PARL Preview: Our MPs have questions about protecting children in childcare, new HDB flat types and preventing money laundering

This coming week, Parliament deals with issues which have recently dominated local headlines.

In particular: PAP MPs will question how best to keep kids in childcare centres safe, just what the new flat classifications mean for Singaporeans and what will be done to prevent incidents like the $1.8 billion money laundering scheme from happening once more.

Ensuring that our little ones are safe

As a nation, Singapore was appalled this August at how childcare centre staff allegedly abused children under their care.

Now, 11 PAP MPs have filed questions regarding this matter. 

MP Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) is requesting an update on the child abuse investigations. She, along with MPs Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC), Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang SMC) and Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), are also inquiring into protecting these whistleblowers as well.

Source: Poh Li San / Facebook, Melvin Yong 

MP Poh is also asking the Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) how the Early Childhood Education Agency (ECDA) will improve the standards required of childcare teachers as well as the overall safety of children attending childcare centres. 

Meanwhile, MP Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC) is concerned with the recovery process for victims. He will ask about the mental health support made available to the affected children and their families, as well as how MSF works with preschools to have mental health help available for abused children when such cases occur.   

Source: Liang Eng Hwa, Darryl David, Wan Rizal / Facebook

Standard, Plus, Prime?    

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a fundamental change to Singapore’s public housing scheme at the 2023 National Day Rally. New flats will now be characterised as Standard, Plus and Prime, while the existing Mature / Non-mature estate classifications will end. 

A total of 9 PAP MPs will ask about housing-related matters in the wake of this announcement. 

For example, MP Henry Kwek (Kebun Baru SMC) is querying how new flats will improve the social mix of HDB estates as well as their affordability for buyers.

Source: Henry Kwek, Xie Yao Quan / Facebook 

MP Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC) is particularly passionate about housing, and his list of questions includes how much more the Government expects to spend on housing grants and subsidies, particularly for Plus BTOs, resale HDBs and single applicants. 

Ultimately, all these questions from our MPs have one overarching theme in common: How will these huge systemic changes keep the housing system fair for Singaporeans?

Preventing money laundering now and for the future 

The billion-dollar money-laundering scheme by foreign nationals is the largest one ever in Singapore’s history. It is thus no surprise that 15 of our MPs are asking what steps are being taken to serve justice in the present and to curb similar cases in the future.  

MP Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC), for example, will ask the Minister for Home Affairs why this crime has happened in the first place, and what more can be done to disallow work, employment and dependent passes for people with false identities and criminal intent.   

As for the assets involved, MP Alex Yam (Marsiling–Yew Tee GRC) wants to know how the Ministry of Home Affairs ensures that Singapore’s private properties are not used to launder money.

Source: Patrick Tay, Alex Yam, Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahman, Desmond Choo, Saktiandi Supaat / Facebook 

MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahman (Chua Chu Kang GRC), similarly, will ask how the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working to prevent movable assets (such as gems, jewellery and watches) from laundering money further.  

Additionally, MP Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) will ask how the MAS has worked to take down money laundering syndicates. MP Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) will ask how Singapore’s measures against money-laundering across MAS and other relevant agencies compare with other international jurisdictions.  

From the Parliamentary Questions filed for this round of Parliament sitting, two things are clear: Our Party is committed to getting to the bottom of this murky matter, and we will work to uphold the rule of law no matter the sector.