Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang (Nee Soon): Sir, this Bill will strengthen border security by digitalising immigration processes, allowing faster responses to pandemics and other challenges, strengthening controls against undesirable persons and allowing efficient administration of passes and permits to foreigners and PRs.
I have three points of clarification.
My first point is on the right of appeal. The Bill removes the statutory right of appeal against certain decisions. The Bill will remove the right of appeal on the grant and revocation of PR status. MHA has clarified that PR applicants and PRs can still seek ICA’s reconsideration. ICA’s website appears to provide no information on how to request for such reconsideration. Can Minister clarify by what channels should PR applicants and PRs request ICA’s reconsideration of its decisions? What should such requesters provide and how long should they expect to wait for a response?
Will ICA consider providing a standard form for filing such requests? It would centralise ICA’s intake of requests and reduce administrative complexity. This form could also provide information about factors relevant to ICA’s reconsideration and warn against the inclusion of irrelevant documents and submission of frivolous requests. This would likely cut the time taken to review requests and reduce the volume of requests, saving Government resources.
Additionally, the Bill removes rights of appeal against other decisions such as the removal of persons unlawfully remaining in Singapore and entry and re-entry permits.
For this category of decisions, MHA has not stated that these individuals can seek ICA’s reconsideration of its decisions. Can Minister clarify whether individuals who are subject to decisions on removal from Singapore, and entry and re-entry permits can seek ICA’s reconsideration? If yes, what is the process for seeking ICA’s reconsideration?
My second point is on the variation of conditions of entry permits. The new subsection 4A of section 10 states that the Controller may publish any changes to conditions on a prescribed website or in the Gazette instead of giving notice to individuals if the Controller assesses that it is not practicable to give notice to every individual.
Given that entry conditions are important for the legality of stay in Singapore, can Minister share when it would not be practicable to give notice to every individual? How will individuals with no knowledge of prescribed websites and no habit of reading the Gazette learn about the variation of conditions of their entry permits?
My third and final point is about how children will be prevented from being taken out of Singapore. A new section 5AA states that an immigration officer may prevent a child from leaving Singapore or being taken out of Singapore. In doing so, the immigration officer may keep the child in an authorised area. This can be a traumatising situation for a child. We must ensure that there are robust standards for ensuring the well-being of the child.
Can Minister share what requirements it will set to ensure that facilities in the authorised area are appropriate for keeping a child? By what standards will immigration officers be held to ensure that they handle a child appropriately? Can Minister also share whether there is any limit to how long a child may be kept in the authorised area? Sir, notwithstanding these clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill.
Watch the speech here.