SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE SMALL MOTORISED VEHICLES (SAFETY) BILL AND ACTIVE MOBILITY (AMENDMENT) BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Mr Speaker Sir
First of all, I wish to record my appreciation for the delivery riders who are doing an essential task during this period. They have, in the midst of a pandemic, risen to the occasion to deliver all manner of goods, so that the majority of the population can stay at home and practise social distancing measures, and live their life as normally as is possible. The demand for delivery services is on the rise, and it will continue to stay high even after circuit breaker measures ease, as we navigate this pandemic. More people are taking up delivery jobs to supplement their lost income. As a result, we will see more mobility devices out in public.
Some users are also relying on these devices to get out and about for their daily exercise.
With fewer options to spend their free time, I observe that more residents are taking to the parks and park connectors, bringing their devices with them.
When the Active Mobility Bill was debated this February, me and several of my parliamentary colleagues expressed concerns about fire risks with the increased usage of PMDs.
Just last week, there was a fire in Nee Soon South at 4:30am. About 100 residents had to be evacuated. According to SCDF report, there was a PMD being left to charge overnight. Luckily there was no major injury, but 3 occupants were sent to hospital.
It is timely that Minister has followed up swiftly with the introduction of upstream measures to prevent the unauthorised import of non-compliant devices which do not meet safety requirements.
The shortening of the current forfeiture process will also help to conserve resources spent on storing impounded devices, as well as mitigate fire safety hazards from storing these devices for prolonged periods. This would hopefully serve as a strong statement to those who knowingly purchase or import non-compliant devices or refuse to do their due diligence on this matter.
These new measures are indicative of the authorities’ determination to stamp out such devices. Targeting non-compliant imports will help to nip the problem in the bud. However, as some of these devices and their parts may be purchased online by individuals from overseas companies, how does the relevant agency manage these individual imports?
Like the fire I just mentioned that happened last week, what I understood was that the PMD was new, and it is left to charge for the first time. According to SCDF report, there was no approval label on the PMD. For those without approval, non-compliant, they are not allowed to be used from 1st July onwards. So why do people still buy? Is it because of lack of publicity? Perhaps MOT need to study why people are still buying non-compliant PMDs.
During the Circuit Breaker, I also received worrying feedback from residents about e-scooters reappearing on the pedestrian paths.
Due to reduced footfall on the pedestrian paths, some would even speed. That is not right. Pedestrians still do use the paths, and any number of accidents, especially fatal ones, is one too many. Whoever these riders are and whatever their reasons, no one is above the law. They must not ride their PMDs on the pedestrian paths.
How can enforcement be stepped up, especially during manpower constraints and social distancing measures? Are the relevant authorities exploring the use of technology, such as facial recognition or even drones, to quicken the process for identifying perpetrators and arresting them?
Previously, I also raised safety concerns for residents waiting at the bus stops and open spaces.
Even with the new laws in place, some errant riders would not disembark when they should as they do not want to inconvenience themselves. Town centres, plazas, courtyards, and squares have high pedestrian traffic and are not appropriate for PMDs or PABs. Most riders have been understanding on this matter. Yet others take advantage of the fact that these places are not visually distinguishable from the public path network and continue zooming through on their devices. So, I am glad that the amendments to the Active Mobility Bill will extend coverage of public paths to include the path-connected open spaces, so that law enforcement can be taken against those who flout the rules in these spaces.
Safety is paramount, and even with fewer pedestrians out and about, this must not be taken for granted. As circuit measures ease, the footfalls will be back.
If PMD riders continue their errant ways, I fear that we will see a spate of accidents because they have become used to cruising the pedestrian paths. In the meantime, I urge pedestrians to stay alert and vigilant as you get out and about.
This does not only apply to just staying safe from PMDs, but in any situation, everybody has a shared responsibility for staying safe in their environment.
Sir, I support the Bill. These amendments are necessary to protect the lives and safety of both pedestrians and the PMD riders.
In Chinese please. 今年二月讨论相关法案时，我和另外几名议员表示，担心有越来越多国人购买PMD，从而提高火患的风险。上周，义顺南一起由PMD引起的火患，更让我担心这个问题。
Watch the speech here
Watch the response here