(Delivered on 2 March 2020)
Regulating E-gaming: Lootboxes and microtransactions in electronic games – Leon Perera
In a 2019 global survey, it was found that Singaporean gamers spend more time playing electronic games than other Asian counterparts.
Lootboxes, a consumable virtual item used to redeem a randomized selection of further virtual items, is increasingly seen, in some quarters, as a form of gambling.
A study by academics at the University of York indicated that micro-transactions are rising as well. In many games, these are to purchase such loot boxes.
From a separate study by academics in York, UK, there is some evidence linking loot-boxes to problem gambling.
Based on a PQ I asked in January 2019, MHA is studying the matter.
Belgium has banned loot-boxes purchased using real money. The UK NHS has also called for the industry to ban loot-boxes. Its mental health director Claire Murdoch warned that these were in danger of “setting kids up for addiction.”
Singapore ought to consider implementing, at the very least, regulations to limit access to micro-transaction-driven loot-boxes by youth, so as to prevent habituation to addictive, gambling-like behaviour among young gamers.
Traffic Summons – Pritam Singh
Sir, in April last year, the Ministry increased composition sums for a wide range of traffic offences in response to an uptrend in road traffic offences. For example, the fines for illegal U-turns while attracting zero demerit points were raised from $70 to $100 while heavy vehicle drives saw the composition sum for the same offence increased from $100 to $150. In fact, there was an increase in the composition fines for all offences that attracted up to 12 demerit points. These are those, which for example, could manifest in a failure to conform to a red-light signal. In that case, the composition sum has been doubled from $200 to $400 while heavy vehicle drivers have seen a jump from $230 to $500.
Sir I agree that road safety is something we cannot compromise on and the need for deterrence is obvious. However, many of the residents I see who are on the receiving end of these fines admit to their offences and are usually contrite. In most cases, there is no question of actual harm caused – because those would attract more severe penalties anyway.
Those most heavily affected by the higher fines re taxi and private-hire car drivers, motorcycle couriers and the low-income who do not have the ability to pay up such a large sum of money at one go.
In the appropriate case, I would like to request the Ministry to consider offering the option of an automatic instalment plan for comparatively minor offences that do not attract a custodial sentence on the condition that the offender undertake not to commit a similar offence, failing which no instalment plan would be offered as of right. This approach seeks to retain the deterrence and policy objective of higher fines.
Some jurisdictions around the world even offer to half a fine provided it is paid forthwith. Such proposals can be modified with better policy outcomes for example, a requirement for some retraining or refresher defensive driving programs for first-time offenders only. I hope the Ministry can consider such alternatives that achieve the objective of increased road safety awareness and deterrence on the one hand, and reasonable consideration for the financial consequences on frequent – usually low-income – road users on the other.