Parliament Highlights - 1 October 2018
PUBLISHED ON 01 Oct 2018
HSR project deferred ‘in the spirit of bilateral cooperation’

Minister for Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan shared in Parliament that both Singapore and Malaysia have formally agreed to postpone the construction of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) on 5 September 2018. Mr Khaw added that construction of the HSR will be suspended until 31 May 2020.

He explained that Singapore decided to work out an alternative solution ‘in the spirit of bilateral cooperation’, especially since Malaysia assured Singapore that they wanted to resume the HSR project.

He also pointed out that a longer suspension period will also impact the development plans for Jurong Lake District.

During the duration of the suspension, both Singapore and Malaysia will discuss the way forward, with the aim to reduce costs. Mr Khaw emphasised that Singapore is open to discussions, but is not obliged to automatically accept any proposals, and will assess proposals from Malaysia ‘carefully and objectively.’

Parliamentary Elections Act amended

Is your vote a valid vote? What happens if one of the ballot boxes goes missing in an election? These are some of the key changes to the Parliamentary Elections Act passed on Monday (1 October 2018). Some of the amendments are:
  • Only an “X” marked INSIDE a demarcated box on a ballot paper will be counted as a valid vote.
  • There will be no automatic recount even if the vote difference between the top (winning) candidate and his or her challenger is 2 per cent or less.
  • If a ballot box from a polling station is lost or destroyed in an election, all counting of votes from that polling station will be abandoned.
  • If the number of votes from the affected polling station is enough to affect the result for that constituency, voters at the affected station would be required to go through a fresh poll.
  • If there is a need for a fresh poll, the returning officer will need to specify the date, hours of the poll and the location of the polling station.
  • The number of Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) will be raised from nine to 12, minus the total number of elected opposition MPs.
  • The election deposit will be reduced from $14,500 to S$13,500.
  • Primary payment method will be e-payment, but in extenuating circumstances, the Returning Officer will exercise the discretion to allow cash payment.
Wrapping up the debate on the bill, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the changes will "improve the administration of parliamentary elections while ensuring the secrecy of the vote and the integrity of the election process".

More than 3,000 households took up Lease Buyback Scheme

In response to parliamentary questions regarding the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS), Minister for National Development Mr Lawrence Wong said that more than 3,000 households have taken up the scheme since it was introduced in 2009.

Majority of applicants were households in three-room flats, followed by four-room flats and then the smaller HDB units. The Government has since announced in August 2018 that LBS will be made available to all HDB flats.

Mr Wong added that the main reason for rejecting an application was not meeting the age requirement of the scheme, which is set at 65 years old. The LBS allows older flat owners to sell part of their flat lease back to HDB and boost their CPF Retirement Account.

IT glitch caused by human error: SMS Lam Pin Min

Investigations have revealed that an IT glitch resulted in the mislabelled medicine that affected 830 patients.

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pim Min shared that the glitch occurred when a system upgrade was done by an IT vendor. While the medication and quantity of medication were correctly dispensed, the system had printed the wrong unit of measurement on the medicine labels. Patients that have been affected by this glitch were monitored by the clinics, and there have not been reports of adverse effects.

Additional rounds of testing have been conducted to ensure that the systems are working as designed, and the measurement function enhanced to prevent future errors.

Power trip triggered by failure of equipment components; contingency plans in place
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Indsutry Dr Koh Poh Koon has stated in Parliament that the power outage, which affected multiple parts of Singapore last month was triggered by the failure of two equipment components that was within the power-generating units at Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy.

Dr Koh also reiterated that contingency plans and power supplies are in place for critical services and infrastructures.

The first power trip occurred at Sembcorp Cogen and was followed by Senoko Energy's power-generating unit. The power trip at Sembcorp triggered an automatic response in 15 other units that were in operation to increase the supply.

Dr Koh explained that this power trip is usually not a problem as each of the remaining units in operation had to increase supply of about 5 per cent, however the Senoko Energy power trip had resulted in a further shortfall in supply.

"(This) caused the protection devices in the power system to kick in as designed and automatically disconnected electricity to about 146,500 consumers to rebalance the system," Dr Koh added.

To restore the electricity supply, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) had instructed other generating units to be on standby to provide the additional power supply and power was fully restored within 38 minutes. EMA has since worked closely with Sembcorp and Senoko to establish the root cause of the power trip.

"This is important because the generation technology is used in other generating units in Singapore as well as globally, and what happened here could occur elsewhere." Dr Koh also added, "We will ensure that we incorporate all the lessons from this incident to ensure continued high standards of reliability for our power system.