PROPOSED changes to laws mandating the death penalty will be debated when Parliament sits on Monday, with more than a dozen MPs expected to speak on the issue.
They will debate the Misuse of Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill and the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill which will spare some future drug traffickers and murderers from certain death.
The current laws mandate death for all found guilty of murder and trafficking in drugs above a specified weight. The proposed changes will give judges the discretion to impose a life sentence under certain conditions.
For drug trafficking, the two conditions are: the trafficker is only a courier who has either cooperated with the authorities in a substantive way or is mentally disabled.
For murder, the mandatory death penalty will apply only where there is intention to kill.
Both Bills, which will be up for a second reading, also offer a possible lifeline to 34 people now on death row.
Also on the agenda is the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill, which will make it compulsory for all death sentence cases in Singapore to be reviewed, in the event that a person sentenced to death does not make an appeal.
Among the MPs lined up for the debate is lawyer Christopher De Souza, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs.
He told The Straits Times yesterday he intends to give a cautionary speech, based on his time as a Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association volunteer encouraging youth at risk to stay away from drugs.
"Now as an MP, I see how the kids are orphaned because both their parents are in drug rehabilitation or prison. It is a damaging experience to the family. Let us not forget the compassion we need for our wider society, for all these vulnerable groups of people."
Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim and fellow Aljunied GRC MPs Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap plan to speak on the Bills as well.
Three members of the House are also raising questions on the Media Development Authority's (MDA) controversial decision last month to pull local comedy Sex.Violence.FamilyValues out before its release, after feedback that one of its three short films had racial references deemed offensive to Indians.
Nominated MP Janice Koh is asking the Minister for Communications and Information why the film initially received an M18 rating and why the MDA convened the Films Consultative Panel based on complaints from people who had seen the trailer but not the film.
She also wants to know the reasons for MDA not considering alternatives, like an R21 rating with limited screenings, and "whether such reversal of film ratings will create an uncertain and unfavourable environment for Singapore film-makers and artists".
Mr David Ong (Jurong GRC) and Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) are also raising their concerns.
Monday's proceedings will include Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam paying tribute to former chief justice Chan Sek Keong, who retired on Tuesday.
Four new Bills will be introduced on computer misuse, oversight of payment systems, stamp duties and economic expansion incentives tied to income tax relief.
Nominated MP Teo Siong Seng is also raising a motion of adjournment to give him more time to address Parliament on the "Voice of Small and Medium Enterprises".
The president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: "They are really feeling the pinch of the external environment and domestic policy, in terms of foreign manpower, human resource costs and inflation pressure.
"They gave me a wish list for the Budget next year."
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