For the Ministry of Transport
Our Minister has been talking about a car-lite society, and I am all for it. To be car-lite, we need to further improve our public transport. We need to make bus journeys, especially in the morning and evening peak hours, more pleasant.
But for many Nee Soon South residents, this is not the case. The worst bus services in Nee Soon South are bus 860 and 811 which pick up residents from new BTOs, like Acacia Breeze, Palm Breeze, Oleander Breeze, Angsana Breeze and Saraca Breeze to Khatib MRT and Yishun MRT respectively. It is common to hear residents feedback that they must miss 3 or 4 buses before they can board as they are often over-packed.
Besides that, my residents living in private estates in Mandai Road and Sembawang area have been telling me that Khatib is so near and yet so far. There is no direct bus to go to Khatib.
A good public transport service should also cater to the residents living in private estates as well.
I also ask for covered linkways from the back gates of the condominiums to the nearest bus stop to improve accessibility. I have put up requests for two condominiums, The Estuary and Forest Hill and I am still waiting. I hope this budget will have good news for my residents.
Lastly, a sheltered link way along Yishun Avenue 2 to the Yishun sports complex would also bring plenty of cheer to the residents on a rainy day.
Madam Speaker, Yishun is a beautiful place with nice Nature Parks and soon to be added hot spring park, we have friendly and helpful people. It will be a perfect place to call home if our minister can have his magic touch on our bus services.
2. Kwek Hian Chuan Henry: Commercial Goods Vehicles
First of all, I would like to comment on the recent changes in motorcycle COE. Motorcyles are the lifeblood for many of our working class. The recent effort to remove motorcycles from contributing to the Open Category COE is a good move, because that will mean more motorcycle COEs available than otherwise. Despite that, however, the recent motorcycle COE auction prices continued to edge up.
Therefore, would MOT consider adding COEs back into the motorcycle categories, so that we move back towards the historical percentage that motorcycles used to represent in the entire vehicle population?
Next, I would like to talk about light goods vehicles. Businesses, especially SMEs operating light goods vehicles (LGV) face many challenges today, and this contributes to high business transportation costs.
These challenges include uncertainty over the vehicle replacement cost, uncertainty over supply of commercial vehicle COE, the new Euro 6 standard, and higher diesel cost.
In view of these challenges, would MOT consider?
Firstly. Delaying the implementation of Euro 6 diesel standards by 1 year, from current 1st Jan 2018 , so as to give key LGVs vendors time to ready the full range of vehicles, which includes more vehicles with automated driving transmission? Why is this necessary? At traffic police department, foreign workers drivers need to proof they have manual class 3 Driving license, which is a near impossibility. Otherwise they will be issued automatic class 3 driving license. So not having many manual transmission vehicles available for purchase is going to create real operational challenges for many companies.
Secondly. Allowing LGV owners to renew their COEs with tenures equivalent to their remaining statutory life span, verses the current 5 year mark, so as to reduce the cost and cash flow associated with extending COE.
Thirdly. ETS scheme to be both enhanced, as well as extended by increasing the current and upcoming discount on COE for LGV to levels similar to Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), extending the ETS to include Euro 5 (though perhaps with lower incentives), and not just Euro 6 vehicles.
Delinking the COE supply contribution from commercial vehicle de-registrations’ to open category vehicle category, just like what has been announced for motorcycle COE whereby de-registration from motorcycles will no longer contribute to Open Category COE in the preceding quarter.
3. Louis Ng: Developing a comprehensive response plan for oil spills
For the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources
1. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global energy intensity – the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) – improved by 1.8% in 2015. This surpassed the 1.5% gain seen in 2014, and tripling the annual rate (0.6%) seen in the previous decade, according to IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report for 2016. But the report added that and I quote: “However, global progress on energy intensity is still too slow, falling short of putting the world onto a sustainable pathway toward a decarbonised energy system.
IEA analysis shows that annual energy intensity improvements need to rise immediately to at least 2.6% in a trajectory consistent with our climate goals.”
2. I would like to ask the Minister how is our performance in industrial energy efficiency efforts compared with other countries? What is the feedback from industries on the obstacles they are facing and what can the Ministry do to address these concerns? How are we to fulfil our commitment to the Paris Agreement? Are there any new plans to improve on our industrial energy efficiency?
3. Our city state has done well in managing the air quality from vehicle emission. Unlike the days before year 2000, certainly we hardly see smoky vehicles on our roads, except some from across the causeway. Even the public can report to NEA if they see any smoky vehicles on our road.
NEA requires periodic checks for buses and diesel vehicles and we strive to reduce domestic emissions to meet the 2020 air quality targets benchmarked against WHO standards. We have been successful and there are lessons to be learnt from what is happening in China, India and France where smoke from vehicle emission had created havoc on the ambient air quality. The toll can be very serious as we can see how the haze impacted on the health of the people. The World Health Organisation has pointed out that air pollution pose one of the biggest environmental health risk, especially for heart diseases. Can the Minister update the House on what is the strategy to achieve these targets and what has been done so far to improve the air quality in Singapore?
4.Diesel vehicles are found to be the major culprit in polluting the air. In December 2016, four of the world’s largest and most polluted cities have decided to ban diesel cars and trucks from their streets by 2025.
Diesel engines emit particulates into the air at ground level, as well as emit nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides can help form ground-level ozone, which can lead to breathing difficulties for those suffering from respiratory problems. According to the WHO, seven million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.
5. At the last COS debate, we were told that a study on diesel vehicles would be undertaken by SUTD. I understand that it has recently submitted a report on alternative technologies to the Ministry. Can the Minister share with the House the outcome of this study? Where next after this?
There are some older commercial vehicles retained by their owners which do not meet current day emission standards. What are the Ministry’s plans to address these old commercial vehicles? Will the ETS be extended ? Apart from this, what are plans to curb emission from petrol cars and motorcycles?
Next, I would like to briefly point out that there is much that can be done to improve the waste collection system. Frequently we can see cleaners manually hauling refuse to the bin centres from the chutes at the HDB blocks. This gives rise to complaints from residents on the odour and the spread of pests when this exercise is not done properly. Are there any plans for the Ministry to improve on this waste disposal by cleaners?
Water Supply and Resilience
I note that the cost of water supply has risen over the years and the government is raising prices by 30 per cent in two phases from this July. I think what we need to do is to share with Singaporeans what the government is doing to meet future demand and make our country resilient against any supply disruption especially in the current uncertain weather conditions? This would I feel at least make the people understand and appreciate the big picture behind the price increase.
While on climate change, I would like to ask the Minister what are PUB’s plans to cope with the unpredictable and intense rainfall that we may encounter in this age of weather turbulence? I know there were drainage works carried out to alleviate flooding but as the past months have shown evidently there are many pockets in our midst where more work is required.
I hope the Minister can update the House on the work done so far on the Stamford Diversion Canal, Stamford Detention Tank, and the Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal? Has any of these been completed, and if so how have they helped to prevent flooding in key areas?
On PUB, I would like to ask if the Minister can update us on the Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters programme which was launched a decade ago? Where are we now? What more can we expect of ABC Waters for this financial year?
Designated Smoking Areas
Recently the NEA has designated smoking areas in busy downtown Orchard Road. I don’t know if this is after taking a cue from Nee Soon South where we have successfully put up 42 designated smoking points and 8 more in progress. I hope the Orchard Road experience is positive. May I ask what plans are there to further expand this to other parts of Singapore, and protect the public from inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke.
2. Louis Ng: Incentivising the sale of hybrid cars
One of the ways we can fight climate change is by promoting the use of hybrid cars or cars with lower emissions. This can also contribute to cleaner air, as vehicle emissions also contain harmful pollutants. Can the Ministry look into providing more incentives for buying vehicles with cleaner emissions, as well as introducing tighter emission standards for new vehicles? Ultimately, we need to make sure that hybrid cars cost cheaper, at least slightly than higher emission cars so that more people will buy them.
3. Louis Ng: Procurement of sustainable palm oil
The haze pollution in 2016 was much less severe than in 2015. Did the Ministry’s efforts in naming the companies who may have contributed to the haze help? I am sure the Government’s decision to buy only green label paper products helped significantly as well. As such, will the government also look into only procure sustainable palm oil, considering that it has announced support for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)? Lastly, what are the Ministry’s expectations of the haze situation in 2017?
4. Louis Ng: Promoting a haze-free ASEAN
A haze-free ASEAN is only possible if all ASEAN states work together to resolve this long-standing problem. What is the progress of the Ministry’s efforts on the regional front to achieve a haze-free ASEAN? Specifically, how will Singapore be working with Indonesia and assist in their efforts to prevent and clamp down on forest fires? What role can businesses and the general public play in contributing to this vision?
5. A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Water Tariffs
Singaporeans were informed that water tariffs will go up by about 30% by 2018, in two steps, once in July this year and the second one on 1 July 2018.
As a Singaporean, I am grateful for the efforts by Minister Masagos and other Ministers and MPs, agencies and fellow Singaporeans thus far, helping to clarify and give a clearer picture about this move. These clarifications via Parliamentary debates, media coverage and ground engagements have given some Singaporeans an accurate picture on issues relating to Water and the recent proposed initiative to increase water tariffs. I have attended and carried out my own engagements with my residents and fellow Singaporeans. Few of the comments made by them after the engagements are as follows:
a)“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”
b)“Lucky that I meet you this morning. I have a better perspective about this issue now. But you must help needy Singaporeans.”
c) “The social media is a dangerous place. I got all my facts and figures wrong”.
Without these efforts and clarifications, I fear many Singaporeans will get the wrong information and may be misguided.
Still, there are residents I have met who are concerned about the increase in the water tariffs. I would like to ask the Minister, with the price hikes in water, is water still affordable to Singaporeans, especially to the low- and middle-income households?
6. Louis Ng: Expanding the smoking ban
Can the NEA provide an update on the effectiveness of the designated smoking areas and points in Orchard Road and Nee Soon South? What are the Government’s further plans to protect the general public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke? Will it be moving towards only allowing smoking at designated areas instead of having a list of prohibited areas? Will the Ministry consider expanding the ban on smoking outside designated areas to other busy streets such as the Central Business District and the Civic District as is done in the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto?
7. Louis Ng: Ensuring the safe removal of harmful refrigerant gases
Singapore is currently the second largest producer of e-waste per person in Asia. I am encouraged by NEA’s intention to implement a regulated national system to collect and recycle e-waste, and would like to ask the Minister for an update about this. In the meantime, however, we still face the problem of appliances such as fridges and air-cons, which contain refrigerant gases such as HCFCs – a gas which is extremely harmful to the environment and human health. It seems that currently, there are insufficient facilities and industry incentives for the proper disposal of these appliances and many are not properly discarded. In the US, the venting of HCFCs is illegal, and Hong Kong and Australia have also set guidelines. I understand that NEA will phase out the import of fridges with HCFCs by 2030, but what is our interim solution? What facilities are currently available in Singapore for the venting of HCFCs, and has the Ministry set any industry guidelines? Would the Ministry consider setting up a national facility for the proper removal of HCFCs from appliances before they are incinerated? We should allow all waste collectors, retailers and movers to take discarded fridges to this facility, and then ensure that they are sorted to be repaired, resold or discarded safely.
8. A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Rising Affluence and Waste Management
As Singapore becomes a more affluent country and as our population grows, we generate more waste. Further, the waste that is generated is more complex to process.
For example, many residents replace their mobile phones or computers once every two to three years and the electronic goods would come in several layers of packaging.
Could the Ministry share what it sees as key waste streams and outline its broad plans to handle the waste in the upcoming years?
9. A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Recycling
The domestic recycling rates in Singapore seems to have stagnated at around 19%-20% for many years. As a result, the amount of refuse being burnt and buried at the Semakau Landfill has been steadily increasing with the growing population and economic activity.This is not sustainable as Singapore has limited land and sea space for landfills.
What is the Ministry’s plan to improve domestic recycling rates to 30% by 2030 under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint?
For the Ministry of Social and Family Development
1. Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: Childcare Centres
Many of my residents in the new BTOs told me that though they have shifted in, their children are still at their old place. This is because the childcare centre in the estate is not ready. So for those few months, they have to keep sending the child to the old childcare centre which could be in another part of Singapore. Can HDB hand over the block with the childcare centre earlier, so that ECDA and the operator have time to set up the childcare centre?
Even when the childcare centre is ready, these parents are not guaranteed a place. According to Childcarelink, none of the centres in the Nee Soon South BTOs have any spaces right now.
The current provision is clearly inadequate. Therefore, some parents are not able to enrol their children in the nearest centre. For parents who don’t drive, it is time-consuming to send their children to centres that are not near their homes. If they have two or three children under different care arrangements in different locations, then the problem is even greater. I urge the Ministry can work with HDB to review the provision on child care spaces in new BTO.
I understand from operators that the difficulty in expanding is the shortage of preschool teachers. This could be due to their salary being less than school teachers, even if both are graduates. What’s more, preschool teachers have to bathe and clean up after the children. It’s no wonder that many graduates and diploma holders don’t want to become preschool teachers or quit shortly after joining. I hope the Ministry can look into this.
2. Louis Ng: Increasing minimum school attendance for KIFAS
3. Louis Ng: Providing the same quantum of subsidies for stay-at-home mothers
Our current policies appear to penalise stay-at-home mothers since they receive less subsidies for infant care and childcare as compared to working mothers. It does seem odd to provide more financial subsidies for working mothers who have an income and provide less financial subsidies for stay-at-home mothers who do not have an income. The quantum of subsidies for full-time or part-time care should be based solely on the household income or per capita income instead. Can we level the playing level and not penalise parents who choose to spend more time with their children and sacrifice their career?