SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE PUBLIC UTILITIES AMENDMENT BILL IN PARLIAMENT IN FEB 2018
Mr Speaker, Sir
This proposed amendments to the Bill are timely because water and sanitary plumbing systems are getting more integrated and complex, with constantly – evolving building designs. Plumbing works have become more integrated and concealed, presenting higher risk of cross-contamination between the water and sanitary systems if not built properly by plumbers. Furthermore, many of our homes are getting older, they will need repairs and upgrades and this has attracted many smaller contractors, and even free-lancers, working on jobs into our homes. I am not sure all of them are indeed qualified persons under the existing Act.
Our water supply, sanitary and drainage system is an important artery just like the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body tissues. We need to get people who are competent, and with proper training and knowledge, to ensure that all homes are well served.
I fully support the Bill which seeks to license the plumbers including sanitary plumbers so that the home owners can be assured that they have competent people doing the plumbing work or repairs. I am pleased to understand that the Singapore Plumbing Society and the Singapore Sanitary Ware Importers and Exporters Association have been in conversation with the PUB. We all know how messy it can be if you have problems with sanitary plumbing works and it is good that PUB is ensuring that these plumbers get the right training. I would like to ask the Minister if the courses offered at ITE are continually reviewed to ensure that they keep pace with the industry needs? I believe if we get plumbers who are competently trained in different areas of plumbing, then it would also be good for home owners as they don’t have to run around scouting for different plumbers.
Some unlicensed plumbers, including those from across the Causeway, may be cheap. But they may be doing work through trial and error, or base on whatever experience they have amassed. They may not properly understand the mechanics in plumbing. For example, I heard from a home owner who for several years had to suffer from “water hammer” or noises from his water pipes because they were not properly installed before they were concealed. And, worse is that there is no way to seek redress as these contractors don’t even provide an address or a contact number.
Next is the issue of the quality of the material. Many residents told me that many plumbers nowadays come from across the causeway. They come in vans and cars, or even carry a few pieces on motorbikes. How do we ensure that the materials that they use, such as pipes and fittings are meeting Singapore Standards? Is PUB working with our Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to address this problem?
Next is their workmanship up to the standards required by PUB?
(1) The transition period for the new rules are April – Sept 2018. Do we have sufficient time and sufficient capacity to train all existing plumbers?
(2) Will HDB & PUB exercise stricter control over our renovation contractors and ensure that only licensed plumbers are allowed to carry out plumbing works?
(3) How to ensure that this will not be just another layer of rubber stamping?
Thank you, Sir.