The first Parliament sitting of 2021 has just concluded, regardless of whether you’ve watched the livestream of the proceedings, here’s a quick summary of what you may have missed.
More support for families to strengthen marriages and reduce negative impacts of divorce
Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling mentioned in Parliament that more than 200 people have been trained to provide basic marriage support to couples since March 2019, as part of government efforts to strengthen marriages.
These 200 include community leaders, religious leaders and marriage solemnisers who have been trained as Marital First Responders, who are able to intervene before marital relations take a turn for the worse.
Ms Sun also stated that more of these Responders will continue to be trained, and that the Government will work with social service agencies and community organisations to offer more marriage enrichment programmes for couples.
In response to Mr Yong’s queries about differences in outcomes for children from intact and divorced families, she also emphasised the importance of early childhood intervention efforts, to mitigate the negative impact on the child, as well as enhance his/her positive development.
“This intervention effort should be based on rigorous evidence from the social and behavioural sciences, and for it to work, we will need good policies and the help from experts but also the support from families, communities, and indeed a whole-of-society approach,” she added.
She said the ministry will continue to review parenting programmes that divorcing couples have to go through, to enhance their efficacy. In addition, upstream efforts such as encouraging couples to go for marriage preparatory courses will also be strengthened.
Rigorous COVID-19 testing for World Economic Forum participants
Following the announcement that the World Economic Forum will be held in Singapore instead of Switzerland, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan has addressed concerns about the safety of hosting the event in the country by reassuring Singaporeans that all participants will be subject to rigorous testing.
This includes pre-departure and on-arrival tests, on top of strict safe management measures. Participants’ interactions with the local community will also be minimised.
Mr Tan said that specific public health requirements and contingency plans are currently being worked out, and will take into consideration the latest coronavirus situation in Singapore and around the world.
The World Economic Forum will be held in Singapore from 13 to 16 May this year, before returning to Switzerland in 2022.
New law to better regulate weapons
On 5 January, the Parliament passed The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Act on Tuesday (5 January), which imposes heavier penalties for gun and explosive offences, and tightens control on access to weapons such as guns.
This will replace the Arms and Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Dangerous Fireworks Act, and make amendments to other legislation to guns, explosives and weapons.
The implementation of this new Act will see stiffer maximum fines for arms and explosives offences, from S$10,000 to S$100,000 for entities and S$50,000 for individuals.
A new addition to weapon regulations would also be the criminalisation of the possession of digital blueprints of guns without authorisation, in view of the fact that people can now easily learn how to make guns from online sources with the use of 3D printers.
Qualified third parties will also now be allowed to conduct compliance checks on low-risk items, thereby freeing up the police to focus on compliance checks for high-risk items.