Speech by Mr. Derrick Goh, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Registration of Births and Deaths Bill
Mdm Deputy Speaker,
Coming on the heels of the recent publication of Census 2020, it is important for the relevant Government agencies to be updated and have accurate records such as the registration of both the births and deaths in Singapore.
These records assist in ensuring that our population data is accurate and allows us to use this information to plan and enact policies to respond to the needs of our population.
That said, I wish to seek clarifications from the Minister for Home Affairs on certain provisions of this bill in four areas:
(1) The present bill seeks to streamline and digitise the death registration process. The new process requires a medical practitioner to certify and submit the death of a person online following which the death certificate is issued digitally. I also understand that the doctor or hospital can assist in printing the certificate for families who have difficulties accessing the digital certificates. Could the Minister for Home Affairs clarify if this new process will result in increased fees compared to the current process since for example the doctor will now have to print the certificate or is it envisaged for it to be without charge?
(2) I also note that according to the Second Schedule, in the current Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, there is a listing of fees such as persons are required to pay a $40 fee for a certified extract of birth or death from the register in Form L and M respectively. May I also clarify with the Minister if there will be similar fees if families at a later stage want to get a digital extract.
(3) The bill also requires in some cases under Section 22 (2) (d) the duty for reporting of a death to fall on persons that may not be at all related or associated to the deceased, therefore there is this undue burden failing which the person will be considered guilty of an offence and fined up to $1,500 and/or imprisonment of up to one month. MOS has early mentioned about unnatural death briefly. For the clarity of the public, can the Minister clarify the instance if for example, a person on a morning jog finds a dead body and calls the police. Would the person still be liable to report the death to a medical practitioner under this Section? Will alerting the death to the authorities suffice to discharge such a person from the duties the bill now appears to place on that person?
(4) I have come across a resident whose parents have passed away overseas and have not been able to get the death certificate even after he claims the relevant agencies assisted him to contact their counterparts in the foreign country. The body was not brought back to Singapore and he therefore is unable to bring closure to their estate matters after many years.
Can the Minister clarify if the process to prevent fraud for such cases has been streamlined and if Registrar General will have the discretion to register a death that has occurred outside of Singapore?
Mdm Deputy Speaker, I support this Bill.
Watch the speech here.