SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE LAND TRANSPORT (ENFORCEMENT MEASURES) BILL IN PARLIAMENT ON 10 SEPTEMBER 2018
Mr Speaker Sir
I rise to support the Bill. It is indeed regrettable that in our effort to improve the mobility of residents and encourage people to enjoy the outdoors without relying on the use of traditional transport like motor cars and other petrol or diesel vehicles, we are today confronted with another set of problems.
The issues that confront us is clearly placed into two categories:
1. is the lack of civic mindedness on the part of those who use these new generation mobility devices and
2. is the lack of strategic and forward planning on the part of the transport authorities in allowing the owners of these personal mobility devices free rein to the public pathways and pedestrians walkways.
I feel compelled to say this of the authorities as I read the Bill which states REGISTRATION OF REGISTRABLE PERSONAL MOBILITY DEVICES Purpose of this Part 528A.
The purpose of this Part is to provide for the registration of personal mobility devices — (a) to enable the use of personal mobility devices on public paths to be regulated for reasons of SAFETY and law enforcement. Yes, we should have thought of safety long before these 20-40 kg missiles go crashing into innocent pedestrians.
Now, we are constantly playing catch-up though I would say it is better than turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to the public outcry for protection against those who use their PMD recklessly. Many residents told me that it is no longer safe to walk in Singapore. They can be knocked down by PMDs, by bicycles, any time, anywhere. Are we too hasty to be car-lite when the mindset of our people & the infrastructure is not ready?
The Active Mobility Act seem to favour cyclists & PMD users. Why do I say that? At areas where there is high pedestrian traffic and narrow passageways, it is near impossible to have cyclists and pedestrians co-exist. Hence in Nee Soon South, we put up signages that say “Dismount and Push” or “No cycling”. This is to remind cyclists to refrain from cycling through these narrow passages. From time to time, there is joint enforcement action by police and town council. This is to ensure the safety of our residents. But someone challenged this, saying that these restrictions are in fact no longer valid.
I hope our Transport Minister can review the Act and put in place more equitable laws for public safety.
I think we should have heavier penalties for offenders who ride recklessly and cause serious injury to the victims. I don’t think the proposed fine of $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both under Section 28(3) is adequate. The penalties must have a stronger bite to wake up the would-be offenders. Also, I would ask whether the Minister will consider imposing a ban for those who cause the victims to suffer serious debilitating permanent injury or death? I ask this because the victims cannot seek any compensation for the medical treatment and the continued expenses that would be incurred in looking after someone who becomes an invalid. Or, to be compensated for loss of a loved one.
Given that accidents involving e-scooters or PMDs can cause serious injuries to pedestrians what is the reason for the delay in the implementation of liability insurance? How can the registration of PMDs help the victims in accidents in the claim for compensation?
Another area we need to look into is the need to take enforcement action against shops or anyone selling these PMDs which do not comply with the new regulations, or which perform illegal modifications on these devices. A strong enforcement action must be done to swoop on these outlets some of whom may still be holding stocks of devices which don’t comply with the law.
Another area that I want to raise is what about those who use their handphones when they are riding on their PMDs. Would action be taken against them? I have seen on several occasions riders looking at their handphones while they cruise down the pathways. This is another reckless behaviour that can result in an accident.
I would also point out that there are elderly people on their motorised wheel-chairs whom I have seen watching video clips while riding on pathways. Again, this must be put to a stop. And, should a pillion rider be allowed on PMD at all? The weight of one or more persons may undermine the effectiveness of the PMD braking system. Will the Minister restrict this pillion riding?
And, quite often I see very young kids (barely 6-8 years old) riding as pillions on PMDs. Shouldn’t we protect these young kids? I don’t understand why some adults, including parents, who are willing to risk injury to their kids and take them on pillion rides. We have to remember that there is no safety harness nor any safety clothes for the kids.
And, I think it is also timely to remind all PMD users as well as drivers of motor vehicles that they should observe the traffic rules and take precaution when on the road, at traffic light junctions, or near pedestrian crossings. This also applies to pedestrians.
They should not take for granted that the other party knows or will do what you think they would do to give way, or to have right of way. Road safety and precaution must be practised by everyone.
Another question I would like to raise is if there will be an age-limit to allow a person to register a PMD? In the case of a driver’s licence, anyone aged 65 years and above needs to go for medical check to get a licence. Will this apply to those using PMDs in the interest of the general public? In fact, it may be important for the riders to be sure they are able to manage their PMD or motorised wheelchair for their own safety especially if they have weak eye-sight, or are on medication which can impair their judgement or cause drowsiness?
Next, I would like to ask under Section 28D – the Authority may cancel the registration of a registrable personal mobility device if — (a) the Authority is satisfied that the personal mobility device — (i) has ceased to be used on any footpath or shared path in Singapore; (ii) has become wholly unfit for further use.
Can the Minister clarify how will the authorities determine if a device has ceased to be used on any footpath? Is it the onus of the owner to declare that he does not intend to use it outside his house and so he can sort of “hang up” his PMD? Secondly, can the Minister clarify when will the authorities know if the device is “wholly unfit for further use”? After all, the device is not subject to any annual inspection?
Chinese please. 俗话说迟到好过没到，很高兴终于有法律来管制这些助行工具或PMD。
Thank you, Mr Speaker.