Updated: 01/12/2013 00:34

Illegal strike & EC prices set to dominate debate in Jan 14 Parliament sitting



Illegal strike & EC prices set to dominate debate in Jan 14 Parliament sitting

The illegal strike by SMRT bus drivers from China and concerns that executive condominiums may no longer be within the reach of the sandwiched class look set to dominate debate when Parliament sits on Monday.

At least 10 members have tabled questions on the strike in November last year.

Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Lily Neo is asking Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin if the situation could have been better managed, and whether the ministry has in place a safety-valve mechanism to step in before relations break down to the point of disrupting services. 

MP Cedric Foo has similar concerns - and is asking how Singapore can do better to maintain its excellent industrial relations track record, especially for essential services. 

Mr Arthur Fong wants to know how the avenues to address grievances of foreign workers in Singapore can be better managed and whether the ministry will consider allowing foreign workers to be unionised. 

He's also asking the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether any damage has been caused to ties between China and Singapore. 

Mr Png Eng Huat of The Workers' Party wants to know what role the Chinese Embassy played and whether there were other demands made by the drivers, apart from salary and living conditions. 

Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong has questions on the plans to improve industrial relationship between foreign workers and employers. 

Ms Irene Ng is asking if the strike is a wake-up call for tripartism and the manpower ministry and how it can ensure that employers will not exploit lowly-educated foreign workers, particularly non-unionised ones. 

Questions on executive condominiums revolve around affordability - stemming from the recent rising prices, including that of penthouse which was sold for $2.05 million. 

MP Irene Ng is asking if whether tighter measures should be put in place to regulate the EC market, such as a clause in the EC contract to prevent developers from building large penthouses and over-pricing units. 

Mr Lim Biow Chuan wants to know if the government will consider imposing restrictions on developers of ECs to prevent the sale of flat units which are too large or highly priced. 

A total of 83 questions will be tabled for oral answer, with another 35 for written reply - on issues ranging from the Primary School Leaving Examination and Certificate of Entitlement to productivity and economic growth. 

The House is also set to elect a Speaker - to replace Mr Michael Palmer, who stepped down on December 12 last year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that he'll nominate Minister of State Halimah Yacob to be elected as Speaker.

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