Parliament Highlights - 20 November 2018
PUBLISHED ON 21 Nov 2018
More protection for Singapore workers
Singaporean workers will be better protected under the amended Employment Act, which was passed in Parliament on 20 November 2018.
The amendments made to the Bill will include those in managerial and executive positions earning more than $4,500 a month.
Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo said the review of the Employment Act is timely as the proportion of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians in the Singaporean workforce will rise to two-thirds by 2030. This will benefit another 430,000 PMETs. Mrs Teo reiterated, "Each amendment of the EA is a result of careful consideration by the tripartite partners to meet the interests of both employers and employees. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the EA this year, we should acknowledge the tripartite collaboration that has kept our EA relevant and well-calibrated.”
Almost all the working population will come under the Employment Act except public servants, domestic workers and seafarers who are all covered separately under other laws because of the nature of their work.

Other amendments to the Act include
  • simplifying the dispute resolution process at the Employment Claims Tribunals
  • enhancing flexibility for employers to give the option of time-off to employees who work on public holidays
Singapore cannot rely on goodwill to protect against disinformation campaigns
Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, Mr Edwin Tong has emphasised in Parliament that Singapore cannot rely on the goodwill of service provider platforms to protect it from disinformation campaigns.
In response to parliamentary questions regarding deliberate online falsehoods, Mr Tong quoted the example of Facebook refusing to take down a post by the States Times Review that linked Singapore to 1MDB's investigations.
The social media platform had earlier stated that it did not accede to Singapore's request to take down the States Times Review post because it does not 'have a policy that prohibits alleged falsehoods, apart from in situations where this content has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm'.
Mr Tong said, "There are many situations where serious harm is caused even though there is no potential for imminent violence or physical harm. And as members will appreciate, the slow drip of poison, over a period of time, can one day result and burst into violence."

Small proportion of foreigners at public health institutions

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min has said that foreign patients have not impacted public health institutions' delivery of services and subsidised appointment slots for Singaporeans.
He reiterated that the Ministry will continue to ensure that Singaporean's healthcare needs are the priority.
He said foreign patients, who make up a small proportion of patients seen at Singapore's public health institutions, are referred to public health institutions through overseas hospital agents and these patients make up 0.4 per cent of attendances between 2013-2017.
Dr Lam emphasised, "Our public health institutions are not allowed to actively market themselves to foreign patients."

Uplift task force to help children from disadvantaged homes
An inter-agency taskforce, Uplift (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce) has been set up to help students from disadvantaged homes level-up.
The task force will look into helping students across all levels, with a greater focus on pre-school and primary school children. Second Minister for Education Ms Indranee Rajah will lead the taskforce.
She explained that the focus on younger children would help the Education Ministry (MOE) prioritise upstream interventions for positive change and long-term impact. She also said the reasons for underperformance are complex and multifactorial “and often have their roots in the child's home environment and family situation."
The task force will have three areas of focus:
  • Shoring up the motivation and resilience of students from disadvantaged homes
  • School absenteeism and underlying causes
  • Stepping up parent outreach and parenting programmes to empower families.