SINGAPORE — How Singapore combats money laundering is set to dominate proceedings at the parliamentary sitting on Tuesday (Oct 3) as three political office holders will be delivering ministerial statements on the issue.
This came after the arrest of 10 foreigners in one of Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering probes, which prompted more than 20 Members of Parliament (MPs) to file dozens of questions related to the matter.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Home Affairs, told the House in September that the questions would be deferred and answered in a ministerial statement in October.
Scheduled to address the House on this are Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs, Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, and Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry.
Mr Tan will be speaking on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong.
The 10 foreigners have been charged and the value of assets that have been seized or issued with prohibition of disposal orders has gone up to more than S$2.4 billion, more than double the initial sum when news of the case first broke.
The amount covers bank accounts with a total estimated value of more than S$1.127 billion as well as more than 110 properties and 62 vehicles with a total estimated value of more than S$1.242 billion.
MPs who had filed questions include Mr Patrick Tay, MP for Pioneer, who asked last month what Singapore is doing to prevent money laundering.
Nominated MP Neil Parekh Nimil Rajnikant asked what is being done to ensure that Singaporeans and businesses avoid falling prey to money laundering and forgery gangs.
Workers’ Party (WP) MP Louis Chua asked about the proportion of real estate transactions that have been blocked after being reported as suspicious deals.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARES, HAWKER FOOD PRICES
Questions were filed about the recent increase in public transport fares and rising food prices at hawker centres.
On Sept 18, the Public Transport Council announced that it has allowed a 7 per cent increase in bus and train fares from Dec 23. The council also announced that 15.6 per cent in increases will be deferred to future fare review exercises to keep fares “affordable in this higher cost environment”.
MPs such as Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) asked whether deferring the public transport fare increments is sustainable since the cost of living in Singapore is anticipated to continue rising.
Mr Chua, WP MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), also asked if the 15.6 per cent increase could be cancelled.
On the topic of the rising costs of living, MP Mariam Jaafar of Sembawang GRC filed two questions about food costs in hawker centres.
They include the proportion of meals sold at hawker stalls that are budget meals and how many cases of profiteering were found by the Committee Against Profiteering.
The use of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s image on the back of a “local company’s commemorative packet drinks” might also be discussed in Parliament after MP Poh Li San for Sembawang GRC asked whether the use of the image contravened existing guidelines.
She did not name the company but also asked if the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth has the authority to stop the distribution of such commercial products.
Aside from these questions, several bills will be introduced. They include amendments to the Legal Profession Bill, Economic Expansion Incentives (Relief from Income Tax) Bill and Central Provident Fund Bill.
The topic of strengthening accessibility to mental healthcare in Singapore is expected to be raised as an adjournment motion, filed by Dr Syed Harun Alhabsyi, a Nominated MP.