Parliament Highlights - 8 January 2018
PUBLISHED ON 08 Jan 2018
Singapore is not a platform to propagate radical, intolerant teachings: Shamugam

It is not in Singapore’s national interest to give foreign religious preachers a platform to propagate their teachings that are inappropriate or unacceptable, said Minister for Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam made these comments in Parliament, and explained that a foreign speaker has to obtain a Miscellaneous Work Pass from the Ministry of Manpower before delivering a talk related to religion, race or politics.

“We should also be clear that a foreigner’s entry into Singapore is neither automatic nor a right. It’s a privilege and it will only be granted if we assess his entry will not harm Singapore’s interest,“ said Mr Shanmugam.

Five foreign religious preachers were announced by MHA as banned from speaking to Singapore last year. “We hold a clear position on preaching of religious tolerance, and we draw a line on teachings that seek to divide our society along religious lines,” Mr Shanmugam emphasised.

Two of the banned preachers were Christians and the rest were Muslims. Mr Shanmugam said that it is not material whether previous comments made by these preachers were in relation to Singapore, stressing that it is a concern that “even a small number in Singapore take in their radical, intolerant or segregationist teachings.” He reiterated: “We should not allow them to preach or speak here to spread these viewpoints among Singaporeans, and build up anger among the different faiths.”

Singapore does not condone corruption: SMS Indranee Rajah

Singapore companies must uphold their integrity when operating overseas, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Ms Indranee Rajah.

Responding to questions raised by Members of Parliament (MPs) about the corruption scandal involving Keppel Offshore & Marine, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Ms Indranee Rajah emphasised that the Singapore Government does not condone corruption.

Acknowledging that Singapore companies operate in complex and challenging environments overseas, Ms Indranee urged them to not lower their standards of integrity and find ways to keep their systems clean but most importantly, companies should not bring back corrupt practices to Singapore, she stressed.

"Incorruptibility is a foundational value for Singapore. We must keep Singapore clean," she added.

Ms Indranee also shared that the Government hopes to move the investigations relating to Keppel Offshore & Marine expeditiously and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has sought assistance for evidence from authorities in other jurisdictions. So far, Keppel Offshore & Marine has been fined S$567 million and accepted a conditional warning from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). 

Task-force to review SkillsFuture claims

A thorough review of SkillsFuture claims will be conducted by an inter-agency task force, after a scam involving $40 million in claims were made to SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). The task-force will be overseen by SSG’s board and it will be evaluating the current fraud detection system and recommend improvements to the system.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung made this announcement in Parliament.

The scam was believed to be run by an organised syndicate, using business entities to submit fake claims. “As investigations are ongoing, I am unable to disclose more details about the case, but what is clear about the case is that it involves fraudulent claims amounting to a large quantum,” said Mr Ong.

SSG will strengthen its fraud detection system through the use of data analytics, with the help of private sector consultants and the Government Technology Agency. Mr Ong explained, “Through appropriate use of data analytics and drawing on data across Government agencies, we can better detect false claims, without significantly affecting genuine employers applying for training grants to upgrade the skills of their workers.”

He expected SSG to have a good and effective data analytics system in place by the third quarter of 2018. 

Leon Perera apologises for making false allegations in Parliament

Minister for Community Youth and Sports and Leader of the House Ms Grace Fu has accepted an apology from Workers’ Party’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera for statements he made last November about Mediacorp's editing of parliamentary footage.

She had last week, called on Mr Perera to apologise at the next Parliament sitting for “misrepresenting facts” and “misleading” Parliament.

Mr Perera duly did so and in his apology to the House on 8 January 2018 said: “I do agree the statements were inaccurate and therefore misled the House.” He added, "I would now like to definitively withdraw my earlier statements to the effect that the video had been edited with certain bits removed, and corrected after my intervention. I confirm that Mediacorp had explained this to me and I had accepted that," said Mr Perera.

In response, Ms Fu acknowledged and thanked Mr Perera for the apology.

“I’d like to stress that Members of Parliament (MPs) are given parliamentary privilege to speak freely and surface different views but this must not be misused to misrepresent facts or mislead Parliament,” Ms Fu said.

She also said the incident is a timely reminder for all members of the House to uphold the high standards of integrity and honesty.

“In this way we are able to have useful and effective discussions in this House, because we believe what we say here, we have a serious basis for them and we will not make any statements unless we are very scrupulous in the facts backing them." Ms Fu added.