive society, fulfilling the housing aspirations for low-income singles is something the Government will continue to work towards to. 

Photo Source: Eric Chua/Desmond Lee/Edward Chia/ Janil Puthucheary/ Koh Poh Koon via Facebook