MPs in accidents, public transport fares, drones: 7 things we learnt in Parliament

MPs in accidents, public transport fares, drones: 7 things we learnt in Parliament

Issues discussed in Parliament on Jul 8, 2019
Issues discussed in Parliament on Jul 8, 2019 include the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, drones, the pollution at Pasir Gudang, and public transport fares.

SINGAPORE: Harsher penalties for drink drivers, public transport fares and mandatory registration for drones were some of the issues debated by MPs in Parliament on Monday (Jul 8).

The main topic of discussion was the amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which will see harsher penalties for reckless motorists who cause death by dangerous driving. 

Here are seven things you might have missed from Monday’s proceedings: 

1. HARSHER PUNISHMENTS FOR RECKLESS DRIVERS

There will now be harsher punishments for reckless motorists who cause death or drink drive.

A police officer arresting a suspect in Singapore
A police officer arresting a suspect in Singapore. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

For causing death by dangerous driving, first-time offenders will be jailed for at least two years, while repeat offenders will be given a minimum sentence of four years.

Drink drivers will now face double the current penalties. For first-time offenders, they could be jailed for up to a year, fined, and be disqualified for at least two years. 

For the second offence, they face up to two years in jail and a fine of between S$5,000 and S$20,000, as well as a ban from driving for at least five years.

READ: Scrap discretionary right turns at all junctions soon, MPs urge as Road Traffic Act amendments passed

2. "I LITERALLY SAW STARS"

During the debate about amendments to the Road Traffic Act, Nominated Member of Parliament Lim Sun Sun recalled how she was knocked down by a double-decker bus on Jun 13 at the junction of Upper Changi Road East and Somapah Road.

Just as she was to get to the other side of the road crossing, she said she “felt something very large looming” over her. 

“I was stunned and I even made eye contact with the driver and caught his horrified expression as he saw me,” she explained. 

“The next thing I knew, I had been thrown onto my back and I felt my head hitting the road very, very hard. At that point, I literally saw stars - those in my head and those in our beautiful night sky - although I couldn’t tell which was which.”

MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Ang Hin Kee also told Parliament how a private-hire car had knocked into his car because the driver was distracted by his passenger.

3. SPARED THE GALLOWS

MPs also heard why a Nigerian man who was originally sentenced to death for importing about 2kg of the drug Ice was allowed to walk free.

Judge gavel
File photo of a gavel (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin explained that Adili Chibuike Ejike, who was arrested at Changi Airport in November 2011 after the drugs were found the inner lining of his suitcase, was spared the gallows because he did not know about the presence of the drugs.

“The one key issue was whether Adili could rebut the presumption that he knew the nature of the drugs in his suitcase,” Mr Amin said.

“Members will appreciate that once the prosecution accepts that the accused did not know of the presence of the drugs, then the presumption cannot apply. 

“This legal reasoning is neither novel nor new, and is not in any way different from the Government’s understanding of the law,” he added.

He was also asked if there was a need to review the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

READ: MHA explains why Nigerian spared death sentence for importing about 2kg of Ice

4. TRAIN AND BUS FARES

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said rail companies are operating at a loss and that the fares paid by commuters do not cover the operating costs.

Jurong East MRT station file
Jurong East MRT station. (File photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

He said there will be a need in future to review the formula by which transport fares are determined.

Parts of Singapore's MRT system is now on par with other world-class systems like the Taipei Metro and Hong Kong MTR, but Mr Khaw said the Public Transport Council’s fare adjustments had not been “fully implemented” until recently. 

He spoke about how Singapore might meet this shortfall.

READ: Review of transport fare formula needed to reflect rising cost of operating MRT system: Khaw Boon Wan

5. REGISTER YOUR DRONES

All drones in Singapore will have to be registered by the end of this year, while pilots of “large or capable drones” will need to have them licensed.

A drone flying in Singapore
A file photo of a drone in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/​​​​​​​Roslan Rahman)

It comes after sightings of unauthorised drones near Changi Airport caused a runway to close intermittently between 11pm on Jun 18 and 9am on Jun 19. A total of 38 flights were affected

When asked about the perpetrators, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said investigations are still ongoing and that it is too early to tell if they were Singaporeans or foreigners. 

"There will be a few selfish and irresponsible persons who operate in flagrant disregard of the law, as well as the needs and concerns of others," Dr Lam said, noting that by and large, enthusiasts fly their drones responsibly.

He also told MPs that Singapore’s aviation authorities have stepped up countermeasures at Changi Airport.

READ: Mandatory registration for drones by year-end as police investigate recent incursions

6. PASIR GUDANG POLLUTION

Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli assured people that the air and water quality in Singapore have remained unaffected by the pollution in nearby Pasir Gudang.

Pasir Gudang chemical poisoning Kim Kim River
Fumes from toxic chemicals dumped in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang in March 2019 caused students and teachers from nearby schools to experience shortness of breath and vomiting. (Photo: Bernama)

More than 1,000 children in Johor have fallen ill since the first incident in March this year.

Mr Masagos said Singapore’s agencies have put in place precautionary measures to guard against potential pollution impacts arising from the chemical incidents. 

READ: Air and water quality in Singapore not affected by Pasir Gudang pollution: Masagos

7. BREXIT AND THE US-CHINA TRADE WAR

The Government is closely monitoring economic developments and will be ready to step up support for companies and workers here, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Trump meets Xi at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan
US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, Jun 29, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
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The minister pointed to the US-China trade war as a key uncertainty, as well as the risk of a disorderly Brexit. 

And while growth for 2019 is “likely to be weaker than earlier envisaged”, according to central bank chief Ravi Menon last month, Mr Chan stressed that there remains “pockets of strength”.

READ: Singapore well-placed to weather uncertainties but Government ready to step up support: Chan Chun Sing

Source: CNA/mi(gs)

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