In 2014, WP MP Faisal had to apologise in parliament for making an allegation without backing it up with facts

Aug 05, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan's allegations against a government agency without any evidence bears a striking similarity to another incident in parliament involving fellow party member Faisal Manap.

Exactly seven years ago on August 4, 2014 during a parliamentary debate on the Family Justice Bill, WP MP Faisal Manap had alleged that when he was a counsellor, he came across a couple who were having housing issues and advised to file for a divorce by the Housing and Development Board — so that the wife would be eligible to buy a house under the Singles Scheme and she could subsequently remarry her husband.

Then Minister of State for National Development Dr Maliki Osman took objection to Faisal's remarks and asked him to substantiate his allegations.

Faisal, however, could not provide the details to back up his claims.

Dr Maliki: "I don't think allegations of such a nature can be allowed to go past without verification"

Dr Maliki said: "It is very important for Members of the House to understand that if we highlight cases in this House, we have to be prepared to disclose all information...because I don’t think allegations of such a nature can be allowed to go past without verification."

"These are very serious statements that are being made against our civil servants ... If such allegations are made, we must give them a chance to clarify," he added.

Faisal's speech also prompted then Speaker of Parliament and current President Madam Halimah Yacob to interject: "It is quite different to say that HDB rejected the appeal (compared) to saying that it is because of the advice of the HDB officer that the couple should divorce ... So since you cited the person and you said you got her approval to raise the issue, the question asked by the Minister of State is whether you can provide particulars so he can verify and prevent (the situation) from repeating if (it) is indeed ... as you have said."

Faisal responded: "I don’t have (the) contacts since I am no longer a counsellor. But again, I used that as one example of many cases I have encountered of such difficulties ... I don’t have the details of my client."

Faisal apologises

In his defense, Faisal said: “I just wanted to provide feedback on the experiences that I have had “I have no intention of disregarding the good work that has been done by civil servants in our public services...”

Madam Halimah expressed her agreement with Dr Maliki and said “Although Members are covered by parliamentary privilege, it is important when incidents are summoned, particularly involving government agencies and public servants, the particulars can be provided to verify the real facts.”

Faisal then apologised for bringing up the case and added that he will be "more careful in future".

S'pore firm develops first Omicron-specific testing kit

Dec 06, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership
Home-grown biotechnology firm BioAcumen Global has launched Singapore's first Omicron-specific Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit.

This means that a person taking the test will receive one of three results: Covid-19 positive and Omicron positive; Covid-19 positive and Omicron negative; or Covid-19 and Omicron negative.

Currently, PCR kits here that are capable of detecting Omicron require an additional gene sequencing step to confirm the specific variant. This takes an additional day.

Some PCR kits, such as those currently in use by medical technology firm Acumen Diagnostics and biotech firm MiRXES, are able to detect both the Delta and the Omicron strains, but to confirm if a positive case has been infected by Omicron, gene sequencing is necessary.

Mr Jimmy Toh, director of BioAcumen Global, said: "We are looking at ways to cut down the steps and time needed to run this test. This is crucial, especially at the borders where accurate tests need to be done on-site. There is no time to wait on sequencing results to know if a positive sample is infected with Omicron."

Mass production of the kit has begun, and the BioAcumen Global team hopes this kit will provide much needed help locally and in the region for the surveillance and control of this new variant, Mr Toh said.