Er. Dr. Lee Bee Wah’s speech during debates on MWER’s Budget
The sweltering temperatures in Malaysia must serve as a warning bell to all of us. In Singapore, the temperatures are also climbing. Should we be blanketed again this year by the transboundary haze, the impact will be even worse than last year with the rising temperatures.
The transboundary haze is one of the major contributors to climate change. According to estimates released by Guido van der Werf on the global fire emissions database, there have been nearly 100,000 active fires detected in Indonesia last year. Since September last year, it has generated emissions exceeding the average daily emissions from all US economic activity every day. Imagine how severe that is!
We have been robbed of our clean and green living environment. That’s why I don’t understand how come some political leaders from neighbouring countries can say that they have given us 11 months of clear air and we complain of one month of haze. Not sure if he can survive on 11 months of healthy food and one month of poisonous food.
What steps are being taken under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to prosecute and deter errant companies which contributed to the haze? There’s increasing recognition that the root cause of the forest fires in Indonesia is commercially driven. What measures have the Ministry taken to enhance the accountability of the companies? What were the regional and bilateral efforts that Singapore participated/led in mitigating the causes of the transboundary haze pollution in our region? Have all the companies that have businesses in Singapore provided detailed maps of all concessions in their supply chains? Of course, we also acknowledge the challenges our leaders have been facing. if our neighbouring countrie do not have the politicsl will to solve the root cause of the problem.
Haze caused climate change, which in turn causes temperatures to rise, which in turn cause mosquitoes to breed faster. To put in simply, haze has caused more dengue cases. NEA has announced that we may reach a record high in number of dengue cases this year. Again, we have been robbed of our clean and green living environment, thanks to the haze! In addition, South Korea and Vietnam had confirmed their first Zika case recently. There is a very real threat that Zika virus could enter Singapore. May I know how does the Ministry intends to tackle this threat?
I believe with the havoc created by climate change, we also need to look at our drainage system. To-date we have been
coping fairly well but flash floods continue to disrupt our daily lives though only occasionally. May I know what is the PUB doing to prepare the drainage system for any extreme weather conditions where you see very heavy continuous rainfall.
On the flip side, as we know we may also get prolonged dry weather. It may be timely to remind our people of the need
to conserve water. May I ask what is the progress of efforts to encourage water conservation and what are our plans in this area?
While on PUB, can the Minister give the House an update on the ABC Waters Programme? Since its launch in 2006, where are we now and how has this been benefiting Singaporeans? What further plans are there to expand this ABC programme in the next 5-10 years?
Still on clean and green, earlier this year, the MOE took a huge step in the right direction by having all students from primary to Junior College levels to participate in daily cleaning activities in their schools. Hopefully this can nurture the current generation of children into future adults who possess great community ownership.
But in the interim, there are still people who believe that cleaners and conservancy workers will pick up after their
mess. These are the culprits who robbed of their fellow residents their clean & green living environment. May I ask what is the progress of efforts to engender greater community ownership to keep the environment clean? I think more community-based ground-up initiatives will help. In Nee Soon South, I pick litter with residents every month. It was initially difficult to convince the less-receptive residents, but seeing their fellow residents and their MP in action had convinced more people to come together and appreciate the importance of taking responsibility.
Dr Lee Bee Wah during a litter-picking event
The prohibition of second hand smoke is another subject that has always been close to the heart of my residents. The last extension of the smoking ban was in 2013. Does the Ministry intend to further extend the smoking ban to cover more places to safeguard the health of the public against second hand smoke? Does the ministry have any plan to roll out designated smoking points, like in Japan and Taiwan?
Now I would like to turn to food. In our society, hawker centres still hold dear to many Singaporeans and even the tourists. I am pleased to note that 20 new hawker centres are expected to be ready by 2027. However, there have been concerns that it will be difficult to find sufficient hawkers to take up the stalls. Youths interested in F&B tend to favour cafés and restaurants. What plans does the Ministry have to further ensure the vibrancy of our hawker centre culture? How can we make it more appealing to young entrepreneurs? Can we improve the working conditions in hawker centres?
Speaking of hawker centres, I’ll like to thank the Ministry for the new hawker centre in Yishun. I’m very happy to see that construction has started on site. This is the place that my residents have been looking forward to, they know it’s the place to have good food at reasonable prices. I certainly hope it will be completed on time. Many of my residents, especially those with good cooking skills, are also looking forward to having a stall in this hawker centre. I hope NEA can look into this and help everybody. Thank you very much.