Stepping up as GPC Chair provides an opportunity to refine policies and clarify legislative intent: Zhulkarnain

01/07/2024

Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, the newly appointed Chairman for the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said that taking on the role provides an opportunity to better advocate for constituents as well as refine policies and clarify the legislative intent behind bills passed.   

Mr Zhulkarnain, 44, became Chair of the GPC on July 1. He took over the role from Murali Pillai, who was appointed Minister of State for Law and Transport. Mr Zhulkarnain had previously served as Deputy Chair of the GPC. 

In an exclusive interview with Petir, the Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC and senior partner in Dentons Rodyk said that the GPC team has varied expertise, is close-knit and works well together. 

Members of the GPC include Christopher de Souza, Sitoh Yih Pin, Tan Wu Meng, Patrick Tay, Vikram Nair, and Derrick Goh.  

The GPC, according to him, is one of the busiest in Parliament, handling many bills pertaining to home affairs and law. He noted that “for every bill tabled, there is likely some input that may be required from the GPC”. 

As a lawyer, Mr Zhulkarnain enjoys reading laws and finds proposed legislation very interesting. He explained that when a bill is tabled, the GPC team reviews and discusses it, seeking to understand the legislative intent.  

“The work of the GPC, sometimes you don’t see it, is very important,” he said. “The government has a position. We will look at the Government’s intention. If we can ensure the legislative intent is clear, it will reduce doubts and disputes later.”  

“We also convey concerns from Singaporeans and anticipate issues that may arise from unintended consequences of the bill.” 

GPC will focus on tackling drug abuse, scams, and supporting Home Team officers 

Mr Zhulkarnain also said that drug abuse is a concern to many members, and this is a likely focus for the GPC in the remainder of its term, especially since recent surveys have shown that the average age of drug abuse has gotten younger. In his volunteer work as Council Member of National Council Against Drug Abuse and Board Member of Yellow Ribbon Singapore, he has also seen how drug abuse impacts families and societies.  

He said the GPC also wants the government to do more and find better ways to tackle scams that “could affect every Ah Ma, Ah Gong who has life savings”. He recalled an elderly person in his constituency almost falling prey to a love scam. The senior citizen had wanted to transfer a five-figure sum to someone. Fortunately, the teller was smart and alerted the police, saving the elderly person from the scam. 

“What does this mean? We have these issues that undermine our society. So, we need to ensure we stop that.” he said. “It takes a lot of effort.  The teller, bank officer, police – everyone plays a part. I think we can do a lot of things.”  

The GPC has a “high regard for men and women in uniform” and want the best for them. As such, he said, the GPC also wants to determine how best the Government can support Home Team officers through policies and legislation. The GPC will also look at areas of concern relating to the Law Ministry, he added.   

Thanking Mr Murali for his exceptional leadership over the preceding years, Mr Zhulkarnain said: “Murali has been a splendid chairperson. He encourages us and is very supportive,” he said. “We come together. We ask questions. We complement each other’s strengths, skills and expertise.”