Singapore Parliament: Types of Bills passed

First half of 12th Parliament: An active legislative agenda with 89 Bills passed

Since the 12th Parliament session opened in October 2011, a total of 89 Bills have been passed before the House took a mid-term break last month. The new laws cover a wide range of areas and seek to address hot-button issues, including public transport and imported labour, which came to the fore during the hustings in the last General Election.

In light of the frequent MRT disruptions, the Rapid Transit Systems (Amendment) Bill was passed to hold train operators to stiffer penalties and more stringent standards to enhance service reliability.

Changes were also made to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act to raise penalties for errant employers and make it tougher for firms to bypass restrictions on foreign workers.

Other notable laws that were tabled and passed include changes to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code. A new set of laws to protect individuals from harassment, such as bullying and stalking, was also enacted.

The Personal Data Protection Bill was written into law to protect information that identifies an individual, such as his NRIC and mobile-phone numbers, as well as visual identifiers.

In the aftermath of the unprecedented riot in Little India last December, the Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill was passed to give the police extra powers in the area.

A piece of proposed legislation that is still in the works is the Private Member’s Bill on the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act mooted last November by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher de Souza.

The Ministry of Home Affairs plans to draft and table the proposed law within a year. If the new law is passed, Mr de Souza will become only the second MP after former Nominated MP (NMP) Walter Woon to enact a law from scratch successfully.

Mr Woon, who served as NMP from 1992 to 1996, moved a Private Member’s Bill for the Maintenance of Parents Act in 1994, which was passed the following year.

In comparison, the 11th Parliament passed 111 Bills before it took a break. After it reconvened, another 66 were written into law.

Noting the 12th Parliament’s “very active legislative agenda” during the first half of its term, Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan, who is also an NMP, said that beyond the tangible outcomes, such as the passing of new laws, it is “the process and the effects of the process that will nourish and sustain our political development”.

He added: “It’s not just the work rate … but the salutary educational effects that are of greater importance. Legislative politics must capture the attention and imagination of Singaporeans. In so doing, they will ponder, reflect and better appreciate the various policy options before us and decide which approach works best for Singapore. Ultimately, Parliament does not have the last word on any matter; Singaporeans will have to decide for themselves what works.”

NG JING YNG AND AMIR HUSSAIN

Source : Today : Link

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