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MP BREAKS INTO SONG FOR INMATES

Apart from the mention of pop concerts, there was also singing in Parliament yesterday, courtesy of MP Christopher de Souza.

He was speaking in support of the Prison Amendment Bill when he referred to the song, Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree, and sang the first line of its chorus, which is also its title.

The MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC said that programmes like the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme (MAS) can help to gradually re-integrate former inmates into society, reducing their social stigma.

This is done through counselling, community support and case management in the period right after their release.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said the new Conditional Remission System (CRS) is aimed at deterring former inmates from re-offending. Inmates released after serving two-thirds of their sentences will be subjected to conditions including electronic tagging and curfew.

Those who flout the rules may have to return to prison.

He added that several MPs have noted that the CRS and MAS are "serious undertakings" for Singapore Prisons Services.

"I would like to reassure members that the prison has sufficient capacity," he said, adding that Prisons is also building its own halfway house, which will add to the current number of halfway houses that are run by external organisations.

The Prisons Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday and the changes are likely to take effect in the middle of this year, a Ministry for Home Affairs spokesman said.