PARL Preview: Our MPs call for more Govt action for hawkers, safer workplaces and stronger scam protection


WE AT are looking forward to 2024’s first Parliament session (Jan 9-10) this week. There’s a major Motion, Building an Inclusive and Safe Digital Society, scheduled.  

This Motion is about having “a whole-of-nation approach to sustain trust by building an inclusive and safe digital society”. It couldn’t come at a better time, really, in the age of costly scams and malicious deepfakes — Singaporeans need protection from them while skilling up and digitising.    

MPs Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson SMC), Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC), Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee), Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) and Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee) are putting forth this motion; they are part of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Communications and Information set up to scrutinise the Ministry’s actions

Meanwhile PAP MPs have filled the Order Book thick with questions for 2024’s first session of Parliament this Tuesday. They’re querying the Government on issues ranging from better supporting your friendly neighbourhood hawkers to public safety against online threats and scams. Parliament will also hear further details from the MSE Ministerial Statement about the 2021 Tua Incineration Plant explosion. 

More help for hawkers 

Let’s get to the point. Thanks to global inflation, our hawker prices have surged. Not just for consumers; the auntie and uncle selling us our favourite food are facing rising costs to bring those dishes to us.    

So MP Edward Chia (Holland–Bukit Timah GRC) is asking the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) what support there is to help hawkers with the rising cost of supplies and ingredients. He is also asking about those budget meals at hawkers centres — how will these rising costs affect these affordable options?

Source: Edward Chia/ Facebook 

Safer workplaces across Singapore 

MP Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) is asking them how the National Environment Agency (NEA) has revised its safety procedures and culture since the September 2021 explosion at Tuas Incineration Plant. MP Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC) is asking what measures have been put in place at all incineration plants to ensure that such an incident does not recur. 

Source: Poh Li San, Melvin Yong / Facebook 

MP Yong is asking about workplace health and safety. He’s asking the Minister for Manpower how many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have tapped into the free workplace safety education programme StartSAFE since its launch and the effectiveness of the programme in improving workplace safety in SMEs. Similarly, he is also asking about the number of companies taking up technology-based Government grants like the Productivity Solutions Grant and the Industry Digital Plans for Workplace Safety and Health and if these actually help to keep workplace accidents down.     

Shielding Singaporeans against scams 

Our fight for digital safety goes beyond the workplace — the smartphones and computers of Singaporeans are a key battleground in this era of online scams. 

Here, MP Gan Thiam Poh advocates that the Minister for Home Affairs develop a scam losses framework governing social media and e-commerce platforms. For MP Gan, these platforms have a duty and responsibility to users to tackle online scams jointly. In like vein, MP Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang SMC) is asking the Minister what (and if) there are stepped-up measures to combat scams and enhance cyber security for Singaporeans. 

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Source: Gan Thiam Poh, Liang Eng Hwa, Wan Rizal, Saktiandi Supaat / Facebook 

MP Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC) wants to know how the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) plans to work with international bodies to track down and apprehend overseas scammers. This is particularly important for stopping scams at their root. 

Also, he is asking how MHA can work with messaging service providers for security and education against scams. His focus on education complements MP Saktiandi Supaat’s  (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) questions to the Minister for Communications and Information about anti-scam public education campaigns: How often do these campaigns appear in local print, broadcast and social media and will there be more bite-size and digestible television ads explaining the latest scam tactics? 

Meanwhile, we will continue to strengthen our legal framework to better serve the people and protect our national interests. The various ministries will take us through Amendments to the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, the Significant Investments Review Bill and the Stillbirths and Births (Miscellaneous) Bill too. Our MPs are here for their residents — as are our political office holders fine-tuning these Bills.