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Singapore

Parliament to discuss Singapore's response to global COVID-19 situation, including expected China travel surge

Parliament to discuss Singapore's response to global COVID-19 situation, including expected China travel surge

A view of the Parliament House from across the Singapore River on Sep 23, 2022. (File photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung will deliver a ministerial statement on Singapore's response to the current global COVID-19 situation at the next Parliament sitting, which starts on Monday (Jan 9).

Concerns over the impact of China easing its travel restrictions - while dealing with a surge in COVID-19 infections - will also be discussed, with Members of Parliament (MPs) raising questions about visitors from the country.

MP Joan Pereira (PAP-Tanjong Pagar) asked about measures in place to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Singapore should a new virus variant emerge, and also whether an additional dose of COVID-19 booster vaccination would be necessary, especially for the elderly.

MP Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) wanted to know the Ministry of Health's (MOH) latest assessment of the risk of a new and more dangerous COVID-19 variant emerging, and whether the ministry could provide an update on the country’s preparedness for novel pandemics in 2023. 

MP Melvin Yong (PAP-Radin Mas) asked if the transport ministry had any plans to temporarily enhance COVID-19 measures at Changi Airport for flights entering from China.

On COVID-19 vaccinations, MP Lim Wee Kiak (PAP-Sembawang) asked if there was an increasing trend of younger Singaporeans being resistant to taking booster shots because they either previously contracted COVID-19 or believe the new variants to be less infectious.

Dr Lim asked what MOH's advisory was, with regard to the mindset that booster shots should not be required annually.

MP Cheryl Chan (PAP-East Coast) asked if more senior citizens would be encouraged to take their booster shots - including those living in nursing homes.

HOUSING ISSUES

Nine questions will be raised in relation to cases of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats being put up for sale after being left vacant for years.

MP Ang Wei Neng (PAP-West Coast) asked for statistics in the past decade on the number of Housing Board flat owners caught for not staying in their properties and renting out their entire flats during their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). 

He also wanted to know how HDB picks up such violations and whether HDB has plans to improve its detection rate.

MPs Yip Hon Weng (PAP-Yio Chu Kang), Saktiandi Supaat (PAP-Bishan-Toa Payoh) and Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) asked about alternative ways to improve the detection of such cases.

M-SEP SCHEME

With the launch in December last year of the Manpower for Strategic Economic Priorities (M-SEP) scheme - allowing companies to temporarily hire more rank-and-file foreign workers above quota - several questions have been asked on its effectiveness, implementation and impact.

MPs Patrick Tay (PAP-Pioneer), Desmond Choo (PAP-Tampines) and Mr Yip asked how the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) would help Singaporean workers and firms affected by it.

Other questions raised by MPs relate to the death of a full-time national serviceman firefighter in December, and how the Singapore Civil Defence Force ensures its frontline officers are adequately trained to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

MPs also asked about businesses which might be raising prices unjustifiably using the Goods and Services Tax increase as a cover, and the Government's powers to deal with such cases.

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai will again bring up the matter of the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

He had raised a petition in August asking to impose a moratorium on SERS and review how compensation and relocation options are given to affected residents.

Source: CNA/ic(jo)

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