Parliament in brief: 4 things you should know – TODAY


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SINGAPORE — The expenditures incurred over the last three General Elections (GE) have doubled over the past decade, from S$13.5 million in GE 2011 to S$30.3 million in GE 2020, partly due to costs incurred in setting up Covid-19 safe management measures. 

The figures were revealed in a written answer for a question filed by a Member of Parliament (MP) on Monday (May 9) on the cost of running the last three GEs.

Other questions that MPs filed included topics related to sexual assault offences and cyberattacks on companies. 

Here are some extracts of the written answers for these questions: 

1. Government spending on GEs

Question by Mr Gerald Giam, MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC):

  • How much is the Government's spending on organising and running the GEs in 2011, 2015 and 2020 respectively, including but not limited to the cost of manpower, security, publicity and materials?

Reply by Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing: 

The expenditures incurred by the Elections Department for the 2011, 2015 and 2020 GEs were S$13.5 million, S$23.2 million and S$30.3 million respectively.

Across elections, expenditure will fluctuate depending on manpower, info-communications technology, transport, and other logistical needs.

For example, GE 2015 was fully contested unlike GE 2011, and so more election officials were deployed, and higher costs were also incurred for election equipment such as polling booths and counting tables that were due for replacement. 

In GE2020, which was held during the Covid-19 pandemic, almost S$8 million were spent on safe management measures. 

2. Number of sexual offenders currently incarcerated

Question by MP for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh: 

  • How many individuals are currently incarcerated for sexual assault offences with sentences exceeding 10 years of imprisonment before remission?
  • Of this number, how many are repeat offenders?
  • How many Singaporeans have been incarcerated for sexual assault at least three times or more in their lives, divided into those who are currently in prison and those who have been released?

Reply by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam:

As of 31 March this year there are 195 inmates who are currently incarcerated for sexual assault offences with sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment or more.

Of these 195 inmates, 95 of them have been imprisoned before, and of these 95, 22 of them have at least one prior conviction for a sexual assault offence.

We do not track the number of people in our population who had been incarcerated for sexual assault.

3. Harassment of public servants or public service workers 

Question by MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Saktiandi Supaat: 

  • How many cases of harassment of public servants or public service workers in the execution of their duties have been prosecuted in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively?
  • What was the average sentence for the convicted cases?
  • Can criminal offences under the purview of the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 be expanded to protect other frontliners like private healthcare workers?

Reply by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam:

In 2019, 2020 and 2021, 175, 185 and 114 cases of harassment against public servants or public service workers were prosecuted for offences under the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha) respectively.

We do not track the average sentence of such cases.

Under Poha, offenders who are convicted of harassment are liable for a fine of up to S$5,000, or an imprisonment term of up to six months, or both. Where the victim is a public servant or public service worker, the punishment is higher. Offenders are liable for a fine of up to S$5,000, or an imprisonment term of up to 12 months, or both.

In more egregious cases, offenders can be charged with other offences under the Penal Code, where the punishments are higher. For example, under Section 332 of the Penal Code, offenders who are convicted for voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant are liable for an imprisonment term of up to seven years, and are also liable for a fine, or caning.

On whether Poha can be expanded to protect other frontliners like private healthcare workers: Any offender can be convicted of harassment under Poha, regardless of who the victim is, including private healthcare workers.

For the purpose of additional protection, Poha classifies individuals as public service workers, if their job serves the general public, and not just patrons of a private business or establishment. These include healthcare professionals in public healthcare institutions such as public hospitals and polyclinics.

Last year, the list of public service workers for the purposes of additional protection under Poha was expanded to include private healthcare workers directly involved in Covid-19 operations.

This group of private healthcare workers are serving the general public, as part of the national healthcare framework dealing with Covid-19, and not just their private clients. The Ministry of Home Affairs will continue to regularly review this list of public service workers under Poha.

4. Cyberattacks on local companies

Question by MP for Tampines GRC Cheng Li Hui: 

  • Does the Government track the number of local companies which experienced cyberattacks over the past two years?
  • Are companies which have experienced cyberattacks required to report them to the authorities?
  • What are the current measures to equip local companies with the capabilities to enhance cyber resilience and to deal with cyberattacks?

Reply by Minister for Communications and Information, and Minister-in-charge of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) Josephine Teo: 

Last year, CSA received 1,238 reports of cybersecurity incidents from businesses, and other organisations, while in 2020, CSA received 972 such reports.

The Cybersecurity Act requires owners of computers or computer systems designated as Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) to report cybersecurity incidents related to CII to CSA, which enables CSA to monitor and safeguard the cybersecurity of CII, which are crucial to the continuous delivery of essential services.

Beyond incidents related to CII, CSA encourages all companies to report cybersecurity incidents to SingCERT at, even if the affected systems are not designated as CII.

Doing so helps to augment CSA's awareness of the latest threats, and allows us to alert other companies to minimise the risk of them falling victim to similar cyberattacks.

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