Delivered in Parliament on 26 May 2020
Mr Speaker, sir, I am glad that the Ministry of Transport is finally introducing this bill. In particular, it is finally introducing a law to makes it an offence for a person to import a small motorised vehicle without having a permit to do so.
Back in April 2016, at the 2016 Committee of Supply Debates for the Ministry of Transport, I had mentioned that unauthorised e-bikes were still available for sale. I said that many e-bikes which were in use were not authorised models and I asked the ministry to consider only allowing authorised e-bikes to be sold in Singapore.
This was when MOT was looking at introducing new active mobility laws and looking to promote use of PMDs and e-bikes for first and last mile connectivity.
Less than 4 years later, on 4 November 2019, on the day MOT announced in Parliament that e-scooters were to be banned from the footpaths, consigning it into, at the least, temporary obsolescence for many users, I had a Parliamentary Question that day asking what are the measures in place to deter the sale and supply of non-compliant PMDs in Singapore by online suppliers and whether the Ministry has asked Singapore Customs to help detect and prevent non-compliant PMDs from being brought into Singapore by any supplier or individual.
I wondered why it has taken so long for the Government to cut the import of illegal e-scooters or e-bikes. The public had to endure wide usage of illegal specs e-scooters and e-bikes for some time. Till today, I still see quite a few illegal e-bikes being used. SMS Lam also mentioned this recently.
I remember in the debate for the Second Reading of the Active Mobility Bill, I was asking about allowing throttle operated e-bikes. SMS Lam gave his explanation as to why throttle e-bikes were not allowed. Till today, we still see throttle e-bikes around.
The best solution to disallow non-specs e-bikes, e-scooters or other PMDs would simply to ban its import. After the bill is passed today, the requirement for import approvals will likely be a first step to make sure that we do not have unauthorised e-bikes or e-scooters and in fact other types of PMDs, some of which we may not even be able to imagine at this moment.
We need to make sure that the controls are in place to ensure that no unauthorised small motorised vehicles can even be shipped into Singapore via any shipping lines or logistic service providers. It must be stopped at all our customs checkpoints for land, air or sea.
The logistic service providers of all importers including online suppliers must be made aware and accountable for the ban. Online e-commerce suppliers must not allow sale and import of such unauthorised machines into Singapore.
Will SMS Lam share with the House how the Government will work with suppliers and retailers as well as all shipping and logistics companies to ensure that no unauthorised models can be brought into Singapore including from foreign e-commerce online suppliers?
Will someone who try ordering an illegal vehicle online from a foreign webpage be told before paying and checking out that it cannot be delivered to Singapore?
Finally, given likely frequent changes in technology, standards for permissible SMVs should be regularly updated and that these updates be made easily available to the public to access and check. For instance, a link to these requirements can be placed on a prominent place on the LTA website’s landing page.
Mr Speaker, sir, I support the Bill.