“Cuts” (suggestions for Ministries) from Nee Soon GRC MPs in Parliament on 2nd March 2017
For the Prime Minister’s Office
1. Louis Ng: Encouraging local banks to strengthen responsible financing
Recently, some of our local banks were named for allegedly financing irresponsible palm oil companies linked to deforestation and the haze. In 2015, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) released a set of industry guidelines to enhance responsible financing, but it seems that these measures have not borne fruit. International banks such as HSBC have started to strengthen their lending criteria, but local banks have not published environment, social and governance (ESG) policies. Will MAS encourage financiers to adhere to the ABS guidelines? And what further steps will it take to prevent local financiers’ involvement in environmental destruction, which could lead to haze?
2. Kwek Hian Chuan Henry: Banking and Finance Corporate Regulations
Many public listed company executives tell me of the challenges of abiding by a growing checklist of regulations. At the same time, there are rapid changes internationally with regards to compliance. I note that MAS recently established the Corporate Governance Council to review the code of Corporate Conduct. Can MAS share more about this?
How can we ensure that the code of conduct, while meeting international standards, will be practical and supportive of businesses, and improve the attractiveness of our exchanges?
For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1. Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Relations with India
Singapore and India’s relation has strong historical and cultural linkages and come a long way. I would like to seek an update on our bilateral relations with India. In particular, how have we expanded cooperation with India following the Strategic Partnership that was signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Singapore in November 2015?
2. Louis Ng: Setting up a new Department of Foreign (Humanitarian) Aid
Singapore has always been ready to respond to humanitarian crises and natural disasters in the region. For refugees, Singapore recently contributed US$200,000 to the ASEAN Trust Fund. MINDEF also began Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief missions as far back as 1970. The government also frequently contributes cash donations via humanitarian organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief. As such, will the Ministry consider establishing a new Department of Foreign (Humanitarian) Aid, similar to Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) or the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for example, to coordinate humanitarian aid and strengthen our response to regional humanitarian crises? We have the capabilities and resources to do more to help our neighbours, and I would urge us to do so, on the grounds of compassion, to strengthen bilateral ties, and to strengthen stability and prosperity in our region.