ON THE AGENDA

DEPUTY Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean gave a detailed account of how a Malaysian teacher slipped past the Woodlands Checkpoint illegally last month. The House also passed six Bills, including one which raised the maximum penalty for train disruptions.

Officers redeployed

ONE officer was slow to raise the alarm, another did not do it at all. Their slip-ups at the Woodlands Checkpoint which allowed Nurul Ruhana Ishak to slip through were compounded by two commanders who failed to classify the incident as a major security breach.

This led to the police not issuing high-level alerts or circulating details of the teacher and her car, said DPM Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister.

The officers have been redeployed and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Stiffer fines for train disruptions

THE highest penalty for each train disruption was raised to 10 per cent of a rail line's annual fare revenue, or $1 million, whichever is higher.

SMRT and SBS Transit could face fines many times more than the current $1 million cap due to changes to the Rapid Transit Systems Act.

The Land Transport Authority can also require public transport operators to beef up their board of directors with, say, those with engineering backgrounds.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew also said that after operators invested more in maintenance, there were 20 per cent fewer delays exceeding five minutes, and fewer trains taken out of service.

Boost to cleaners' pay

A NEW licensing scheme for cleaning firms to boost cleaners' pay was passed into law, but MPs disagreed on how the tiered wages of cleaners are set and whether to publish the details.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan felt it was overly intrusive to make the tripartite panel that sets the wage ladder publish details of its negotiations.

Tougher action over worksite deaths

THE Manpower Ministry will review its demerit point system and ask the courts to hand out deterrent sentences, including jail time, to address a spike in construction site deaths.

No levelling down of independent schools

EDUCATION Minister Heng Swee Keat pledged to give independent schools "appropriate resources" to develop their students, saying its aim remains to pursue excellence at all levels and never to level down.

Schools with students in the Gifted Education Programme and Integrated Programme will be funded for only the former, but the students will not lose out as one grant is enough.

Anti-graft body's ratings questioned

DEFENCE Minister Ng Eng Hen took issue with Transparency International's flawed assumptions and weak processes in giving Singapore a "poor" rating for the way it spends money to buy weapons.

He questioned its credibility in putting Singapore on a par with Iraq and Afghanistan, yet citing elsewhere that Singapore is the fifth least corrupt nation.

The debate continues today.