Questions on haze, MDA's new rules will dominate Parliament sitting on July 8

Channel NewsAsia 5 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE: The haze and the new regulations by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for online news websites will dominate Parliament when it sits on July 8.

A total of 30 questions related to haze will be fielded by Members of Parliament (MPs).

The questions seek clarification on various issues, including the roles of legislation and ASEAN in tackling the annual environmental problem in the region.

MPs also want to know the impact of the haze on health and will ask about contingency plans and public communications during the haze.

They will ask what steps can be taken to combat profiteering on essential goods during the haze.

MPs are also concerned about the impact of the haze on business operations and on the safety of workers who work outdoors.

They also have questions regarding MDA's new licensing regulations for online news websites.

Their concerns relate to the rationale and the impact of the new regulations.

MP Dr Lam Pin Min wants to know if there is an emergency response plan to handle the possible emergence of a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in Singapore and its impact on the stockpile of N95 masks. He will ask the Ministry of Ministry whether it has precautionary measures for Singaporeans performing the haj in Mecca.

MP Foo Mee Har wants to know the impact on local interest rates and foreign exchange benchmarks resulting from the activities of the 133 traders who had attempted to influence Singapore's financial benchmarks.

Nominated MP Assoc Professor Eugene Tan would like to know if Singapore's criminal and banking laws are comprehensive enough to prosecute the 133 traders.

MP Dr Lim Wee Kiak wants to know the impact of the recent Malaysian General Election results on Singapore investments in the Iskandar region. Dr Lim also wants to know whether the high-speed rail links between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will proceed as announced in February this year.

On local transportation, opposition MP Sylvia Lim will ask about the government's role in helping public transport operators to put in place effective incident management plan, in light of the North East Line disruption last month.

MP Desmond Lee Ti-Seng has asked for an update on the implementation of recommendations by the Working Group on Youth Gangs, following the recent gang-related attack outside Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.

MP Baey Yam Keng will ask about greater government support for local film producers, in light of Anthony Chen's film 'Ilo Ilo' that won the Camera d'Or award for best feature at the recent Cannes Film Festival.

MP Irene Ng and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam are seeking clarification about development plans for Pulau Ubin and how the plans will affect residents living on the island.

Mrs Lina Chiam has also tabled an Adjournment Motion on MDA's Licensing Framework for News Websites in Singapore.

- CNA/de


Questions on haze, MDA’s new rules will dominate Parliament sitting on Monday
Today Online 6 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE — The haze and the new regulations introduced by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for online news websites will dominate the next sitting of Parliament on Monday, with 30 questions being filed by Members of Parliament (MPs) on the haze issue alone.

The questions seek clarification on various issues, including the roles of legislation and ASEAN in tackling the annual environmental problem in the region. MPs also want to know the impact of the haze on health and will ask about contingency plans and public communications when it occurs.

As for the MDA licensing regime, MPs have floated concerns regarding the rationale and impact of the regulations.

Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min has tabled a question on whether there is an emergency response plan to handle the possible emergence of a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in Singapore and its impact on the stockpile of N95 masks.

Mr Lam will also ask the Ministry of Health on precautionary measures for Singaporeans performing the haj in Mecca.

MPs also have questions on the 133 traders who had attempted to influence Singapore’s financial benchmarks, with Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) asking about the impact on local interest rates and foreign exchange benchmarks resulting from the activities of the traders.

Nominated MP Eugene Tan has asked if Singapore’s criminal and banking laws are comprehensive enough to prosecute the 133 traders.

Haze set to dominate Parliament sitting

Total of 30 questions filed on issue; new MDA rules will be discussed too
Leonard Lim Straits Times 6 Jul 13;

THE recent haze that brought air quality to record hazardous levels in Singapore will dominate Monday's Parliament session, when MPs convene in the House after the June recess.

A total of 30 questions have been filed on the issue. They range from contingency plans to how the Government intends to manage websites spreading false information, as well as the short- and long-term health effects of the haze.

Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan has asked if any criminal sanctions could be imposed on local or foreign firms which have contributed to the haze, following accusations hurled at Singapore and Malaysian companies by some Indonesian officials.

Singapore is waiting for Indonesia to clarify the comments and provide evidence of the culprits' involvement.

Nominated MP (NMP) Eugene Tan wants to know if the Government will consider introducing laws with extra-territorial jurisdiction over Singapore or Singapore-based companies and their subsidiaries, whose overseas activities affect the environment.

Other questions include one by NMP Laurence Lien on how the Government intends to improve its contingency plans and public communication should the haze turn serious again.

He said yesterday: "There can probably be improvements (from a fortnight ago). I'm sure the Government will address this in Parliament, and I hope there will be lessons learnt."

At least three ministers are expected to address the House on the haze. They are Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who chairs an inter-ministerial committee on the haze; Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; and Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

The Media Development Authority's (MDA) recent licensing regime for news websites, which has displeased and worried bloggers and major Internet companies, will be another major topic.

Eight questions have been filed and MPs from all three parties in the House are set to speak, setting the stage for a lively session.

The rules, introduced last month, mandate that licensed news sites must remove prohibited content within 24 hours of a government order.

They must also put up a $50,000 performance bond.

Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) has asked how the regulation will be applied to owners and administrators of stand-alone Facebook pages that persistently report on Singapore news and are read by at least 50,000 readers for two months.

Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam of the Singapore People's Party has filed an adjournment motion, which lets her speak on the topic for 20 minutes at the end of the sitting.

Two Bills will be introduced: one is on the status of children conceived with the help of assisted reproduction technology, and the other amends the law on the suppression of terrorism financing.

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