Cuts by MP Louis Ng for Ministry of National Development (MND) Committee of Supply debate 2020
Waive mutual consent to ensure divorcees have a place they can call home
Last year, I met Gina (not her real name) who is a divorcee. She originally had sole care and control of her son but gave that up for shared care and control so that her son could also stay with her ex-husband who lived nearer to his primary school.
She successfully applied for an HDB flat when she had sole care and control but it was later rejected at the key collection stage as the care and control was changed to a shared one. She was unable to obtain mutual consent from her ex-husband even though he was already staying in a private property and did not need an HDB flat.
It has been 6 years since the divorce and she is still renting a place to stay in. Her ex-husband continues to stay in his private property.
I feel this is terribly unfair and I hope MND will waive the requirement for ex-spousal consent on who can list the children as occupiers in an HDB flat application if the ex-spouse has already purchased a private property or an HDB flat following the divorce.
Improve the BCA Green Mark Scheme
The BCA Green Mark Scheme is a good policy that we should build on.
Young PAP and climate activists have proposed that the scheme be reviewed and updated with a more weight given to reducing energy consumption and shifting dependence to greener sources.
The School of Design and Environment Block Four (SDE 4) at NUS is a good example. It has net-zero energy consumption. It uses a hybrid cooling system that combines the use of air-conditioning and ceiling fans to provide thermal comfort to building occupants. YP and climate activists have proposed that such features be propagated to new buildings.
I understand that there already is a Green Mark for Zero Energy buildings. But we should also raise standards for the other Green Mark schemes. Buildings should be held to a higher standard before we can call them “green”.
Will MND consider raising the Green Mark standards for (a) new government buildings, (b) all commercial buildings, and (c) all private and public residential buildings to encourage sustained reductions in overall energy consumption?
Increase the size of dogs allowed in HDB flats
I am glad Nparks announced a 10% increase in height limit for local mixed-breed dogs to be rehomed under Project ADORE. The weight of the dog will also be removed as a criteria. This is good news as about 20% more local mixed-breed dogs can be rehomed in HDB flats each year, but we can do more. Can MND provide a rationale for not removing the height criteria as well? Many more dogs can finally find their forever home if we remove the height criteria.
I understand MND’s concern is that the smaller dogs are generally considered to be more easily carried and controlled, especially in confined spaces such as lifts.
However, size is not a good proxy of the behaviour or temperament of a dog. Research has found that larger dogs are perceived as more obedient, less anxious and less aggressive compared to smaller dogs.
As the saying goes, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
As part of a pilot can MND consider removing the height criteria so that more dogs can be rehomed?
Allow cats to be kept in HDB flats
It does not make sense that someone who lives in a condo is allowed to keep a pet cat while someone who lives in a HDB flat is not allowed. Why?
HDB has stated that “[Cats] are generally difficult to contain within the flat. When allowed to roam indiscriminately, they tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.”
Surely these concerns apply to people staying in condos as well. Some condo units are even smaller than HDB flats.
It also doesn’t make sense that one is allowed to keep a dog but not a cat. Dogs can also shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas. What’s more, they bark.
HDB’s concerns can be easily addressed. We can ensure that pet cats do not roam indiscriminately and are sterilised. Sterilised cats don’t make caterwauling sounds.
I’ve seen firsthand how all these simple measures can be taken and people can keep cats in their flats without affecting their neighbours.
So many people are already keeping cats in their flats. Will the Ministry consider taking the step to officially allow people staying in HDB flats to keep cats?