SINGAPORE – Race and discrimination will be on the agenda for next Monday’s parliamentary session (July 5th).
It has come to the fore after several racist incidents in the past few weeks, and MPs have asked questions on a wide variety of topics, from the spread of racist insensitivity online to the government’s ethnic integration policy on housing from the Housing Office.
Social media has been used around the world to both raise awareness of incidents of racial discrimination and to increase hate speech.
Ms. Raeesah Khan (Sengkang GRC) and MP Shahira Abdullah wanted to know how students can voice their concerns about educators with racist views. Her questions come after a Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer who molested a multiracial couple on Orchard Road last month also made anti-Islamic comments on a class in 2017.
In the meantime some MPs also asked questions about ethnic integration policy.
The directive sets quotas for housing in a block or district that can belong to any ethnic group to prevent the development of ethnic enclaves, but some say minorities are disadvantaged by restricting who they sell or buy to can. Ms. Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) and Mr. Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) asked if the policy can be reviewed.
NMP Raj Joshua Thomas will speak in an adjournment motion on building racial harmony in Singapore.
Another hot topic that will come up for discussion is the provision of Build-To-Order (BTO) apartments.
Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) asked the Minister for National Development if, given the current delays in all BTO projects and longer waiting times, a larger proportion of BTO apartments could be given to first-time home buyers.
Also on the agenda is how the Group of Seven (G-7) agreement to reform the global tax system will affect Singapore.
The treaty allows countries to tax companies based on the profits made in a particular country rather than where the companies are taxed, and also sets a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent.
Ms. Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) was among four MPs who asked the Treasury Secretary how Singapore plans to mitigate the negative impact on the country’s corporate tax revenues.
MPs also asked many questions about Covid-19, especially vaccinations, such as whether schoolchildren had side effects and the reasons for the vaccine delivery bottlenecks.
Opposition leader Pritam Singh meanwhile asked whether the government would commit to setting up a commission of inquiry to review its response to Covid-19.
The House will hear from Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong in a ministerial statement on government support measures for businesses and workers affected by tightened Covid-19 restrictions.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Labor Minister Tan See Leng will also make ministerial statements next week on Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA), such as the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca).
They said Thursday that they would raise these questions in parliament in response to questions from non-constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party.
Mr Leong had previously announced that he would make a motion so that the subject of the free trade agreement and Ceca should be discussed in Parliament.