29 June 2016
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NSF's death: High Court says why it dismissed suit against SAF

Straits Times
29 Jun 2016
Ng Huiwen

SAF needs to protect nation without being burdened by civil liability, judge says

The High Court has explained why it dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) over the death of full- time national serviceman Dominique Sarron Lee, saying it was "without reasonable prospect of success".

The family of the 21-year-old private tried to sue the SAF for breach of contract of service and two of its officers for negligence after he suffered a fatal allergic reaction to fumes from smoke grenades used during a military exercise in 2012. The case was thrown out in March.

In written grounds released yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh accepted arguments by the defendants, who relied on a provision in the Government Proceedings Act indemnifying them from being sued for negligence for deaths and injuries if the acts are certified to be attributable to service.

The judge noted that such an immunity has imposed on the SAF and its officers "an even heavier moral burden" to ensure the utmost care of its charges.

"I am entirely convinced that the SAF and all who command it fully recognise the weight of that burden and do their very best to sedulously discharge it," he wrote.

"However, despite the best intentions and careful and meticulous planning, mistakes can and unfortunately sometimes do happen."

Calling the circumstances of the case "undoubtedly tragic", he added: "I am mindful of the anguish, pain and grief that this has caused Mr Lee's family and all those who cherish him."

But he stressed that the case also concerns the ability of the SAF and its officers to "safeguard our nation and her security" without being "burdened" by civil liability. "It is the responsibility of the courts to give effect to that legislative intention," he wrote.

The court ruled in March that Pte Lee's family would have to pay costs of $22,000 to the three defendants, which the judge yesterday reiterated was "reasonable".

This contributed to a public outcry, with some calling the SAF's handling of the case callous. A fund-raising drive was started to help pay the family's legal costs.

However, six days after the ruling, and following a Facebook post by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, the ministry and the two officers decided to waive their costs.

Dr Ng explained at the time that while the High Court's judgment in awarding the costs was based on sound legal grounds and precedents, there was no need to "add to the pain and anguish" of Pte Lee's family.

He said the SAF "must learn from every accident, fix lapses and improve", adding: "This is the way we honour all those who have given their all to build a strong and honourable SAF."

The SAF also revealed in March that the two officers had been found guilty of negligence in a summary trial in 2013, even though a Coroner's Inquiry and an independent Committee of Inquiry did not find them "directly responsible" for Pte Lee's death.

It said "administrative and disciplinary action" was taken against the two, though it was not clear what punishment was meted out.

Pte Lee's family filed the civil suit last year. Platoon commander Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal was defended by Mr R.S. Bajwa, while safety officer Captain Chia Thye Siong was defended by Mr Laurence Goh.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Estate of Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron, deceased v Najib Hanuk bin Muhammad Jalal and others [2016] SGHC 119

Kho Jabing v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGCA 21

Singapore joins international framework for implementing BEPS

Business
23 Jun 2016

Worthwhile to consider electoral college system: Forum

Straits Times
29 Jun 2016

It is sobering to note that such a globally consequential event as Britain leaving the European Union was decided by a wafer-thin margin of less than 4 percentage points.

It is pointless to speculate if the result would have been different, had the voter turnout been higher than the recorded 72.2 per cent.

But the result does reinforce the message that every vote counts ("Time to rethink one man, one vote?"; yesterday).

Anti-establishment and populist politics are among the myriad of reasons cited for the Brexit result.

This was also borne out by reports of "Leave" voters who had "voted with their hearts", but who want to reverse their choice now that they are better informed and aware of the consequences of their vote.

As evident by our own watershed General Election in 2011, Singaporeans are not immune to the siren songs of populist and anti-establishment rhetoric.

In that election, the ruling People's Action Party had its worst electoral showing since independence, with 60.1 per cent of the vote share, and lost a group representation constituency for the first time.

Perhaps it is time to look into implementing an electoral college system in Singapore, starting with our next presidential election.

I believe Singapore's population distribution has settled sufficiently to accord us a base to determine the number of electoral votes to be awarded to a given constituency.

I did a back-of-the-envelope modelling of the 2011 Presidential Election results.

By apportioning electoral votes according to each voting district's number of voters and assuming a similar vote distribution as for General Election 2011, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam would have won approximately 90 per cent of the electoral vote count, instead of the 35.2 per cent on record.

Thus, had we adopted an electoral college system in the 2011 Presidential Election, the result might have mitigated against the "mandate" grouses heard after that election.

I am also hopeful that an electoral college system can be an alternative to reviewing the eligibility criteria for the presidential election.

Any restriction, even if merely perceived, will only make citizens with an anti-establishment inclination more cynical.

On how to apply this system to the general election, I admit we will have our work cut out for us in reconciling it with our existing framework of electing MPs and the Government.

However, it is worth looking into the electoral college system as an additional layer to the cherished "one person, one vote" system, to mitigate against freak results which we regret the day after.

Ronnie Lee Kok Tong

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Verona Capital Pty Ltd v Ramba Energy West Jambi Ltd - [2016] SGHC 55

MAS responds to feedback on proposals for securities-based crowdfunding

Business
23 Jun 2016

TRS co-founder gets eight months' jail

Straits Times
29 Jun 2016
Pearl Lee

Yang exploited nationalistic sentiments for financial gain and not for ideology, says judge

The Brexit vote was highlighted yesterday when a judge sentenced the co-founder of socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) to eight months in jail, for deliberately sowing discord between Singaporeans and foreigners in a series of online articles.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said Yang Kaiheng, 27, had exploited nationalistic sentiments "purely for financial gain and not for some noble ideology, misguided or otherwise".

He noted that the published articles promoted ill-will and hostility against foreign nationalities residing or working in Singapore.

Then, turning to Britain voting to leave the European Union, the judge said: "Brexit was a shocking but powerful display of nationalistic sentiments."

Judge Chay, quoting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, added: "Nationalism has been described as a double-edged sword which can drive a nation to do better or cause its people to turn inwards."

The judge also said Brexit serves as a reminder of how strong and uncertain nationalistic emotions can be, and how they can "degenerate very rapidly into xenophobia, racism, intolerance and violence".

Immigration was a top issue during the Brexit campaign.

Judge Chay also agreed with the prosecution that the sentence should deter others from committing similar crimes as "there is an overriding public interest to protect the integrity of the multiracial and multicultural fabric of this country".

Yang had pleaded guilty last week to six charges of sedition.

But two other charges - one for uploading a seditious Facebook post and another of failing to give the police documents - were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Yang's sentence, however, is less than the 10-month jail term given in March to his wife, Ai Takagi, 23.

The reason, said Judge Chay, is that she had authored the seditious articles, while Yang did not amend or remove the seditious articles, although he had control of the website and its contents.

Takagi, an Australian who had started the now-defunct website with Yang, pleaded guilty to four charges of sedition from the start.

The judge said he also took into consideration Yang's family circumstances as a mitigating factor.

His father suffered a stroke last year in Australia, where he had gone to stay to look after the young couple's pet dog while they were under investigation in Singapore.

He is now paralysed, said Yang's lawyer, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, who urged the court to impose a five-month jail term.

Mr Choo argued that Yang did not author, edit or upload any of the seditious articles onto TRS.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan rebutted that Yang was involved in the development, operation and maintenance of TRS.

He also dismissed the claim that Yang was not aware of what was being published daily, saying TRS was a husband-and-wife operation run out of their home.

Judge Chay agreed. He also said Yang played an equal, if not a larger, role in some aspects.

Yang was instrumental in setting up TRS to make money and allowed his wife "to kick up a storm on the Internet with zero control to generate even more revenue'', the judge said.


EASY TO KEEP TRACK

TRS was no leviathan-size publishing empire, with scores of writers, teams of editors and a convoluted corporate hierarchy. It was a two-person show.

DEPUTY PUBLIC PROSECUTOR G. KANNAN, rebutting the point that Yang was unaware of what was being published on TRS.


NO INTENTION OF HAVING ANOTHER GO

Yang is the only child and the income he earns... goes largely to supporting his father's medical bills... the last thing on Yang's mind is to start another website like TRS.

DEFENCE LAWYER CHOO ZHENG XI, on Yang being unlikely to start a website similar to TRS.

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AZZ v BAA - [2016] SGHC 44

Goods and Services Tax Act: Changes to GST policies and administration

Legislation
23 Jun 2016

Neighbour loses claim against neighbour over damage

Straits Times
28 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Landowners cannot be expected to look over contractors' shoulders, says judge

A house owner who hired a contractor to rebuild his unit was held not liable when demolition works damaged a neighbour's house.

The High Court rejected a move to make the owner liable in addition to the contractor, making clear that property owners cannot be expected to supervise what contractors do, as a matter of policy.

"It would be intolerable if the law were to hold that all landowners who seek to construct homes on their property would have a duty to look continually over the shoulders of the independent contractors they hire to ensure that they take reasonable care in the performance of their tasks," said Judicial Comissioner See Kee Oon in judgment grounds released yesterday.

The case arose after demolition works by contractor Esthetix Design on a three-storey unit in Jalan Lim Tai See in September 2011.

Owner Munib Mohammed Madni had hired Esthetix to turn the existing house into a three-storey detached structure with a basement and swimming pool.

Debris from demolition works hit a boundary wall of neighbour Ng Huat Seng's house, which is in front and down a slope.

Some debris also hit his house, breaking window panes, damaging four air-con condenser units and cracking the backyard, among other things.

Mr Ng sued both Mr Munib and Esthetix for negligence in the State Courts where he won $136,796 and costs against Esthertix last year.

District Judge Seah Chi Ling found Mr Munib and his wife Zahrah Ayub not liable in negligence as they had exercised reasonable care in outsourcing work to Esthetix.

Mr Ng appealed to the High Court against this decision at a two-day hearing earlier this year.

His lawyers, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan and Mr Tan Cheow Hin, argued Esthetix was not an independent contractor, which meant Mr Munib was indirectly liable as his employer. They argued the work was "ultra-hazardous", which meant the duty of care could not be delegated from the house owners to the contractor.

Mr Munib, represented by lawyers Raymond Wong and Os Agarwal, argued the works were not "ultra-hazardous" and Esthetix was to be treated as an independent contractor that the owners had taken reasonable care in hiring.

The judge ruled Mr Munib was not indirectly liable. He found Esthetix was an independent contractor as it took out its own insurance, hired its own staff and dealt with various sub-contractors and consultants in its own name.

He noted this was the first case where the so-called "ultra-hazardous" exception was considered at length and appointed lawyer Keith Han to assist the court as amicus curiae, or friend of the court.

Despite the demolition being done close to Mr Ng's house and the relative elevations of the two houses, this did not mean the demolition was "a dangerous operation in its intrinsic nature", he added.

The judge added that the Court of Appeal may some day decide that the doctrine of ultra-hazardous acts "no longer has a place in our law and will instead deal with such cases by applying the general principles of the law of negligence".

Mr Ng's lawyers are seeking permission to appeal to the apex court.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Ng Huat Seng and another v Munib Mohammad Madni and another [2016] SGHC 11

Public Prosecutor v Lim Hou Peng Jackson - [2016] SGHC 53

The art of crossing: The pedestrian and contributory negligence - Bte Ab Rahman v Li Jianlin [2016] 2 SLR 944

SLW Commentary
22 Jun 2016

Guidelines needed to raise quality of risk disclosure by crowdfunding platforms

Business Times
28 Jun 2016
Jamie Lee

THE heat is on in the Singapore crowdfunding space and this comes, unsurprisingly, on the back of clearer regulations introduced recently. Clearer rules aimed not only at control but also at giving the nascent segment a nudge are commendable but, given that the market is not only at its infant stage but also opaque, a nagging question is why the revised measures are not accompanied by requirements to lift the quality of disclosure.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in June clarified rules that essentially made it necessary for securities-based crowdfunding (SCF) platforms to be licensed. MAS also lowered the financial requirements for SCF platform operators, whose basic function is match-making SMEs and crowdfunding investors, the latter each funding a fraction of an unsecured loan to small businesses, in return for an interest that at the moment is in excess of 10 per cent.

So long as they do not hold customers' money, and do not act as principal against their customers, the minimum base capital requirement for SCF platforms is slashed from S$250,000 to S$50,000; the minimum operational risk requirement is halved to S$50,000.

MAS made clear it would like more qualifying SCF platform operators to operate in this restricted space, and had crafted its regulatory approach after accounting for the limited systemic and business conduct risks posed by such intermediaries.

It said crowdfunding platforms catering to retail investors will have to document and disclose the risks of such investments, and get investors' acknowledgement that the risks have been read and understood.

But, as of now, there are no details on the sort of risk disclosure that platforms will have to make. In its current form, it is not so much KYC (know your customer) but a blanket statement that all capital can be lost.

What are also missing are clear guidelines to bolster disclosure quality. To be clear, investors can check the credit scores of the companies on such platforms. Various metrics that determine liquidity and level of indebtedness are usually available for investors to examine. But the standard of disclosure in this area remains patchy.

Cowboy market

Default rates are also not defined and platforms are not required to reveal their numbers. Some define default to be 30 days, others 90 days, from the time of expected payout. Rejection rates do not have to be put up. Credit assessment criteria are also opaque, with platforms attempting to wash out that concern by claiming the use of "state-of-the-art" technology to assess risks.

Most credit teams at crowdfunding platforms are very lean, likely made up of fewer than 10 persons. Some of these are experienced former bankers or staff of credit financing firms. Some claim credence by hiring former high-ranking staff from unrelated industries. But without transparency in this largely cowboy market, there is no certainty over the true scrutiny over these proposed loans.

Meanwhile, loans are being filled in a matter of minutes. One press representative of a crowdfunding platform approached this reporter, presumably with some glee, that a 60-year-old retiree has ploughed money into the platform. One suspects she would not be so gleeful if that investor were her grandmother.

Already, there are whispers that SMEs are churning peer-to-peer (p2p) loans to pay off existing p2p loans - rolling debt until the music stops. It may not be clear to p2p investors that the money is being used to pay back another p2p loan, especially when companies are vague on the use of such funds.

Considering Singapore's push to attract fintechs and new innovations, and the fact that there is little systemic risk posed by crowdfunding, MAS's approach comes as no surprise, and can certainly draws some empathy.

But this strategy brings an expected mushrooming of platforms that are chasing a small pool of loans. There is a plausible chance that standards at platforms will fall. The larger question today, then, is whether at a time of expected higher defaults in today's weaker economic situation, such an approach would create a sustainable crowdfunding arena.

Biggest downside

There have been reports of defaults and angry investors - they will not be the last. But without quality and standardised disclosure, investors may not be able to decide if a default was a result of economic malaise, or poor credit checks, or both.

The biggest downside to this approach is that one fraudulent case could raise enough stink to kill off interest in this emerging marketplace.

Crowdfunding has become a misnomer, and will be more so in time. At its origin, crowdfunding is meant to carve up into many pieces the risk represented in a loan, so that in the event of a default, the loss per investor is small. This also allows investors to diversify their portfolio.

But for an SME, it is easy to see why it may favour targeting sophisticated investors, especially as more platform catering to rich investors spring up (and that may have looser requirements). Funding can be secured from a small handful of investors, rather than spreading it among a larger crowd. Since sophisticated investors have a large income, any loss is presumably easier for them to bear.

At one platform, just 10 investors are filling a single order. At another, a project was funded by a trio of investors, stretching the "three's a crowd" saying to effect. But the assumption that rich investors are naturally savvy is likely misplaced; that accredited investors can opt in for regulators' protection - and abandon their accredited status as a consequence - suggests MAS implicitly knows this, too. Whether these yield-hungry investors seek out more protection bears scepticism on two counts of human nature driving behaviour: greed, and hubris.

Having standardised disclosure would have been a gain for the entire industry, and would have helped investors - retail and accredited - to make comparisons between platforms, without prejudice on MAS's part, and created a more than proportionate lift in quality. MAS has said it will publish FAQs on lending-based crowdfunding. It would be worthwhile for investors to look forward to some pointers there.

The latest regulations are efficient, in that they rely on investors to acknowledge risks before proceeding. But there is less room to argue for caveat emptor today when there is no disclosure-based regime soundly set up. It is also hard to envisage a sustainable marketplace.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

TMO v TMP - [2016] SGHCF 05

Income Tax Act: Amendments to implement Common Reporting Standard passed

Legislation
22 Jun 2016

Singaporean boat captain faces jail for trespassing in Indonesia's waters

Straits Times
28 Jun 2016
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

Indonesian prosecutors are demanding that a Singaporean boat captain, caught trespassing in Indonesia's waters, be jailed for eight years and his vessel blown up and sunk under the country's fishery laws.

Captain Choo Chiau Huat, who had seven Singaporeans and six Malaysians on board Selin as passengers, was caught on April 16 in Tanjung Berakit waters, off Bintan island. He is also facing a 1.5 billion rupiah (S$152,000) fine.

All the passengers were deported about a week after the arrest.

Prosecutor Yuri Prasetyo told The Straits Times that he will officially read out the demand against the defendant, Mr Choo, before the Tanjung Pinang district court today or later this week.

"We are seeking maximum punishments under the 2004 fishery law," Mr Yuri said, adding that the official demand letter from the Attorney-General's office in Jakarta would be sent to his office soon.

"It was a tugboat that had been modified to be a fishing vessel and it entered Indonesia without permits. The boat had fishing nets around it," Mr Yuri argued, to back his charges against Mr Choo.

Mr Herman Black, the lawyer for the Singaporean, however, told The Straits Times that the penalties sought by the prosecutors are excessive and do not reflect the good, neighbourly relations between Indonesia and Singapore.

Mr Herman questioned the move to prosecute his client, as the case, he argued, was just a common, tourism-related trespass, explaining that his client was carrying tourists to do recreational fishing within Singapore waters but the boat drifted towards Indonesian waters.

In many countries that border one another, anyone entering the other country by mistake or because of unpredictable weather should immediately be deported, Mr Herman also argued. He said that there have been many cases of Indonesian and Malaysian fishermen being deported because of this.

"Why are they charging my client with the fishery law? My client's boat is only a recreational fishing boat. The evidence they seized was only 20 fish in total, meaning each person on board roughly got about one fish," Mr Herman added.

Mr Choo had earlier told the court that he was hired by a person in Singapore he identified as Michael Tan, whose company, Marine Tourism, charges clients $3,800 for a boat trip.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Seaquest Enterprise Pte Ltd v Agile Accomm Pte Ltd and another suit - [2016] SGHC 51

SHC: Penalty clauses - How to avoid falling foul of them

Judgments
21 Jun 2016

Online legal-drafting services on the rise in S’pore

TODAY
27 Jun 2016
Kelly Ng

SINGAPORE — Firms offering fuss-free contract-drafting services have been sprouting here over the past couple of years, many of which target start-ups that value high speed with small price tags.

Dragon Law, LawCanvas and Vanilla Law are among the online platforms that have appeared in Singapore, helping small and medium enterprises with a range of legal needs, from drafting contracts, registering trademarks, and obtaining visas. While this is relatively new territory in South-east Asia, the trail has long been blazed in the United States by the likes of LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer.

For an annual or monthly subscription fee, users get to access a suite of up to 400 legal documents and are guided through the process of creating the documents from start to finish.

These firms, typically run by teams with diverse expertise, are also looking to be an attractive job option for law students and graduates feeling the squeeze in the legal industry, as reported by TODAY earlier this month.

Vanilla Law, officially launched last month, prides itself on an “intuitive document assembly system” that helps firms reduce the costs of hiring in-house or external legal professionals. Dragon Law — founded in Hong Kong three years ago and launched here last December — uses an online questionnaire to generate customised legal documents. A “legal help desk” is also available to address queries round-the-clock.

On top of an annual subscription fee of S$250, Vanilla Law charges an extra “implementation fee” for each document created, which ranges between S$800 and S$3,000 depending on the document’s complexity. Dragon Law charges monthly subscription fees ranging from S$175 to S$300. In comparison, legal professionals could set firms back by at least S$3,000 per document.

Ms Fanny See, chief marketing officer of tech start-up Detrack, said: “Start-ups are generally lacking in professional expertise, such as in the legal and accounting fields ... It takes time to search for someone suitable and we are afraid of the high price tag that comes with it.” Ms See, who engaged Dragon Law to draft her firm’s website privacy policy and employment contracts, among other things, said the platform has a good database and is friendly to those who are not legally trained.

Firms that use such online services also vouch for their speed. Ms See said: “We need things fast. Dragon Law has a proactive support system that gives us immediate answers.”

Agreeing, Mr Larry Chua from hotel management company Caption Hospitality said legal professionals take up to two to three weeks to revert on each iteration of a legal draft. “As a start-up, speed is everything. Time is money,” he said. His firm uses LawCanvas for basic documents such as employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and intellectual property agreements.

Online platforms serve the needs of start-ups in their “early stages”, but professional help would still be needed for more complex agreements, such as those involving mergers and acquisitions, Mr Chua said.

Law firms that spoke to TODAY said the online services may reduce the legal protection provided to users and the level of sophistication in legal work here. Mr Samuel Yuen, managing director of Samuel Yuen LLC, said: “Such templates can create a false sense of security in users and lead them to think that a template document is sufficient and can catch all ... A person who uses templates may not see legal issues that a lawyer is able to see.”

Online databases are useful only for “very simple” contracts, Mr Koh C-u Pinn from Arielle Law Corporation said, adding that entrepreneurs should not take the “undue risk” of using templates for more complicated dealings such as procuring investments or when a shareholders agreement is required. “A savvy lawyer is needed to provide ongoing support all the way, a role that a templates database can never fulfil.”

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Parakou Shipping Pte Ltd (in liquidation) v Liu Cheng Chan and others - [2016] SGHC 48

MinLaw consults on recommendations to strengthen Singapore as an international centre for debt restructuring

Business
21 Jun 2016

Law dean turned novelist

Straits Times
26 Jun 2016
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

Simon Chesterman tackles young adult fiction for his debut novel as he wanted to write something his children would read

Over the course of his career, law dean Simon Chesterman has written 16 books on heavy, scholarly topics such as governance and international law.

For his 17th book, he has switched gears. He is taking on the world of young adult fiction with his first novel, Raising Arcadia.

The story centres on 16-year-old girl genius Arcadia Greentree, who studies in a school which counts among its alumni members of British royalty.

With her logical mind, she is used to unravelling mysteries. But she soon discovers that her identity might itself be a mystery: Arcadia Greentree should not exist. She is, instead, part of an experiment that hopes to establish whether a person is defined by his genes or his upbringing.

Peppered with codes, puzzles and shocking twists, Raising Arcadia is the first book in a planned trilogy. Chesterman is already working on the second instalment.

The 43-year-old Australia-born dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law first came up with the idea for the book because he wanted to write something his children - a son aged 11 and daughter aged eight - would read.

 

 


Raising Arcadia by Simon
Chesterman.

 

 

One of his toughest critics yet, he says with a laugh, is his daughter.

"She doesn't mince her words. She's quite commanding actually," says Chesterman,whose wife Ming Tan is the director of Como Foundation, the philanthropy arm of Como Hotels and Resorts.

"She's on my back telling me not to have quite so many murders. She would like different crimes and - most importantly - she wants me to guarantee a happy ending at the end of the series."

The book explores a topic that has long fascinated Chesterman: the tension between nature and nurture.

As a law professor, he has seen young men and women go to university, eager to learn.

"But how much of an influence do we really have on them and how much is genetic make-up?" he says. "So that question of what shapes someone is something I could explore in this book, not in an academic sense because that's not my area of research, but in a fictional sense."

Chesterman grew up reading the works of mathematician Martin Gardner, the man behind dozens of books on puzzles, and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, who also wrote on symbolic logic.

So it is no surprise that he weaves puzzles into the story.

Arcadia's mother, for example, leaves a puzzle out for her each week - something Chesterman and his wife occasionally do for their children. Some Saturday mornings, they leave a puzzle out for their kids, who have to solve it in order to find the money to buy breakfast.

Chesterman spent six months mapping out the plot. After turning in a book on the law and practice of the United Nations in the middle of 2014, he started writing the novel in snatches of time: late at night and in the early hours of morning, on long-haul flights and train rides overseas.

"Arcadia was kind of my reward, something lighter and a bit more fun for me to write," he says.

"It was more relaxation than work, like, 'Okay, I've cleared all my e-mails. I'll treat myself to some writing.' It's probably the book I'm most excited about - except for my first."

He is now five-sixths of the way through the second book in the series, which is slated for publication this November. It will be launched at the Singapore Writers Festival.

Words have been a lifelong passion for Chesterman, who was born in Australia and did his doctorate at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

He was an avid writer in his teens, churning out two "completely unpublishable" novels. "I'm delighted this was pre-Internet, so I didn't just sort of upload them, and then live a life of regret."

As an adult, his writing tended towards the academic: opinion pieces for newspapers and books bearing titles such as One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract To Defend Freedom Without Sacrificing Liberty.

He is used to writing for a professional and scholarly audience, but fiction was a new challenge.

"The hardest thing about it is the sense of being exposed and vulnerable," he says.

With academic work, readers might disagree with the arguments presented - but a professional distance remains. Fiction, however, is much more personal.

"There's so much more readers can judge - and they might end up completely hating it."

He and his family discussed whether he should publish the book under a pseudonym, but he decided not to because "there's no shame in an adult writing - or reading - young adult fiction".

Echoing the intentions of many young adult writers, he adds: "I think there's a real space in the young adult world for what I hope is thoughtful and thought-provoking literature.

"I wanted to write something that's aimed at young people, but takes them and their concerns seriously, and treats them like adults - while also having enough in there for actual 'adults' to enjoy."

• Raising Arcadia by Simon Chesterman (Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2016, $18.60) is available from major bookstores.

• There is a book discussion of Raising Arcadia with Simon Chesterman and Adrian Tan at Neo Kinokuniya Singapore Main Store, Ngee Ann City, on July 16 at 2pm. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/events/1755716634667906/

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Encus International Pte Ltd (in compulsory liquidation) v Tenacious Investment Pte Ltd and others - [2016] SGHC 50

[GBR] Latest developments: Intellectual property

Commonwealth
21 Jun 2016

Sovereignty, jurisdiction and international law

Straits Times
25 Jun 2016
S. Jayakumar & Tommy Koh

Singapore's transboundary haze pollution law is consistent with international law principles, which do permit a country's laws to have extraterritorial jurisdiction in some instances.

In 2014, Singapore enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, which came into force on Sept 25, 2014. Essentially, the Act makes it an offence for any entity to engage in conduct, or to condone conduct, causing or contributing to haze pollution in Singapore. Apart from criminal liability, the Act also creates statutory duties and civil liabilities.

The Act is unusual but not unprecedented in targeting conduct that occurs outside Singapore, and which causes or contributes to haze pollution in Singapore.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, speaking in Parliament in August 2014, said the Act "is not intended to replace the laws and enforcement actions of other countries, but it is to complement the efforts of other countries to hold companies to account". He added that "we, in Singapore, cannot simply wait and wishfully hope that the problem will be resolved on its own. The Singapore Government would want to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate the actions of errant companies that harm our environment and put at risk the health of our citizens".

EXTRATERRITORIALITY AND INTERNATIONAL

LAW There were mixed reactions to this law in Indonesia. Some parties expressed support for Singapore's law. Others, including some Indonesian ministers, criticised the law on the grounds that it was a violation of Indonesia's sovereignty. A typical comment was: "As it happened in Indonesia, it is part of Indonesia's jurisdiction. If Singapore could easily try Indonesian citizens, it could be a violation of Indonesia's sovereignty."

The Singapore Government responded that the law was consistent with international law. It was drafted with the advice of international law experts and did not violate the sovereignty of any country.

The issue is whether it is permissible for a country to enact legislation that would have extraterritorial reach. The answer to this question turns on a proper understanding of the established principles of international law.

The general principle in international law is that states exercise jurisdiction on a territorial basis, namely, over persons, property and acts within its territory. However, there are exceptions to this principle.

One exception is a group of crimes that attract universal jurisdiction. Examples are piracy, genocide, torture, slavery, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes. For instance, under this exception, it is permissible for an Indonesian or Singapore court to try persons accused of committing piracy, such as Somali pirates, even if the acts of piracy occurred outside their respective maritime jurisdictions.

Another exception involves crimes committed outside a state's territory but which have harmful effects on the state concerned.

There are many examples, including bribery and corruption, terrorism, cybercrimes and cyber attacks and pollution. Such an exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction can be justified under several principles of international law, notably the "objective territoriality principle".

To argue that states cannot exercise such jurisdiction would mean that states are powerless to deal with a variety of situations where individuals, groups and corporations can, with impunity, carry out acts outside their territories which have harmful effects and consequences on them.

INTERDEPENDENT WORLD

Indeed, the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) 2006 Report stated that "today, the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction by a state with respect to persons, property or acts outside its territory has become an increasingly common phenomenon".

The ILC said this phenomenon is due largely to increased movements of persons beyond national borders, the growing number of multinational corporations, globalising of the world economy, increased transnational criminal activities, increased illegal migration and increased use of the Internet for legal or illegal purposes.

To that, we will add the growing interdependence between nations, and the undeniable fact that we live in a fragile environmental ecosystem, where harmful polluting activities in one country can cause serious harm, not only to its own people but to the people of other countries. The nature of transboundary offences necessarily means that multiple states do have a legitimate interest in bringing the offenders to justice.

It cannot therefore be said that any of these states would be acting in contravention of the offending state's sovereignty by enforcing its own laws. Such a violation of sovereignty would arise in some cases, such as, for example, if a state were to send its firefighters into the territory of another state, without its consent, to put out a fire.

Clearly, Singapore's legislation does not seek to do this. The law is enforced only when the party accused of causing the harmful act enters Singapore and comes within Singapore's jurisdiction.

We should add that Indonesia itself has enacted laws that have extraterritorial reach, such as its laws on corruption and on electronic transactions.

CONCLUSION

In a previous contribution to The Straits Times, ("The haze, international law and global cooperation", Oct 6, 2015), we discussed the principle of international law that a state has the sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, including its forests. However, that sovereign right is limited by a second principle, namely that a state has the responsibility to ensure that activities within its jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other states.

We explained that there is a clear rule in international law that acts committed in one territory that cause environmental harm to the territory of another state constitute a legal wrong. It is, therefore, consistent with international law for Singapore to hold accountable individuals and companies that have caused the fires in Indonesia or elsewhere for that matter, and which have, in turn, caused the haze pollution in Singapore.

Singapore and Indonesia are close friends and partners. We are two of the founding members of Asean. Under Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Asean Charter, Asean and its member states are committed to adhering to the rule of law and upholding international law.

Indonesia insists that the haze issue be resolved under the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. We agree that we should use the Asean agreement, as well as other bilateral, regional and international agreements, to solve this problem. However, such agreements cannot curtail Singapore's right to take actions that are in compliance with international law.

Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act is consistent with international law. It does not violate Indonesia's sovereignty.

On the contrary, Indonesia should welcome Singapore's law, which complements Indonesia's efforts to hold accountable those errant companies and individuals that have acted in blatant disregard of the serious harm they have caused to the people of Indonesia as well as those of its neighbours.


  • Professor S. Jayakumar is chairman of the International Advisory Panel and Professor Koh is chairman of the Governing Board of the NUS Centre for International Law.

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Public Prosecutor v BAC - [2016] SGHC 49

SHC: Wrongful arrest of a vessel – dealing with applications and appeals

Judgments
20 Jun 2016

Paradise restaurant chain fined $530k for gas fraud

Straits Times
25 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

Crimes were planned and caused huge loss to City Gas, says judge

Chinese restaurant chain Paradise was fined $530,000 yesterday for using around $640,000 of gas without paying for it and tampering with gas meters at some of its outlets.

The company was convicted on June 2 on 29 of 33 charges in a district court.

Yesterday, District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed with the prosecution on the need for a stiff sentence.

He noted that Paradise's crimes were "premeditated" and had caused a "substantial loss" to gas provider City Gas.

The group had contested all the charges during a 30-day trial.

The Energy Market Authority, which regulates the gas industry, had asked for the maximum fine of $610,000 - $10,000 for each of 21 tampering charges and $50,000 for each of eight dishonest consumption charges.

The statutory board's prosecuting counsel, Mr Amarjit Singh, pointed out that stealing utilities leads to consumers having to pay more, while tampering with gas mains can interrupt supplies or lead to gas leaks and even deaths.

Senior Counsel Engelin Teh asked for a fine in the range of $37,000 and $95,000 - between $1,000 and $3,000 for each of the tampering charges, and between $3,000 and $5,000 for each of the dishonest consumption charges.

In mitigation, Ms Teh said Paradise will be paying back the cost of gas that it used illegally to City Gas.

Paradise's offences were committed between August 2011 and April 2012. City Gas detected an abnormally low gas consumption at Taste Paradise in Ion shopping mall on March 23, 2012, which led to the unravelling of the large-scale fraud.

Seals meant to secure the bypass valve of gas meters at Paradise outlets were missing.

In some instances, the position of the valve was moved from "closed" to "open", allowing gas to flow without registering on the meters.

Eight restaurants dishonestly used gas diverted past the meter, which was not reflected in the monthly bills issued by City Gas.

In January 2014, Paradise, known for both its fine-dining and casual Chinese eateries, was charged with tampering with the gas meters at 24 of its outlets.

Of the 24, 13 were from Paradise Inn eateries, four came under Kung Fu Paradise, two were from Seafood Paradise outlets, and one each was from Paradise Group Holdings, Paradise Dynasty, Paradise Pavilion, Taste Paradise and Canton Paradise.

The award-winning chain was founded by restaurateur Eldwin Chua, who went from running a zi char stall in Defu Lane to operating restaurants under various brands, with outlets in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and London.


In January 2014, Paradise... was charged with tampering with the gas meters at 24 of its outlets. Of the 24, 13 were from Paradise Inn eateries, four came under Kung Fu Paradise, two were from Seafood Paradise outlets, and one each was from Paradise Group Holdings, Paradise Dynasty, Paradise Pavilion, Taste Paradise and Canton Paradise.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Quek Kwee Kee Victoria (executrix of the estate of Quek Kiat Siong, deceased) and another v American International Assurance Co Ltd and another - [2016] SGHC 47

SHC rejects debtor’s second attempt to raise same arguments in bankruptcy proceedings

Judgments
20 Jun 2016

Director jailed for 9 months for graft

Straits Times
25 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

He had received $49,500 meant for bribing employee of his company's client

A director was jailed nine months for seeking to give $49,500 to a staff member of Louis Vuitton (LV) to help snag projects for his company, in a clear signal that private-sector graft will not be treated less seriously than public-sector corruption.

District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim, in imposing the jail term on Koh Puay Boon, said: "I must reiterate that there is no presumption that only a non-custodial sentence will be imposed for cases of private-sector corruption.

"The prevailing sentencing consideration must be that of general deterrence," she said in judgment grounds released yesterday.

Koh, 44, a director of renovation firm Artmazement Global, had been found guilty of corruptly receiving five payments from fellow director Evan Lim, although the monies were never actually paid to the LV staff member.

"The fact that they were not paid is not fatal to the prosecution's case," said the judge. "Paying an employee of your client in order to secure more business is obviously corrupt and so is the receiving of monies to do the same," she said.

The judge found that the $49,500 was meant as a bribe to the LV staff member, and when Koh received the monies, he knew it was given on that basis.

Koh had jointly set up Artmazement in 2012 with a business partner as a renovation contractor specialising in fitting out luxury boutiques. Between 2012 and 2013, it was hired by Louis Vuitton Asia-Pacific/ Louis Vuitton (Singapore) for projects valued at between $19,388 and $122,803.

Between July 2012 and March 2013, Koh received five payouts from the company's account totalling $49,500 in cheques signed by himself and Mr Lim, which Koh used for his personal expenses.

In court, Mr Lim said he understood Koh would collect the cheques, cash them and give the monies to a person in LV. Koh told him if Artmazement gave LV some money, it would get more business.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Kow argued that to sustain the charges, it needs only be proven that Koh received the monies on the basis that they were for an LV staff member as inducement to get more work.

Koh countered that he received the monies legitimately as commissions for the contracts secured from LV. But the judge found multiple inconsistencies in his evidence and statements. His claims that the payouts were commissions did not tally with the percentage figures claimed to have been agreed upon as a guide for commissions.

The judge found Koh guilty and convicted him on all five charges.

His lawyer, Mr Walter Silvester, urged the court to impose a fine and spare him jail, arguing that this was a private-sector corruption case with no public impact.

Rejecting this, the judge said several aggravating factors taken "cumulatively" had "tipped the balance" in favour of a jail term.

She said Koh had abused his position as managing director of the company instead of protecting its interests, and "corrupted Evan, the young man who was just treading the waters of managing a business". She sentenced Koh to six months' jail for each of four charges and three months for the fifth charge, ordering the terms for the first and fifth charge to run consecutively. She also ordered Koh to pay a penalty of $49,500.

Koh is currently on bail pending an appeal.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Lee Mui Yeng v Ng Tong Yoo - [2016] SGHC 46

Singapore signs anti-corruption declaration

Business
20 Jun 2016

Briton loses fight for his divorce to be heard in S'pore

Straits Times
24 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Aussie judge rules that it would be to his wife's advantage for case to be heard in Australia

A $1 million-earning Singapore-based chief executive has failed to convince an Australian court that the split with his estranged Australian wife should be heard in Singapore, not Melbourne.

The judge accepted the "unusual feature" of the couple and their three young children all living in Singapore to be the strongest argument of the husband, a Briton, but ruled that the wife was likely to get a better hearing in Australia as Singapore courts may not recognise pre-marriage contributions in the division of assets.

"The (Singapore) legislation is not that clear. The authority relied upon is so qualified that I could only conclude that a Singaporean court has a discretion but it would be inappropriate to speculate how that might be exercised," said Australian Family Court Justice Paul Cronin in judgment grounds released last month.

"On balance, I am satisfied that there is a juridical advantage to the wife in being able to litigate in Australia," he added.

The couple began co-habitating in Singapore in 2000 and continued doing so in China three years later following the man's career move. They had two children there before they married in 2006 and three years later, returned to Singapore after a promotion for the husband, who works in an international organisation.

They had a third child in 2009 and all three now attend school in Singapore. But the couple permanently split in January last year.

The 44-year-old Australian wife, who works part-time here, then applied for financial relief and a divorce in Australia. But the husband objected, arguing that Singapore was the appropriate forum to hear the case.

His lawyers said Melbourne was inappropriate as both parties would have to fly in and out of Singapore, among other things.

The judge did note that "Singapore is clearly the community where both parties live".

But the wife's lawyer countered that she had a juridical advantage in Australia in relation to her rights in the de facto relationship before they wed. Any claim she might have to a share in the husband's assets would be prejudiced in Singapore as it does not recognise de facto relationships, he added.

The husband's expert pointed to the Women's Charter in Singapore, which provides for pre-marriage assets to be considered, subject to conditions.

The judge commented that any such advantage might be questionable and ruled it was open to the Australian court to find that Australia provides an advantage to the wife in relation to the de facto issue with no disadvantage to the husband.

Both sides used opinions from Singapore family law experts for the case.

Drew & Napier director Veronica Joseph provided a perspective for the husband, while Rajah & Tann partner Kee Lay Lian represented the wife in providing an expert opinion on the Singapore case.

The wife's Australian lawyer argued she had no litigation funding in Singapore and cannot "participate easily", whereas in Australia, she could apply for interim funds.

But the husband said he was willing to help, given his much stronger financial position than the wife.

"I am more comforted by the knowledge that such an application can be quickly brought in Australia if the husband was not true to his word," said Justice Cronin.

He said there was no question that both parties can participate in the proceedings in either country "on an equal footing". The issue was whether "Australia is a clearly inappropriate forum", he added.

He dismissed the husband's application and ordered the case to be brought up next month for further action.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Caesarstone Sdot-Yam Ltd v Ceramiche Caesar SpA - [2016] SGHC 45

MAS announces policy posture on securities-based crowdfunding

Business
17 Jun 2016

UBS hands over client's S'pore bank records to US taxman

Straits Times
24 Jun 2016

WASHINGTON • UBS Group has ended a legal fight with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), agreeing to hand over records on an American client's account in Singapore as the United States authorities seek to move beyond Switzerland in their fight against offshore tax evasion.

The case involves Mr Hsiaw Ching-Ye, a US citizen living in China who had a UBS account from 2001 to 2011. On Feb 23, the IRS filed a petition asking a federal judge in Miami to force UBS, the largest Swiss bank, to produce account records on Mr Hsiaw, Bloomberg reported.

The IRS said it needed the records to determine Mr Hsiaw's income tax liabilities from 2006 to 2011. After reaching an agreement, the bank handed over records on May 31 and June 10, the Department of Justice said on Tuesday in a court filing dismissing the petition.

"The Department of Justice and the IRS are committed to making sure that offshore tax evasion is detected and dealt with appropriately," said Acting Assistant Attorney- General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Department of Justice's Tax Division in a statement on Wednesday.

The US has focused largely on Switzerland since 2008 as it fights offshore tax evasion. More than 80 Swiss banks, including UBS and Credit Suisse Group, have agreed to pay a total of US$5 billion (S$6.7 billion) or so in penalties and fines.

"UBS confirms that it complied with the summons based on client consent in accordance with Singapore law," said UBS spokesman Marsha Askins.

IRS agents served a summons on UBS in 2013 for records of Mr Hsiaw's UBS account from 2001 to 2011. Mr Hsiaw transferred his account to Singapore in 2002, according to the Department of Justice. The bank said it could not produce the information as Singapore's bank secrecy laws prevent disclosure without permission from Mr Hsiaw, which he had not provided, according to a court filing.

"Singapore's laws and regulations do not prohibit sharing of information for investigations into possible tax offences," said a spokesman for the Monetary Authority of Singapore. "Banking information could be disclosed through client's consent or via Singapore mutual legal assistance."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

The “Bunga Melati 5” - [2016] SGCA 20

Proposed amendments to Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act: Appointment of SPRING Singapore as administering agency

Legislation
17 Jun 2016

Crimes like rape need 'strict approach'

Straits Times
24 Jun 2016
Lim Yan Liang

Justice system must support victims, says law minister, citing high-profile rape case in US

Singapore needs to take a strict approach when it comes to serious crimes like rape, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

Writing on his Facebook page about a controversial sexual assault case in the United States, Mr Shanmugam said an effective criminal justice system in such cases must achieve three things.

It must not make it difficult for women to report the crimes and it must not put women through an unnecessary ordeal during investigations while interrogations in court have to be sensitive to the state of the victims, he said.

Thirdly, the punishment has to be in keeping with the gravity of the crime when guilt is proven, he added.

Mr Shanmugam was commenting on the case of ex-Stanford University student Brock Turner, 20, who was sentenced on June 2 to six months' jail for sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious victim behind a dumpster after a campus party in January last year.

The sentence has sparked widespread outrage in the US among many who felt it was too lenient, and prompted calls and online petitions to remove the judge. It has also put the spotlight on rape at US college campuses.

Mr Shanmugam said the sentence of six months in a county jail and probation "borders on the absurd", given that the potential maximum punishment Turner faced was 14 years in a state prison.

County jails in the US are typically meant for detention during a trial and for people convicted of misdemeanours like shoplifting. State prisons are for convicts of more serious felony offences like robbery.

"Cases like this can diminish confidence in the system as a whole," said Mr Shanmugam.

He also drew attention to the victim's 7,000-word account of her travails, part of which she had read out in court on the day that Turner was sentenced.

Said Mr Shanmugam: "I read the young woman's account of what she had to go through in Court, being subjected to a highly offensive line of questions.

"It suggested a complete lack of remorse by Brock Turner. And his father's statement, that it was only '20 minutes of action' was something else altogether."

Besides a justice system that takes care not to put extra stress on victims of such crimes, Mr Shanmugam said more work needs to be done to make it easier for victims to come forward.

"In Singapore, we need to take a strict approach to these sorts of offences," he added.

"And we need to work at making it easier for people to report and undergo examination when they have been victims of sexual violence."

In Singapore, rape and sexual assault by penetration carry a penalty of up to 20 years' jail and a fine or caning.

On Wednesday, a man who pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old schoolgirl was jailed for 16� years and given 18 strokes of the cane.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Hewlett-Packard Singapore (Sales) Pte Ltd v Chin Shu Hwa Corinna - [2016] SGCA 19

MOM to introduce stiffer enforcement penalties and enhanced support programmes to address workplace accidents

Business
16 Jun 2016

By joining BEPS, Singapore enhances its reputation in the business community

Business Times
24 Jun 2016
Nicole Fung & Vivienne Junzhao Ong

ON JUNE 16 2016, Singapore announced that it is joining the inclusive framework for the global implementation of the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project which was proposed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and endorsed by the G-20 in February 2016. The BEPS initiative began in the aftermath of austerity measures resulting from the recent global financial crisis. During that period, some sectors - including governments - started to look at the line between legitimate tax planning and aggressive avoidance, and the focus turned to the idea of corporations paying a fair share of taxes.

In response, OECD has led the charge with a comprehensive package of measures developed over two years to change national and international tax laws to close perceived loopholes, clarify financial reporting, and tighten rules on the taxation of certain activities (eg, in digital economies). Effective implementation of the BEPS package requires joint action from tax authorities worldwide; hence there is an invitation to interested countries and jurisdictions to put in place this BEPS implementation framework.

The announcement by Singapore's Ministry of Finance on June 16 reaffirms Singapore's position that it supports the OECD BEPS initiative. Indeed, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam reiterated that "Singapore is committed to working with the international community to counter artificial shifting of profits, and continues to welcome substantive economic activities. We will be actively involved with the OECD and G-20 in ensuring the consistent implementation of the BEPS standards across all jurisdictions, so as to ensure a level playing field".

Singapore has over the years successfully attracted multinational corporations (MNCs) to invest and bring technology, know-how and market access to the region. They are attracted to Singapore for its strong infrastructure, connectivity, adherence to international legal and tax principles, highly skilled workforce as well as its tax competitiveness.

The BEPS initiatives represent a change in the international tax landscape; by joining the framework and being part of the larger group, Singapore will be able to play a role in developing international standards to address the remaining BEPS issues on an equal footing with other members as well as review and monitor the implementation of the whole BEPS package.

This approach will have a two-way effect of enabling Singapore to provide input in areas of particular national importance to the international BEPS framework and to commit to incorporate internationally accepted principles into its local laws. In the eyes of the international business community, this will only enhance Singapore's competitiveness index. The BEPS initiatives can be seen as an opportunity for Singapore to reinvent itself to further enhance its competitiveness and attractiveness going forward.

BEPS concerns are chiefly around the artificial shifting of profits to locations with low tax and little or no economic activity. Singapore's competitiveness has always been linked to its location - as a city-state, it makes up for its limited domestic market by maximising the benefits of its strategic location in the region, with a fast growing middle class coupled with a highly skilled workforce and a tax-competitive landscape.

The BEPS project advocates the principle that the location of economic activity dictates the location of profits (and therefore taxation). This principle should continue to underpin the policies adopted by Singapore for its national development. Failure to do so will result in diminished competitiveness.

Due to Singapore's size and relatively high costs, economic activity centring on owning a customer base and manufacturing will not be its natural strength. Instead, with its highly educated workforce and knowledge-based economy, it will tend to focus on innovative economic activities which are highly valued - for example, the creation, management as well as ownership of intellectual property (IP). Research and development (R&D) by itself is not the best driver of profitable economic activity. It needs to be coupled with ownership of the IP itself. Singapore therefore needs to look at attracting not only the activity but also to keeping the ownership of the relevant IP created. Moving forward, Singapore should look to encouraging the transfer of ownership of IP related to the R&D or manufacturing activity to this country. Even where the IP is not related to any current activity, transfer of ownership of such IP to Singapore should still be encouraged as long as the company has other substantial activity in Singapore. The reason is that the mere ownership of IP will drive future decisions to locate the relevant activity into Singapore.

We should not be fearful that this will be seen as overly aggressive tax avoidance schemes. Where the company already has substantial activity in Singapore, IP onshoring is a commercial decision and how that IP is rewarded should still be dictated in accordance with internationally accepted tax principles.

If carefully managed, such IP ownership may be the precursor for Singapore to further anchor and develop economic spin-offs to derive a strong nexus of future economic growth in Singapore. From this perspective, our current tax regime on ownership of IP can be further enhanced to encourage companies to increase their economic activity and substance into Singapore in response to BEPS while maintaining a robust framework that is "BEPS-proof".

In conclusion, Singapore's commitment to the BEPS project under the inclusion framework will enhance and strengthen its reputation in the business community. Global MNCs look to many factors in determining the best location for their operations. Our highly skilled workforce, strong rule of law and coherence with international principles are valued by MNCs. Such commitment will make Singapore more attractive for MNCs as it is clear that Singapore embraces these international tax principles.

The writers are transfer pricing leader and senior tax manager at PwC Singapore respectively

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Medifund Committees) (Amendment No. 4) Order 2016 (S 291 of 2016)

Child Development Co-Savings (Amendment) Bill 2016 passed by Parliament: Reimbursement for voluntary extended paternity leave and extending co-savings scheme to Singaporean children of unwed parents

Legislation
16 Jun 2016

Ex-PetroSaudi exec's lawyers quit

Straits Times
23 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

The Singapore lawyers for Xavier Andre Justo, the Swiss national embroiled in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) saga, have dropped themselves from acting any further, potentially sinking the high-profile High Court suit in Singapore which he filed last year.

A court order issued on Monday by Assistant Registrar N. Ramasamy approved the application by law firm Damodara Hazra to cease acting for both Justo and his firm Justo Consulting in the suit against The Edge media group owner Tong Kooi Ong and two others.

The court order also allowed the lawyers to serve notice on Justo by dispatch to the Bangkok prison where he is held.

Justo, 48, who worked for PetroSaudi International (UK) as an IT manager until 2011, is serving a three-year jail term in Thailand for blackmailing his former employer.

He had sued Mr Tong and two others, demanding the return of two data storage drives said to contain information about global oil services firm PetroSaudi and its business partner 1MDB.

He had claimed to have handed over the two storage drives in Mr Tong's presence at a Fullerton Hotel meeting in February last year and alleged he was never paid the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) promised for them.

Mr Tong, defended by lawyers Doris Chia and Wong Wan Chee, had previously argued the claims showed no reasonable cause of action and should be struck off.

The court had also previously ordered Justo to place $50,000 into court as security for costs for the case to proceed.

In court papers filed to seek the discharge from representing Justo any further, lawyer Clement Ong explained that Justo's principal lawyers from Geneva-based law firm Lalive had told them they were no longer acting for Justo.

Lalive had appointed the Singapore lawyers to pursue Justo's case here, but since the former had dropped out, they (Singapore lawyers) would no longer be in a position to obtain further instructions on what to do in the case, he added.

Mr Ong explained that since Justo was in a Bangkok prison, taking instructions from him directly would be "inexpedient and not reasonably possible".

It is understood the withdrawal move without a lawyer replacement could mean the end of the Singapore court suit.

While Justo can continue to represent himself in the suit, the second plaintiff, which is Justo's company, would require counsel to represent its case under court rules.

Alternatively, lawyers for Mr Tong could apply to discontinue the suit if it remains inactive for more than a year or for other reasons.

A High Court case management conference is due next week.


Lawyer Clement Ong explains that since Justo is in a Bangkok prison, taking instructions from him directly would be "inexpedient and not reasonably possible". It is understood the withdrawal move without a lawyer replacement could mean the end of the Singapore court suit.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Women's Charter - Women's Charter (Registration of Marriages) (Amendment) Rules 2016 (S 290 of 2016)

MAS issues consultation paper on FinTech regulatory sandbox guidelines

Business
15 Jun 2016

Judge: Yangon doctor's papers may not be fake

Straits Times
23 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

No proof certs are fake although doc is not on Myanmar Medical Council list

A doctor from Myanmar has been cleared of producing fake medical certificates here.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam in judgment grounds released yesterday said the prosecution had not proven the two certificates were fraudulent documents.

She made clear that just because Dr Hnin Wai Hlaing was not on the Myanmar Medical Council's (MMC) registration list did not mean her certificates from Yangon were counterfeit.

She also noted that a key witness from the MMC had conceded it was difficult to say whether Dr Hnin's registration certificate was false because the MMC has many versions of the card.

The judge added that the defence had raised "reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the MMC's manual register which the prosecution's witness had relied on to the exclusion of all else".

Dr Hnin, 40, had been charged with producing to the Singapore Medical Council two fake certificates of registration and good standing said to be issued by the MMC in order to satisfy practising requirements here.

A graduate from the University of Medicine 1 in Yangon, she worked as a doctor there before moving to Singapore in 2008. She worked at the National Cancer Centre here and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) from 2013.

SGH did a verification check with the MMC in 2014. It replied that it did not issue a registration certificate or a certificate of good standing to Dr Hnin. After a probe, SGH terminated her contract in November 2014.

In court, the prosecution's case rested on the strength of the MMC's manual records. The prosecution invited the court to infer that Dr Hnin's certificates were fraudulent because she was not on the MMC's register of doctors.

Dr Naing Win from the MMC testified that the registration number of Dr Hnin's certificate was assigned to another doctor who is still alive and concluded that Dr Hnin's registration certificate was not issued by the MMC.

In court, Dr Naing produced a photocopy of an extract from the MMC's manual register of doctors.

Dr Hnin's lawyer, Mr Peter Ong, pointed to several corrections made to the registration numbers with white fluid but Dr Naing was unable to explain why they were done or what was amended.

The judge found this "significant". Dr Naing was also unable to produce a true copy of the MMC's manual register for 2004 to 2006 as asked by the court, saying he was denied by the MMC and could only produce electronic records.

But the electronic records shed no light on the questions relating to the correction patches.

Mr Ong suggested, among other things, that Dr Hnin could have been given a wrong registration number or there had been an administrative lapse. Judge Ponnampalam agreed: "From Dr Naing Win's responses, it is evident that a mistake could have gone undetected until such a time like in this case, when circumstances prompt a search of the register."

The judge added there was no dispute that Dr Hnin graduated as a doctor and " had no reason not to register herself with the MMC or to subsequently produce fraudulent certificates." The prosecution is appealing against the decision.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Women's Charter (Amendment) Act 2016 - Women's Charter (Amendment) Act 2016 (Commencement) Notification 2016 (S 289 of 2016)

SHC: Use of social media and internet message boards to effect substituted service

Judgments
15 Jun 2016

Companies need to act now against tax avoidance

Business Times
23 Jun 2016
Henry Syrett & Jerome Van Staden

It's too risky to take a "wait and see" approach to BEPS as Singapore formally joins hands with other governments to tackle tax avoidance

THE biggest evolution in tax is upon us - locally. Last week, Singapore announced that it would become a Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Associate and formally unite with other governments to implement a number of measures against tax avoidance.

Firstly, let's dispel a couple of misconceptions. For one, BEPS is more than just tax; its impact can influence decisions around almost any non-tax aspect of the business. Secondly, BEPS is not just of concern to large multinationals in the Group of Twenty (G-20) or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. It affects any company that has cross-border businesses and operations, regardless of size or country of origin.

Companies in Singapore are obviously not immune to international tax reforms given the openness of its economy. With the country committed to specifically implementing the OECD's BEPS standards on countering harmful tax practices, preventing treaty abuse, transfer pricing documentation, and enhancing dispute resolutions, companies need to prepare themselves for this new tax reality.

With increased transparency standards comes with a requirement for more comprehensive reporting. Companies can expect more queries and challenges on their structures and transactions from authorities in their home country and wherever they invest.

Governments will be able to raise more tailored and context-specific queries, as they perform analytics on the information that is collected. Consistency in the information that companies provide to the authorities is key, as any incongruence will prompt more controversy with the authorities, amid a higher level of inter-government information sharing.

There is also a risk that propriety tax information of companies may eventually be made public. For instance, the European Union is open to making data from country-by-country (CBC) report public, and the Australian Tax Office has stated it may share certain information about large taxpayer entities in Australia.

This means that companies, in addition to supporting a technical position to governments in accordance with law, will have to deal with public perception of whether their tax payments are "fair".

In Singapore, the government has assured taxpayers on the confidentiality of information in the CBC reports and that it will only exchange CBC reports with countries if certain relevant conditions are met.

The focus on substance will only get stronger and companies will, more than ever, need to demonstrate alignment of where tax is incurred to where their substantive economic activities are performed and value is created. Companies enjoying preferential tax rates in Singapore may come under scrutiny. If they are unable to justify the appropriate substance to enjoy the tax benefits given, the tax incentive could be withdrawn or the ruling made no longer applicable.

Therefore, companies should review the sustainability of existing tax incentives or rulings now, so as to avoid surprises where the preferential tax treatment is denied, resulting in a higher tax cost that erodes their earnings.

TREATY SHOPPING

Companies may also be challenged in accessing double tax treaties to minimise or eliminate withholding tax on cross-border payments.

Treaty shopping, which was frowned upon in the past, is definitely gone and exploiting low-tax and tax haven regimes for businesses will require substantiation. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) has a tax shelter group, which is active in challenging structures, especially financial structures that involve the use of an entity in a treaty country to access the benefits on payments such as interest payments.

Tax residency may no longer be sufficient to provide guarantee that a company can obtain the tax treaty benefits. Authorities may argue that the sole purpose for a taxpayer to enter into the arrangement is to obtain the tax treaty benefits, and if so, the onus is on the taxpayer to defend otherwise.

Companies should therefore review the level of substance of their holding, operating and financing companies to determine the sustainability of their current holding, operating financing and structures now.

Some pertinent questions include: Is the initial design of your business and are your tax strategies in sync with how your operations have evolved? Have you maintained legal documentation of the business model and updated it to reflect the latest set of facts? Do you have robust internal control procedures to ensure tax compliance and manage tax risks?

Tax authorities may become increasingly aggressive in challenging the cross-border arrangements that multinationals enter into. This may result in more disputes and increase the risk of double taxation as countries take opposing views, notwithstanding the efforts of the OECD to improve dispute resolution in this area.

Depending on the extent of dispute, companies may need to involve the authorities in their countries to assist to resolve the issue on hand. They can also monitor how countries relevant to their company plan to implement different parts of the BEPS project and if possible, work with policymakers during this process.

Clearly, as the compliance and administrative burden increases with the heightened reporting obligations, companies will need to invest more resources in the tax function.

If we accept that BEPS have far-reaching implications for companies beyond tax, then any key business decision ought to be considered in light of the possible tax risks.

Therefore, the tax function must proactively partner (no longer work in silo or be reactive) with other functions, including human resource, supply chain, financial planning, mergers & acquisitions, legal and operations, to view their decisions through a "BEPS lens". The structure of the tax function definitely needs to change so as to better collaborate with other functions, if not already so.

Singapore's latest commitment towards anti-tax avoidance is welcome in that it offers much needed clarity and certainty for businesses. Perhaps the greatest certainty arising is that a "wait and see" approach to BEPS is not sufficient and risky. Proactive action is now needed.

The writers are respectively partner, transfer pricing services, and international director, international tax services, at Ernst & Young Solutions LLP. The views expressed are their own.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Gas Act - Gas (Supply) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 288 of 2016)

SHC allows oppression claim and orders buyout of minority shareholder’s shares

Judgments
15 Jun 2016

Uphold rights for contract staff

Straits Times
23 Jun 2016
Aw Cheng Wei

Bosses should extend paid leave to contract workers who have been with them for at least three months, said new guidelines released on Monday by the Manpower Ministry, labour movement and Singapore National Employers Federation.

With the number of people choosing or forced to work on a contract basis set to grow, the issue of benefits can only gain traction.

Currently, some workers are on three-month contracts with one-week breaks between them, and some employers take advantage of this by not offering them leave.

Depending on the arrangement, they may not get paid for the week that they do not work.

The guidelines say such contract workers should be entitled to leave days, if they did not take more than a month's break in between the minimum period of three months. Bosses should regard contracts renewed within a month as continuous.

It is a move that will benefit 11.3 per cent of the resident workforce, or 202,400 Singaporeans and permanent residents employed on term contracts, based on last year's figures.

If adhered to, the guidelines can help stamp out errant leave practices, said Mr Zainal Sapari, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress.

In a strongly worded Facebook post on Monday, Mr Zainal said that the guidelines can "close the loophole where fixed-term employees can be short-changed by unscrupulous employers who deliberately break their contracts to deny them of their statutory employment benefits".

He also suggested that the guidelines be legislated "if moral suasion is not achieved".

Besides leave benefits, the tripartite partners also said that it is a good practice for both employers and employees to keep to the notice period for early termination in the contract.

While the guidelines currently serve but a small part of the workforce, they are the first step - and just the first step - in granting better protection for the growing body of freelancers and contract workers in the economy.

Aw Cheng Wei

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Building Control Act - Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 287 of 2016)

ABS enhances due diligence guidelines for listings with effect from 13 May 2016

Business
14 Jun 2016

Man who raped schoolgirl in 2002 caught 12 years later

Straits Times
23 Jun 2016
Seow Bei Yi

Malaysian was identified as rapist via DNA when he was caught for theft in 2014; he gets 16½ years' jail, 18 strokes

A man who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 2002 was caught by chance when he was arrested and investigated for an unrelated theft in 2014.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to 161/2 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane.

The High Court heard that Malaysian carpenter Lee Ah Choy, now 37, has a wife and a 10-year-old son living in Johor Baru. They did not know about the offence, committed when he was 23 years old.

Lee was working in Singapore in 2002 and had seen the Secondary 1 girl, who is also Malaysian, several times during his morning jogs. He took an instant liking to her.

He would smile at her or greet her but she would ignore him and rebuff his advances.

But on Oct 18 that year, at about 6.40am, when she was on her way to school, he blocked her path, telling her not to go to school.

She walked away but he followed her and asked her to help hand some money to his "god-sister" living nearby.

When she tried to move away from him again, he pulled her to a nearby block of flats. He took her to the fourth floor and made her sit on a flight of stairs between the fourth and fifth floors.

When she started crying, he threatened to cut her with a paper cutter. She kicked and thrashed about as he restrained her in the fourth-floor corridor.

He molested her despite her struggles before raping her.

She made a police report after leaving the scene. Medical tests were done but her attacker's identity could not be established.

In 2014, Lee was arrested and investigated for theft and his DNA profile matched that of the rapist.

Besides rape, Lee also pleaded guilty to aggravated outrage of modesty and criminal intimidation.

A fourth charge of abduction was taken into consideration during sentencing.

His lawyer, Mr Richard Siaw Kin Yeow, said in mitigation: "His actions then were nothing more than a senseless and rash act, brought about by an ill-fated attraction to the victim and his immaturity."

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Shahla Iqbal, who asked for a severe deterrent sentence, said: "The rape of a child is a heinous crime."

She added that the victim had said in a statement that she felt humiliated, and was "shocked and disgusted at (Lee's) behaviour".

She dropped out of school, lost interest in studies at one point and had nightmares. She took lifts alone in the daytime again only a year after the incident and started going out with friends onlyafter she began working.

Said DPP Shahla: "It is necessary to send a clear message to all potential offenders that sexual assaults on children and young persons will not be tolerated."

Lee's jail term was backdated to Jan 23 last year, when he was remanded. For raping a minor under 14 years of age, he could have been jailed up to 20 years, and punished with at least 12 strokes of the cane.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Act - Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (Service Charge) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 286 of 2016)

CCS leads efforts to develop ASEAN Competition Policy and Law Programme to align competition policy and law in ASEAN

Business
14 Jun 2016

LVMH-backed Asia private equity fund sued by fired executive

Business Times
22 Jun 2016
Andrea Tan & Pooja Thakur Mahrotri

This Bloomberg article was first published on 22 June 2016 in the Singapore English broadsheet, The Business Times.
SLW obtained permission to reproduce the article to give the legal community a broader view of legal reports from various news syndicates.

[Singapore] An Asian private equity unit backed by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE is being sued by a former executive, who is claiming he was fired for revealing wrongdoing at the business.

Uday Mehra said in Singapore court documents that he had raised his concerns over alleged behavior at LVMH’s regional private equity fund, L Capital Asia Advisors, such as raising profit projections for an investment target to generate illegitimate gains in a separate fund. Mehra also alleges that L Capital’s head made an acquisition despite opposition from his investment team and without proper due diligence. Mehra claims that the firm conspired to fire him in a bid to “stifle the embarrassment” that would have been caused by a full and effective probe into his whistle-blowing.

L Capital, which denies Mehra’s claims, makes average investments of $30 million to $150 million in Asian lifestyle brands and has had other business quarrels play out in court, filings show. The co-founder of Jones the Grocer, a gourmet food retailer, sued an L Capital unit last year, claiming it discriminated against minorities. Last month, a businessman accused the fund and others of stealing his share of profits after selling a club formerly known as Ku De Ta, the 57th-floor bar at the top of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands hotel. L Capital is defending itself in both the lawsuits, which are ongoing.

‘X-Factor’

Mehra is seeking at least $37.5 million, which he claims is his entitled payout for the share of profits he would have earned at one of the funds if he hadn’t been terminated, according to a lawsuit filed in the Singapore High Court in March. Mehra, who said in court filings that he was described in fundraising documents as a “key resource” and as the fund’s “X-factor,” says he reported 11 deals from 2012 to 2014 that gave him serious cause for concern.

Mehra claims his concerns were ignored. Instead, he said he was sidelined from investment meetings and his working relationship with the unit’s head, Ravi Thakran, worsened. Reasons given for his firing, including not attending meetings in Singapore, were “excuses” and he was being punished for whistle-blowing, Mehra said in court papers.

“I felt extremely shocked and aggrieved as to the manner in which I was treated within L Capital Asia whilst attempting to uphold the interest of our investors and dispense my duties in a professional manner,” Mehra said through his lawyers at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP.

L Capital denied wrongdoing and said in its defense filed last month that it fired Mehra in June 2015 for misconduct and insubordination. The firm said that Mehra’s complaint was frivolous and that his concerns were independently reviewed and probed by LVMH. Mehra’s alleged whistle-blowing was a red herring and had nothing to do with his termination, L Capital said. The firm said Mehra failed to subscribe for his share of a profit pool and wasn’t entitled to it, according to court papers.

“L Capital takes a serious view of the allegations made by this former employee, whose employment was terminated in 2015. Our clients consider these allegations to be baseless, and intend to vigorously resist his claim in the Singapore Courts to the fullest extent,” said lawyer Alvin Yeo at WongPartnership LLP, who said he represented both L Capital and Thakran.

Mehra was fired for alleged breach of contract, trust and confidence, L Capital said in court documents. The executive misused confidential information and forwarded e-mails to his personal account, according to court papers.

“The L Capital Asia Group and the LVMH Group takes a serious view on governance issues,” according to the defense. “No wrongdoing was disclosed.”

The case is Uday Mehra v L Capital Asia Advisors, S242/2016. Singapore High Court.

Bloomberg L.P. Copyright© 2016. All rights reserved.

Foreign Employee Dormitories Act 2015 - Foreign Employee Dormitories (Composition of Offences) Regulations 2016 (S 285 of 2016)

[EU] New e-commerce regulations proposed by European Commission

Commonwealth
14 Jun 2016

Man who impersonated dead man for CPF funds jailed

Straits Times
22 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

A judge rebuked a scam's "lead actor", who was so "well-rehearsed" he fooled a Central Provident Fund (CPF) officer into thinking he was someone else - someone who was not only older, but also dead.

Wheelchair user Nordin Ibrahim, 44, was jailed six weeks after admitting to impersonating the late Mr Yacoob Ismail, aged 63.

Nordin's acting convinced the CPF officer to attest to "Mr Yacoob's" nomination of Nordin's accomplice - Sufian Alwe - as the beneficiary of about $52,000 in the dead man's account.

District Judge Eugene Teo, who rejected Nordin's plea for a fine instead of jail, said that while Mr Sufian was the director, Nordin was the "lead actor " who had "done a good job of the (deception)".

On Jan 18, 2013, Nordin went to the CPF Board Service Centre with Mr Sufian. He produced the passport of Mr Yacoob, who had died two days earlier in Johor Baru, where he had lived since 2012.

The duo, who had been close to the dead man, found the passport while cleaning out his unit and withheld it from Mr Yacoob's family. Mr Sufian hatched the plot and Nordin agreed to impersonate Mr Yacoob to get his CPF money.

When queried by the officer why he looked older in the passport photo, Nordin replied that he was ill when the photo was taken. He was also able to answer some questions about the dead man's background accurately.

Satisfied, the officer and another colleague signed on the nomination form as witnesses and processed the application.

About a month later, Nordin and Mr Sufian returned to the CPF office, where Mr Sufian asked about Mr Yacoob's nomination details.

The duty officer checked and found that Mr Yacoob had died on Jan 16, two days before the fake nomination was made, and the two men were arrested.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim asked for a jail term, saying there was legitimate public interest in ensuring that public institutions such as the CPF were protected by a suitably deterrent sentence. She pointed out that the offence was clearly premeditated.

Nordin's lawyer, Mr S.K. Kumar, said he played a "passive" role compared with Mr Sufian and was angry because he got nothing for looking after Mr Yacoob for about a year after his family abandoned him.

Mr Sufian, 38, had already pleaded guilty and was jailed for two months in 2013.

The judge debunked the "convenient assertion" that Mr Yacoob would have been happy to give them his CPF money. "After all, the dead are no longer here to tell any tales," he said in judgment grounds released yesterday.

He added: "The deceased may have been estranged from his family, and their relationship may even have been strained at that point, but that does not mean that he never intended to leave his estate to his own family.

"What these two offenders did - after disappointingly finding out that blood was truly thicker than water - was to substitute their own judgment for what they thought was the better thing to do."

The judge said he reduced Nordin's jail term slightly, taking into account co-offender Sufian had "greater culpability" and Nordin's "many ailments".

Nordin is appealing against the ruling.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Lift Upgrading Works) (No. 5) Order 2016 (S 284 of 2016)

The Mergers and Acquisitions Incentive Scheme for Singapore companies

Business
10 Jun 2016

More consumer protection laws in renovation industry needed: Voices

TODAY
22 Jun 2016

Media coverage of the Jover Chew cheating case at Sim Lim Square last year generated greater public awareness of the blatant practices of black sheep in the retail industry.

That the Ministry of Trade and Industry will soon be changing consumer laws to protect shoppers better is heartening news (“Consumers to get more protection under proposed changes to law”: May 16).

However, consumers need more protection not only in the retail industry but also in the renovation industry.

Stories abound about how rogue contractors collect large sums of money up front but leave projects uncompleted, provide shoddy workmanship or refuse to rectify defects even during the defects liability period. These contractors, like errant retailers, could shut down their company and re-open under a different name to avoid the unfavourable repercussions and their liabilities, leaving the homeowners out of pocket and with little recourse.

The public should be educated further on how to protect themselves and their homes from unfair practices and behaviour in this industry. I hope also that the Government will step up regulation of this industry.

Where something as dear as one’s home is concerned, the financial and mental stress is severe for anyone unfortunate enough to have encountered a rogue contractor.

Leong Kum Seng

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Restriction of Speed on Roads) (Amendment No. 3) Notification 2016 (S 283 of 2016)

[GBR] In dire straits: The true nature of bunker supply contracts, and where now for affected shipowners after OW bunker’s insolvency?

Commonwealth
10 Jun 2016

New guidelines on leave benefits, notice for contract staff

Business Times
21 Jun 2016
Lee U-Wen

[Singapore] MORE term contract employees could be eligible for leave benefits under new guidelines released on Monday by the tripartite partners Manpower Ministry (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

Term contract employees, who make up about one in nine people in Singapore's workforce, are those who are employed on fixed-term contracts that will terminate upon the expiry of a specific term unless it is renewed.

The different types of leave include annual, sick and childcare, according to the guidelines.

The five-page document, which can be found on the MOM's website, aims to provide more clarity for employers on the granting of leave benefits to term contract employees that it has a long-term working relationship with, as well as the notice period that employers should give before the contract expires.

Employers may hire someone on a term contract if the job is only available on a temporary or project basis. Some employees prefer to enter into contract work to meet their own need for flexibility in their work schedule.

Under current laws, employees on term contracts are entitled to statutory leave benefits under the Employment Act and the Child Development Co-Savings Act if they have worked a minimum of three consecutive months without a break in service. These include annual leaves, sick leaves, maternity leaves, paternity leaves, adoption leaves, childcare and extended childcare leaves.

However, some of these workers who have been with the same employer for a long time do not receive these benefits. This happens when they are hired on separate contracts that are each shorter than the minimum three-month service period, which are subsequently renewed with a break in between the contracts.

Based on figures from the MOM's 2015 labour force report, term contract employees form 11.3 per cent of Singapore's resident workforce, or about 202,400 people.

Under the new guidelines, employers are encouraged to treat contracts renewed within a month as continuous, and grant or accrue leave benefits based on the cumulative term of the contracts. This requirement would apply to contracts of 14 days or longer.

Employers could pro-rate annual leave, sick leave and childcare leave benefits based on the length of the term contract.

In the case of contracts that are renewed multiple times, the guidelines stated that it would be a "good practice" for both employer and employee to give "sufficient notice" before the contract's expiry on whether either party wishes to renew the contract.

This should be the same as the notice period required for early contract termination, or not less than a day's notice if the cumulative employment is less than 26 weeks.

SNEF executive director Koh Juan Kiat noted how employers value term contract employees for their "flexibility and contributions", adding that the guidelines would allow employers to offer term contracts that can better attract such workers.

NTUC assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari made the point that those on term contracts are as valuable as any other employee out there.

"The labour movement will work closely with our family of unions, associates, partners, social enterprises and related organisations, to ensure that employment practices are aligned with the guidelines," he said.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Currency Act - Currency (Denominations and Characteristics of Coins) Notification 2016 (S 282 of 2016)

MAS signs FinTech Bridge cooperation agreement with UK financial authority

Business
09 Jun 2016

SGX launches 'comply or explain' rules

Straits Times
21 Jun 2016
Wong Wei Han

Listed companies will have to conduct annual review of their sustainability from 2018

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday officially laid out new requirements for listed companies to conduct an annual review of their sustainability - such as environmental or governance issues.

Market watchers largely welcomed the new rules - based on proposals tabled in January for public consultation - but some remain cautious over the learning curve and resources required by companies to prepare the reports.

The "comply or explain" sustainability reporting framework takes effect in 2018, for financial years ending on or after Dec 31 next year.

All listed companies must report - or explain their decision to not do so - within five months of the end of a financial year, but a grace period of up to 12 months will be given to the publishing of the first report.

A company will determine which environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are relevant enough to its business to address in the report, which will then list the company's policies and performance in this regard. The firm is also expected to outline its sustainability targets for the upcoming year.

These requirements are largely unchanged from the January proposals, which sought to enhance the previous framework that asked companies only to conduct sustainability reporting voluntarily.

Listed companies had shown "overwhelming support" for the latest initiative by the bourse, SGX special adviser and former chief regulatory officer Yeo Lian Sim said at a media briefing yesterday.

"Having more transparency in reporting speaks to the quality of management that recommends the company to investors," she said.

"There is increasing interest among investors in not just returns, but how returns are produced. The principles for responsible investment (PRI) cover some US$60 trillion (S$80.6 trillion) in assets under management… By making these reports, the companies are opening themselves to a wider market."

The PRI is a network supported by the United Nations to promote responsible investment globally.

Ms Yeo said the framework is flexible enough that firms are not hampered, but she stressed that investors must use their own judgment on what to take from the reports.

Around 160 listed companies already conduct corporate social responsibility reporting regularly, some including sustainability review.

Last month, the SGX launched four sustainability indices comprising 84 companies - including blue chips such as CapitaLand, Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holdings - seen as good ESG performers.

Still, there are concerns that the requirements may pile burdens on companies amid the already difficult business environment.

A Catalist-listed healthcare firm chief executive, who declined to be named, said that "for some smaller companies or the ones that are trying to survive, I think this process can be quite a pain, if not irrelevant".

A property firm CEO said: "It's definitely a big burden on smaller companies that are already tight on resources. Complete compliance will require extensive preparation and it's not as easy as it may seem."

Mr Adrian Chan, Singapore Institute of Directors' former vice-chairman and a board member of five listed companies, agreed the learning curve may be challenging at first.

SGX will organise a series of workshops and meetings to prepare listed companies for the regime. Details will be announced later.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Foreign Income) (No. 3) Order 2016 (S 281 of 2016)

SGX amends SGX-DC Clearing Rules and Futures Trading Rules to offer “affiliate segregation” as an option to SGX-DC clearing members

Business
09 Jun 2016

Ex-Harry's COO fined $40k over hiring scheme

Straits Times
21 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

She hatched plan to get around work permit quota by falsely declaring salaries of foreign employees

Facing a manpower shortage, a former chief operating officer of a well-established bar and dining chain hatched a plan to hire foreign workers who were subject to a quota by pretending they were employment pass hires which are not subject to a quota.

In June 2012, Parmjit Kaur, 49, told employment agents for Harry's International to look for foreign workers, who would be offered a monthly pay of $3,100. However, these workers would have to return more than half of their salaries as "reimbursements" for transportation and meal expenses.

Kaur, who was also a Harry's director, wanted to bring the workers in on employment passes supposedly to circumvent the quota for work permit holders, who are lower-skilled and draw less salary.

Yesterday, Kaur was fined $40,000 after she pleaded guilty to five charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

She admitted to 15 other counts of the same charge and these were considered in sentencing.

A district court heard that Kaur had first asked an assistant human resource manager to declare in the company's employment pass applications that the foreign employees would be given a fixed monthly salary of $3,000.

This was, at the time, the minimum salary requirement for employment pass holders, who are foreign professionals, managers and executives. Approval was not granted for the applications, so Kaur instructed that a higher sum of $3,100 be declared.

Between April and September 2013, Harry's falsely declared to the Controller of Work Passes that 20 foreign workers would be hired as restaurant chefs de partie at a fixed salary of $3,100 each.

Employment passes were issued to 20 Indian nationals.

The workers' pay was credited into their bank accounts on the first day of every month, but they had to return $1,600 to Harry's finance department the next day.

Meals and transportation were provided for only some workers and, even when provided, did not add up to $1,600.

In October 2013, a Ministry of Manpower employment inspector discovered the offences after receiving a tip-off.

Kaur, who was charged in November last year, could have been fined $20,000 and jailed for two years on each charge.

Harry's International is wholly owned by F&B Asia Ventures. Kaur is no longer with the company.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Human Biomedical Research Act 2015 - Human Biomedical Research Act 2015 (Commencement) Notification 2016 (S 280 of 2016)

SCA: A bank’s duties under letters of credit and the UCP 600

Judgments
08 Jun 2016

Ex-wife of alleged match-fixer gets two months' jail

Straits Times
21 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

The third wife of alleged match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan Seet Eng was yesterday given two months' jail for lying to an anti-graft investigator about two of his laptops, which she was trying to hide from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

But the prosecution, which had asked for four to six months' jail, applied for Guan Enmei's sentence to be deferred, pending an appeal for a stiffer prison term. District Judge Lee Poh Choo set bail at $20,000.

In her sentencing remarks, the judge said that lying to a law enforcement officer cannot be treated lightly - more so in this case, where Guan knew the enormity of the international match-fixing saga.

In an interview at the bureau's office on June 6, 2013, Guan lied that she had left home with only a handbag, and had not taken along a paper bag with the laptops.

After a two-day trial last month, Judge Lee found the 41-year-old guilty last week. The judge said Guan knew the laptops contained incriminating evidence.

The court had heard that Tan was asked to report to the CPIB office on June 6, 2013. Before he left home, he told Guan to take two laptops, place them in a bag and hand it back to him after he was released.

That afternoon, Guan was herself told to report to the bureau.

As her usual driver was unable to pick her up from home, he arranged for another driver to do so. When the driver arrived, Guan put a white Dior paper bag in the back seat before getting into the front passenger seat. She phoned Tan's alleged accomplice, Eric Ding Si Yang, for advice about the two laptops while on the way to the bureau.

On arriving at the CPIB carpark, Guan met her usual driver and asked him to hold on to the bag for her until she came out of the building. He then waited with it at a nearby coffee shop, where it was later seized by graft investigators.

When questioned about the bag and laptops by a CPIB investigator, Guan insisted she did not know anything about them.

The maximum penalty for giving false or misleading information to a CPIB investigator is a $10,000 fine and one year's jail.

Tan, described by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate", is being detained without trial under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act for the second time. Now 52, he was first arrested on Sept 16, 2013.

Guan was Tan's third wife. She divorced him in July last year.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Singapore Tourism (Cess Collection) Act - Singapore Tourism (Tourist Hotels, Tourist Food Establishments and Tourist Public Houses) (Amendment) Notification 2016 (S 279 of 2016)

SICC gets off to a flying start: First judgment released only four months after closing submissions

Judgments
08 Jun 2016

Lawyer who's all fired up about dispute resolution

Straits Times
20 Jun 2016
Wong Siew Ying

Clifford Chance partner with 22-year career in the field says he enjoys rigour of the work

It is hard to imagine a more dramatic start to a legal career.

Lawyer Nish Shetty was cast into the deep end straight away, dealing with the fallout from the spectacular collapse of Britain's oldest merchant bank Barings.

That baptism of fire propelled him into a 22-year career in the field of dispute resolution.

Two decades on, Mr Shetty, 45, still enjoys the rigour and the "adversarial aspect" of this work.

"I enjoy the argument, I enjoy putting forward my viewpoints, I enjoy the oral advocacy," said Mr Shetty, now a partner at multinational law firm Clifford Chance.

He joined the London-based outfit seven years ago and is its head of international arbitration and dispute resolutions in South-east Asia. Come August, his role will be expanded to cover the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Shetty recalled how he faced a "steep learning curve" in the first few years of his career, starting with the shocking collapse of Barings.

"When it is your first case, everything feels overwhelming at some level but also terribly exciting because it is all new to you," he said.

"The fact that it was one of the largest insolvency cases in history affecting the Singapore market obviously gave it a certain aura, and that made it even more exciting."

In 1995, rogue trader Nick Leeson single-handedly brought down Barings. The Singapore-based derivatives trader racked up hundreds of millions of British pounds in losses, wiping out the once venerable 233- year-old bank.

Leeson served jail time here for his role in the collapse.

The company liquidating the failed bank subsequently sued two accounting firms in Singapore that had audited Barings' numbers here - Deloitte & Touche and Coopers & Lybrand - for failing in their auditing duties on several occasions.

Mr Shetty was then with law firm WongPartnership, which was acting for Coopers & Lybrand, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Observing senior lawyers who led the case left him with two valuable lessons that he still applies today.

First, the ability to "cut through the noise" to get to the core of the issue and the decisions that need to be made, and second, the need to be succinct.

"You need to be able to articulate a point in as few words as possible because you are trying to convince a tribunal or a judge of something, and the longer you drone on, the less likely that person is going to pick up on what it is you are trying to say," he said.

Another high-profile case which the National University of Singapore graduate worked on was the petition to dislodge the management from debt-ridden Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) by two creditor banks - Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas. The court battle on the judicial management application went on for eight months.

Mr Shetty was acting for the two banks, among a group of trade and bank creditors and export agencies that took APP Group to task after it defaulted on a staggering US$16.5 billion in debt in 2001.

"The good thing about doing dispute resolution is that each case is different... You may be helping a bank one day, a manufacturing unit another day, a construction company or an oil and gas contractor."

In his upcoming role as head of litigation and dispute resolution for Asia-Pacific, Mr Shetty will oversee markets including Hong Kong, mainland China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.

As Asia continues to play a key role in driving the global economy and with cross-border deals rising, he believes the demand for dispute resolution work will only grow. Singapore and Hong Kong, in particular, with reputations as dispute resolution centres in the region, will benefit.

He said: "Singapore is on the world map for dispute resolution, especially arbitration, and now with the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), we do expect more cases to come into Singapore."

The SICC, designed to deal with transnational commercial disputes, was launched in January last year as part of a wider plan to position Singapore as Asia's dispute resolution hub.

Mr Shetty said some of his early cases defined his career path, leading him to focus on arbitration and insolvency work, and one of his core client groups today comprises banks and financial services firms.

The financial services sector worldwide has come under greater scrutiny since the financial crisis in 2008, and Mr Shetty pointed out that another change that the industry ought to prepare for is how technology will disrupt the business.

Within the legal sector, he noted that the advent of technology has been a game changer.

"Today, sitting at your desk, you can get the latest information on judgment from anywhere in the world. You have very sophisticated software... When I first started practice, the newest technology was a fax machine," he quipped.

The work that used to be done by three associates - for example, poring over a large number of physical documents - can now be handled by one associate with the aid of a computer, or a third-party service provider.

He said many law firms are studying changes in technology and the potential impact on the legal industry. In particular, Clifford Chance is working with "various institutions in the technology world" to devise solutions that will boost efficiency.

"A good example would be storage solutions, and the ability to store data in the cloud. We are already looking at things like that - artificial intelligence to analyse repeated patterns in contracts, what is important and what is not," Mr Shetty added.

Despite the growing influence of technology, he believes computers and automated processes will not steal a march on humans when it comes to dispute resolution, which still requires human interaction and analysis. "When you are trying to assess if someone has complied with obligations, it is not algorithms that will make you understand that. You still need to physically examine the conduct of individuals, and I don't see that changing any time soon."

Mr Shetty is Clifford Chance's head of international arbitration and dispute resolutions in South-east Asia. Come August, his role will be expanded to cover the Asia-Pacific region. ST Photo: Marcus Tan


IMPORTANCE OF BEING SUCCINCT

You need to be able to articulate a point in as few words as possible because you are trying to convince a tribunal or a judge of something, and the longer you drone on, the less likely that person is going to pick up on what it is you are trying to say.

LAWYER NISH SHETTY

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Quota System) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2016 (S 278 of 2016)

MAS eases regulations on sale of corporate bonds to retail investors

Business
07 Jun 2016

Measured approach to crowdfunding

Straits Times
20 Jun 2016

Raising funds from a large number of people, generally through an online platform, offers start-ups a chance to push ahead despite the tightening of criteria by traditional lending sources following the global financial crisis. The new licensing regime for crowdfunding platforms, announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), acknowledges the utility of this form of raising capital. However, a balance has to be struck between facilitating the development of securities-based crowdfunding and ensuring that there are sufficient safeguards for investors. Complaints made by investors who failed to receive their payouts highlighted the need for action.

An MAS consultation paper released last year noted that securities-based crowdfunding could offer an alternative source of private financing for start-ups and small and medium enterprises. Market validation through successful crowdfunding campaigns might also create more funding opportunities for businesses. However, there are substantial investment risks. One is the loss of capital if SMEs without a track record and start-ups, which globally have a high failure rate, perform badly. Other risks include the lack of liquidity caused by the absence of a secondary market for trading in the securities, as well as outright fraud. In particular, the MAS had in mind retail investors who might not fully appreciate the risks inherent in securities-based crowdfunding investments, even if warnings of the downside are disclosed.

After a year-long consultation process since the release of its paper, MAS' solution is to require crowdfunding platforms that deal with debt and equity to obtain a licence to operate. Licensing will help give the sector the credibility that it needs in order to flourish. Thus, lending-based crowdfunding platforms, which allow retail investors to contribute towards the raising of loans for SMEs or start-ups and receive interest payments in return, will now have to apply for a capital markets services licence. Since they deal with retail investors, they will have to set aside a capital base of $500,000. The regulatory regime will ensure that only fit and proper persons are allowed to provide financial services. Also, it will require a licensee to comply with business conduct rules intended to protect the interests of investors, such as ensuring the segregation of customers' monies and the maintenance of a proper record of transactions.

However, platforms that wish to tap only accredited and institutional investors will now need to meet a base capital requirement of $50,000, down from $250,000 previously. This demarcation correctly makes a distinction between the interests of financially-savvy investors and the needs of ordinary people who wish to bet on innovations. While caveat emptor is the general rule, lax practices would undermine the nation's reputation as a financial centre of integrity.

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Merchant Shipping Act - Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 277 of 2016)

Recent moves towards gas trading hubs in Asia: implications for Asian gas buyers and sellers

Business
07 Jun 2016

Foreign views and Speakers' Corner: MHA replies: Forum

Straits Times
20 Jun 2016

I refer to yesterday's commentaries by Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong ("Grey areas in rule against 'foreign sponsorships' of Pink Dot") and editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang ("Will 'follow-the-money' formula work in changed landscape?").

We said in our statement of June 7 that we are reviewing the conditions for events at Speakers' Corner. As it is, foreigners are already not allowed to organise or speak at the location, which is reserved for Singaporeans to express their views. Why then should foreign entities be allowed to fund, sponsor or influence events at Speakers' Corner?

This has nothing to do with closing ourselves off from foreign views on social issues or hindering our ability to learn from others. There is no lack of opportunities or avenues for Singaporeans to learn from others. The Straits Times' pages, for instance, are full of features and op-eds from foreign sources; and its columnists are assiduous in informing us of our shortcomings and how we can learn from others.

But that does not mean we should allow foreigners or foreign entities to participate directly in our debates or actively shape how we make political, social or moral choices, including on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

If the foreign entity wishes, say, to promote inclusiveness and diversity among its staff, as many do, the Government has no objection.

But if the foreign entity were to actively support, in the public sphere, a particular position on a socially divisive matter like LGBT rights, the Government must step in to object.

Our position has consistently been that the right to decide on sensitive social and political matters in Singapore should be reserved for Singaporeans. Where LGBT issues are concerned, we apply this principle equally to foreign entities that oppose the LGBT cause as well as to those that support the LGBT cause.

Singaporean supporters of the LGBT cause cannot applaud when the Government intervenes to prevent foreign anti-LGBT advocates from interfering in our domestic politics, and then protest when the Government intervenes to prevent foreign pro-LGBT advocates doing the same. The same goes for Singaporeans who oppose the LGBT cause.

Ms Chua observes correctly that Singaporeans "support a Government that ringfences our political system and domestic political contests from foreign interference".

They do so because they know this principle has been applied consistently over 50 years and that it has helped keep Singapore politics the sole preserve of Singaporeans.

The Government is committed to diversity and inclusiveness, and expects the same of businesses operating here, with respect to their employees.

However, advocating positions on Singapore laws and policies on socially divisive issues is an entirely different matter.

Lee May Lin (Ms)

Director, Information Planning and Strategy

Community Partnership and Communications Group

Ministry of Home Affairs

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Monetary Authority of Singapore Act - Monetary Authority of Singapore (Sanctions and Freezing of Assets of Persons - Iran) Regulations 2016 (S 276 of 2016)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court Press Summary: PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v O W Bunker Malta Ltd (whether contract between a shipowner and OW Bunker subsidiary is contract for sale of goods)

Commonwealth
07 Jun 2016

Ex-boss of Ku De Ta being sued for bankruptcy

Straits Times
19 Jun 2016
Danson Cheong

Lawyer takes him to court over his bounced cheque for $300k in a Lamborghini deal

Businessman Chris Au is being sued for bankruptcy after a cheque he issued on a deal involving his Lamborghini Aventador supercar bounced.

Mr Au, a permanent resident here and former chief executive of Ku De Ta nightclub at Marina Bay Sands, is being sued by family lawyer Wong Kai Yun over the $300,000 cheque he issued her in March.

The money was allegedly meant to reimburse Ms Wong for import-related taxes that she had paid on his behalf to bring the car into Singapore in 2013, according to the statement of claim that Ms Wong's lawyers have filed with the courts.

Since she received the cheque in March this year, Ms Wong has tried to cash it thrice, only to have it bounce all three times. She filed a writ of summons against Mr Au in April, and is moving to have him declared a bankrupt. She is represented by lawyer Chia Boon Teck.

Besides this legal battle, Mr Au is locked in another one in Hong Kong with his former business partners over proceeds of $100 million from the sale of Ku De Ta in 2014. Last month, he filed his own suit with the courts here claiming that they conspired to steal his rightful share of the club.

Earlier this month, the $5 million Spanish restaurant Catalunya - where he is CEO - closed four years after it opened to much fanfare at the Fullerton Pavilion.

His latest legal troubles began in 2013, when he told Ms Wong he could bring the car in at about $800,000 - lower than market price - and asked if she wanted to buy the car or co-own it with him, according to her statement of claim. In court documents, both parties acknowledge they were friends.

In her statement, Ms Wong said Mr Au asked her to pay for the car's COE and import taxes, "promising to repay (her) if she decided not to buy the car". The sum would amount to more than $330,000.

Ms Wong agreed, but in late 2013, she told Mr Au she did not want to buy the car, and asked for the money back. She said this led to an impasse, with Mr Au saying he was unable to pay because he was embroiled in the Ku De Ta suit, and had not been able to sell the car.

"The defendant (Mr Au) kept assuring the plaintiff (Ms Wong) that he would repay her the $330,000 the moment he managed to sell the car. Whenever the plaintiff asked for payment of the $330,000 and for an update on the sale of the car, the defendant would say that he had been unable to sell the car," said Ms Wong in her statement.

On March 29 this year, Ms Wong said she received a tip-off that Mr Au was about to sell the car the next day at a car dealership. She added that when she confronted him at the scene, he wrote her the cheque for $300,000, assuring her it would be honoured once he received the balance of the sale proceeds, which came up to $465,000. The amount the car was sold for is not known.

Even though the debt was $330,000, Ms Wong said she accepted the lower amount as she "did not want to jeopardise the defendant's issuance of a cheque altogether". Over the next five days, she tried thrice to cash the cheque, but was unsuccessful every time.

She filed a police report in April. A police spokesman said investigations are ongoing.

In his affidavit to the courts, Mr Au said he agreed to import the car only because Ms Wong agreed to co-own it with him and share the import and running costs. He also disputed that the $300,000 cheque he issued was to repay a loan, saying the duo had an agreement to sell the car for $1.2 million. The money was to be used to return each party's investment and any profits would be shared, he said.

He would not have issued a cheque if he had known it amounted to a "bill of exchange" with which Ms Wong could serve a statutory demand on him and "put him into bankruptcy". He said in his affidavit: "This was never a loan, there was never any loan agreement."

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Monetary Authority of Singapore Act - Monetary Authority of Singapore (Sanctions and Freezing of Assets of Persons — Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Regulations 2016 (S 275 of 2016)

Right of first refusal in relation to real estate

Business
06 Jun 2016

Online site charges $59.95 monthly for 'VIP' members

Straits Times
19 Jun 2016
Jalelah Abu Baker

Customer says she must log in and check a box each month to stop being charged

A $20 pair of shoes from an online site ended up costing swimming instructor Charmaine Cheong $240.

Ms Cheong, 29, bought the pair from myglamorous.sg in December for $19.95, after seeing its advertisements on Facebook and other sites.

But she realised three months later that $59.95 was being charged monthly to her debit card for being the shop's "VIP".

She contacted the site and was told that she had an option to log in every month and check a box that said "Skip this month" if she did not want to have her card charged.

"I don't think it should be done this way. It's very misleading," she said, adding that it was hard to remember to log in every month to do so.

Ms Cheong's complaint is not the first against the site. The Consumers Association of Singapore has received 10 complaints about Fashion Interactive, the company that runs the site, since it opened in November last year.

When she tried to cancel her account by e-mailing the site, this was not done and money was still deducted the next month. Her problem got solved only when her card expired in April. She did not get her money back but was told it could be used as credits to buy shoes.

She wrote about her experience on her Facebook page earlier this month to warn others about the site.

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, the site's founder, Mr Olivier Magaud, said a small portion of customers sometimes "misread" the service terms. "It comes unexpectedly as the terms of membership and pricing details are clearly stated in several locations on the website and along the purchase flow." He said they are on the first page all the way to the payment page where customers must agree to the terms of service by opting in. They are also stated in a confirmation e-mail and purchase receipts.

Ms Cheong's complaint is not the first against the site. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has received 10 complaints about Fashion Interactive, the company that runs the site, since it opened in November last year, Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said. In one case, where a complaint was lodged formally, Case helped a customer get a full $240 refund for VIP fees.

Mr Seah said Fashion Interactive may have breached the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, under which using small print to conceal a fact from the consumer or to mislead a consumer as to a fact in such sales is an unfair practice.

In a similar case last year, Case investigated online site StreetDeal for the way it charged consumers a "hidden" premium membership fee.

Case received 201 complaints about StreetDeal's membership fees from January 2014 to October 2015. The site later did away with its default membership, and sent a letter of apology to those affected.

In the current case, Mr Seah said Case has met Fashion Interactive. "They have agreed to look into each complaint lodged with Case and work towards an amicable settlement," he said, advising customers of the site with unresolved disputes to file their complaints with Case.

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Child Development Co-Savings (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 17 of 2016)

CCS Paper on quantifying the benefits of competition enforcement

Business
06 Jun 2016

Grey areas in rule against 'foreign sponsorship' of Pink Dot

Straits Times
19 Jun 2016
Chua Mui Hoong

On June 4, Hong Lim Park played host to the Pink Dot rally, an annual event to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

A few days after the event, on June 7, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a statement that said: "The Government's general position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones. These are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide for ourselves. LGBT issues are one such example.

"This is why under the rules governing the use of the Speakers' Corner, for events like the Pink Dot, foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations."

The statement has drawn a flurry of criticism online and in mainstream media. I must confess it got me a bit puzzled too.

First, when is a foreign entity foreign, and when is it resident?


Participants at the eighth edition of Pink Dot at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park on June 4. In a statement on foreign sponsorship of the event, the Government said "foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones". ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

This year, there were 18 corporate sponsors of Pink Dot. They included Google, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. Local sponsors included PS.Cafe and Cavenagh Law.

Pink Dot's organisers have stated that its sponsors are all registered and incorporated in Singapore. As writer George Hwang put it pointedly in a commentary on The Online Citizen website: "You cannot consider MNCs' locally incorporated subsidiaries as 'Singaporean' for tax purposes and as alien for Speakers' Corner."

The issue of what is "foreign" when applied to Pink Dot sponsors is one grey area.

Another grey area is what constitutes "interference".

If sponsoring an event constitutes interference, then why do iconic summits organised by Singapore government agencies seek sponsorship from companies, including foreign ones? The World Cities Summit and Singapore Energy Summit, for example, both have foreign sponsors. In the cities summit, there is a discussion on whether culture matters in a city - a potentially sociopolitical issue.

The Singapore International Film Festival includes Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen as official time partner, and Marina Bay Sands, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp, as present- ing sponsor. Movies too can feature "controversial social issues with political overtones" - as we know from the Government's periodic moves to ban the public screening of films such as Tan Pin Pin's To Singapore with Love.

Will the ban on foreign sponsorship be extended beyond the pro-gay Pink Dot event, to film and other cultural events and even conferences on socio-political themes? If not, why single out Pink Dot as an event that cannot get foreign sponsors?

Or perhaps the concern about Pink Dot is over law and order, given its rising popularity. Attendance rose from 2,500 in its first year in 2009 to 28,000 last year. Gay pride parades in Turkey and Russia, among others, have sparked riots, sometimes when anti-gay protesters clashed with gay pride marchers. Last week's horrific mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando highlights the potential for violence over this polarising issue. But if law and order were a concern, MHA should say so explicitly and offer solutions that make sense from a security point of view, not restrict foreign sponsors.

In making the arguments above, I am merely trying to sketch out the anomalies and contradictions that ensue when one tries to apply the rule that "foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones".

To be sure, the rule on no foreign interference in domestic politics is not a new one. I think most Singaporeans would support the line in the sand against foreign meddling drawn by this Govern- ment. I, for one, certainly do.

We want to evolve our political system at a pace we are comfortable with. We do not want, or need, foreign democracy activists or human rights groups - some with dubious sources of funding - to push our tiny, fragile and extremely beloved island-nation down paths we will find hard to turn back from.

What is unsettling about the MHA statement is its addition of the category of "controversial social issues with political tones" to the list of off-limits issues for foreigners. This definition is so widely written that it can become a trawler net to catch any issues that become embarrassing or inconvenient to the Government.

Already, activist group Aware has asked if its advocacy work - such as on workplace harassment, and support for single parents - will be affected by the rule.

Citing the latter issue, Aware executive director Corinna Lim wrote in The Straits Times' Forum page: "If a group objects to this and floods the Government with letters of complaint, would it become a 'controversial' social issue? Would any support we might have from foreign entities thus be deemed 'interference'?

"We are troubled by these potential implications of MHA's statement, which is ambiguous, leaves too much open to possibly arbitrary interpretation, and seems to go much further than previous pronouncements."

Ms Lim has a valid concern.

Singapore is at a transition point.

We have a Committee on the Future Economy to chart our economic blueprint. We are rethinking our school and training model, to integrate in-school and after-school learning better. We are concerned about the limits of our meritocracy system, and want to broaden our social safety net.

We should not close ourselves off, mentally or culturally, from the rich debates raging worldwide on many issues of social equity that have a bearing on the challenges we face. These range from income inequality to disruptive technologies and the impact these will have on jobs and incomes, to the equity of health systems, and to the continued relevance of our industrial-model education system.

Many of these issues can all justifiably be described as "controversial social issues with political overtones". What does keeping out foreign interference in these issues then mean? No foreign sponsors , even from local subsidiaries of foreign firms? No foreign academics allowed to speak at a conference on these issues? What is a "foreign academic" anyway? Does a foreign lecturer at a local university count?

There are many grey areas and questions arising from this loosely written rule against foreign interference in "controversial social issues with political overtones".

Keeping debate on difficult social issues entirely local hinders our ability to learn from the experiences of others. An open, inclusive attitude can help us better reach a national consensus on difficult issues.

As for LGBT issues, they are certainly contentious and emotionally charged because they deal with people's freedom to love without breaking the law, and some religions have clear teachings against homosexual practices. Debate on these issues will be fractious. They may even be "controversial social issues with political overtones". Pro- and anti-gay camps may want to tap foreign sponsors and foreign groups (such as churches, universities, organisations) to talk to Singaporeans about such issues.

To be sure, it makes for a messier socio-political environment.

But do LGBT issues fall under the category of domestic politics that is core to Singapore's interests and identity as a nation, and from which foreign participation and sponsorship of events should be banned? I do not think so.

Singaporeans are a nationalistic lot. We will support a government that ringfences our political system and domestic political contests from foreign interference.

But Singaporeans are also a probing, sceptical bunch.

If the Government wants to keep out foreigners from some debates and events, yet include them in others, we need more convincing on why, and how.

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Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Foreign Income) (No. 2) Order 2016 (S 274 of 2016)

Two sets of revised tripartite guidelines recently released

Business
06 Jun 2016

Bangladeshi paralysed in work accident gets $600k

Straits Times
18 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

He suffered spinal injuries after forklift hit him and now needs nurse to help him daily

A Bangladeshi construction worker paralysed after a worksite accident was awarded about $600,000 in damages and costs by the High Court yesterday.

Mr Tarun Kumar Saha Manoj Kumar Saha, 32, suffered spinal injuries after he was knocked down from behind by a reversing forklift on Feb 3, 2013.

Deployed to do general renovation works at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, he was dealing with the driver of a crane, which was running, so he could not hear the vehicle reversing towards him.

Thrown a metre by the impact, he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he had surgery to stabilise his fractured spine and right ankle.

Mr Tarun also received psychiatric treatment at the hospital, underwent rehabilitation and and was discharged into a private nursing home some two months later.

Through his lawyer, Mr Pritam Singh Gill, he sued his employer, sub- contractor Choon Construction, and the main site contractor, Hup Yew Sen Construction, for negligence.

The defendants, whose lawyers were from United Legal Alliance, at first argued that Mr Tarun was partly, if not wholly, to blame. But in October last year, both contractors accepted 85 per cent liability, leaving the sums payable to be assessed.

After a two-day assessment hearing, which ended yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Valerie Thean ordered that Mr Tarun be paid $323,700 for pain, suffering and loss of future earnings and $225,721 to meet medical expenses, contingencies and costs of appliances and materials for continued care.

The judge awarded another $50,000 in legal costs.

For Mr Tarun, the compensation was small comfort.

"Got money, but cannot do anything," he told The Straits Times.

He came to Singapore in 2010, and moved up from construction worker to become an assistant to the site supervisor.

He was an active sportsman, and had plans to marry, but his fiancee left him when he became disabled.

Mr Tarun said when doctors first told him he was permanently paralysed, he was devastated. He thought of suicide.

An only son and sole breadwinner, he now lives with his parents, aged 75 and 70, in their village home some 300km from Dhaka.

He said: "My parents became depressed when they saw me in a wheelchair. I was still depressed but kept it to myself. I pretended to give them confidence as I knew if I showed them that I was sad, they could go into deep depression and become sick."

He needs a male nurse, who goes to the house daily to attend to him.

He left for Dhaka last night. "My village is not like Singapore. Not much a handicap can do or go to."

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Newspaper and Printing Presses Act - Newspaper and Printing Presses (Exemption from Part III of Act) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2016 (S 273 of 2016)

The balanced scorecard framework for financial advisers: A Pandora’s box?

Business
02 Jun 2016

Another crowdfunding scheme goes sour

Straits Times
18 Jun 2016
Lee Xin En

Four investors claim security firm owes them more than $400,000

Another crowdfunding scheme marketed by financial advisory firm Noble Consulting Group has failed to return promised payouts to investors.

At least four investors said they had invested more than $400,000 with Noble Consulting in loans to security services firm Glen Iris, fronted by Mr Richard Koh, former vice-president of the Security Association of Singapore. The scheme promised annual returns of up to 24 per cent to investors for lending the security firm fixed sums of money.

But four investors, who had invested between $25,000 and $250,000, said they failed to recover their principal or the promised returns after Glen Iris stopped payments in the middle of last year.

The investors contacted The Straits Times after the newspaper ran a story about several investors who had agreed to lend money to construction firm Soilwood through Noble Consulting Group.

Investors in Soilwood too did not receive the promised payouts or their principal sums. So far, eight investors have come out to say they have invested $1 million in Soilwood and did not get their money back.

According to documents shown to The Straits Times, investors in Glen Iris could put in a minimum sum of $25,000 to receive a return of 1.5 per cent monthly. They would receive their principal amount after 12 months. Investors would receive a 1.75 per cent monthly return for a $50,000 investment and a 2 per cent monthly return if at least $100,000 was invested.

One investor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Kwek, told The Straits Times he met Noble Consulting Group's director, Ms Nancy Tan, at a seminar at YMCA and found her accounting and projection methods to be professional.

"As an ex-banker dealing with SME loans, she seemed to have a lot of credibility, and I assumed that she had applied the same due diligence and standards of a bank," said Mr Kwek, who is an academic.

Convinced by her presentation, he said he agreed to lend Glen Iris $250,000 in March 2014. He received monthly payouts totalling $80,000 over 16 months, but did not get his payout in July last year.

Another investor, Mr George Baizanis, said he met Noble Consulting Group in September 2014, and had put in a total of $75,000 by March last year. "I was persuaded to invest because it's a security business so there is not much volatility," he said. Mr Baizanis, a Greek national who works in finance and has lived in Singapore for 10 years, said he was offered quarterly payouts, and received just one payout of $2,000 in March last year.

He added that after his payout for June did not materialise, Mr Koh met him and about nine other investors. It is unclear why Glen Iris stopped its payments, but Mr Baizanis said Mr Koh asked for an extension for the loan repayment.

Mr Baizanis was unconvinced by Mr Koh's explanations as he refused to sign a document for a loan repayment plan.

He also moved to sue Mr Koh for bankruptcy, which came into effect last December, while Glen Iris was wound up last October.

When The Straits Times visited Glen Iris' office in Paya Lebar, it was occupied by another company, which said it had been renting the space since last December.

Attempts to reach Mr Koh for comment were unsuccessful. When asked about the schemes, Noble Consulting Group replied in an e-mail: "It would be best if you speak to the representatives of the two companies, as I cannot speak for them why they missed their payments. I cannot comment (even if I want to) as investigations are ongoing."

The police also said it was inappropriate to comment as investigations are ongoing.

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Rules 2016 (S 272 of 2016)

SHC determines novel issues on unfair preference

Judgments
02 Jun 2016

First person convicted of stalking gets 12 months' jail

Straits Times
18 Jun 2016
Elena Chong

Man hounded student, displayed her nude photos in public, online

Young people should be wary of "sexting" which can lead to an "avalanche of harm" far beyond what the sender can anticipate, a district judge said yesterday when sentencing a jobless man for unlawful stalking and two other offences.

District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said those who face harassment or threats to send sexual messages or images should seek legal advice or report to the authorities.

Lai Zhi Heng, 26, who became the first person here to be convicted of stalking, was sentenced to 12 months' jail.

He had pleaded guilty to the stalking charge, causing hurt by a rash act and criminal intimidation.

The judge said his victim, a 19-year-old student who cannot be named for legal reasons, eventually succumbed to Lai's threats and demands.

The court heard how for about a year from November 2014, Lai pressed her into a relationship with him and then harassed her with demands for nude photographs, which he later made public.

The victim said the ordeal gave her sleepless nights and even suicidal thoughts.

The judge said: "What seems innocent may easily prove to be profoundly damaging, for there are myriad motivations and methods for what is sexted to be abused."

When the girl gave in and acceded to his growing demands, it appeared to further warp Lai's sense of empowerment. He carried out even more grievous and harmful forms of harassment and abuse.

"The offender quite mercilessly took full advantage of what he obtained from her in order to punish her when she tried to distance herself from him," the judge said.

Lai printed fliers and posters of the nude photographs she had sent him. He put them into letter boxes and displayed them in public locations near her home.

He also uploaded the photographs onto the Facebook page of her school's student club, giving her personal details and stating that she was available for sexual services.

He said Lai's threats were not only "prolonged and unrelenting", but also "acute and vicious", aimed at keeping her trapped under his power and calculated to cause as much embarrassment and humiliation to her as possible.

He noted that his harassment flowed from an "obdurate and absorbing obsession" which had little to do with any affection he had for her.

"The facts showed that his fixation was driven by a consuming need to have power and control over her and also by his intense sense of grievance over perceived wrong against him by the victim," he said.

The judge added that Lai was a "prisoner of his own obsession".

"While his tendency may be to be engrossed with external causes of his predicament, it is this internal issue he needs to find courage to confront and deal with."

He hoped Lai would receive rehabilitative help in prison so that he would be able to let go of the past and rebuild his life.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Janet George had highlighted several aggravating factors in the case, such as the duration of the offence.

She said he had also threatened the girl earlier this year while out on bail for the offences.

The girl said in her victim impact statement that Lai followed her almost every day. Her mother had to stop work to accompany her to and from school as she was afraid to leave home alone.

"I feel traumatised because of him and I lost my friends after he posted my naked pictures in the school Internet pages," she stated. "I really want him to stop coming near me, my family, my house or my school. I just want him out of my life."

Urging the court to give his client a chance, lawyer T.M. Sinnadurai said Lai was remorseful and would not confront or see the victim any more.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Choice of Court Agreements Act 2016 (Act 14 of 2016)

Law on penalties in Singapore – Lessons from a landmark UK Supreme Court decision

Judgments
02 Jun 2016

Other firms can 'learn from SingPost board reforms'

Straits Times
18 Jun 2016
Grace Leong

The board reforms initiated by Singapore Post following a special audit that found corporate governance lapses hold lessons for other companies, industry observers say.

They point in particular to the finding that directors should conduct regular self-assessment to ensure that a board does not get complacent.

SingPost sought the special audit last December after admitting to an "administrative oversight" in failing to disclose former lead independent director Keith Tay's interest in its 2014 acquisition of freight forwarder F.S. Mackenzie.

Mr Tay is chairman and a 34.5 per cent shareholder of Stirling Coleman, which arranged the deal on behalf of the seller of F.S. Mackenzie.

The SingPost saga has shown that perception is as important, if not more important, than the reality, when corporate governance is called into question, said Ms Joyce Koh, executive director of Singapore Institute of Directors.

The SingPost reforms that relate to conflicts of interest, a director's code of conduct and board renewal are among the most comprehensive seen, Ms Koh noted.

Some go beyond leading practices and directors on other boards may find them stringent. For example, directors need to get clearance before taking on other board positions and commitments, and for buying or selling company shares.

Capping board tenures at nine years, with six years being the target, is another stringent rule, Ms Koh said.

The reforms came ahead of the findings of a full corporate governance review under way. More reforms are expected after this.

Corporate governance expert Mak Yuen Teen, who was first to flag worrying practices at the firm, highlighted reforms, including a very comprehensive code of conduct and ethics that directors have to sign off on every year and for which there are no waivers.

"It is good practice for directors to have to seek pre-clearance before accepting other key appointments and before dealing in the securities of the company," he said.

Other areas for improvement include the evaluation and approval of mergers and acquisitions, and the approval of regulatory announcements, which Associate Professor Mak believes will be addressed when the full review is completed.

The company may need to review its internal audit function to ensure that it has a broad-enough mandate to cover board compliance issues, and ensure that the new policies are implemented effectively, he said.

"SingPost could consider embedding some of the key aspects of its code and conflict of interest policy into its articles of association to give them more teeth," Prof Mak added.

Of greater significance is the process of self-evaluation, TSMP Law joint managing director Stefanie Yuen Thio said.

"Many of the guidelines are simply statements of existing directors' duties, and do not set new boundaries. For this reason, I don't think its new internal code should inspire any knee-jerk reactions from other corporates," she added. "The lesson I would take away from this is that a board should never get complacent, and the directors should conduct regular self-assessment."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Legal Aid and Advice Act - Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 271 of 2016)

Venture Debt Programme – A new source of funding development plans for emerging entities

Business
01 Jun 2016

Fugitive who fled to US jailed for over 3 years

Straits Times
18 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

Judge metes out stiff term to man who posed as lawyer there, calling him a 'hardened liar'

A fugitive who fled Singapore in 2003, two days before his appeal against a jail term for forgery, and then settled in the United States and practised law for seven years using a bogus name was yesterday jailed for more than three years.

In sentencing Ng Chong Lin to 40 months behind bars for crimes relating to his departure, District Judge Lee Poh Choo said she agreed absolutely with the prosecution's call for a stiff penalty.

"There is an abundance of aggravating factors and zero mitigating factors. (Ng) committed the offences solely for his selfish benefit. His conduct of the trial showed his utter lack of contrition. There was no trace of remorse, even today...

"(Ng) spun tale after tale... As seen in his trial, and today, he remained devious, dishonest and had no integrity," she said.

The US authorities caught Ng out in 2010, and he was jailed for four years for, among other things, aggravated identity theft in impersonating an attorney. His fingerprints, sent to Singapore in 2013, revealed his true identity, and he was deported in May last year.

Ng, now aged 44, represented himself in a three-day trial last month contesting two charges - applying for a passport in June 2003 under the name of Wee Pui Kee, and then producing the misleading document that bore his photo but another person's name to an airport immigration officer.

Ng pleaded guilty last week to a third charge of leaving the country as a bankrupt.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gregory Gan said: "(Ng) is clearly an unrepentant offender... and a substantial sentence is necessary to precipitate introspection and self-examination of (his) conduct."

The DPP noted Ng was jailed for three years for cheating offences in 1995; and given a jail term of three years and three months in 2003 for forgery and charges related to a company in which he was a director.

In mitigation, Ng claimed to have successfully applied to leave Singapore while on bail in 2002, but "overlooked" doing so the following year.

This prompted Judge Lee to tell him: "During trial, you consistently held that you did not know (about the fake passport), but now, you say you 'overlooked'."

The judge, in finding Ng guilty of his charges last week, said he blatantly lied during his trial and called him " an inveterate liar".

Between 2006 and 2009, Ng practised immigration law in New York using the name and registration of a real attorney to file documents to the federal authorities on behalf of individuals in immigration matters.

He also claimed to have attended schools in New York when he applied for temporary residence in the US in 2007.

His appeal against his 2003 sentence will be heard at a later date.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Government Procurement Act - Government Procurement (Application) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 270 of 2016)

SHC clarifies scope of prohibition of “repeat claims” under the SOPA

Judgments
01 Jun 2016

Club member to pay $60k for defaming another

Straits Times
17 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Judge considers aggravating factors in awarding costs for libellous online posts

A Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) member was ordered to pay $60,000 in damages and costs by a district judge who found that he had defamed a fellow member in the club's online forum.

Mr Liew Leong Wan, a retiree using the pseudonym "zoro", had wrongly accused Mr Lai Chong Meng of sending a viral e-mail with an attachment of a private investigator's report detailing two SICC staff members' activities in a forum posting in 2013.

He issued a further posting on the same day which gave the appearance of it being Mr Lai's alleged viral e-mail.

Mr Lai, an engineer and SICC member since 1993, responded on the following day, denying that he had circulated the report, and asked Mr Liew to retract the allegation and apologise.

In reply, Mr Liew asked Mr Lai to disclose who had hired the private investigator and why Mr Lai had allegedly used the report.

The stand-off sparked the defamation suit. But before that, Mr Lai applied to the High Court in December 2013 to order SICC to unmask the identity of "zoro" for the case to be pursued against him.

Mr Lai, represented by WongPartnership lawyers Edwin Cheng and Yu Kang Hao, then sued Mr Liew in the State Courts in 2014, seeking damages, costs and a court order to stop Mr Liew from repeating the defamatory statements.

Mr Liew, defended by lawyers P. Suppiah and K. Elangovan, denied any defamatory sting in his postings and claimed qualified privilege and fair comment.

However, District Judge Loo Ngan Chor, who heard the case in April, rejected this, finding that Mr Liew was not expressing comments based on facts.

In oral judgment grounds issued two weeks ago, the judge said that it is "quite plain" Mr Liew's postings had libelled Mr Lai.

"In their natural and ordinary meaning, they objectively had the effect of lowering the estimation of Mr Lai that right-thinking persons would have," the judge said.

He said Mr Liew had relied "too readily" on something he claimed someone else had sent him without verifying that this was reliable enough to accuse Mr Lai of being responsible for the viral e-mail.

The judge, who noted both were members of a leading Singapore country club, said to incorrectly say Mr Lai posted the viral e-mail was "seriously demeaning of (Mr Lai) as a gentleman". The club had 7,800 principal members who were potential readers, he said.

He ordered Mr Liew to pay $30,000 in general damages and another $15,000 in aggravated damages.

He said Mr Liew did not check the facts even when asked to retract and apologise and maintained his stand till the end of the trial. "The aggravating factors must have continued to hurt the plaintiff almost as much as the first insults."

He ordered a further $15,000 to be paid in costs by Mr Liew, plus reasonable disbursements.

Mr Liew's lawyer, Mr Suppiah, is applying in the High Court today for permission to enable his client to appeal the case..


GENTLEMAN'S REPUTATION HURT

The parties are both members of this leading country club in Singapore. The plaintiff is an engineer by profession. To say of him, incorrectly, that he posted a viral e-mail of the two staff with a PI report attached... was, in my view, seriously demeaning of the plaintiff as a gentleman.

DISTRICT JUDGE LOO NGAN CHOR, on the effect Mr Liew's statements had on Mr Lai's standing

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 31) Notification 2016 (S 269 of 2016)

Restricting publication of false statements using s15 Protection from Harassment Act

Legislation
31 May 2016

Singapore to roll out more stringent tax reporting rule

Straits Times
17 Jun 2016
Yasmine Yahya

It will take effect next year and applies to MNCs with turnover exceeding $1.125 billion, says finance ministry

Singapore will implement a new reporting rule for multinationals whose parent entities are based here, as part of its commitment to deepen its involvement in the international campaign against corporate tax avoidance.

The Ministry of Finance said yesterday that Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR) will apply to Singapore-based multinationals whose group turnover exceed $1.125 billion.

The rule will take effect for the financial year beginning on or after Jan 1 next year. Companies will have to file the report by filling out a template developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore within 12 months from the last day of their financial year.

The template will require the company to disclose data such as its profits, revenues and taxes paid in each country it has operations in.

Ernst & Young Solutions partner Henry Syrett said companies that meet the threshold should start thinking about how to fulfil this rule.

"We've had dry runs with some companies and our takeaway is that companies should not underestimate how hard it can be to put all this information together. And once they compile the information they should look out for data that might be seen as controversial to other tax authorities, and be prepared to explain their numbers."

The implementation of CbCR here comes as Singapore joins the inclusive framework for the global implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project spearheaded by the OECD and Group of 20 economies (G-20).

Base erosion and profit shifting refer to the practice of companies channelling their profits into a jurisdiction where they have little economic activity in order to benefit from that location's tax rates, which may be lower than the rates levied in the places where their operations actually take place.

Last year, the OECD set out a blueprint known as the BEPS Project to clamp down on the practice, and Singapore expressed its agreement with the plan.

By joining the inclusive framework, Singapore will become a "BEPS Associate", and will work with other participating jurisdictions to develop the implementation and monitoring phase of the BEPS Project

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a statement yesterday: "Singapore is committed to working with the international community to counter artificial shifting of profits, and continues to welcome substantive economic activities.

"We will be actively involved with the OECD and G-20 in ensuring the consistent implementation of the BEPS standards across all jurisdictions, so as to ensure a level playing field."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 (Act 16 of 2016)

PDPC issues advisory guidelines on enforcement of the data protection provisions and takes action against 11 organisations for breaching data protection obligations

Business
31 May 2016

SingPost unveils new code of conduct for directors

Straits Times
17 Jun 2016

Move comes in the wake of special audit which revealed corporate governance lapses

Singapore Post yesterday unveiled a code of business conduct and ethics for its board of directors in the wake of a special audit that found corporate governance lapses at the firm.

The company said it had also established new policies governing directors' conflicts of interest, and board renewal and tenure. The code and policies are intended to strengthen the corporate governance foundation of the company.

Mr Simon Israel, SingPost chairman, said: "The new code represents our commitment as directors of SingPost to the highest standard of business conduct and personal integrity. It is about substance over form and respect for the spirit of the code. The code sets the tone and will help frame the board's discussion of the recommendations from the corporate governance review."

SingPost has seen a succession of resignations, including that of former chief executive Wolfgang Baier in December. Chairman Lim Ho Kee stepped down in April.

Drew & Napier and PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed by SingPost to carry out a special audit after it emerged that board member Keith Tay was a shareholder and chairman of the financial adviser to three freight forwarders the postal services provider bought in 2013, 2014 and last year.

In their summary report, the auditors found that Mr Tay, who has since stepped down, was "arguably in breach of section 156(1) of the Companies Act" for not declaring his interest in the 2013 acquisition of Famous Holdings "as soon as practicable".

Last month, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority said it was probing possible Companies Act breaches by SingPost.

In its statement to the Singapore Exchange, SingPost said that ensuring compliance with the code will be the responsibility of the Nominations and Corporate Governance Committee.

Formerly the Nominations Committee, the terms of reference of this committee have been amended to include the oversight, development and review of SingPost's corporate governance practices.

The firm's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics will serve to guide directors on areas of ethical risk and sets a framework for an environment where integrity and accountability are paramount, SingPost said.

It contains enhanced directives on identifying and disclosing conflicts of interest; maintaining confidentiality; compliance with laws, rules and regulations; fair dealing; and setting a framework for reporting illegal and unethical behaviour.

Suspected violations of the code are to be reported promptly to the chairman of the board and the chairman of the Nominations and Corporate Governance Committee. These will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken in the event of a violation of the code.

The policy on directors' conflicts of interest sets out principles to guide directors in instances of actual or potential conflict of interest.

The policy serves to foster a culture of honesty and accountability; focus the board and its directors on areas of ethical risk; and provide guidance to directors to help them recognise and deal with ethical issues, SingPost said.

The Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias) welcomed SingPost's willingness to strengthen its corporate governance foundation.

"No amount of rules and policies can ensure an incident-free environment in a company, but what is expected would be an honest and transparent approach by the board and senior management in dealing with the default, should it happen," said Sias president and chief executive David Gerald.

"That the board and the senior management will always do what is right for the company and its shareholders must be the assurance for all concerned," he added.

SingPost shares yesterday ended one cent lower at $1.55.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 9 of 2016)

SHC holds that leaked privileged and confidential communications freely available online may not be used as evidence

Judgments
31 May 2016

Ex-lawyer guilty of practising while disbarred

Straits Times
16 Jun 2016
Elena Chong

He had been struck off rolls in 2012 after complaints, but gave legal advice to Chinese nationals the following year

A former lawyer who holds the dubious record of having the most complaints filed against him was convicted yesterday of providing legal advice to some Chinese nationals when he was not authorised to do so.

Leonard Loo Peng Chee threw in the towel after 24 days of his court hearing. He had contested charges of acting as an advocate and solicitor, abetting in a conspiracy with a man to solicit clients on his behalf, and abetting a Chinese national to intentionally obstruct the course of justice.

The 45-year-old had had 15 years of experience when he was struck off the rolls in 2012 by the Court of Three Judges for professional misconduct.

The Law Society had received 14 complaints from his clients and the courts, covering at least 86 instances of misconduct, including dishonesty. The litany of complaints against him included his being ill-prepared to argue his cases, being late for court hearings or not showing up, and not complying with court directions.

Earlier this week, Loo indicated his wish to plead guilty. Yesterday, he admitted to four charges under the Legal Profession Act (LPA).

Even though he was not authorised to provide legal advice by then, in November 2013, he provided legal advice and prepared legal representations to the authorities for Ms Zhao Kejing, 24, Ms Luo Guangzhen, 24, and Ms Luo Chunyan, 26, and legal advice to Ms Xie Xin Xin, 27. Three other charges, including another under the LPA, will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced later.

Loo ran a business called Qilin Immigration and Manpower Services Bureau to carry out labour contracting services in immigration, visa, manpower and employment matters.

A district court heard that Ms Zhao was arrested for vice-related activities on Nov 20, 2013, and was referred to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for repatriation. Her landlord gave her Loo's contact number and said Loo was a lawyer who could help her.

The next day, when Loo met Ms Zhao at a bar in Balestier, her friend asked if he was a lawyer but he did not reply.

He then asked about Ms Zhao's case. She told him she hoped he could help her get her passport back from the authorities without a ban on her return to Singapore.

Loo said he could help her file an appeal, which would cost $800.

After Ms Zhao had engaged Loo, he met her at the Police Cantonment Complex and showed her the appeal letter, which she signed and submitted .

They went to ICA to apply for an extension of her special pass. There, he asked her for $800, but she had only $400 with her. She gave it to him. She paid another $200 later, when he asked for the balance of his fees.

Loo also gave legal advice and drafted letters for Ms Luo Guangzhen and Ms Luo Chunyan, who were arrested for vice-related activities on Nov 19, 2013.

The duo's friend, Ms Xie, who went along to meet Loo, sought his advice on how to get her social visit pass extended. Loo said he would write to the ICA but told her it was unlikely that she would get a one-month extension.

She paid him $800, but later got the money back when she decided not to engage him.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Anandan Bala and Quek Jing Feng sought an adjournment to make written submissions on sentencing.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur adjourned the case to Aug 12.

The maximum penalty is a $25,000 fine and six months' jail for each charge.

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Home Affairs Uniformed Services Superannuation Act - Home Affairs Uniformed Services (INVEST Fund) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 268 of 2016)

Monetary Authority of Singapore Act: MAS proposes legislative amendments to enhance the resolution regime for Fis

Legislation
27 May 2016

Rifle group sues gun club president for defamation

Straits Times
16 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan & Jonathan Wong

SRA seeks damages for remarks over closure of shooting centre

The Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) is suing Mr Michael Vaz, a prominent figure in the local shooting scene, for alleged defamation, seeking damages for remarks made after the National Shooting Centre was closed following a police probe earlier this year.

In court papers filed on Tuesday, the rifle association said Mr Vaz, as president of the Singapore Gun Club (SGC), had issued two statements via e-mail and its website to club members in March which alleged that the association was to blame for the centre's closure, among other things.

SRA said the website announcement could have been accessed online by many users. The defamatory words were republished through a download link for a document posted in March on a public Facebook group, which remained accessible.

Mr Vaz is also president of the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA), the national authority for shooting.

His lawyers from Bih Li & Lee have given notice to defend against the suit.

Yesterday, Mr Vaz said: "I am contesting because I carried out my duty towards SGC members as president and I find it unconscionable that SRA should interfere with SGC affairs."

He claimed the closure of the shooting centre had caused "mass confusion" among members. "I carried out my duty as president and merely presented the facts as I saw them to give SGC members comfort that all was in order."

The suit against Mr Vaz follows another High Court suit filed by the rifle association last month against SSA for allegedly breaching the Constitution and attempting to suspend the rifle association's privileges - claims denied by SSA.

In February, SportSG - the national sports governing body - had closed the shooting centre following an arms audit by the Police Licensing & Regulatory Department at the armouries of the SGC and the SRA. The police seized a number of arms due to serious licensing irregularities and launched a probe. The shooting centre is still closed.

The High Court suit by SRA seeks damages, an injunction and costs from Mr Vaz. It follows his rejection of a demand letter issued last week by SRA's Drew & Napier lawyer Wendell Wong.

Mr Vaz, through lawyer Anthony Lee, countered that the statements referred to were "fair comment".

The fallout comes just ahead of the SGC's annual general meeting (AGM) tomorrow, where Mr Vaz is expected to face a challenge to his post as president.

He believes the suit was filed at this time to boost SRA-linked candidates running for key SGC posts. "My view is that if the members of SGC feel the person challenging me for president can do a better job, so be it," he said.

It is understood that there are SGC members who are concurrently SRA members and vice versa. An SRA spokesman said it is not involved in the AGM and that "the case is about due process".

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Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 - Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 (Commencement) Notification 2016 (S 267 of 2016)

SHC finds no likelihood of confusion under section 8(2)(b) of Trade Marks Act on appeal

Judgments
27 May 2016

Man jailed over $3.2m used-car scam

Straits Times
16 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

Dealer's de facto boss gets seven years' jail for cheating 71 buyers, 14 sellers, 4 finance firms

From a Lexus GS300 and a Porsche Boxster to a Geely CK and a Chery QQ, a range of cars paid for by 50 buyers between January 2013 and February last year were repossessed by finance companies.

Unbeknown to the buyers, the second-hand cars had not been registered under their names.

Used-car dealer Cars Today had been running a scam and defaulted on the repayment of loans, which it had taken to buy the cars.

In all, the company cheated 71 buyers, 14 sellers and four finance companies out of a total of $3.16 million in money and cars.

The buyers and sellers lost at least $1.42 million in total.

Yesterday, the company's de facto boss Poh Chee Tiong, 62, an undischarged bankrupt, was jailed for seven years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 33 out of 168 charges, most of which were for cheating.

He admitted to the remaining 135 charges and these were considered in sentencing.

District Judge Salina Ishak, in her brief grounds of decision, said: "(Poh) had caused significant monetary harm and great inconvenience to his victims."

She noted, among other things, that there were 89 victims - buyers, sellers and finance companies - and the offences were committed over a long period.

"(Poh) had planned a systematic and elaborate scam to cheat the customers and creditors of Cars Today; (he) committed the offences for personal benefit as he wanted to expand Cars Today's operation and fleet of cars," added the judge.

The court heard that Poh was the sole owner of used-car dealer Car Kingdom between 2007 and 2009, but he was made bankrupt in 2009.

In July 2011, he told his wife Liew Foong Lin, 46, to register Cars Today in her name. Poh solely managed the company.

To get loans to buy cars, Poh would enter into flooring agreements with finance companies.

Under each such agreement, Cars Today would transfer the registered ownership of a car it bought to its financier, so that the finance company would have the right to repossess the car if the dealer defaulted on its loan repayment terms.

When the used-car dealer bought a car on credit, it was supposed to inform the finance company of the price at which it bought the car, and sell the car and repay the loan as soon as possible, lest more interest accrue.

But Poh wanted to expand Cars Today's business and fleet of cars, and also increase its cash flow.

So, unknown to its buyers, it did not transfer the ownership of cars to them after they had paid for and collected the vehicles.

In some cases, Cars Today would buy a car and sell it, and thereafter apply for a loan under a flooring agreement. It would thus get a loan and transfer the car's ownership to the finance company, instead of the buyer who had already collected it.

Cars Today also forged documents to mark up the purchase price of cars, deceiving its financiers into giving out larger loans as a result.

Poh even roped in his son, Poh Ee, 28, then a manager at Cars Today, to do this. Between December 2013 and December 2014, Poh Ee made changes to 18 copies of sales and purchase agreements that sellers had signed, marking up prices at which the cars were bought.

Sellers, meanwhile, were cheated into delivering their vehicles to Cars Today, thinking the company would settle their outstanding car loans. But Cars Today did not.

After delivering their cars, some sellers still had to pay road tax and insurance premiums because they were still listed as their cars' registered owners.

Poh's wife and son have been fined $3,000 and $15,000 respectively for their crimes.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Bus Services Industry Act 2015 - Bus Services Industry (Non-Regular Route Service) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 266 of 2016)

SCA highlights need for statutory demand rules to be read in the context of the Bankruptcy Act

Judgments
27 May 2016

Closed vote not the only way to ensure minority EP

TODAY
16 Jun 2016
Eugene K B Tan

How to ensure that minorities can be periodically elected, if we have not had a minority President for some time, is probably the most controversial term of reference for the high-powered Constitutional Commission chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

The intent and outcome of having a minority President, especially one exercising custodial powers, is laudable. It is a powerful statement of our multiracialism for a Chinese-majority country to elect a non-Chinese as head of state. But how we go about doing so is crucial.

To use race as a pre-qualifying condition to contest in a restricted election is to effect affirmative action. Dr Mathew Mathews argued in TODAY last week that such an election method would be a “nudge” to be used only as a last resort when “a particular race has not been represented in the presidency for a substantially long period”.

But this strikes at the heart of our meritocracy. Further, given the President’s custodial powers, the electoral system must enable all who are qualified to contest. It also perpetuates the belief that the majority of Chinese-Singaporeans discriminate against non-Chinese Singaporeans, even for the august office of the head of the state.

We would not ask for the position of Prime Minister or Chief Justice to be rotated among the races. If a minority gets a leg-up to the highest office, questions will arise as to his political authority, legitimacy, and standing — compromising the minority President’s ability to properly and faithfully execute constitutional, community and ceremonial duties.

His mandate and moral authority to say no to the Government would be weakened. We should not have the President handicapped by the “but for” question: Would he be the President but for the closed contest?

Ultimately, a restricted election would undermine the presidency as a symbol of national unity.

In making the presidency an elected one, a significant trade-off is that the office could no longer be rotated among the different races as it was in the past. This is a circle that probably cannot be squared. Merit must come ahead of race if the presidency is to command authority, authenticity and respect.

The term of reference also presupposes that only minorities can be a symbol of multiracialism, undermining the essence of our multiracialism.

President Wee Kim Wee, a Peranakan Chinese, was much beloved and respected by all Singaporeans, demonstrating that being from the majority race is not a barrier to being a symbol of multiracialism. Similarly, our first President, Yusof Ishak, played a critical role in restoring trust and confidence among the races in the aftermath of the 1964 race riots, one of the most tumultuous periods in Singapore’s modern history.

It was what President Yusof Ishak did and not his ethnicity that enabled him to transform the office of the head of state into a symbol of our multiracialism. In a sense, he initiated an invented tradition, an important one, no doubt. What was common among our ceremonial presidents (the others being Benjamin Sheares and Devan Nair) was their being active and exemplary practitioners and promoters of multiracialism. They infused into the presidency the spirit and soul of multiracialism in Singapore.

I do recognise the abiding importance of multiracialism in the raison d’etre of the presidency and to safeguard it as a respected institution of multiracialism. In my submission to the Constitutional Commission, I proposed that for a presidential candidate to be elected, the individual must secure the most number of votes among all the candidates and poll a threshold minimum proportion of votes (for example, between 30 to 40 per cent) from the minority races (individually or collectively).

This can be done through an alternative preferential system where voters rank the candidates in order of preference. Each voter has one vote, but rather than mark an X, he indicates a “1” for his first choice candidate, a “2” for his second choice, a “3” for his third choice and so on. The candidate with the least first preferences is eliminated first, and the votes are allocated to the other candidates according to the second-preference choices indicated on the ballot papers for that eliminated candidate. This process continues until one candidate meets the requisite thresholds and is elected.

This will maintain the current electoral system of the simple plurality election and candidates contesting individually, but require candidates to secure as many second preferences. In turn, they need to unequivocally demonstrate that they have the credentials to be a symbol of multiracialism by appealing to all races.

Multiracialism becomes a key component of the candidate’s overall merit that voters have to consider and assess. A candidate will need to win substantial, if not majority of, support from all component racial groups in Singapore in order to be elected. This approach is sustainable, authentic and meaningful.

This mode of election prevents the presidential election from being premised on race. A restricted election will invariably bring race into the election, unnecessarily politicising the office of the Elected Presidency.

It may also give rise to the belief that a minority group has a legal right for one of its own to be elected President.

Furthermore, voters might decide that there is no necessity or urgency to vote for an electable minority candidate since the system will provide for a minority President in regular intervals if one is not elected.

It has been tritely repeated that Singaporeans tend to vote along racial lines. However, without empirical evidence, we run the risk of perpetuating this alleged voting behaviour as a fact.

To be sure, race, religion and language remain fault lines in our society. But we must not pander to these centrifugal forces. Instead, we should endeavour to rise above our prejudices, stereotypes and weaknesses. The electoral system can and should a play a part in this regard.

If Singaporeans do vote along racial lines, then the appropriate response is to work on getting Singaporeans to shed that behaviour so that minority candidates can compete on an even footing with ethnic Chinese candidates. To give in to racial discrimination would be an indictment of our multiracialism. Efforts should also be made to encourage suitably-qualified minorities to step forward and seriously consider running for the presidency.

No amount of constitutional tinkering or engineering can remove a racial or even a racist mindset and disposition in electoral behaviour. Rather, we need to design an election process in which candidates and the electorate alike consider how their electoral behaviour and their votes would be in the individual and collective self-interest, thus entrenching multiracialism.

This way, we can safeguard the presidency as a true symbol of national unity and ensure our multiracialism is sustainable, rather than one that is artificially supported and imposed by constitutional fiat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eugene K B Tan is associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University School of Law.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

International Child Abduction Act - International Child Abduction (Contracting States) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2016 (S 265 of 2016)

SHC: Standing tall – The “Independent Contractor” defence for builders and construction professionals

Judgments
26 May 2016

Singapore targeting private firms linked to Indonesian fires, not national sovereignty

Straits Times
16 Jun 2016
Francis Chan

Ministry says use of transboundary haze law aimed at preventing recurrence of crisis

Singapore's move to go after companies linked to fires in Indonesia that led to last year's haze is not an issue of sovereignty or national dignity, said a Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) spokesman yesterday.

The ministry said its actions under the country's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) was aimed at deterring and prosecuting entities that are responsible for transboundary haze pollution.

"The THPA was drafted with advice from experts in international law and complies with international law," added the spokesman. "It is not directed at any individual nor company based on nationality."

MEWR was responding to comments in recent days by Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla as well as the country's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar about Singapore's decision to take court action against an Indonesian company director via the THPA.

Mr Kalla said that Singapore cannot take action against its citizens responsible for last year's forest fires, while Ms Siti accused the Republic of not exercising "mutual respect" by invoking the THPA.

She said the Asean agreement on transboundary haze pollution is a multilateral one, and not a bilateral pact between Singapore and Indonesia. As such, "Singapore cannot step further into Indonesia's legal domain", she added.

Ms Siti also said the THPA remains a "controversial" law that is still being debated among Asean officials from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

That is why she feels that Singapore's action under the law against errant firms in her country is not a show of "mutual respect".

MEWR, however, said the key driver of the recurring transboundary haze is commercial. It said companies' blatant disregard for the environmental and social consequences of the haze, which affects millions of people in the region, should not go unchecked.

"The phenomenal amount of greenhouse gases also emitted during the burning of peatland will have a profound effect on climate change that the world is battling to slow," said the spokesman.

"This is therefore not an issue of sovereignty or national dignity."

The ministry emphasised that Singapore respects Indonesian sovereignty and it is for that very reason that Singapore has repeatedly requested local authorities to share information on companies suspected of illegal burning in Indonesia.

Fires burning on concession land owned by private companies are said to have caused the haze crisis which affected many countries in South-east Asia.

The smoke from fires last year sent air pollution to record levels, resulting in at least 19 deaths from haze-related illnesses and more than half a million Indonesians suffering from respiratory infections.

The World Bank estimates that the fires and haze caused at least US$16 billion (S$21.7 billion) in economic losses for Indonesia alone.

Indonesian officials, however, do not expect a repeat of the crisis this year, though that may be due more to favourable weather than progress in addressing the underlying causes of the blazes, reported Bloomberg News yesterday.

Satellite imagery detected about 730 hot spots so far this year, down from more than 2,900 in the first six months of last year, according to government data.

Mr Raffles Panjaitan, the Environment and Forestry Ministry official tasked with overseeing fire prevention, said integrated fire patrol teams have been deployed in villages where forest fires are an annual occurrence.

"Normally forest fires are quite rampant in February and March, but there are no fires in villages where patrols are deployed," he said.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Singapore - France) (Avoidance of Double Taxation Convention) Order 2016 (S 264 of 2016)

SHC cautions that the threshold for a trade mark to be considered well-known in Singapore is not minimal and must be applied with caution to maintain the balance of rights

Judgments
26 May 2016

Clear agreement for Asean to tackle haze

Straits Times
16 Jun 2016
Koh Kheng Lian

Singapore's efforts to bring a director of an Indonesian company to court under its Transboundary Haze Pollution Act of 2014 has caused tensions between the two countries. Indonesia is reportedly embarrassed on grounds of a "derogation of sovereignty" and the blow dealt to its "national dignity" and "pride".

At the heart of Indonesia's unhappiness are the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention, by which countries do not become involved in each other's business or problems. And yet, the sovereignty principle is anachronistic if applied to the hilt in the context of cooperation between states to prevent, for example, environmental degradation.

I would like to propose an alternative approach to resolving the haze problem which entails a shift in thinking. It is an approach that would put into legal effect the wise counsel of Singapore's first foreign minister S. Rajaratnam, which he articulated back in 1967 at the first meeting to mark the establishment of Asean. He had said then: "It is necessary... if we are really to be successful in giving life to Asean to marry national thinking with regional thinking... That is a new way of thinking of our problems." His was a call to place national thinking (sovereignty) within the context of regional interests.

One way to do so is to frame the haze issue as one of "disaster management". Doing so would place it under the Asean Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (Aadmer) of 2005, which entered into force on Dec 24, 2009 after ratification by all 10 member states. Indonesia and the various countries affected by the regional haze are party to this agreement.

It is significant that while Indonesia readily ratified Aadmer, it took 12 years to ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) of 2002. Why? One of the reasons was the perception that AATHP was aimed at blaming Indonesia for the forest fires. Hence, the defensive stance was to apply "sovereignty" to the hilt, and any assistance from Asean member states became an affront to its national pride. Far from any derogation of its sovereignty, Indonesia should take the opportunity to demonstrate that the sovereignty of all Asean member states - now an integrated community - can emerge intact and strengthened from working together to tackle the haze.

Aadmer was born out of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster in which Indonesia was greatly devastated. Indonesia did not raise any issue of sovereignty when assistance was rendered by other countries, including Singapore. A reading of this agreement finds that the haze fits its definition of a "disaster" as "a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses".

Few would dispute that the haze has caused widespread pollution to other Asean member states - Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and even Thailand - and has resulted in economic loss and ill effects on the health of their citizens.

Aadmer aims "to achieve substantial reduction of disaster losses in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of the Parties..."

It sets out in Article 4(a) how countries are to work together to achieve this aim, stating that they "shall cooperate in developing the implementing measures to reduce disaster losses..." This means that when it comes to the haze, Indonesia has a duty to cooperate. Article 4 also states that when a disaster is likely to cause possible impacts on other member states, the parties shall "respond promptly to a request for relevant information sought by a Member State or States that are or may be affected by such disasters, with a view to minimising the consequences".

Singapore has suffered great economic loss and health impact from Indonesia's transboundary haze pollution. Under Aadmer, Indonesia must ensure that it provides relevant information sought by Singapore to deal with the current investigation of the Indonesian director of the company in question.

At the same time, Aadmer also obliges parties to "promptly respond to a request for assistance by an affected Party". Both Singapore and Indonesia are affected parties and the agreement thus obliges them to respond to each other's requests for help. Aadmer goes further than AATHP, whose objective is limited to haze prevention and monitoring, and depends on individual states to operationalise it. Aadmer, on the other hand, takes a holistic approach in disaster risk reduction and puts in place effective mechanisms, covering disaster management before, during and after the disaster, as well as partnerships with the United Nations and the World Bank for international cooperation.

In meeting the challenge of regional haze pollution, Asean member states should forge ahead together in the spirit of an integrated community. Indeed, they already have a plan in place to do so mapped out in the Asean Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025, one of the documents agreed to when Asean formally became an integrated community on Dec 31 last year. The political-security blueprint calls for the use of non-traditional approaches and "enhanced cooperation", including joint task forces, joint partnerships and entry into territory to deal with disaster situations. Asean thus has the political and legal frameworks in place for regional cooperation to fight the haze. What member states must do now is put these words into action.

•The writer is Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Law; and Honorary Director, Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law, National University of Singapore.


The Asean Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response was born out of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster in which Indonesia was greatly devastated. Indonesia did not raise any issue of sovereignty when assistance was rendered by other countries, including Singapore. A reading of this agreement finds that the haze fits its definition of a "disaster" as "a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Environmental Protection and Management Act - Environmental Protection and Management Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2016 (S 263 of 2016)

An appeal on the merits unmasked - High Court dismisses application to set aside arbitral award

Judgments
25 May 2016

Court debates if judicial mercy should be invoked for dying convict

TODAY
15 Jun 2016
Valerie Koh

SINGAPORE — A district judge has slammed prosecutors for their “manifestly excessive” request of 10 years’ corrective training for a dying criminal, and urged them to consider judicial mercy as an option.

Lim Jit Kiat, 42, was convicted of forging a S$1.36 million cheque as payment for kinky sex acts, but was later diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, needing dialysis thrice a week. His defence lawyer argued that the life expectancy of such patients was about five years, and pleaded for judicial mercy to be exercised.

However, the prosecution, citing Lim’s history of convictions for theft, cheating and forgery over the past 20-odd years, wanted him locked up for a decade.

The unusual circumstances of the case were debated in court yesterday, with both prosecution and defence reaching an impasse on the sentence.

Lim’s latest brush with the law started when he posted an advertisement online on May 16, 2014, in search of males aged 18 to 45 to provide “special services” to male clients. The next day, a 28-year-old Chinese national responded to the ad. Lim, who had been diagnosed with sexual sadism disorder, then lied that he had a Korean client willing to pay S$1.2 million to carry out deviant sex acts with the man.

They met about three hours later in Geylang and checked into a hotel together, where Lim — masquerading as the Korean client — used three bamboo canes to hit the victim’s buttocks and burned him with cigarettes. The victim feigned enjoyment, and Lim raised the reward to S$1.36 million.

When the victim tried to cash the cheque the next day, a bank officer noticed that the signature did not match the bank’s records and a police report was lodged. It turned out that Lim had issued a cheque from his father’s cheque book.

In an earlier hearing, Lim pleaded guilty to forgery, while two other charges of theft and cheating were taken into consideration.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Timothy Ng argued that Lim was too ill to re-offend, and pleaded for judicial mercy to be invoked, where a court gives a more lenient sentence due to exceptional circumstances. He said that four weeks’ imprisonment would be appropriate.

In rebuttal, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Zhongshan cited an Institute of Mental Health report stating that Lim was likely to re-offend. Lim had previously served a five-year jail term, and a 10-year corrective training sentence for cheating offences, among others. DPP Tan said: “Given that prisons are able to manage (Lim’s) medical condition, he doesn’t qualify for judicial mercy.”

However, District Judge Low Wee Ping said: “Even if the person is dying and the prison says it has the capacity to provide hospice care, it doesn’t deal with the issue of judicial mercy … It’s the pain and suffering of the illness, and you have to receive treatment.”

He added that a decade of corrective training was “manifestly excessive even without the issue of judicial mercy”.

Lim is out on bail, and the case will be heard again on June 30.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Environmental Protection and Management Act - Environmental Protection and Management (Composition of Offences) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 262 of 2016)

Auction house Christie’s succeeds in opposing registration of competitor’s Chritrs mark

Judgments
25 May 2016

S'porean denied pension in NZ for not using CPF first

Straits Times
15 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

A 66-year-old Singaporean failed in his bid to get senior citizen pension benefits in New Zealand after a tribunal found he had not first used his Central Provident Fund (CPF) money, as advised.

The Social Security Appeal Authority was not convinced by his concerns of being traced by the Singapore authorities if he applied to withdraw his CPF money, as there could be "significant repercussions" for his two grown-up sons, who were liable for national service (NS).

"(He) was completely unable to explain what action the Singapore authorities might be able to take against him or his sons if they became aware of his residence in New Zealand," said the Social Security Appeal Authority of New Zealand in decision grounds released last month.

Superannuation benefits of about NZ$600 (S$570) are payable fortnightly to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents over 65 who have lived in the country for at least 10 years since they turned 20, five of which must be since they turned 50 years old, according to its website.

But the payout is modified according to conditions such as deductions from income earned elsewhere or abroad.

According to the decision grounds, the Singapore citizen, who is also a New Zealand citizen, was granted the benefit when he turned 65 in November 2014 but he disclosed in his application that he had lived in Singapore for 50 years.

He had worked in various jobs in Singapore before emigrating to New Zealand in 2000 with his wife and two sons, then aged eight and 10.

The Auckland-based man, who was granted citizenship in 2004, was told by New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development to apply to Singapore's CPF Board to withdraw funds from there.

He objected and failed to comply with the July 2015 deadline issued by the New Zealand ministry. A month later, his New Zealand Superannuation was suspended.

He initially claimed it was discriminatory to require people from countries that paid pensions, such as Singapore, to be required to apply for those pensions, which were then deducted from their entitlement to New Zealand Superannuation.

He pursued the case before the two-member appeal authority, arguing among other things that his two sons, now aged 25 and 23 years and having promising careers, could be affected if his whereabouts were known to the Singapore authorities through his CPF application.

The man, who was not named, suggested his sons might be forced to return to Singapore to do national service and be prosecuted as enlistment defaulters. Under Singapore laws, eligible persons who fail to register for national service may be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to three years or both.

But the tribunal pointed out that the alleged offences under the Singapore Enlistment Act were not recognised as extraditable offences under New Zealand law and prosecution was, therefore, "remote".

"We are not satisfied that there is any real danger or disadvantage to either the appellant or his two sons if the appellant's whereabouts were to become known to the Singapore Government," wrote the Wellington-based appeal authority.

It added that the man, having worked variously in Singapore as an aircraft mechanic, hotel cashier and elsewhere had maintained CPF deposits from which he could apply to withdraw funds, since he was already past 62 years old, the minimum age for CPF withdrawal.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Registration of Criminals Act - Registration of Criminals Act (Amendment of First Schedule) Order 2016 (S 261 of 2016)

SHC: Grant of security may be avoided as a transaction at an undervalue?

Judgments
24 May 2016

ADV: Kaplan - Obtain your Law qualification in 8 months

Singapore Law Watch
15 Jun 2016
Kaplan

Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act - Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2016 (S 260 of 2016)

SCA considers shipowner's liability under the concept of agency by estoppel

Judgments
24 May 2016

MAS tightens the screws on money laundering

Business Times
14 Jun 2016
Jamie Lee

It sets up dedicated units to monitor money-laundering risks and to boost enforcement action

[Singapore] SOME three weeks after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered the shutdown of the BSI Bank for the worst case of gross misconduct to date, the regulator has publicly set out plans to create departments dedicated to fighting money laundering and to strengthen regulatory enforcement.

In doing so, the MAS is dialling up supervision over financial institutions and the potential illicit financing that these firms may engage in.

Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, said in a statement: "As our financial centre grows in scale, sophistication and connectivity, so does the risk of criminal elements abusing our financial system.

"We will strengthen our supervision of financial institutions' controls to combat money laundering and illicit financing. And we will enhance our enforcement capability to deter poor controls or criminal behaviour in the industry. The MAS is resolved to ensure that Singapore remains a clean and trusted financial centre."

The changes, to take effect from August, will centralise existing regulatory work in these areas.

With its new anti-money laundering department, the MAS will streamline existing responsibilities for regulatory policies relating to money laundering and other illicit financing risks. A dedicated supervisory team would be formed to monitor these risks and carry out on-site supervision of how financial institutions manage these risks, bringing together functions now carried out by different departments in the MAS.

This follows the regulator's move last month to order BSI Bank to draw its shutters in Singapore, calling it the "worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct" ever seen in the Singapore financial sector. The bank has been embroiled in investigations into scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

It was the first time since 1984 that the MAS had ordered a bank to close, and followed at least three inspections of the Swiss private bank. The "more intrusive" third inspection in 2015 revealed multiple breaches of anti-money laundering regulations and "a pervasive pattern of non-compliance". The MAS also referred to the public prosecutor six members of BSI Bank's senior management and staff, for an assessment into whether they have committed criminal offences.

The MAS told The Business Times that in the last few years, it has been progressively intensifying its supervision of financial institutions' controls against money laundering and illicit financing; the latest move was a natural progression of such efforts.

An MAS spokeswoman said: "This was necessary in view of the strong growth of the financial sector, including the wealth-management business." She added that the MAS has also imposed higher penalties on financial institutions for lapses in their controls against illicit financial flows.

"The impetus for the setting up of the dedicated AML (anti-money laundering) department therefore predates the recent action against BSI Bank and the ongoing review of other financial institutions with respect to suspicious transactions and relationships. But these recent developments have indeed underscored the merits of bringing together supervisory resources from across the MAS to give a centralised focus on combating money laundering."

Shashi Nathan, a Withers KhattarWong partner in the criminal-litigation practice, said it is too early to know whether the MAS' move would lead to more intrusive supervision. But he suggested having dedicated departments would help it better handle the increasing complexities of transactions, which can be "mired in technicalities".

"The creation of a specialist department is a really good step for the country. It shows that Singapore takes AML seriously," he said. "Singapore is not the same place as it was 10 years ago. You've got two casinos, and the influx of high-net-worth individuals."

The MAS said it is not possible to prevent regulatory breaches and misconduct even with intrusive supervision. "A strong enforcement capability is necessary to conduct rigorous investigations of suspected violations and misdemeanours and to take swift actions to establish culpability and punish as appropriate the institutions or individuals who have breached MAS regulations."

The new department will be responsible for enforcement actions arising from breaches of MAS's banking, insurance and capital markets regulations and investigate capital markets misconduct offences with the Commercial Affairs Department.

Meanwhile, terrorism financing has also grown in sophistication. A late-2015 report by the Financial Action Task Force showed Al Qaeda in Iraq had used spreadsheets and standardised financial accounting reports to maintain a system of revenue sharing between sub-units.

But it is not as if terrorists need much money to inflict terror. The Charlie Hebdo attack was likely funded by 6,000 euros (S$9,180) in consumer loans (obtained with forged documents), proceeds from the sale of a used car and the sale of counterfeit goods, the report said.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act - Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) (Amendment) Notification 2016 (S 259 of 2016)

Steady progress in IP cooperation between Singapore and Cambodia, expediting quality patent grants

Business
24 May 2016

Agents of S'pore firms accused of paying $13m: Petrobras graft scandal

Straits Times
14 Jun 2016
Grace Leong

Keppel and SembMarine strongly deny involvement in corruption scheme

The corruption scandal engulfing Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has further embroiled both Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine, with allegations that US$9.5 million (S$13 million) in bribes were paid by agents of the two Singapore companies.

The money was allegedly paid to officials of Petrobras, its unit Sete Brasil and Brazil's Workers' Party to procure 12 contracts to build drillships.

United States court documents obtained by The Straits Times cited plea statements and testimony given to Brazilian authorities - in their probe, Operation Car Wash - by Pedro Jose Barusco Filho, a former Petrobras executive, on the scope and duration of Brazil's biggest corruption scheme at the national oil company.

In exchange for leniency, Barusco and two other former Petrobras officials also agreed to disgorge US$100 million in bribes they received.

Keppel and SembMarine have strongly denied allegations that they paid bribes. When asked last week, Keppel said it was unable to comment further at this stage. In an earlier statement, it said it "denies these baseless allegations and will vigorously defend the action".

SembMarine said it was unable to comment as legal proceedings are ongoing, nor was it able to comment on allegations connected with Barusco. "The group has a strict anti-bribery policy and does not condone any action that will result in the violation of any country's anti-corruption laws. It also does not, and will not, tolerate any improper business conduct," its spokesman said.

According to the lawsuit by fund manager EIG Management, Sete Brasil, a drilling rig charterer, was installed with "Petrobras cronies" to "perpetuate a corruption scheme that had already been in place" at Petrobras.

Sete solicited funds from EIG and other investors and used those funds to "generate contracts that in turn facilitated the payment of bribes and kickbacks by the shipyards".

The contract bidding process "was rigged from the start", EIG alleged in the suit, which named as defendants Petrobras and seven others, including Keppel and its unit Keppel Offshore and Marine, Sembcorp Industries, SembMarine and its unit Jurong Shipyard.

It alleged that the defendants, through agents, agreed to pay bribes and kickbacks, in exchange for contracts, to a former treasurer of the Workers' Party, two Petrobras officials and to executives of Sete Brasil, including Barusco, who was one of its most senior executives.

When the scheme was exposed in 2014, it led to the bankruptcy of Sete Brasil in April this year, and rendered EIG's investment of more than US$221 million "worthless", the suit said.

Barusco, in plea statements, named Zwi Skornicki, an agent of Keppel in Brazil, and Guilherme Esteves de Jesus, an agent of Jurong Aracruz shipyard, which is owned by Jurong Shipyard, for their involvement in the bribery.

According to Barusco, Skornicki allegedly paid at least US$4.5 million in bribes on behalf of Keppel's BrasFels shipyard for six contracts with Sete Brasil, while de Jesus allegedly paid at least US$5 million in bribes on behalf of Jurong Aracruz for six contracts.

In addition, Barusco allegedly negotiated an additional bribe for himself from both shipyards in the amount of 0.1 per cent of the contract value, court papers said.

Skornicki had been arrested for paying over US$10 million in bribes between 2003 and 2013, and another US$4.5 million between 2013 and 2014, while de Jesus had been arrested and charged last year with corruption, embezzlement and money laundering by Brazilian prosecutors. He is alleged to have passed at least US$8.2 million in bribes to Petrobras executives, the suit said.

Brazilian prosecutors are investigating the alleged involvement of Keppel, Keppel Offshore, SembIndustries, SembMarine and Jurong Shipyard, the suit added.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Employment of Foreign Manpower Act - Employment of Foreign Manpower (Levy) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 258 of 2016)

SCA: Whether “third party security” has to be specified in a statutory demand

Judgments
20 May 2016

Ex-wife of alleged match-fixer lied to CPIB about laptops: Judge

Straits Times
14 Jun 2016
Amir Hussain

She told investigator she had left home without the devices, which she knew had incriminating evidence

After a two-day trial, the third wife of alleged match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan Seet Eng was yesterday found guilty of lying to an anti-graft investigator about two of his laptops, which she was trying to hide from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Guan Enmei, 41, had said during an interview at the bureau's office on June 6, 2013 that she had left her home with only a handbag and had not brought along a paper bag containing the laptops. But this was a lie.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo, in her brief grounds of decision, said Guan knew the laptops contained incriminating evidence and wanted to hide them from CPIB.

The judge also said Guan was not a credible witness and had lied while testifying in court.

"(Guan) projected herself as a meek housewife who was ignorant of her husband's activities and business. She claimed she did not know and she did not ask him anything.

"I did not believe her. She struck me as a savvy, knowledgeable and capable lady. Hence, I did not believe that she would docilely do whatever Dan Tan asked her to do without questioning what and why," said the judge.

During her trial last month, Guan had claimed ignorance of Tan's alleged involvement in international match-fixing in June 2013 until she was confronted with newspaper reports, whereupon she admitted she did know about the allegations against him.

The court heard that on June 6 that year, Tan was asked to report to CPIB's office in Lengkok Bahru. Before he left home, he told Guan to take two laptops from the study, place them in a bag and hand him the bag after he was released.

That afternoon, Guan was herself told to report to the bureau.

As her usual driver was unable to pick her up from her home, he arranged for another driver to do so.

When the driver arrived at her home, Guan placed a white Dior paper bag in the back seat before getting into the front passenger seat.

She phoned Tan's alleged accomplice, Eric Ding Si Yang, for advice about the two laptops in the bag while on the way to the bureau.

On arriving at CPIB's carpark, Guan met her usual driver and asked him to hold on to the bag for her until she came out of the building. He then waited with it at a nearby coffee shop, where it was later seized by graft investigators.

When questioned about the bag and laptops by a CPIB investigator, Guan insisted she did not know anything about them.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur asked for four to six months' jail, saying Guan's action was "akin to an attempt to obstruct the course of justice".

Defence lawyer Foo Cheow Ming said the false information Guan gave was relatively minor and had minimal impact, if any, on CPIB's investigations into Tan's alleged match-fixing activities.

He asked for a conditional discharge or a fine.

Guan is expected to be sentenced next Monday. She is out on $10,000 bail. The maximum penalty for giving false or misleading information to a CPIB investigator is a $10,000 fine and one year's jail.

Tan, described by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate", is being detained without trial under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act for the second time. Now 52, he was first arrested on Sept 16, 2013.

Guan was Tan's third wife. She divorced him in July last year.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 30) Notification 2016 (S 257 of 2016)

IPOS launches Mediation Promotion Scheme to fund IP mediation

Business
20 May 2016

S'pore can't take legal action against Indonesians over haze: Jakarta

Straits Times
14 Jun 2016
Arlina Arshad

Indonesia will not allow one of its citizens accused of causing forest fires last year to be "processed" under the laws of Singapore, said its Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

"If there is an offence, Singapore can take action, but (the offence) occurred in Indonesia, that is the concern," he said on Sunday.

Mr Kalla was referring to Singapore's action against companies responsible for causing the forest fires in Indonesia that led to last year's transboundary haze crisis.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar yesterday echoed his sentiments in her response to questions from reporters after a climate change event in Jakarta.

She said the Asean agreement on transboundary haze pollution is a multilateral one, and not a bilateral pact between Singapore and Indonesia.

Thus, "Singapore cannot step further into Indonesia's legal domain", added Ms Siti.

She said Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) remains a "controversial" law that is still being debated among Asean officials from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. That is why she feels that Singapore's action under the law against errant firms in her country is not a show of "mutual respect" to Indonesia.

"The basic principle of cooperation is that countries should respect each other's sovereignty," she said.

She added that Indonesia is not "keeping still" and has imposed sanctions on firms responsible for fires that led to the haze.

These latest comments come after Singapore's National Environment Agency said last month that it had obtained a court warrant against an Indonesian company director in line with the THPA.

This is after the director had failed to turn up for an interview despite being served a legal notice to explain his firm's measures to tackle fires on its concession land.

Ms Siti had said on May 14 that certain bilateral collaborations with Singapore will be terminated and others subjected to a review.

Singapore's Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, however, said last week that it has renewed its haze assistance package to Indonesia, which it has been offering since 2005.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has maintained that Singapore's action has the support of the international community. "We are not doing anything criminal nor wrong. We are just asking for the companies and the directors to own up and be accountable for what they've done."

Indonesia has yet to indicate its acceptance of Singapore's help, but Mr Kalla said his country will accept help if it is really needed and reminded its neighbours that tackling the forest fires is "not as easy as what our friends in Asean think".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Personal Data Protection Act 2012 - Personal Data Protection (Statutory Bodies) (Amendment) Notification 2016 (S 256 of 2016)

Latest developments: Healthcare

Business
20 May 2016

Make firms which abuse personal information delete data: Forum

Straits Times
14 Jun 2016

Data is the new gold.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be widely understood yet.

In a recent case, a firm called Company Register, which subsequently changed its name to Data Register, was admonished and fined $200,000 ("Official-sounding letter turns out to be subscription scam"; June 4).

However, the fact remains that Data Register is now sitting on a database enhanced through the actions of not just the 1,056 businesses, but possibly all the 22,000 recipients of those misleading letters who logged on to the company's website as instructed.

As someone who deals in database analytics, I can state with certainty that such enhancements can be very valuable and last over an extended period.

The courts should consider ordering such firms that flout the law to delete all the information collected.

This would make unscrupulous managements think twice before dismissing fines as an acceptable "marketing cost" in their goal of building a gold mine of business and personal profiles.

Paul Jansen

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 10 of 2016)

Proposed changes to employee benefits: A summary

Business
16 May 2016

ADV: Singapore Basic Compliance & Ethics Academy: Get Certified

Singapore Law Watch
14 Jun 2016
Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

Women’s Charter (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 7 of 2016)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court Press Summary: Cargill International v NYK Bulkship (Atlantic) [2016] UKSC 20 (whether third party is charterer's agent)

Commonwealth
16 May 2016

33 cry foul over land buys in India

Straits Times
12 Jun 2016
OLIVIA HO

Villas and 100% returns turn out to be empty promises; 27 contracts lack ownership papers

They sank their savings into undeveloped land in India, drawn by visions of gleaming villas, upcoming infrastructure and returns of more than 100 per cent. That was between 2007 and 2011.

Now, the 33 Singaporean investors - who spent more than $780,000 - own land of questionable value, which is hard to sell.

They are crying foul at Singapore-registered KMGM International which sold them the land.

They claim it has not been developed and has hardly risen in value. They want to sell it back.

About 20 of them staged a walk-in on May 5 to confront KMGM director S. Gulam at the firm's Bukit Merah premises, demanding assurances that they could sell back their land.

He was not there, but assured them by telephone that he would meet them on May 16 .

But on May 13 they received letters saying that the matter would be handled through his lawyers at Advaitha Law Corporation.

Advaitha director G.B. Vasudeven told The Sunday Times that his client was ready to obtain valuations for each of the investors' land parcels, but declined to disclose any further course of action.

He added that he has written to the 33 to say that if they try to enter KMGM's offices again, they will be reported to the police as trespassers.

Twenty investors have since gone on to make police reports against KMGM.

The group of 33 had bought 45 plots of land, each a few thousand sq ft in size, in Chennai .

They are mostly in their 50s and 60s, and they said they trusted KMGM because it is a Singaporean firm and its directors, lawyer R. Kalamohan and Mr Gulam, a former journalist, are well-regarded members of the Indian community.

Retired navy officer Anandam Thomas, 62, bought two plots of land for about $41,470 in 2008.

"My father was from India, and I wanted a little piece of India for myself," he said.

After payment, he and the other buyers were flown to Chennai to see the land and receive their sale deeds.

Last year and in April this year, he went back on his own to check and found the land was still undeveloped and occupied by squatters.

He said that after his attempts to sell the land back to KMGM failed, he decided to gather fellow investors in the same situation.

Mr Gulam, 54, told The Sunday Times by telephone that he was not out to cheat anyone and meant to help the investors sell the land.

However, he said it was impossible to sell it at a profit right now because the Indian rupee had fallen drastically in the last few years and the property market was in a slump.

He said: "When you invest overseas, you must take a risk.

"If you buy a house now and the price goes down, can you tell the developer you want your money back?"

Mr Kalamohan, 68, who left KMGM in 2014, said: "There was nothing more to sell and I was of no use to the company, so I thought it was time to leave."

He added that there was nothing wrong with the investors' documents, which he had examined, and all the purchases were valid.

Of the 45 contracts among the group, 24 had a clause guaranteeing they could sell the land back to the company after three years "at the best prevailing market price".

However 27 contracts lacked a "patta", an Indian land ownership document.

New Delhi-based lawyer Alok Tewari, a senior partner with Indian law firm Kochhar & Co, said: "Legally it may be possible to sell the property without a patta."

He added, however, that sometimes the authorities may demand to see a patta to register a sale deed.

Property experts said overseas landbanking is fraught with risk.

Mr Alan Cheong, Singapore research head for real estate firm Savills, advised investors to check whether the country's legal framework is solid and can be enforced even by an overseas national, as well as the reputation of the property agency marketing the product.

Retired civil servant Manokaran Ramasamy, 64, and his late wife spent $129,510 on four plots of land in 2008.

His wife died from cancer in March. He said all he wanted was some form of closure from KMGM.

"Even in the pain of her last days, she would go back to them to ask about selling the land. I don't understand why they didn't entertain her," he said.

"I don't think they can honour the agreement. They owe it to us to fill in the blanks."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act - Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Notification 2016 (S 255 of 2016)

Singapore's 2016 Budget: Tax implications for the wealth management industry

Business
16 May 2016

$2,225 a month claim for undergrad expenses 'inflated'

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Judge not convinced by woman's bid to hike ex-husband's payments for daughter

The monthly sum needed to maintain a law undergraduate has come under scrutiny in a divorced couple's court battle as a judge criticised claims for clothes, bags and pocket money as being too high.

At issue was how much the father should contribute to support his only daughter, a 20-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) student who now lives with her mother.

The couple split 10 years ago and he has been paying $950 a month for his daughter's expenses since 2010.

But his former wife applied to court last year to increase the sum to $1,450, in addition to him paying all of their daughter's annual university fees.

District Judge Lo Wai Ping was not convinced and, in judgment grounds released yesterday, ordered the man's maintenance sum for his daughter to remain at $950 and reduced his contribution towards her $17,563 annual tertiary fees to a maximum of 75 per cent.

The judge noted that the father, who has since remarried, "has been struggling" since last October to pay his former wife $2,300 a month for their daughter, comprising $950 for living expenses and $1,350 for tertiary fees. He also pays his former wife $500 in monthly maintenance.

The judgment means he now pays a total of $2,550 to his former wife and their daughter - $250 less than he used to.

"The issue in this case is whether, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the monthly sum of $950 is still reasonable... now that the (daughter) is 20 years old and a law student," said Judge Lo.

She explained that the sum had to be seen in the context of the entire increased maintenance ordered due to the daughter's change in circumstances from college student to undergraduate, which amounted to a monthly average of $2,050, including $1,100 per month in tertiary fees.

None of the parties involved in the case has been named.

The mother, defended by lawyer Mimi Oh, had tabled various items such as food, transport and other allowances, and claimed that her daughter's current living expenses had soared to $2,225 a month.

The father said the expenses were "inflated and unreasonable".

He said the $950, when added to the mother's contribution, was "more than sufficient" for their daughter to live comfortably as a university student.

His lawyer Lim Poh Choo supplied data on the monthly expenses that an undergraduate may incur at NUS, Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University. Ms Lim argued these figures showed an undergraduate would need about $750 in monthly living expenses.

The judge found that some of the monthly expenses claimed by the mother for her daughter "were indeed inflated and exaggerated".

Among other things, the mother explained that her daughter needed $200 a month for clothes, shoes and handbags as she was required to wear office attire when giving presentations in school and attending court.

"Even so, there is no necessity to buy a new set every month for such school presentations or court attendances," said the judge, ruling that $50 a month for these items would suffice for an undergraduate.

The judge also found that the $600 sought for personal allowances was "too high", given that all the daughter's expenses had been covered separately under other items. She halved the sum payable to $300 a month.

This $300 would also suffice to cover the miscellaneous expenses of $230 a month billed for items such as toiletries and presents, she ruled.

Judge Lo further noted that the research presented by the father included food prices at the NUS Bukit Timah campus, and accepted that prices at campus canteens would be cheaper, reducing the $600 a month sought for food to $350 a month.

The father is currently a sole breadwinner who sends $2,000 monthly to his China-based wife and six-year-old child, in addition to what he now pays for his daughter and former wife.

Judge Lo added that the working mother is also obliged to maintain her daughter and is able to do so, given her monthly income of about $3,000.

Underlining that both parents can provide reasonable maintenance only as best as they could, the judge said "the daughter is not precluded from taking on her own part-time work to earn some extra money to indulge in the luxuries she wants".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licences) (Amendment) Rules 2016 (S 254 of 2016)

MAS establishes FinTech Office, announces upcoming public consultation on regulatory sandbox, and organises Singapore FinTech Festival

Business
13 May 2016

Investors cry foul over builder's crowdfunding

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016
Lee Xin En

Some say construction firm has not paid them promised returns

A construction firm that claimed it was launching a crowdfunding effort has apparently not paid some of the investors the promised returns.

At least three investors have reported putting in between $50,000 and $100,000 each in the investment scheme, purportedly to help Soilwood finance projects.

Soilwood had claimed that banks were offering insufficient credit.

The firm is not related to the listed firm Soilbuild Group.

Soilwood, which records a Mr Daniel Leong as its director, claimed that it employed 90 staff and had completed projects, including Wisma Atria, Temasek Polytechnic and Paya Lebar MRT station.

One investor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chan, told The Straits Times he was approached by a friend who worked for Noble Consulting Group, the company that marketed the scheme to investors.

Mr Chan, an engineer, said he attended an investment presentation, given by Noble Consulting Group director Nancy Tan to a room of about 20 people at a hotel in March 2014.

Going by documents he showed The Straits Times, investors could put in a minimum sum of $25,000 for a term of 18 months to receive a return of 4 per cent quarterly. They would receive their principal sums after 18 months.

Investors would receive a 5 per cent return for a $50,000 investment and a 6 per cent return if at least $100,000 was invested.

An investor putting in $50,000 could receive $2,500 a quarter, totalling $10,000 a year.

"I was convinced because it was a friend who introduced me to the project. I saw that there were ongoing, real projects and the payout was attractive," said Mr Chan, who invested $100,000 in September 2014.

He added: "The company said it had cashflow problems, so I thought 18 months seemed like a reasonable amount of time for them to deal with the problem."

He received three payouts totalling $7,500 from December 2014, but did not receive his payout in September last year.

He reported the case to the police that month.

A police spokesman said it was inappropriate to comment as investigations are ongoing.

Noble Consulting Group's Ms Tan declined comment when contacted by The Straits Times.The company said in an e-mail reply two weeks ago that it has made a police report and has been advised not to speak to the media.

Crowdfunding has grown in popularity in recent years, mainly fuelled by traditional lending sources tightening their criteria for borrowers since the global financial crisis.

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), said it has received complaints from two investors who failed to receive their payouts in the Soilwood scheme.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said Soilwood and Noble Consulting Group are not licensed or regulated by the authorities.

On Wednesday, MAS set a new licensing regime for crowdfunding platforms, ruling that those which deal with debt and equity have to obtain a licence.

This means that firms and platforms which allow retail investors to contribute towards raising loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and receive interest payments in return, must apply for a capital markets services licence. As they deal with retail investors, they must set aside a capital base of $500,000.

Case said investment matters do not come under its purview.

Mr Seah said: "In general, investors ought to be very careful and check on the legitimacy of such investment schemes and the relevant laws involved to seek redress, rather than just focusing on the potential returns."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Infectious Diseases Act - Infectious Diseases (Human Remains from Tsunami-Affected Areas) (Exemption) (Revocation) Order 2016 (S 253 of 2016)

New Double Taxation Agreement in force between Luxembourg and Singapore

Business
13 May 2016

Taiwan woman held over suspected marriage fraud

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016
Seow Bei Yi

She married 72-year-old wealthy Singaporean in Taiwan 18 days before he died in hospital last year

His family did not think he would get married. But at the age of 72, when he was critically ill in Taiwan and just 18 days from his death, Mr Pua Ching Kiong mysteriously wed a Taiwanese woman on Feb 24 last year.

On Tuesday, the mystery took on a darker shade when his wife Huang Kuan-chen, 55, was detained in Taiwan and is under investigation for suspected fraud, reported Focus Taiwan News.

Her alleged accomplice Liu Wen-pin, 63, was also arrested.

Huang had married Mr Pua primarily to get at his NT$100 million (S$4.2 million) fortune, Taiwanese media reports said, quoting Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau.

His family members said he was coerced into the marriage.

Mr Pua was the owner of Pua Loong Trading Company, which sells Dragon Balm, a liniment for aches and pains.

He first met Huang at a religious event 30 years ago but they were only acquaintances back then. The two met again in 2014.

Mr Pua travelled to Taiwan in December that year, when an old friend invited him over to treat his diabetes, said his younger sister, who wished to be identified only as Madam Pua. She now manages the company.

Mr Pua was supposed to return to Singapore on Dec 25 but got hospitalised for 42 days instead.

The family met Huang for the first time in January last year. Mr Pua had a fall the following month and was not able to talk.

"It was very hard to communicate with him, because he was hard of hearing and blind in one eye. Through the phone it's worse, so we always communicated with Huang after my brother fell," she said.

Huang claimed more than NT$1 million from Mr Pua's family in Singapore, for his "medical bills".

On Feb 24 last year, Mr Pua sought emergency treatment at the hospital and was later taken to register his marriage with Huang, while he was in a wheelchair.

Mr Pua's nurse later admitted to the police that Huang guided Mr Pua's right hand as he signed the certificate.

She also said that Huang and Liu were a couple.

Madam Pua said her brother had not planned to marry.

The family rushed to Taiwan after he was hospitalised on March 2 last year. Days after his death on March 13, he was cremated.

But when the family members were given the medical receipts by senior staff from Mr Pua's company, they found discrepancies in the documents and suspected something was amiss.

They contacted the hospitals involved and their suspicions were confirmed. "We found the writing on the marriage certificate was very similar to Huang's, and suspected that it was not written by my brother. He usually didn't sign his name like that," said Madam Pua.

After Mr Pua died, Huang, as his widow, tried to lay claim to his assets. The family, in turn, filed a case against Huang in May last year and are waiting for the marriage to be annulled.

Madam Pua said Huang had projected "an angel's image".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Medical Registration Act - Medical Registration Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2016 (S 252 of 2016)

Jail term for company director of "shell" company for Employment of Foreign Manpower Act offence

Judgments
13 May 2016

Go on a tour of the Supreme Court

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016
Ankita Varma

To commemorate the 10th year of the opening of the building, free guided tours will be held for visitors

If you have yet to see the inside of Singapore's highest court, the Court of Appeal, you can get a chancethis month during one of the Supreme Court's commemorative tours.

In celebration of 10 years since the Supreme Court premises was officially opened by former president S R Nathan onJan 7, 2006, 10 free guided tours will be held from next Tuesday to June 24, where visitors will learn about the design, architecture and history of the iconic building at 1 Supreme Court Lane.

Prior to its move, the Supreme Court was housed in what is today the National Gallery Singapore. Construction of the new 77,609 sq m building began in 2002. The first case was heard there in June 2005.

Compared to the imposing Corinthian and Ionic columns that fronted the old Supreme Court building, the new premises took on a much more modern and sleek form - with the extensive use of glass, marble and hard steel to symbolise the firmness and impartiality of justice.

In between viewing the beautiful rosa aurora marble-clad facade and the large skylights that represent the transparency and openness of the law, visitors on the 11/2-hourtour will get an insight into the thoughtful design details that were incorporated by British architecture firm Foster & Partners, which is behind the design of the building. Besides touring the Heritage Gallery and Viewing Gallery, visitors will get a chance to visit the Court of Appeal, the highest appellate court, which is housed symbolically at the apex of the Supreme Court.

Here, recent prominent cases, such as Kho Jabing's appeal against his death sentence for murder and Yong Vui Kong's appeal against his caning sentence for drug trafficking, were heard.

Interesting design elements to look out for include the large skylight above the Court of Appeal - a modern interpretation of the dome located at the National Gallery.

Visitors may browse through the Learning Court - an interactive space that explains the different facets of the judiciary and judicial process - in their own time.

Besides the Supreme Court, visitors will also be taken on a tour of the National Gallery, which opened in November last year. There, they will visit areas of the former Supreme Court such as Courtroom 1, the Chief Justice's Office and Chamber, the stately Rotunda and the remaining preserved holding cells. Each tour is limited to 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Information about the tours can be found on the Supreme Court website at www.supremecourt.gov.sg

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Allied Health Professions Act - Allied Health Professions (Registration and Practising Certificates) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2016 (S 251 of 2016)

SHC declines section 216A application to take over conduct of on-going suit

Judgments
12 May 2016

Both administrator and executor are trustees

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016

Reader Albert Tan wrote to askST with questions about wills: "Firstly, what is the difference between an administrator and a trustee stated in a person's will?

"Does a trustee need to apply for a court's permit or approval to execute the content of the deceased's will?

"Finally, is there a time limit for a will to be executed when a person dies?"

Senior Law Correspondent K.C. Vijayan answers.

First, on the difference between an administrator and a trustee:

The administrator comes in when a deceased person has not left a will to deal with his assets.

A person has to apply to court to be the administrator of the estate of a deceased person who has not left a will.

Someone who has left a will would have named an executor in the document.

Both the administrator and the executor are trustees of the deceased's assets.

They will act to distribute the assets to beneficiaries and pay out expenses incurred in administration in accordance with the Probate & Administration Act and also the Trustees Act where applicable.

An executor's job is to ensure the estate left by a deceased person is properly accounted for, and distributed, in accordance with the explicit instructions of the deceased.

Where there is no will, the Intestate Succession Act provides for distribution of the deceased's assets.

A trustee's job is also to ensure that proceeds left to a particular person - who may be handicapped, mentally unwell or incapable of handling his affairs, et cetera - are properly managed and accounted for.

Second, on whether an executor needs the court's permission to deal with the content of the deceased's will:

An executor will have to apply to court to take out a probate to deal with the will. This is to ensure the will is affirmed as bona fide, and due authority is obtained to deal with the assets.

Finally, the time limit for the pro- per execution of a will. The courts expect a will to be executed within a "reasonable time" of a person's death.

For practical reasons, this would be within six months of the person's death. Beyond that, reasons will have to be furnished to the court for the delay.

The time factor is meant to avoid practical difficulties such as tracing the assets after death which, if left for too long, may dissipate.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Order Act - Public Order (Composition of Offences) Regulations 2016 (S 250 of 2016)

PDPC enforcement actions: Three lessons for your organisation

Business
12 May 2016

MNCs are tax residents, but not considered local entities: Forum

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016

There are separate laws governing charitable organisations and religious organisations, and businesses ("Greater clarity needed on what constitutes a foreign entity" by Mr Han Ming Guang; yesterday).

A branch of a foreign company that operates in Singapore is legally part of the foreign company and is not its own entity.

This is an important point since it means that the foreign company's head office bears the ultimate responsibility for any liabilities arising from the acts of commission or omission of the Singapore branch office.

The liabilities of a branch extend to its head office.

A branch having a registered office in Singapore means that its head office (foreign corporation) can be served with legal process in Singapore.

Also, the accounts of the head office must be lodged with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and made available for public inspection.

Therefore, even though these foreign corporations are tax residents and are subject to Singapore's tax laws, they are not considered local entities.

Lance Kuan Weng Chi

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Vocational Licences and Conduct of Drivers, Conductors, Trishaw Riders and Passengers) (Amendment No. 4) Rules 2016 (S 249 of 2016)

Ser Kim Koi v GTMS Construction Pte Ltd: A timely reminder for architects

Judgments
12 May 2016

Can a couple keep HDB flats bought before marriage?

Straits Times
11 Jun 2016

Reader C. N. Quek wrote in to askST about Housing Board flat ownership. "Presently, I have a four-room HDB flat under my name, which I got before I married my wife. My wife also has a four-room flat, which she got before she married me, under her name. Do we need to relinquish ownership of either flat or can we keep both flats under each party's name?" Housing reporter Yeo Sam Jo approached the HDB to find out.

A married couple cannot own two flats concurrently. As the HDB considers them to be one entity, the couple can jointly own only one flat as a family nucleus.

"If two parties each own an HDB flat prior to their marriage, they are required to relinquish ownership of one of the flats upon marriage," said the HDB.

This is in line with the public housing policy of allowing a family to own only one HDB flat at any one time.

The couple also cannot be listed as occupiers in an HDB flat other than the unit they own.

Residents in HDB flats who need information or clarification on lease and tenancy matters can approach any HDB branch.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Interpretation Act - Interpretation (Temporary Reduction of Electronic Road Pricing System Charges) Order 2016 (S 248 of 2016)

[AUS] High Court of Australia Judgment Summaries: Attwells & Anor v Jackson Lalic Lawyers Pty Limited [2016] HCA 16 (legal professional immunity from suit)

Commonwealth
12 May 2016

Serve court papers - via Facebook

Straits Times
10 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Court okays use of electronic means beyond e-mail if defendant cannot be reached in person

Court papers can be served through Facebook, Skype or Internet message boards on defendants who cannot be reached in person, the High Court has ruled.

The first reported case of such a ruling here goes a step further from previous clearance to serve suits via e-mail with the court's approval.

It happened last month in the case of a professional online gamer who was unable to serve court papers on an Australia-based company director being sued for copyright breaches.

"If the cornerstone of substituted service is efficacy at bringing notice, then a court must be open to substituted service through electronic means other than e-mails," said High Court Assistant Registrar Zhuang Wenxiong in his judgment grounds.

Substituted service refers to a method of delivering a court document to a person other than in person, such as by publication in a newspaper, posting to an address or via e-mail as approved by the court or authorised by statute.

There did not appear to be any local authority on service through Skype, Facebook and an Internet message board, the assistant registrar noted in explaining his grounds.

The court spat centred on a virtual planet, Planet Arcadia, within an enormous multiplayer game, the Entropia Universe.

Mr David Ian Storey, a professional online gamer and freelance software developer had sued Planet Arkadia, a Singapore firm that develops computer games, its managing director David Dobson and a third company director.

He is alleging copyright breaches of his works that were used both promotionally or in-game without his permission. He also claims there was a breach of contract.

Mr Storey obtained the court's permission to serve the court papers abroad, but was unable to serve them on Mr Dobson personally at his last known address in Australia.

His lawyers, Andy Leck and Cheah Yew Kuin, then applied to the court for substituted service through e-mail, Skype, Facebook and an Internet message board.

They provided evidence that Mr Dobson operated a Skype account, a Facebook profile and an Internet message board administrator account, in addition to two e-mail accounts.

The Skype and message board accounts showed he was very recently online and the court accepted this as the required evidence for allowing substituted service.

Mr Zhuang said the fear that using such means of service may not be effective in bringing notice to the person to be served "should not be overblown".

He added that the risk of not receiving notice in substituted service can be curtailed by the court imposing certain requirements.

He said the Rules of Court provided for substituted service to be effected through electronic means and other countries - such as Australia, Britain and South Africa - allowed substituted service through electronic means other than e-mail.

He added: "I construe electronic means to include WhatsApp and other smartphone messaging plaforms linked to mobile phone numbers. "

Lawyers said the judgment grounds showed how the courts have moved on the use of electronic means for substituted service.

"The judgment is a practical one that takes into account technological developments," said lawyer Choo Zeng Xi.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Parking Places Act - Parking Places (Provision of Parking Places and Parking Spaces) (Amendment) Rules 2016 (S 247 of 2016)

SCA considers scope of “own name” defence in trade mark infringement claim

Judgments
11 May 2016

S'pore rifle group sues parent body

Straits Times
10 Jun 2016
Jonathon Wong & K.C. Vijayan

New twist in legal feud between SRA and S'pore Shooting Association

A legal feud between the Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) and the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) has taken a new twist.

The SRA has filed a High Court suit against parent body SSA for alleged breaches of the constitution and for attempting to suspend its privileges.

With the SSA being a public institution, the SRA had to obtain the go-ahead to pursue the suit from Sport Singapore - the sector administrator assisting the Commissioner of Charities for charitable objectives to advance sports.

Last year, the SSA took the SRA to the High Court seeking to recover the SRA-managed armoury space at the National Shooting Centre (NSC) in Choa Chu Kang - where both parties are based - as it wanted to upgrade the premises. But the suit was dropped by the SSA last March as was an SRA counter-claim for alleged breach of agreement.

A month earlier, SportSG had closed the NSC following an arms audit by the Police Licensing & Regulatory Department at the armouries of the Singapore Gun Club and the SRA. Police seized a number of arms due to serious licensing irregularities and launched a probe into the matter.

SportSG, the national sports governing body, terminated the lease to the NSC issued to the SSA in February.

In the latest High Court suit, filed last month, the SRA, through its Drew & Napier lawyer Wendell Wong, alleges that the SSA e-mailed a proposed resolution to council members last December to suspend the SRA's privileges at the NSC for failing to comply with SSA directives and its move to evict the SRA.

The SRA claims among other things that the governing body acted outside its powers as the constitution does not provide for resolutions by circular and a physical meeting was not called.

It further alleges that the SSA breached natural justice rules and conspired to cause loss to the SRA.

The SSA, through its lawyers from Bih Li & Lee, in disputing the claims, argues that the constitution expressly or impliedly allows for circular resolutions to be passed without calling for a physical meeting.

It points out in court documents filed that the SSA never asserted that the circular resolution had been carried out to suspend the SRA's privileges. It affirms no suspensions were implemented at the NSC.

The SSA is the national authority for shooting. Apart from the SRA, its other members are the Singapore Gun Club, Safra Shooting Club, Safsa Shooting Club and the Home Team Sports and Recreation Association.

SSA president Michael Vaz Lorrain was unfazed by the suit. He said: "They're trying to rattle us before the next annual general meeting in September."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 29) Notification 2016 (S 246 of 2016)

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP): Anti-corruption principles

Business
11 May 2016

Watchful eye on crowdfunding

Straits Times
10 Jun 2016
Yasmine Yahya

As crowdfunding exploded onto the Singapore scene in the past year or so, increasing numbers of investors have piled in, attracted by the potential of earning high returns for relatively low sums of capital.

Lending-based crowdfunding players have become popular among retail investors, who can contribute as little as $1,000 to a loan for a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and get potential returns of close to 20 per cent over the next 12 months. These days, it is not unusual to hear of SMEs raising loans of more than $100,000 in under an hour, thanks to the power of the crowd.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore's move on Wednesday to bring such crowdfunding players into its licensing regime sends a strong signal that despite the relatively small capital outlays investors put in, this is an area that warrants the regulator's keen eye, especially as the financial technology scene is only going to grow bigger from here on.

Under the regime, crowdfunding firms that want to allow retail investors to participate on their platform must set aside a base capital of $500,000.

This applies to crowdfunding platforms that deal in offering securities, such as raising loans or selling shares, on behalf of other companies.

This sets a high barrier to entry, and as MAS noted, the licensing application process will help to ensure only "fit and proper persons" are allowed to provide financial services here.

The licence will also require the firm to comply with rules such as ensuring proper segregation of customer funds and record-keeping of transactions.

For investors, being able to check which operators are licensed serves as a quick and easy way of determining which ones have at least undergone the approval process and are playing by MAS' rules.

Another new rule, requiring operators to remind investors of the risks of participating in securities-based crowdfunding and getting investors to acknowledge these risks before putting in funds, will also ensure that cooler heads prevail, even as the crowdfunding scene picks up heat.

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Arms and Explosives Act - Arms and Explosives (Commemorative Artillery Shell Casing - Exemption from Section 13) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2016 (S 245 of 2016)

SCA: Look out before you cross! A commentary on Asnah Bte Ab Rahman v Li Jianlin [2016] SGCA 16

Judgments
11 May 2016

Greater clarity needed on what constitutes a foreign entity: Forum

Straits Times
10 Jun 2016

As a general rule of thumb, only Singaporeans should be involved in domestic politics and only Singaporeans should determine the path that Singapore will take ("'Foreign entities should not fund Speakers' Corner events'"; Wednesday).

While it is easy to classify an individual who is a non-Singaporean and a non-permanent resident as a foreign entity, and thus should not be allowed to interfere in Singapore's politics, how do we classify multinational corporations that are based here and incorporated here?

According to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's (Iras) definition, these corporations are tax residents and are subject to Singapore's tax laws.

This, in Iras' eyes, makes MNCs residents and not foreign entities. This would also suggest that it is not illegal for them to play a role in domestic issues that may include controversial social issues.

If MNCs that are incorporated and based in Singapore are considered foreign entities because of their links overseas, should non-governmental organisations, charities and religious bodies that are incorporated in Singapore, but are overseas chapters or maintain strong links overseas - such as Focus on the Family Singapore - be treated in a similar fashion?

Would their activities or sponsorships that interfere in Singapore politics and key domestic issues be curtailed and be made illegal?

The Ministry of Home Affairs needs to provide residents in Singapore greater clarification on what and who it considers to be a foreign entity.

It also needs to be even-handed in assessing not just corporations, but also NGOs, charities and even religious bodies, to determine whether or not they are foreign entities.

Han Ming Guang

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Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 5) Notification 2016 (S 244 of 2016)

SCA clarifies what damages a tenant can claim when a landlord prematurely ends tenancy

Judgments
10 May 2016

MAS adjusts securities crowdfunding rules to facilitate retail access

Business Times
09 Jun 2016
Kenneth Lim

It closes a loophole that has enabled issuers to dodge publishing prospectuses, but will loosen the rules to open up access to retail investors

[Singapore] THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will modify proposed rules on securities crowdfunding to better accommodate retail participation, in a shift from earlier proposals that mostly focused on accredited and institutional investors.

Following a public consultation exercise, MAS has moved to close a loophole that allowed some crowdfunding platforms to use an exemption for promissory notes in order to reach retail investors - without the platform being licensed or the issuer having to publish a prospectus.

But existing rules will also be tweaked to make it easier for licensed securities crowdfunding platforms to tap the retail market, the financial markets regulator said on Wednesday.

There are estimated to be about 10 debt crowdfunding platforms in Singapore now; MoolahSense and Capital Match are examples of such platforms that help businesses borrow money from retail investors.

Some of those platforms are able to operate without capital market services licences because they make use of an exemption for promissory notes that are worth at least S$100,000, issued to a single issuer and which mature within a year.

The workaround used by some platforms is to consolidate funds from multiple smaller lenders into a single entity to cross that S$100,000 hurdle, and thus be exempted from the cost and trouble of putting out a prospectus.

But MAS said that the workaround goes against the intention of the rule, which was to reduce the burden on good-credit borrowers trying to meet short-term financing needs from sophisticated investors.

MAS will therefore seek a legislative amendment by the end of the year to remove the exemption for promissory notes. Crowdfunding platforms looking to continue helping companies to raise business loans from retail investors will thereafter have to be licensed by the MAS.

But while the licensing requirement will be added, platforms that hold a licence will find it less onerous to access retail.

To this end, MAS will streamline the rules under the small-offer exemption. Under these rules, which exempt offers of less than S$5 million from having to issue prospectuses, companies and intermediaries that now seek the exemption have to pre-qualify investors based on knowledge, experience, suitability and financial means tests to invest in securities crowdfunding.

Under the streamlined rules, investors will only need to demonstrate knowledge, experience or suitability; the "financial means" requirement will be dropped in favour of a beefed-up risk disclosure and assessment framework.

The small-offer exemption will, however, continue to prohibit cold-calling or unsolicited marketing to retail.

MAS also plans to go ahead with its proposal to lower the base capital and minimum operational risk requirements for securities crowdfunding platforms from S$250,000 to S$50,000. MAS will also remove a requirement for a S$100,000 security deposit.

The regulator has also clarified its restrictions on advertising, to make it clear that crowdfunding platforms can market their services - as long as they do not advertise specific deals that have yet to be completed.

MAS assistant managing director for capital markets Lee Boon Ngiap said in a statement: "Securities-based crowdfunding is a useful addition to our financing landscape.

"At the same time, securities crowdfunding can be quite risky. The measures we are implementing seek to strike the right balance between improving access to securities crowdfunding for start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and protecting investor interests."

One industry player said the licensing requirement could force some smaller players to call it quits, but noted that the lowered capital requirements could mitigate the impact of the changes on the industry.

But most market professionals welcomed the moves.

MoolahSense chief executive Lawrence Yong said his firm is already in the process of applying for a licence.

"The benefit of regulation puts in place some minimum standards and levels the playing field for operators. That works well for an orderly growth for the sector," he said.

He added that his firm used the promissory note exemption because it was the least-costly option for issuers, since there was no restriction on the number of investors or how much could be raised, and the crowdfunding platform did not face costs related to being licensed.

Once MoolahSense obtains its licence, it will advise issuers to either use the small-offer exemption, or in cases where the number of investors is not expected to exceed 50, to use exemptions for private placements, Mr Yong said.

FundedHere, an equity and lending platform, said the new rules will better align regulations with the intent of crowdfunding.

"This better reflects the true spirit and promise of crowdfunding," FundedHere chief executive Michael Tee said. "It will invigorate Singapore's startups as well as SMEs, and lead to greater participation in crowdfunding as a viable option to raise capital."

Janet Young, head of group channels and digitalisation at United Overseas Bank, which has a tie-up with Israeli platform OurCrowd, said the new rules brought clarity.

"The clearer regulation for securities-based crowdfunding platforms fosters a more conducive environment for the industry to progress and gain credibility among the broader investor community, while ensuring proper investor safeguards are in place."

Wong Partnership lawyer Rachel Eng said the rules could make it easier for existing licence holders to expand into the retail securities crowdfunding space.

"The banks or private banks already have all those risk disclosures and so on in place; they just have to extend down into these frameworks to operate in the retail space."

She said that, given retail interest in the space, it was better for regulators to address the issue rather than try to keep it away.

"If you don't open those classes to people here, water will find its level," she said. "They will go look online. You might as well put in front of them good potential assets and make sure they're aware of the risks."

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Aljunied-Hougang (Penalties and Administrative Fee for Late Payment of Conservancy and Service Charges and Licence Fees) By-laws 2016 (S 243 of 2016)

SHC holds that directors can be held personally liable for a company’s undue preference transactions

Judgments
10 May 2016

Trek 2000 appoints RSM as forensic accountants

Business Times
09 Jun 2016
Lee Meixian

[Singapore] THUMB-DRIVE maker Trek 2000 International has appointed RSM Corporate Advisory as forensic accountants to help in an independent review of certain interested party transactions (IPTs).

TSMP Law Corporation, which is doing the independent review, has highlighted to the Audit Committee (AC) that a full IPT inquiry would require a forensic accounting firm to review and analyse past transactions, Trek 2000 said on Wednesday. It also said that TSMP has presented some preliminary findings to the AC.

The AC has decided to expand the scope of the forensic accounting firm's engagement to include any suspicious transactions.

RSM will review the nature and circumstances of any interested/related party transactions, including the transactions which are the subject matter of Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) investigations.

The forensic accountants will also review the internal approval process, ascertain the number of transactions, the quantum involved, whether such transactions were conducted on normal commercial terms, and give its opinion on the financial impact to the group, as well as identify any lapses or internal control weakness, breaches of directors' duties or listing rules.

Meanwhile, "the board is currently actively engaging the business associates and stakeholders of the group to ensure business continuity," Trek 2000 said.

In April this year, the auditors of Trek 2000 lodged a report with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) related to documentation deficiencies.

These deficiencies had to do with some sale transactions between one of its subsidiaries and a customer. The total value of those transactions was about US$3.2 million.

Later in May, Trek 2000 said that its chief financial officer Gurcharan Singh was assisting the CAD in its investigations into a possible offence under the Penal Code. Mr Singh was interviewed by the CAD and asked to produce certain documents relating to the period 2011 to 2016.

On June 1, it added that chairman and CEO Henn Tan, president of regional sales Foo Kok Wah, and executive director Poo Teng Pin were also interviewed by the CAD in relation to its investigations.

Pending the investigation outcome, the four have been released on bail, the board said, adding that it understood that no formal charges had been laid against them.

Trek 2000 shares, in which trading is still suspended, last closed at S$0.186 on April 21.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Aljunied-Hougang (Conservancy and Service Charges) By-laws 2016 (S 242 of 2016)

Counterparty insolvency

Business
10 May 2016

VW driver found 80% liable for collision with Porsche

Straits Times
09 Jun 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Judge criticises driver's late call for witness, ruling move was out of proportion to the $20,000 claim involved

A jobless motorist was found to be 80 per cent responsible for a collision that caused $20,000 worth of damage to a Porsche - then was criticised by a judge for making an "inexplicable" late call for a witness.

Mr Justin Chia had been driving his Volkswagen Golf GTI in North Bridge Road outside the Supreme Court building in April 2014 when he collided with a Porsche Panamera.

Its driver, Mr Mohamed Rafin Kadimhad - the chief corporate officer of the Park Hotel Group - sued Mr Chia for the cost of repairs, which both parties agreed to set at $20,000.

However, when it came to liability, each man blamed the other for the lunch-time bump.

Mr Rafin, represented by lawyer Joan Lim, argued that Mr Chia's vehicle cut into his lane from a bus lane on the left. He braked but could not prevent the collision, which damaged the front left portion of his car and the rear right corner of Mr Chia's.

Mr Chia countered that Mr Rafin's Porsche hit the rear of his car as it slowed down behind a cab.

The judge found, among other things, that the damage pattern on Mr Chia's car was more consistent with Mr Rafin's version of the accident. After a half-day trial in which he considered other evidence, such as the resting places of the two cars, District Judge Chiah Kok Khun found Mr Chia was 80 per cent to blame. But he held that Mr Rafin also contributed 20 per cent to the accident as he ought to have kept a better lookout to avoid the run-in.

After both parties had made their closing submissions in the case and the judge was ready to deliver his decision, Mr Chia applied to call the security manager of the Supreme Court as a witness in relation to footage that had been caught by the building's CCTV cameras but had since been overwritten.

In judgment papers released yesterday, the judge explained why he refused the application by Mr Chia's lawyer, Mr Narayana