Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Transport with regard to the 26 defective MRT trains (a) whether the defects being not "safety-critical" meant that they pose zero safety risks for commuters; (b) why is it most effective for the car-bodies to be entirely replaced when cracks have been found only on the bolsters; (c) what are the risks for cracks to happen on other components of the car-body; and (d) whether the monthly safety assessment is focused only on the found defects or conducted for the entire train.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (Non-Constituency Member): Mdm Speaker, the setting up of the Employment Claims Tribunal is long overdue. This Bill is a welcome relief for workers. I am sure there will be many refinements down the road to ensure that workers get paid their rightful salaries. For now, I have a few issues that I would like to put to the Minister to address.
First, the most important feature of the Employment Claims Tribunal is that it covers workers not covered under the Employment Act, especially Professionals, Managers and Executives who earn more than $4,500 a month. The setting up of the Tribunal finally recognises that compelling PMEs to file their claims with the civil courts can be lengthy and costly, thus discouraging PMEs from pursuing their just compensation and creating the unintended consequences of protecting unscrupulous employers.
However, the obstacles faced by PMEs might return in another form with the Tribunal. This is the limit on claims amount. It was stated in the Ministry of Manpower’s public consultation exercise that claims amount would be capped at $20,000 per claim, or $30,000, if claimants go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or MOM conciliation. I would like to clarify with the Minister if this, indeed, would be the case.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Health (a) whether Singapore's organ transplant rate has increased since the launch of the "Live On" campaign in 2008; (b) how does the rate compare with those of other countries with similar quality of life; (c) whether there is adequate training of and buy-in from doctors in intensive care and emergency units to improve the organ retrieval rate; and (d) whether a review of the opt-out system and consideration of the mandated consent system is now timely.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth with regard to the upcoming survey on intangible cultural heritage (a) how will the vendors be evaluated for their expertise in conducting the survey; (b) whether all findings of the survey and findings from previous research done by the National Heritage Board will be released to the public and, if not, why not; and (c) whether there will be extensive public consultations in the creation of the national inventory.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (Non-Constituency Member): Mdm Speaker, I join my Workers’ Party colleagues to oppose this Bill. As an ordinary person who relies on the law to protect my family, I find this proposed law casts too large and fearful a shadow on the whole of Singapore and diminishes my sense of security for my family.
First the timing for this bill is most unfortunate. The suicide of 14-year-old Benjamin Lim in January this year is still fresh in the minds of many members of the public. It was only five months ago on 1 March this year that Minister Shanmugam laid out the facts of the case in response to online statements and reported comments about the events leading to the suicide. The Minister was careful to point out that he consulted the Attorney-General’s Chambers to make sure he would not be in sub judice contempt. He also said that the Ministry of Home Affairs would study how the police and other institutions could respond in future to such allegations. Is this Bill the response that he had promised?
If it is, how can this Bill claim to merely codify common law rules when it is coming so quick on the heels of what the Minister had said in Parliament just five months ago? If it is, is the response not too fast, too furious, too hasty, given that the Benjamin Lim case is still pending? If it is, should such a Bill with all its terrifying consequences not be given an airing for public debate? Surely, given the potentially far-reaching impact of the Bill, all Singaporeans should be considered stakeholders to be widely consulted, and not just selected legal and judicial fraternities?
Reading this Bill as an ordinary person sends a chill down my spine. I sincerely hope this is not the intended effect of the Bill. The chilling part is sub judice contempt. The meaning of “publish” here is so broad that it covers personal electronic communication and social messaging between friends. It is also not clear what is meant by quote “a real risk of prejudice to or interference with, the course of any court proceeding that is pending”.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Prime Minister (a) since the introduction of Cooling-Off Day regulations, how many individuals have been investigated by the Elections Department for the publication of electoral advertising on the Internet for (i) the People's Action Party and (ii) other parties on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day; (b) how does the Department come to be alerted to these individuals' publications; and (c) what are its priorities in selecting the individuals to be investigated.