Asia

Parliament to discuss race issue, global minimum corporate tax at next sitting

SINGAPORE – The topic of race and discrimination will be on the agenda when Parliament sits next Monday (July 5).

It has come under the spotlight after several racist incidents in recent weeks, and MPs have filed questions touching on a wide range of issues, from the spewing of racial insensitivities online to the Government’s Ethnic Integration Policy for Housing Board flats.

Around the world, social media has been used to both bring attention to instances of racial discrimination and also amplify hate speech, and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) asked how racial insensitivities and acts of discrimination on social media can be addressed here.

Ms Raeesah Khan (Sengkang GRC) and Nominated MP Shahira Abdullah want to know how students can raise their concerns about educators with racist views. Their questions come after a Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer, who harassed an interracial couple in Orchard Road last month, was also found to have made Islamophobic comments in a class in 2017.

Meanwhile, some MPs also filed questions on the Ethnic Integration Policy.

The policy sets quotas for flats in a block or precinct that can be owned by each racial group to prevent development of racial enclaves, but some say it disadvantages minorities by restricting who they can sell to or buy from. Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) and Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) have asked if the policy can be reviewed.

NMP Raj Joshua Thomas, in an adjournment motion, will speak on the topic of building racial harmony in Singapore.

Another hot topic that will come up for discussion is the supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.

Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) asked the Minister for National Development whether a bigger proportion of BTO flats can be allocated to first-time home buyers, in light of current delays to all BTO projects and longer waiting times.

Also on the agenda is how the Group of Seven (G-7) agreement on a reform of the global tax system will affect Singapore.

The agreement allows countries to tax companies based on the profits generated in a particular country, rather than the tax home of the companies, and also sets a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) was among four MPs who asked the Finance Minister how Singapore plans to mitigate adverse impact to the country’s corporate income tax revenue.

MPs also filed many questions on Covid-19, particularly on vaccination, such as whether students have suffered adverse reactions and the reasons for the supply constraints of vaccines.

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Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, meanwhile, asked whether the Government will commit to setting up a Commission of Inquiry to review its response to Covid-19.

The House will hear from Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in a ministerial statement on the Government’s support measures for businesses and workers affected by tightened Covid-19 restrictions.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Manpower Minister Tan See Leng will also deliver ministerial statements next week on Singapore’s free trade agreements (FTAs), such as the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca).

They said on Thursday that they would address these issues in Parliament, in response to questions filed by Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa from the Progress Singapore Party.

Mr Leong had previously said that he would file a motion for the topic of FTAs and Ceca to be discussed in Parliament.

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