Parliamentary Q&A for 3 July 2017 sitting


Daniel Goh asked whether deeds of gifts executed with the NHB may be shared with third parties and if the 38 Oxley Road Deed of Gift had been protected by a confidentiality clause.

Lawrence Wong replied that NHB would verify consent on items donated from an estate if any beneficiary raises objections, and that the 38 Oxley Road Deed of Gift did not have a confidentiality clause.

Read the full exchange here.



Sylvia Lim asked what rules are in place and how they are enforced, to ensure senior officeholders with personal or pecuniary interests in the subject matter of Government decisions do not influence or participate in the related deliberations and decision-making.

Teo Chee Hean replied that Codes of Conduct exist governing the conduct of Ministers, political appointees and public officers. Ministers are required to disclose private interests and ensure they do not influence or support issues they have a private interest in.

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Ms Sylvia Lim asked in respect of Government decisions on 38 Oxley Road what conflicts or potential conflicts of interest exist among Cabinet members and how these conflicts were managed.

Indranee Rajah assured that the laws and rules on conflict are very clear and that Cabinet members abide by rules of conflict.

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Leon Perera asked under what circumstances are Ministerial committees convened, how many currently exists and whether their terms of references and composition can be publicly announced.

Teo Chee Hean replied that Committees are established from time to time to study specific issues but are rarely disclosed as they often relate to internal Government working processes and coordination.

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Leon Perera asked if the committee reviewing 38 Oxley Road would engage independent heritage experts and public opinion sensing processes.

Lawrence Wong replied that the Government takes a vigorous assessment process on conservation or preservation, involving public agencies and “relevant professionals and subject matter experts”.

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Pritam Singh asked regarding 38 Oxley Road, whether the Prime Minister supports setting up an all-party special Select Committee of Parliament to receive relevant evidence, with public hearings and live broadcast.

Lee Hsien Loong replied that there is no basis for a Select Committee because there are no specifics to the charges of abuse of power. However, he did not object to a Select Committee in the future should evidence or alleged evidence of wrongdoing emerge.

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Png Eng Huat asked what rules are in place to prevent abuse of positions by Ministers and political appointees by allowing or condoning family members to access, influence and direct civil servants on matters beyond their professional course of work.

Teo Chee Hean highlighted Code of Conduct for political appointees, Rules of Prudence for PAP MPs and the Public Service Code of Conduct. He assured that “any political appointment holder, public officer, or his or her family members” who abuse power will be held to account

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Png Eng Huat asked how often, and in what form, are rules to prevent abuse of positions communicated to officeholders and how cases of abuse of position and power are treated.

Teo Chee Hean replied that the Public Service Code of Conduct is periodically refreshed and made available in hard-copy and on the intranet. Misconduct can be reported internally within the public organisation or to the Public Service Commission, the Police or the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Read the full exchange here.



Dennis Tan asked for the criteria used to decide on the JC mergers, and to decide on which JC should give up the use of their name or existing premises after the merger.

Janil Puthucheary identified a few factors such as accessibility to public transport, quality of school infrastructure and good geographical distribution of Government non-IP JCs. In naming the merged schools, the Ministry will consider the history, stakeholders’ interests and the sentiments of all schools involved.


Dennis Tan asked who were the stakeholders from the affected JCs that were consulted, and how long ago was the consultation.

Janil Puthucheary replied that all stakeholders were consulted and will continue to be engaged.


Dennis Tan asked for clarifications whether only government-funded, non-IP, non-mission and non-affiliated JCs were being merged.

Janil Puthucheary replied that it is “correct” that the mergers involve only government non-IP JCs. He pointed out that the difference in governance framework makes it more challenging for a merger between a Government-aided school and a Government school, and that the Ministry believed it was “not needed” at this point in time.


Dennis Tan asked whether the growing popularity of JCs, such as Meridian, Serangoon, was taken into consideration for the merger and if the Ministry agrees that the hard work of principals and staff would be undermined by the closures.

Janil Puthucheary said that geographical location and enrolment was taken into account, but no single factor was overwhelming. He said that the key part of a school is the teachers, staff and ethos and values that they bring, and that they are “staying within our system”.


Pritam Singh asked why the Ministry did not consider shelving the establishment of the new Eunoia JC and convert one or more existing JCs to offer the same educational programme planned for Eunoia JC.

Janil Puthucheary replied that no “suitable” JCs existed at that time to partner the three Secondary schools (Catholic High, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ and Singapore Chinese Girls’) to offer the Integrated Programme.


Pritam Singh asked why it was not possible for the Ministry to transfer staff to support the IP programme of existing JCs, especially since the Ministry was aware of falling cohort sizes in 2010.

Janil Puthucheary replied that the Ministry had explored a wide variety of options to deal with the falling enrolment and decided that the merger is the way to go forward. The aim of this action is to increase diversity in our education landscape through IP in secondary schools.


Leon Perera asked for the minimum JC enrolment size for “critical mass”, and what is the expected percentage of total JC places with a cut-off point over 10, post-merger of the JCs.

Janil Puthucheary said that all JC-eligible students, i.e. those who score 20 points or below, will be able to enrol in one of the JCs. He adds that there is a plan to increase the JC1 student intake to ensure no JC-eligible student would be turned away.


Leon Perera asked why the Ministry rejected the option of retaining the four JCs and reducing class size with some programmes operated on a cluster basis with JCs or Institutes, as necessary.

Janil Puthucheary replied that reducing class sizes and merging JCs are measures for two separate issues, and that the Ministry has already been reducing class sizes by “steadily improving teacher-to-student ratios.”


Leon Perera asked about the lessons learnt to improve the long term planning protocols in establishing new JCs and increasing the capacity for JC placements, given the discrepancy between the foreseeable falling birth rates and increase in capacity over the last decade.

Janil Puthucheary replied that a dynamic approach must be adopted. He said that there is some uncertainty now, but the Ministry will have to seek a “key principle” to support the actions taken while minimising the down sides.


Leon Perera questioned the timing to announce the merger of JCs during the implementation of new curriculum by MOE.

Janil Puthucheary said that the timing should be determined fundamentally by how far ahead they had to plan for birth cohorts. He added that there is “never going to be a good time” for the merger announcement.


Leon Perera asked about the measures taken by the Ministry to assist non-teaching staff and vendors in the JCs during the transition.

Janil Puthucheary replied that the Ministry is looking to ensure that all staff “have opportunities”.


Read the full exchanges here.