02 April 2014

Notable Quotes 2014 Q1

Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill
[The Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill provides] for a focused set of powers, far more limited than the extensive powers available today under the Public Order Preservation Act, to support the security, traffic management, and alcohol restriction measures in Little India. The powers accorded to the Police and regulatory agencies under the Bill have precedents in our existing laws. These provisions are derived from relevant public order legislation and scoped to serve the specific objective of maintaining law and order in Little India.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean

This Bill is a disproportionate response to the riot in Little India.

While the Bill is supposedly for Little India’s "local issues", it nonetheless provides for powers that can extend well beyond Little India.... This wholesale porting of powers over from Public Order (Preservation) Act strikes me as manifesting the Government's abiding desire to retain emergency-type laws and powers when we are far from experiencing an emergency situation. Are we generating a moral panic here?

Clause 12 enables a police officer to perform certain actions such as search persons and vehicles and effect seizures even in situations where the officer reasonably suspects an offence is "likely to be" committed. This is a low threshold to use the powers of search and seizure ... without a warrant.... To exercise such powers without a warrant and, particularly, on the suspicion that an offence is likely to be committed strikes me as affording too much discretion and pre-emptive power to the Police. Additionally, clause 12(2)(a) provides for search and seizure powers to be exercised "on a random basis" for the detection of an offence. This strikes me as being incompatible with reasonable suspicion. This might give licence to the Police to engage in fishing expeditions.
Nominated Member of Parliament Tan Keng Boon Eugene
[extracts, re-arranged]

KRI Usman Harun[2]
Singapore will not allow this military ship named Usman Harun to call at our ports and naval bases. It would not be possible for the SAF, as protectors of this nation, to sail alongside or exercise with this ship.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen

I do not propose to go into a litany of what we are going to do and what we have done or what we are not going to do. I do not think that is productive. We have stated our concerns. I would suggest that is more productive to focus on what and why we are deeply concerned about the naming of the ship, what it meant to us. I have stated explicitly in terms of not allowing the ship to enter our port and that SAF would not be associated with or exercise with the ship. I think that is abundantly clear. I do not choose to add to that.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen on Singapore's response if
KRI Usman Harun participated in a multilateral exercise

Comment: If the SAF will not participate in a future multilateral exercise with KRI Usman Harun, wouldn't Dr Ng have said so?

I think what the Indonesian government, through its Foreign Minister, has said is that there was no ill will or malice. I do not think there has been an expressed statement in terms that they are not being honoured for killing Singaporeans.
Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam on whether the Government actually accepted the Indonesian government’s explanation that the marines were not being honoured for killing Singaporeans inasmuch as they would not have been accorded such honour had they not been hanged for their acts in Singapore.

Comment: Osman Mohd Ali and Harun Said were the only Indonesian saboteurs who killed Singaporeans during Confrontation, and for that they were executed. 45 others, including two who had been sentenced to death for another bombing in which no one died, were repatriated to Indonesia. Even if they were honoured solely for dying for their country, their deaths were the direct result of their killing Singaporeans.

Budget 2014
Extending the pioneer age criterion from 70 and above to include Singaporeans aged 65 to 69 means that the first batch of national servicemen are recognised. 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean
Budget 2014 is very generous ... by any measure. 
Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan

The House moved at a brisk pace into Day 2 of the debate on the Committee of Supply.
MediaCorp Channel 5 News

Comment: It is far more important for Parliamentary debates to be effective and incisive than brisk.

International Students
International students who receive tuition grants are required to work in a Singapore-based company for three years upon graduation to supplement our labour force. For those who graduated between 2010 and 2013, about eight in 10 international students who received tuition grants in our polytechnics and autonomous universities had either started serving their tuition grant bonds promptly upon graduation and contribute immediately to Singapore’s economy, or have been granted approval by MOE to defer their service obligation to pursue further studies. This does not mean that the remaining international students are in default. Some did not start work immediately upon graduation as they have gone overseas for further study but did not seek deferment approval from MOE, some are in the midst of seeking deferment approval, and some are still seeking employment.
Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat

Comment: By focusing on defaulting international students who graduated from Singapore polytechnics and autonomous universities between 2010 and 2013, Mr Heng excluded those international students who did not satisfy the condition between 2010 and 2013 that they work in a Singapore-based company:

▪ After graduating from foreign universities (where they went to after graduating from Singapore polytechnics and/or autonomous universities); or

▪ For the full three-year duration.

The new stockpile price is not to profiteer but to incentivise importers to procure and buy from distant sources, to ensure that our construction industry can continue seamlessly, despite the Indonesian disruption. The industry should fully understand this as we have made it clear from the outset when the granite stockpile was released to assist them in the transition to ramping up supply from distant sources.
Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, denying that the Government was profiteering when it raised the granite stockpile price from $30 to $50 per tonne.

1. Some quotes are verbatim (but edited for clarity or brevity) while others are paraphrased, either by the media or the author.

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