Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Coroners (Amendment) Bill (Bill No. 26/2021)
Sir, I support this Bill, which will allow for greater flexibility in the Coroner’s discharge of duties.
This flexibility will save valuable resources of the Coroner, Police, Health Sciences Authority and all other related parties.
That said, I have three quick points of clarification.
Discretionary viewing of bodies
My first point is on the Coroner’s investigation process. Body viewing is one of the steps the Coroner must take in investigating and determining the cause and circumstances surrounding a reported death.
Having a proper procedure in place is important because it provides reassurance to the deceased’s family and similarly protects the Coroner from any allegations of wrongdoing or negligence.
With the amendment to make such body viewing discretionary, can the Minister share what remaining mandatory requirements the Coroner has to fulfill in its preliminary investigation?
Identification of bodies
My second point is on safeguards to ensure correct identification of bodies.
I note that existing safeguards to ensure the correct identification will remain. As Minister has shared, these safeguards include the tagging of the body with the deceased’s particulars at the scene and at the mortuary, and the Police’s signing off on a Body Identification Form and sending it to the Coroner.
Can Minister share if additional steps will be taken to strengthen the existing safeguards to ensure correct identification notwithstanding the removal of the mandatory body viewing requirement?
Minister’s issuance of certificate
My third point is on the revocation of certificates to release the bodies of deceased persons to foreign States.
The new section 17A provides the Minister’s power to issue a Minister’s certificate to release the bodies of deceased persons to foreign States in certain cases.
Under the new section 17A(4), the Minister also has the power to revoke any Minister’s certificate previously issued.
Can Minister clarify under what circumstances would the Minister’s certificate be revoked? Is there a time-limit in exercising the revocation?
If the certificate is revoked after the body has been buried, cremated, or transported out of the country, can Minister share what methods and procedures are in place to ensure that the quality of the resumed investigation under the new section 17A(4)(a) will not be compromised?
Sir, notwithstanding these clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill.
Watch the speech here.