Recommendations

2013

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE EMPLOYMENT ACT

AWARE makes the following recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower with a focus on extending coverage of the Employment Act and augmenting flexibility for employers.

FEEDBACK FOR THE COMMITTEE OF FAMILY JUSTICE

The Committee for Family Justice was established in 2013 to look into reform to the family justice system to better deal with family disputes. This inter-agency committee is co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajhah and Justice VK Rajah. The committee has compiled a list of issues relating to the family impact of all society and invited feedback from AWARE on the issues and concerns that the Committee should pay attention to. This review aims to determine the appropriate structure and operating model for the Family Court to better manage, resolve and adjudicate cases brought before the Court.

RESPONSE TO BIO-ETHICS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) was established by the Government in December 2000 to address the ethical, legal and social issues arising from human biomedical research and its applications. It develops and recommends policies on these issues, with the aim of protecting the rights and welfare of individuals, while allowing the biomedical sciences to develop and realise its full potential for the benefit of mankind. The BAC is currently examining the ethical, legal and social issues arising from recent developments in neuroscience research, with a focus on research involving any intervention on the human brain, or which affects the brain or mind significantly. Various policies and guidelines made by international organisations have been studied carefully. Local and international experts have also been consulted. Following deliberations on these issues, a consultation paper entitled “Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Neuroscience Research” has been prepared. AWARE was invited by the BAC to give our comments to the consultation paper, and we focused on specific sections in the paper.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE SINGAPORE BUDGET 2013

AWARE calls for increased support for the care economy, reiterates the need for an inclusive Budget that adequately meets the needs of all women and vulnerable groups in Singapore, reminding the Government that the Budget should be aligned with the State’s obligations under the international treaties that Singapore has ratified. AWARE recommends that the State significantly increase its efforts in addressing the gaps in five key areas: comprehensive healthcare, meeting the needs of the elderly, increasing support for persons with disabilities, adequate support for caregiving, as well as reducing the Gini coefficient and increasing social mobility.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE EMPLOYMENT ACT

AWARE makes the following recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower with a focus on extending coverage of the Employment Act and augmenting flexibility for employers.

2012

RECOMMENDATIONS ON SINGAPORE’S POPULATION POLICIES

AWARE makes the following recommendations to the NPTD based on the three areas of focus – a strong and cohesive society, a good quality living environment, and a sustainable and vibrant economy. These recommendations address the questions posed by the NPTD in their Issues Paper.

SUMMARY OF THE POSITION OF THE VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION BILL IN RELATION TO THE UN CONVENTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (UNCRC)

AWARE is of the view the Bill in its present form contravenes the State’s obligations under the UNCRC as it does not provide for any requirement or mechanism to ensure that the decision is made in the best interest of the child. This is especially necessary where the child is very young. To comply with the UNCRC, the Bill should provide:

a) that the decision for the sterilisation of the child should be one that is in the best interest of the child; and
b) that there should be an independent party who assesses this. This party should ideally be the Court to be consistent with the current provisions on the sterilisation of persons lacking mental capacity.

AWARE FEEDBACK TO PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON MEDISHIELD

Singapore’s healthcare system is internationally acclaimed, but the current exclusion of neonatal and congenital defects is in stark contrast to other Commonwealth countries. In the UK, Canada and Australia, health care of children with neonatal and congenital defects is covered by the National Health Service and Medicare respectively after registration of the baby. Increasing access to treatment for crucial birth defects would further improve Singapore’s already very low infant mortality rate, indeed the lowest in the world (UN World Population Prospects Report 2011). It would also improve the quality of life for children in need.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION OF THE INCOME TAX (AMENDMENT) BILL 2012: SUBMISSION OF COMMENTS BY AWARE

We would like to suggest that the scope of the amendment titled ‘Enhancement to the Earned Income Relief Earned Income Relief’ be expanded to include caregivers who return to the workforce after leaving to be caregivers of dependents. We believe that this enhancement would help to incentivize such caregivers to return to work. To ensure affordability and sustainability, we suggest that the EIR given to such a caregiver be equal to the number of years that he or she has been out of the workforce. We believe that this expansion of scope will align this amendment with other policies that seek to attract caregivers, especially women, to return to the workforce after leaving it. This will tap our latent pool of local manpower.

MARRIAGE & PARENTHOOD TRENDS: A SUBMISSION TO THE NATIONAL POPULATION & TALENT DIVISION

AWARE thanks the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) for inviting views from the public on how to improve Singapore’s birth rate and how different stakeholders can help to foster a supportive environment for family life to encourage fertility decision-making by couples. The TFR issue is fundamentally linked to quality of life issues – i.e. the general well-being of individuals and societies. If citizens do not have a sense of well-being and security, they will not be inclined to take on additional responsibilities of parenting and caregiving. To address TFR, we must therefore look at all policies that affect our citizens’ quality of life, including policies on education, health, housing, employment and retirement.

SUBMISSION ON DRAFT VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION BILL

AWARE welcomes the move to better safeguard the sexual and reproductive autonomy of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The proposed amendments, however, do not adequately protect people – especially women and girls – who lack mental capability. Intellectually disabled women and girls face greater discrimination and violence than other women. This should be explicitly recognised in the new legislation. If the intent of the amendments is to align the Voluntary Sterilisation Act with the Mental Capacity Act (2008), why is the MCA regime not adopted fully? We urge that voluntary sterilisation decisions be brought under the MCA. AWARE is deeply disturbed to find that the Bill offers intellectually disabled people lower standards of protection when it comes to sterilisation than the MCA does for less weighty decisions, such as managing their finances.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION

In response to the Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons seeking public feedback on the proposed National Plan of Action, which will guide Singapore’s response to trafficking in persons (also known as TIP) from 2012-2015, AWARE submitted our recommendations for tackling TIP, a significant transnational crime which exploits vulnerable victims. Singapore is an attractive hub of economic activity with high people flows, and seen as an attractive destination country by human trafficking syndicates.

FEEDBACK FOR THE SINGAPORE BUDGET 2012

AWARE calls for an inclusive 2012 budget to support a caring society. To ensure a truly inclusive society, women’s issues must be addressed fully as national issues. AWARE thus calls for a budget that adequately meets the needs of all women in Singapore, regardless of age, marital status and disabilities. This is aligned with the State’s commitment and obligation to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

2011

SUBMISSION TO MINISTRY OF LAW ON SECTION 157(D) OF THE EVIDENCE ACT

Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act makes it possible to discredit an alleged sexual assault victim through her sexual history. This ‘chastity’ requirement, which is based on common law, is clearly outmoded and has been reversed by statute in most common law jurisdictions. It is not the function of rape evidence law to perpetuate and enforce moral judgments on women’s sexual lives, but to promote the discovery of the truth.

WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE SINGAPORE BUDGET

The following position paper was submitted by AWARE to Singapore’s policy-makers in February 2011 before the budget was released. In this submission regarding the Singapore Budget, AWARE focuses on six areas:Transparency of data; families with children; caregiving; people in financial distress; women’s health; women and employment.

2010

DRAFT BILL ON INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION – COMMENTS

In response to the Public Consultation on the Draft Bill to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, AWARE submitted comments and recommendations on the draft Bill.

2006

BEYOND YOUTH: WOMEN GROWING OLDER & POORER

AWARE-TSAO addresses issues faced by older women who are outliving their male counterparts, but have less financial security, health care and are more dependent on children. They make recommendations in the areas of employment policies, CPF and social protection policies, healthcare financing, housing, social networks and educational programmes to change the social norm of treating women as care-givers.

AWARE POSITION PAPER ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE PENAL CODE

AWARE presented our feedback on the proposed amendments to the Penal Code in 2006. In particular, AWARE commended the government for enacting Sections 376(B) to 376(D), prohibiting the prostitution of minors within Singapore and overseas. AWARE also provided detailed feedback on sections that pertain to rape, outrages on decency and unlawful assembly.

BEYOND HAPPILY AFTER: MAKING A MATCH BETWEEN SINGAPORE GROOMS & FOREIGN BRIDES

As an increasing number of foreign brides from neighbouring countries flock to Singapore through matchmaking agencies, AWARE delves into the hidden issue of exploitation and provides recommendations to tackle these problems. The paper sets out the concerns of the foreign brides trade, the inadequate legislation in this area and the promotion of stereotypes of women.