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Parliament Highlights - 14 January 2019
PUBLISHED ON 14 Jan 2019
Adoption laws being reviewed

Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Desmond Lee said that MSF is reviewing adoption laws and practices to better reflect public policy and the values of the broad society. This comes after the High Court's ruling to allow a gay Singaporean father to adopt his biological son.

Mr Lee emphasised said the need to strike an "appropriate balance" when weighing up the welfare of a child against "important public policy considerations" during adoption proceedings. While the Government’s policy is not to interfere with the private lives of Singaporeans, including homosexuals, Mr Lee said MSF does not support "the formation of family units with children and homosexual parents, through institutions and processes such as adoption".

Mr Lee also shared that his Ministry is studying the issue of surrogacy. "This is a complex issue with ethical, social, health and legal implications for all parties involved," said Mr Lee.

He added that concerns have been raised on commercial surrogacy in particular and these issues warrant careful study.

Currently, surrogacy cannot be carried out in Singapore at any licensed healthcare institution that provides assisted reproduction services. Parents who have gone overseas for surrogacy and return to apply for adoption of their surrogate children will have their applications assessed on a case-by-case basis.

More than 2,400 checks conducted on food caterers in 2018

The National Environment Agency (NEA) conducted more than 2,400 checks on food caterers last year, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor.

Responding to questions from several Members of Parliament on what the authorities are doing to reduce incidences of mass food poisoning, Dr Khor said over 900 additional inspections were conducted last month on food operators that provide catering services or that have substantial catering operations. She added that NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority have also stepped up surveillance and engagement of all food operators.

Additionally, NEA also held discussions with key representatives from the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore and the Restaurant Association of Singapore to further reinforce the importance of food hygiene and safety.

Dr Khor reiterated that consumers should only engage licensed caterers and consume catered food within the stipulated time period.

Meanwhile, Dr Khor said NEA will improve its website and the myENV app to make it easier for consumers to check food operators' hygiene records.

Healthcare institutions to conduct safety reviews

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has instructed all public and private healthcare institutions to conduct immediate safety reviews after it was discovered that some dental equipment which had not been fully sterilised was used at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor told Parliament that the MOH has also asked healthcare institutions to heighten vigilance, step up competency training and conduct internal quality audits on their sterilisation process.

Dr Khor stressed that patient safety is of utmost importance and apologised for the incident.

People aged below 16 or above 65 are generally not in restraints when arrested

Responding to questions regarding the restraint policy, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said in Parliament that people in custody are restrained to prevent them from escaping and harming others or themselves.

He added that people younger than 16 or older than 65 years will not be restrained when arrested.

Any indication of unstable or irrational behaviour of people in custody, the escorting officer would assess the risk of escaping or causing harm and will make their own judgement.

Mr Amrin also stated that people in custody who are suspected of committing serious crimes, including murder, rape, or drug trafficking will be restrained by enforcement officers.

Fight against terrorism financing

The Ministry of Law has tabled a new Bill in Parliament to counter the portability of precious stones and metals in the use for money laundering and terrorism financing.

Under the Precious Stones and Precious Metals (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Bill, jewellery retailers and dealers of precious metals and stones, including second-hand goods dealers and auction houses, will have to register with the Ministry of Law.

The guidelines will call on dealers to conduct stricter customer due diligence checks and perform risk assessments posed by customers and transactions.

Registration is expected to start in the second quarter of 2019, and dealers will have six months to register once the Bill is passed.

The Ministry noted that this is the first time that specific rules have been proposed to regulate the industry, and said the guidelines will help to combat crime and improve security both domestically and globally.

Prevent unauthorised drone activity

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) intends to develop a system that can monitor unmanned aircraft systems across the island, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min.

This system, Dr Lam said, will allow authorities to zoom in on individual drones to check if they are operating under valid permits as well as issue alerts to pilots who are found to have flout regulations.

Asked if Singapore’s Changi Airport could be vulnerable to disruptions caused by drones, Dr Lam said law enforcement officers in Singapore conduct regular surveillance patrols around Changi Airport and respond to sightings of unauthorised drones. He added that counter-measures to deal with the safety and security threats posed by drones are also coordinated with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Dr Lam revealed that there were eight reports of unauthorised unmanned aircraft systems flying within 5km of Changi Airport were recorded in the past three years. However, none of these cases involved intrusions into Changi Airport. 


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