04 July 2015
Text: A | A

Nike loses shoe trademark battle

Straits Times
03 Jul 2015

American sports apparel giant Nike, which owns the firm making the iconic "Converse All Star" basketball shoes, has failed to stop a Penang-based company from using the "Classic Jazz Star" brand for its high-cut basketball shoes.

The David and Goliath battle is the first to be settled in the region, with applications by the Jazz Star owner pending in countries such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Adjudicator Lee Li Choon of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore overruled all of Converse's objections and ruled that "Classic Jazz Star" could register as a trademark. In judgment grounds released on Wednesday, she said although there is some visual similarity between the two star devices in the competing marks, they are "aurally and conceptually different".

The "dissimilarity in the words of the two competing marks outweighs the visual similarity in the layout", Ms Lee added.

Southern Rubber Works had sought in 2007 to register its trademark. The move was opposed by Converse Inc, which had prior trademark registration and is now owned by All Star C.V., another Nike subsidiary.

Lawyer Ngoi Soon Hui, who represents Converse, argued that its product reputation goes beyond the United States and it is known for the star device in its mark.

Converse added that consumers have come to associate marks which have a star in a circle and words inside the circle element with goods by Converse.

But lawyers G. Radakrishnan and Gillian Tan countered that the fact that the Converse mark is a well-known mark "works against the likelihood of confusion".

Ms Lee also noted that there are several other valid marks in the trademark register which have a prominent star device.

She said that as consumers are used to seeing different forms of the star device in marks, their focus will not be on the star device but on the accompanying items, such as "Classic Jazz Star " or "Converse All Star" as in this case.

She added: "More importantly, in relation to footwear, it is to be said that they are not normally purchased on a whim or in a hurry.

"The moment the consumer picks up a pair of shoes bearing the application mark, it would immediately become apparent to him or her that the shoes are manufactured by the Jazz Star owner and not the owners of Converse."

There was no likelihood of confusion, said Ms Lee, who noted that the marketing, packaging and pricing of both brands are different.

The annual sale of goods sold in Singapore under the "Classic Jazz Star" brand is understood to be negligible.

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

Converse Inc v Southern Rubber Works Sdn Bhd [2015] SGIPOS 11

Energy Conservation Act - Energy Conservation (Exemption for Registrable Lamps) Order 2015 (S 399 of 2015)

MAS proposes to exempt Remote Clearing Members of Singapore-based central clearing counterparties from requirement to hold CMS licence

26 Jun 2015

Attack on cabby: NUS law prof reportedly sacked

Straits Times
03 Jul 2015
Abdul Hafiz

The National University of Singapore (NUS) law professor who was sentenced to four months in jail for attacking a cabby has reportedly been sacked.

Online media reports quoted an NUS spokesman as saying that 43-year-old Sundram Peter Soosay had been fired on Monday. His academic profile had also been removed from the website of the law faculty, although his picture and name were still listed on the administration page as of last night.

On June 26, the day that Soosay was sentenced, an NUS spokesman had told The Straits Times: "The university expects all members of its community to conduct themselves in accordance with the law. Dr Soosay has been convicted of a serious offence. The university has suspended him without pay since May 29 this year, and will now initiate disciplinary action."

Soosay, who was born in Malaysia and is a Singapore permanent resident, boarded Mr Sun Chun Hua's cab in the early hours of Christmas Day in 2013 while intoxicated, and vomited soon after.

He then alighted near King Albert Park, in Clementi Road, and walked away without paying the fare. After Mr Sun chased him and threatened to call the police, Soosay handed him a $50 note. Instead of waiting for his change, he struck Mr Sun from behind, straddling him and punching his face repeatedly.

Mr Sun, 70, needed multiple stitches on his face and left arm, where he suffered a deep wound that exposed the bone, and had to be hospitalised. His injuries left him unable to work for 17 days, and it took him more than a month to regain the use of his left arm and resume driving.

Soosay, who initially claimed that Mr Sun attacked him first, had told the court through his lawyer that he would be appealing against his conviction and sentence.

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

Energy Conservation Act - Energy Conservation (Energy Labelling and Minimum Performance Standards for Registrable Goods) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 398 of 2015)

Financial Advisers (Amendment) Bill 2015 and Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2015: Implementing FAIR recommendations and inspections by foreign regulatory authorities

25 Jun 2015

Aussie suing RWS denies any offer to set him free

Straits Times
03 Jul 2015
Selina Lum

RWS lawyer says casino staff were ready to let him go if he agreed to leave immediately

An Australian lawyer who is suing Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) for detaining and manhandling him has denied RWS' contention that he was given a choice to be freed from the room he was held in, on condition that he leave the casino immediately.

Mr Adesh Goel, 43, who is also a venture capitalist, said yesterday that no such offer was made. If it had been, he "absolutely would have taken it".

In April 2012, he was held in a room at the casino for about an hour after an altercation with another patron over a $50 gambling chip.

The Singapore permanent resident tried to leave several times but was blocked or restrained by RWS employees or auxiliary police officers deployed to guard the casino.

The lawyer is now seeking more than $400,000, claiming that a shoulder fracture he suffered as a result of being manhandled led to a drop in his earnings.

On the third day of the hearing yesterday, RWS' lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, said the casino's employees - who did not want him to create a ruckus in the casino - were prepared to let him out if he agreed to leave the premises completely. But Mr Goel insisted that no such offer was made to him.

Questioned by Mr Paul Seah, who represents Sats Security Services, Mr Goel admitted he drank eight double shots of whiskey during the gambling session. Sats, which provided the auxiliary police officers, has been named by RWS as a third party in the suit to bear the liability for any damages ordered.

Mr Seah contended that Mr Goel verbally abused the guards, calling them "stupid, useless and idiotic fools". Mr Goel said he could not recall the precise words, but they were to that effect. But he denied being verbally abusive.

Mr Seah contended that the only time the guards laid a hand on him was when he was making his way to the door and getting up from his chair even though he was told to sit down. But Mr Goel said it was reasonable for him to want to leave the room. It was "very harrowing and frightening" to be left alone in a room with the guards, he said.

"They should have positioned the guards outside. There was no reason to put the guards inside."

Mr Goel also responded to Mr Sreenivasan's accusations on Tuesday that he was targeting casinos for compensation.

The senior counsel had quizzed him about a 2001 claim against an Australian casino and a run-in with security officers at Marina Bay Sands in 2010.

Mr Goel, who visits casinos about 50 times in a year, said that in the past 14 years, he has not taken any other legal action to seek compensation from casinos.

The hearing continues.

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

Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Act 2014 - Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Act 2014 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 397 of 2015)

The point at which the right to access counsel arises

25 Jun 2015

Reit rule changes seen as 'balanced' and less severe than expected

Business Times
03 Jul 2015
Lee Meixian

MAS: Enhancing safeguards for investors and unitholders weighed against growing a vibrant Reit market

[Singapore] THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has released a list of rule changes governing real estate investment trusts (Reits), which - to Reit managers' relief - are less stringent than the proposals made last October.

But while most industry observers see the changes as a good balance between boosting corporate governance and giving Reits operational flexibility, a few had hoped for a firmer stand from the central bank on the controversial issue of performance fees and acquisition/divestment fees payable to managers.

MAS's position on the rules was shaped by feedback from stakeholders such as Reit managers, sponsors, industry associations, investor groups and individuals.

On operational flexibility, it has implemented a single-tier leverage limit of 45 per cent (up from 35 per cent for an unrated Reit); it has also raised the development limit for a Reit from 10 per cent to 25 per cent of its deposited property.

MAS believes the 45 per cent leverage limit is a balance between preventing Reits from over-gearing and reducing mechanistic reliance on credit ratings. The higher development limit, to come with with conditions to mitigate risks, will let Reits rejuvenate their maturing portfolio of assets.

To improve governance, MAS has imposed a statutory duty on Reit managers to prioritise the interests of unitholders over the manager's, in situations of a conflict of interest.

The regulator also moved ahead on improving the independence of the manager's board of directors - by requiring that at least half the board be independent directors (IDs) if unitholders are not allowed to appoint the directors; if they are, the proportion of IDs falls to a third.

But on the touchy topic of fees (performance fees as well as acquisition and divestment fees), MAS opted for the "transparency" route, that is, to require more disclosures, rather than the "prescriptive" route of dictating how these fees should be calculated.

This is to ensure that fee structures are investor-aligned and are not open to abuse by managers who may seek to grow the Reit's assets without working towards a corresponding growth in shareholder returns.

MAS said it has chosen not to prescribe a list of permissible methodologies for calculating performance fees "because Reits vary in business models and each methodology has its merits and shortcomings". This should be left to the market to decide.

On acquisition/divestment fees, MAS also decided to require Reit managers to disclose the justification and methodology used - less onerous than the earlier proposal of replacing such fees with one determined on a cost-recovery basis.

DBS equity analyst Derek Tan said that, in addition to more disclosures, MAS could have tightened performance-fee structures by offering some "best practices" guidelines.

Chua Tiow Chye, the Reit Association of Singapore (Reitas) president, on the other hand, said he believed the market would regulate itself and competition will make managers more aware of the need to align fee structures to unitholders' interests. "There is no one set of fees which can be prescribed, and which will serve all asset classes and across different geographies... We see more new Reits implementing fee structures more directly linked to DPU growth, hence there may be no need for prescriptive methodologies to set fees."

David Gerald, president and chief executive of Securities Investors Association (Singapore), urged all Reit managers to adopt the changes and to go beyond disclosures and justifications on fees to actively engaging unitholders and explaining how the fees are derived to avoid misunderstandings.

Overall, National University of Singapore associate professor Mak Yuen Teen found the enhancement of governance to "reasonably commensurate" with the operational flexibility allowed, but is skeptical that Reit managers will allow unitholders to elect the IDs. He also found the newly imposed statutory duty on managers to be merely theoretical, "nice on paper but difficult to enforce".

"I would be very surprised if managers gave unitholders the power to elect directors, which raises the question of how independent those directors are going to be, if it is essentially the Reit manager, and therefore the sponsor, who appoints and removes the IDs," said Prof Mak, who is in the middle of creating a corporate governance rating for Reits and business trusts.

Above all, the balance between rigor and leniency is seen as a way of helping Singapore's Reit sector to grow in a saturated domestic market while facing regional competition; Lee Boon Ngiap, MAS' assistant managing director of capital markets said the finalised positions take a balanced approach to enhancing safeguards for investors and unitholders and growing a vibrant Reit market.

The changes will be phased to give Reit managers time to implement them. Changes to the Collective Investment Schemes Code take effect in January 2016; those to the Securities and Futures Act start a year after that. New requirements on performance fees will be extended to no later than the first AGM of the financial year ending on or after Dec 31, 2015.

The changes are not expected to affect the anticipated listings of Manulife US Reit, KaiLong China Reit and a Reit from CIMB-TrustCapital Advisors.

MAS clarified that internally managed reits - where those in management are employees of the Reit - are allowed in Singapore. All Reits here are now externally managed.

On Reit consolidation, it added that it is prepared to consider applications from managers to run more than one Reit, if these managers have the expertise and can mitigate potential conflicts of interests.


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

Biological Agents and Toxins Act - Biological Agents and Toxins Act (Amendment of First, Second, Fifth and Eighth Schedules) Order 2015 (S 396 of 2015)

[SWE] Dual-institution provision in arbitration agreements and the principle of effective interpretation

25 Jun 2015

Ngerng insincere, exploited lawsuit, says PM's lawyer

Straits Times
03 Jul 2015
Walter Sim

Blogger Roy Ngerng was yesterday accused not only of being insincere in his repeated apologies to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for having defamed him, but also of exploiting the lawsuit to score political points and get more people to read his blog.

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, in making the point, said Mr Ngerng's motives were evident from his "purely tactical" moves in deliberately and repeatedly perpetuating the libel even after receiving a lawyer's letter of demand to take down the defamatory blog post.

Mr Singh, who is representing Mr Lee, also pointed out that Mr Ngerng, 34, had on repeated occasions tried to mislead Mr Lee, readers of his blog The Heart Truths, and even his own lawyers in his actions, adding: "Every time you get caught, you apologise out of convenience. But you carry on doing what you always intended to do."

His cross-examination of Mr Ngerng went on for six hours on the second day of a three-day High Court hearing. It was to assess the sum of damages the blogger has to pay Mr Lee for defaming him in a May 2014 post that suggested Mr Lee had misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

Mr Ngerng deleted the libellous post and apologised, but Mr Singh, in arguing for aggravated damages, cited how his actions since then displayed a deep and intense malice towards Mr Lee.

Yesterday's session came a day after Mr Ngerng cross-examined Mr Lee for six hours.

Throughout, Mr Ngerng - who last week discharged his third lawyer for the case so he could defend himself - rebutted Mr Singh's assertions that he was being evasive.

He also taunted Mr Singh, saying he "has not succeeded in teasing the evidence out of my mouth", and warned him against conflating what he said were two separate issues: the defamation suit, and his allegations of government wrongdoing in the management of CPF funds.

Over the course of the day, he challenged the Government to sue him on at least five occasions, if it takes offence at his articles.

Mr Singh began the cross-examination by asking Mr Ngerng for his opinion of Mr Lee. The blogger agreed that Mr Lee is "a man whose integrity is not in doubt", a view that he said he has held at all times.

Mr Ngerng also testified on the "generally low" readership of his blog, which was started in 2012, as people "didn't care" about the CPF issue. But readership spiked after he published Mr Lee's letter of demand in a post titled "I Have Just Been Sued By The Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong". It contained phrases from the defamatory post and links to other sites that had reproduced the article.

While Mr Ngerng said he was petrified and anxious when he got the letter, Mr Singh pointed out that his purported feelings were not in line with his publication of the letter and the tone of his blog post.

The article contained such statements as: "I have tried my best to advocate for my fellow citizens. However, today, I am sued by the very Government which should be protecting its citizens, such as me. This is disappointing."

This, Mr Singh said, showed how Mr Ngerng wanted to "further twist the knife". The article remains online - when the blogger has had the full awareness of its repercussions - speaking volumes of Mr Ngerng's real intentions, he added.

Mr Ngerng also produced a YouTube video, which got nearly 35,000 views, in which he said: "I do not regret what I have done." But he said this was in the context of him speaking on CPF and not defamation. Mr Singh pointed out that while the blogger promised Mr Lee he would delete the video, he instead made it private and shared it with four other people, who he was seeking advice from on its content.

But Mr Ngerng said: "Privatising it is as good as it being removed, because it has been removed from public viewing except myself." The video was eventually removed.

Mr Ngerng added that he had gone above and beyond what he should do in deleting the video and four other articles at Mr Lee's request. He maintained they were not defamatory, saying he complied as he "didn't want to aggravate the hurt and distress and embarrassment the PM would feel".

Yet, to draw the attention of local and international media to his case, he e-mailed more than 70 journalists a link to another site that had reproduced his defamatory article, a link to his public apology and the letter of demand on his blog.

Mr Ngerng said that by including the apology, he had negated the effect of the offensive post.

He also rejected Mr Singh's charge that he was "consumed with a desire to promote" himself. Mr Singh had cited the blogger's marketing background, making him adept at "effective messaging", but Mr Ngerng said he never wanted to be popular. "It is because the PM sued me that I was forced to become the face of CPF. If the Government takes good care of Singaporeans, I will be happy to stop writing, and I will be more than happy to be a waiter or a cleaner," he said.

The hearing resumes today, with Mr Singh continuing his cross-examination of Mr Ngerng.

Did blogger know of implications?

Blogger Roy Ngerng yesterday claimed he did not know the meaning of the word "misappropriated" and that it had criminal implications.

But Senior Counsel Davinder Singh pointed out that the blog posts of the 34-year-old showed he knew he was accusing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of criminal mishandling of Central Provident Fund savings.

The blog posts included the defamatory post of May 15 last year that suggested Mr Lee had misappropriated Singaporeans' CPF savings, as Mr Ngerng had likened Mr Lee to City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, who are being prosecuted for alleged misuse of $50 million in church funds.

The posts showed he was aware of the allegations made against those involved in the CHC case, said Mr Singh, who is representing Mr Lee. Hence, Mr Ngerng must have known the implications that any comparison made in his post would have on Mr Lee's character, Mr Singh argued.

Mr Ngerng had insisted that he used the word only after coming across it in a Channel NewsAsia (CNA) article, and that he did not realise it had criminal implications.

"I understand that (the CNA article) said (the City Harvest Church leaders) misappropriated funds but I didn't understand the definition of misappropriation in the legal sense," he told the court.

The exchange took place on the second day of a three-day hearing before Justice Lee Seiu Kin, to assess damages he must pay PM Lee for defaming him.

Justice Lee, in a summary judgement last November, had found the May 15 blog post defamatory.

In it, Mr Ngerng had replicated a chart in a CNA article, but replaced the image of CHC founder Kong Hee with that of PM Lee, and the images of the other accused CHC leaders with those of prominent people such as Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching. Beneath the chart, he wrote: "Meanwhile, something bears an uncanny resemblance to how the money is being misappropriated."

Yesterday, Mr Ngerng insisted he used the chart only because it was "a good way to explain" how the Government invested CPF monies.

He also said he did not understand the gravity of using the word "misappropriated" until he received Mr Singh's letter of demand to take down the defamatory post.

But Mr Singh charged that it would have been clear to Mr Ngerng that the word "misappropriated" - as it appeared in the CNA article and on which he based his blog post - was used in relation to allegations of dishonesty.

"You have agreed that when people are accused of something, there are charges. You have agreed that one of the charges that had been levelled at them was misappropriation. And so would you agree that, from this article, that misappropriation is a crime?"

Said Mr Ngerng: "If you put it this way, then yes.

On the sincerity - or otherwise - of Ngerng's apologies

This is an extract of the exchange in the High Court yesterday when Senior Counsel Davinder Singh (DS) was cross-examining blogger Roy Ngerng (RN).

Davinder Singh: I suggest to you, Mr Ngerng, that the word "apology" is completely meaningless to you. Do you agree or disagree?

Roy Ngerng: I do not agree...

DS: Every time you get caught, you apologise for convenience, but you carry on doing what you have always intended to do.

RN: No, that is not true.

DS: We have seen from your conduct, in less than 10 days from the date of the (letter of) demand - May 18 to May 27 - that when you were caught libelling, you apologised. But you continued to post the letter of demand with the offending words. When you were caught with the YouTube video, you apologised, but you privatised it and sent it out to editors. When you were caught with the e-mails, you apologised, and you said it was a momentary lapse of judgment, when today you accept that it wasn't.

RN: Huh? I said it was.

DS: In this court, you have used the word apology so many times that, really Mr Ngerng, it's quite clear that it's purely tactical and completely insincere.

RN: I disagree... As the PM admitted (on Tuesday), the four articles and YouTube video did not mention his name in a defamatory light, nor the allegation. The two e-mails (to the media) also referred to corruption or the Government's use of CPF funds. It was not about Mr Lee's use of CPF funds. In the first e-mail, there is a link... to the re-publication of the offending words and images and for that I have apologised...

The apology remains. As much as I acknowledge the four articles and video are not aggravating and do not repeat the libel, I took them down because I did not want to aggravate the issue.

The e-mails refer to the corruption in the Government. But we panicked because the Government, the PM sent another e-mail and we did not want him to think that we wanted to aggravate the issue. That's why I also sent that letter to apologise.

At no point was the apology less sincere. Because... I do not believe, I mean, there's no way I can prove it, except to say I do not believe Mr Lee has ever misappropriated CPF funds because I do not have evidence of that. I am not going to make any allegation of that... I am telling you here, now, there is still no intent with wanting to say it was Mr Lee who was using our CPF funds...

I would draw the line between the Government's use of CPF funds and what I say about how the Government uses it, with how you want to insinuate that I'm talking about the PM. Because they are two very separate things. Just as how the defamatory suit and the CPF are two very separate things. So please let us keep the line clear because if you keep crossing (it), sometimes I miss it; I admit to something, then I make myself look guilty when I'm actually admitting to something that I should not be admitting.

Rachel Au-Yong

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Financial and Margin Requirements for Holders of Capital Markets Services Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 395 of 2015)

SCA affirms the principle of temporary finality in construction arbitrations

24 Jun 2015

Call for guidelines on insurance commission rebates

Business Times
03 Jul 2015
Claire Huang

Association of Financial Advisers says this would ensure rebates are implemented in an ethical manner

[Singapore] EVEN as the Financial Advisory Industry Review (FAIR) seeks to better align the interests of financial advisers with that of consumers, the Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) or AFA(S) has urged regulators to lay down guidelines on the way in which commission rebates for life insurance policies are implemented.

Speaking at the 14th annual conference on Thursday, Vincent Ee, the association's president, stressed the importance of having such guidelines so that these rebates are implemented in an ethical and proper manner.

While commission rebates ultimately lower policy premiums to the benefit of consumers, he noted that such incentives if implemented improperly, could turn into inducement and lead to overbuying of insurance policies.

It is not good enough to say that it is not prohibited and that the financial advisory firms just have to do it without creating an inducement for consumers, said Mr Ee.

"Perhaps life insurance companies can create a model where commission rebate is done all at company level so that it is reflected truly in the pricing and in the premiums," he added.

In response, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it "will work with the industry and other relevant stakeholders to provide greater guidance on the use of commission rebates, where necessary".

Under the FAIR panel's recommendations to improve the remuneration structure of the financial advisory (FA) firms, three key changes are to be implemented, said MAS executive director Merlyn Ee who was present at the event.

The first is the introduction of a balanced score card (BSC) remuneration framework where a significant portion of an FA representative's remuneration is based on whether he has taken steps to understand the customer's needs, recommend suitable products and make adequate disclosures. This is aimed at raising the quality of advice dispensed and to mitigate risks of product pushing and aggressive selling.

The second is to cap first-year commissions and spread of commissions.

The third is to ban product-related incentives which create bias towards the sale of products that pay out higher remunerations.

While each of the FA firms has its own business strategies, the key to having a sustainable business boils down to trust, said Ms Ee, who added that financial advisers "should strive to move up the value chain to a role that provides greater value to consumers".

"They should focus on building a corporate culture of fair dealing, raising the competency of their representatives, and investing in technology to improve efficiency. Putting customers first will be key to helping licensed FAs secure the trust of their customers that is so critical to taking their business forward."

This, as the industry faces rising headwinds. There have been greater technological innovation, higher financial literacy among the Internet-savvy generation, and a growing retail investor appetite for simple and low-cost investment products that the government has moved to provide access to such products as the Singapore Savings Bonds and exchange traded funds.

Having said that, Ms Ee pointed out that there will be new business opportunities and growth areas for the industry, assured by Singapore's ageing population and growing affluence.

For now, the industry is still growing, albeit slower. Citing data by the Life Insurance Association Singapore, Mr Ee said business from the FA channel rose 2 per cent from the previous year to 18 per cent in 2014. And from May 2014 to this May, in terms of unit trust investments, the assets under management for the FA channel have also grown by about 15 per cent.


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

Financial Advisers Act - Financial Advisers (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (S 394 of 2015)

MAS publishes framework for domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs) in Singapore

24 Jun 2015

JES probe into dodgy payments delayed

Straits Times
03 Jul 2015
Marissa Lee

A female employee has delayed an investigation into dubious payments to the former boss of Chinese shipbuilder JES International by "absconding" with the company's books.

JES International has begun legal proceedings in China against the woman, administrative officer Ju Li Li, to recover the documents.

After Mr Jin Xin, the group's former chief executive and chairman, resigned in March, Ms Ju "absconded" with the group's administration records and seals of all its Chinese subsidiaries, JES told the Singapore Exchange last night.

JES, now helmed by Mr Jin's daughter, Ms Audrey Jin Yu, said it had intended to investigate its financials after uncovering possible irregularities during a periodic review. These included "questionable transactions" between the group and companies in which Mr Jin's interests were not declared, JES said.

But "the financial records of the group, including account books, chequebooks and financial seals, had been removed... by relatives of Mr Jin", JES said in its filing.

Mr Jin, who resigned from his post as executive director due to "health issues" on May 25, is not the only one to have quit.

On May 15, JES appealed to the Singapore bourse to extend its deadline for announcing first-quarter earnings, citing "a severe shortage of manpower" after half of its finance department resigned.

JES assured shareholders yesterday that if the books are recovered and Mr Jin is found at fault, "necessary action" would be taken. Trading of JES shares has been suspended since March 4. The shares last traded at 2.6 Singapore cents.

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

Banking Act - Banking (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 393 of 2015)

IRAS updates on FATCA filing deadline for Reporting Year 2014

23 Jun 2015

ADV: Kaplan - Obtain your Law qualification in 8 months

Singapore Law Watch
03 Jul 2015

Central Provident Fund Act - Central Provident Fund (Prescribed Amount for Special Account) Notification 2015 (S 392 of 2015)

SHC: Clarity in effecting service outside of jurisdiction

23 Jun 2015

No remorse from Ngerng, says PM in court

02 Jul 2015
Ng Jing Yng

Blogger argues that his posts were ‘not offensive’, but Mr Lee tells him not to ‘play games’

SINGAPORE — The hearing on the assessment of damages that blogger Roy Ngerng has to pay to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — after he was found guilty of defaming the Prime Minister — began today (July 1), in front of a packed courtroom with queues forming outside the courtroom hours before the session started.

However, there were few fireworks during the six-hour hearing, with the judge repeatedly interjecting Mr Ngerng’s cross-examination of Mr Lee as a witness and bringing him back on track, despite giving the blogger — who was representing himself in court — more leeway in his questioning.

On several occasions, Mr Ngerng tried to argue that his blog posts have no malicious intent, despite the fact that he was already found guilty of defamation. This prompted Mr Lee to remark that “we are not here to play games”, while his lawyer Davinder Singh objected to Ngerng’s comments and questions as being irrelevant.

Both sides also crossed swords on whether there was malice in Mr Ngerng’s conduct, whether he was sincere in his apologies and whether his subsequent actions aggravated the injury to Mr Lee’s reputation.

While Mr Ngerng started his cross-examination by apologising to Mr Lee at least three times, and pointing out that he had posted an apology on his blog for 405 days as of yesterday, his other actions suggested there was no remorse, Mr Lee pointed out. For instance, he posted a YouTube video repeating defamatory allegations against Mr Lee after he was served a letter of demand to remove the offending blog posting, and later set the access to the clip to private instead of removing it.

That was not the end of it, added Mr Lee, who noted that Ngerng also went on to email the media on how to access offending posts on another website, among other things.

“The issue is your motive and your purpose, having committed to take down the video, having committed not to repeat the libel, you have gone instead to make maximum effort to distribute as widely as you can to all editors in Singapore and overseas, and tell them where they can find it after you have taken it down,” said Mr Lee, who had offered not to claim aggravated damages if Ngerng removed the clip.

Mr Ngerng argued that he meant no malice, adding that since Mr Lee had not met him before yesterday’s hearing, he had no basis to come to that conclusion. “If need be, you can put me on a lie detector and I can prove to you that there is no malice on my part,” he told Justice Lee Seiu Kin.

He also questioned why Mr Lee had decided on suing instead of trying other means of recourse. To which, Mr Lee said he consulted his lawyers and saw the need to defend himself in this instance, after having observed Mr Ngerng’s blog for some time, which had previous postings on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system.

“You have been skirting closer and closer to defaming me for a long period, I have been watching this. I have not responded ... eventually it was unambiguous (and) I decided that I have no choice but to act,” added Mr Lee.

When Mr Ngerng sought to show that parts of his article contained factual statements, even pressing Mr Lee on issues pertaining to the workings of the CPF, Mr Singh objected, calling it a “thinly-disguised attempt to try to introduce issues not relevant to this hearing”.

Both Mr Lee and his lawyer also pointed out that Mr Ngerng was straying into challenging the issue of defamation that had already been settled by the court. Mr Lee added: “We are not here to play games, the meaning of these offending words have already been settled ... there is no point going through again other than to aggravate damages”.

On Mr Ngerng’s question of why his initial offer of S$5,000 in damages was rejected even though it was an amount higher than his monthly salary then as a healthcare worker at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Mr Lee responded that it was “not a sincere offer” because Mr Ngerng had aggravated the matter through his conduct.

“He was not serious or worried of how much he was earning ... He wanted to make as big a dent in my reputation as he could,” added Mr Lee.

The hearing continues tomorrow (July 2), with Mr Singh expected to cross-examine Mr Ngerng.


Compelling case for very high damages: Davinder

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyer made the case for substantial damages to be awarded yesterday, asking the court to express “in the strongest terms” its indignation at blogger Roy Ngerng’s conduct in defaming his client.

The case stands out for the “depth and intensity” of Mr Ngerng’s malice towards Mr Lee and his resolve to damage Mr Lee’s reputation, said Mr Davinder Singh in his opening statement tendered to court yesterday at the start of a three-day hearing on how much the blogger has to pay in damages. “The case for a very high award of damages, including aggravated damages, is compelling.”

A High Court ruled in November last year that Ngerng had defamed Mr Lee in a May 2014 blog posting alleging misappropriation of money paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund. Yesterday, citing a previous defamation case where the Singapore Democratic Party was ordered to pay Mr Lee Kuan Yew S$280,000 in general and aggravated damages — he was then Minister Mentor in the Prime Minister’s Office and also the Chairman of GIC —

Mr Singh said: “In this instance, the Plaintiff was defamed in his capacity as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore and the Chairman of GIC, and this should therefore warrant a higher award of damages.

“The maintenance of the standing of the Plaintiff as the Prime Minister of Singapore and as Chairman of GIC is critical, and the public perception of his integrity will affect his effectiveness to govern and oversee GIC.”

Mr Singh also said: “From the very first, the Defendant set out to wound.

He knowingly and maliciously published a false and vicious libel towards the Plaintiff to inflict maximum injury.

He then cynically capitalised on, and continues to exploit, that libel and the ensuing lawsuit to promote himself as a champion of free speech.”

For instance, the 34-year-old blogger would have pulled the offending article from his blog if he was contrite, he said. Instead, he posted the letter of demand sent to him on his blog to draw more attention to the article, and wrote an accompanying article to “style himself as a martyr”.

In his aff idavit to the court, Mr Lee said Mr Ngerng made a “very serious and grave allegation”, which has “caused me distress and embarrassment”.

He added that Ngerng has “opportunistically used the libel in a calculated and cynical manner” to promote himself and cause further distress and injury to him.

But Ngerng is seeking the court to either award no damages, or award minimal or nominal general damages and/or not award any aggravated damages. In his court statement, Mr

Ngerng, who paid S$29,000 in total costs to Mr Lee for the legal proceedings up to the summary judgment issued against him, said his case can be analysed in two other ways beyond the legal or technical factors affecting the assessment of damages he has to pay.

The first relates to “the consequences of damages to free speech and democracy”, he said. The second is at the “socio-legal level”, where “we consider whether Singapore should move towards a more graceful society when its citizens share the same concerns with the Government in the welfare of Singaporeans and betterment of Singapore”. Amanda Lee

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Central Provident Fund Act - Central Provident Fund (New Minimum Sum Scheme) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (S 391 of 2015)

Transfer of intellectual property — some quick tips

23 Jun 2015

Wearable tech boom sparks privacy fears

02 Jul 2015
Tan Weizhen

Industry observers, experts call for greater protection of consumers’ interests

SINGAPORE — The booming popularity of fitness trackers, smart watches and other devices that employ wearable technology is raising concerns over whether there are adequate safeguards against the commercial exploitation of personal data derived from such products.

While there are provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act on the use of such data, industry observers and experts are calling for the greater protection of consumers’ interest, including via legislation, and more public education and awareness on the issue.

Singapore is not alone in facing such concerns. In the United States, for example, there is a raging debate amid fears that insurers — which have already contacted manufacturers of wearables to see if they can get access to customers’ data — could eventually use the information to preselect customers, deny coverage or raise premiums for others.

Some employers in the US are reportedly monitoring data generated by fitness trackers, and rewarding insured staff or punishing them for unhealthy behaviour.

Wearables on the market are able to track everything from breathing and heart rate to stress and blood-glucose levels. Insurers here confirmed that they are monitoring developments with keen interest.

Mr Zia Zaman, chief innovation officer (Asia) at insurance company MetLife, pointed out that consumers, especially people with pre-existing health conditions or who had been involved in accidents, could benefit if the data is made available to insurers.

“This is good if we can identify people whom we thought would be risky, but are healthier than we thought because (their health) can be tracked through data from wearables,” he said. “At first glance, insurers wouldn’t want to take the risk, but now they are insurable.”

Mr Tan Shong Ye, IT and Data Risk leader at PwC Singapore, noted that insurers might be interested in such data because it could be better used to “price insurance risk and design more competitive products”.

And it does not stop at insurers, he noted. “Pharmaceutical firms may be interested in identifying new customers who have health problems. Fitness-product companies may be interested in personal-health data so they can identify potential customers of their products. Market research organisations can gain insights into the behaviour of individuals and improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns. The list goes on,” he said.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, a PDPC spokesman said there are provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) that addresses some of the concerns.

“Under (the Act), if manufacturers of wearables such as fitness trackers intend to collect the personal data of users, they will have to notify these users of the purposes and obtain consent for the collection, use and disclosure of personal data in Singapore,” the spokesman said.

“Exceptions will apply, for example, in emergency situations where the life or safety of an individual is threatened. If manufacturers intend to disclose users’ personal data to other third parties like insurers for any purposes, they must obtain the users’ consent to do so.”

Mr Tan noted that personal data generated by wearables that would come under the PDPA, would include video, voice and health data, apart from names and addresses that identify individuals.

In May, concerns were raised by a government official at a Personal Data Protection Commission Seminar. Speaking during a panel discussion, Associate Professor Low Cheng Ooi, who is chief medical informatics officer at the Ministry of Health and MOH Holdings, suggested that the authorities could strengthen the laws in this area. “The information that comes through wearables and monitoring devices ... they are going to be housed somewhere on servers and we may need to look into legislative processes to see how it can be protected without it stifling the industry.”

Assoc Prof Low, who is also a Data Protection Advisory Committee member, added that a balance needs to be struck between data security and the flow of data to potentially improve patient care.

Given that consumers tend to skim over a product’s terms and conditions that may include the requirement that they give permission for their data to be used, Mr Zaman stressed the need for greater awareness and transparency. “True transparency means educating customers about the data we are collecting about them, not hoping that they don’t read the fine print,” he said.

The wearables industry here is growing fast, with support from enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore. Companies dabbling in such devices said they are open to sharing personal data derived from wearables with other organisations — but only if it is for the greater good and there are safeguards to protect consumers’ interests.

Mr James Teh, chief executive officer of Singapore start-up T.Ware, which produces jackets that help to calm autistic children through simulated hugs, said: “With this data, clinicians and caregivers can anticipate what is going to happen ... If insurers are going to use such data eventually, a model has to be worked out where it does not disadvantage anyone.”


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Central Provident Fund Act - Central Provident Fund (Home Protection Insurance Scheme) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 390 of 2015)

State Lands Act and Land Acquisition Act amended: Facilitating use and development of underground space

23 Jun 2015

Ex-ST Marine senior exec fined, two others charged

Business Times
02 Jul 2015
Claire Huang

[Singapore] THE first of seven former Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine) senior executives implicated in the corruption scandal that hit bluechip engineering giant Singapore Technologies Engineering's (ST Engineering) subsidiary last December has been fined S$210,000.

Patrick Lee Swee Ching, ST Marine's former group financial controller, on Wednesday afternoon pleaded guilty to seven counts of abetting bogus entries for entertainment expenses. 31 other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. The amount of expenses involved in all 38 charges was more than S$126,000.

The prosecution had pressed for a fine of S$140,000 to S$150,000 rather than a custodial sentence as Lee did not face any corruption charges unlike some of the other accused involved in the scandal. Instead, he was charged under the penal code for abetment, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a fine.

The court heard that Lee had shown remorse by pleading guilty at the earliest possible opportunity and had been cooperative during investigations. The court was told Lee is available to give evidence against his co-conspirators, if called to testify.

In sentencing, district judge Jasvender Kaur noted that Lee had expressed concern about the bribery practice. Still, she said it was Lee's responsibility to ensure that illegal payments were not discharged and should have known better than to act on his superior's instructions.

Earlier in the day, two other former senior executives were charged in court, bringing the number of key ST Marine personnel implicated to seven.

Tan Mong Seng, 63, a former president of commercial business, faces one count of conspiring with three former colleagues to bribe an agent of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Pyo Sei Jin, with some S$43,700 between 2004 and 2010, in return for ship repair contracts.

The alleged three are: ex-ST Marine president See Leong Teck, former chief operating officer Han Yew Kwang, and former senior vice-president Mok Kim Whang. Han, 58, was also charged in court on Wednesday morning with conspiring to corruptly give bribes of more than S$790,700 to agents of ST Marine's customers between 2004 and 2009 on eight occasions.

Tan's bail was raised to S$220,000, while Han had his S$150,000 bail extended. Their pre-trial conference has been fixed for July 9. If convicted, they could each face a maximum fine of S$100,000 and jail term of up to five years on each count.


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

Housing and Development(Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 13 of 2015)

Case Comment on Xia Zhengyan v Geng Changqing [2015] SGCA 22

19 Jun 2015

MAS proposes central clearing for OTC derivatives

Business Times
02 Jul 2015
Kenneth Lim

Plan will initially cover only Singapore dollar and US dollar interest rate swaps

[Singapore] SINGAPORE plans to require central clearing for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, according to a public consultation by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

The proposal will initially affect only Singapore dollar and US dollar interest rate swaps, although swaps denominated in the euro, pound sterling and Japanese yen are also under consideration.

About half of all derivative trades booked in Singapore involve interest rate contracts, most of which are swaps. About half of the interest rate swaps in Singapore are in turn Singapore dollar and US dollar contracts.

"The clearing of interest rate swaps, which constitutes more than 90 per cent of interest rate derivative contracts booked in Singapore, would significantly reduce systemic risks in the Singapore financial system," MAS stated.

MAS is also seeking feedback on whether including more contracts, such as basis swaps, forward rate agreements or overnight index swaps, will allow market participants to achieve greater margin efficiencies.

The proposal will initially require central clearing only for transactions that are booked in the Singapore-based operations of both counterparties.

"This approach addresses trades whose risks reside in Singapore, but with due consideration that not many jurisdictions other than the US, Japan and European Union have put in place mandatory clearing regimes at this stage," MAS stated.

The contracts may be cleared through domestic or foreign central counterparties, as long as they are regulated by MAS, which plans to recognise more central clearing houses.

The clearing requirements will initially only apply to banks that have booked at least S$20 billion of contracts in Singapore for each of the last four calendar quarters.

"These would address the largest counterparty credit risks in our OTC derivative markets . . . The threshold is calibrated to subject the most active major global banks, regional or domestic banks trading OTC derivatives, to clearing obligations," MAS stated.

Public bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements, central banks and governments will be exempt. Intra-group transactions will also not be subject to central clearing.

The move towards central clearing of OTC products follows from a regulatory change in 2012 that gave MAS the power to mandate reporting of OTC derivatives to trade repositories and to require the central clearing of OTC derivatives. The mandatory trade reporting regime was implemented in October 2013.

The consultation runs through July 31.


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

Remote Gambling Act 2014 - Remote Gambling (Exemption) (No. 3) Order 2015 (S 389 of 2015)

Practical guidance on using an intellectual property holding company

19 Jun 2015

Aussie lawyer suing RWS accused of targeting casinos

Straits Times
01 Jul 2015
Selina Lum

S'pore PR had sought damages from another casino in Australia in 2001

An Australian lawyer and venture capitalist, who is suing the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) casino for more than $400,000 for detaining and manhandling him, was yesterday accused by the defendant's lawyer of targeting casinos for compensation.

Mr Adesh Goel, 43, who was held inside a room at the casino for about an hour in April 2012 following an altercation with another patron, is seeking damages against RWS for false imprisonment, assault and battery.

But while he was being cross-examined by RWS' lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, it emerged that Mr Goel once sought compensation from the Star City casino in Australia for being irresponsible in serving him alcohol.

In the 2001 claim, Mr Goel alleged that Star City gave him three drinks every hour for five hours and allowed him to continue gambling while drinking.

The Australian casino compensated him in a settlement but Mr Goel yesterday refused to disclose the amount, citing confidentiality.

Objecting to this line of questions, Mr Goel's lawyer, Mr Abraham Vergis, argued that Mr Sreenivasan was trying to bring up prejudicial evidence.

Mr Sreenivasan replied: "To me, Mr Goel takes casinos as soft targets for compensation arising from his own conduct."

He questioned Mr Goel further, asking if he had been involved in any incident with security at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) casino.

Without going into detail, Mr Goel said that in 2010, he was pushed and detained by security officers in the MBS driveway after he forgot to swipe his identity card when leaving the casino.

In the latest incident, Mr Goel, a permanent resident here, had been gambling at RWS for 12 hours when a dispute broke out between him and a couple over a $50 chip.

After casino employees separated them, Mr Goel was led to a side room to cool down. Several times, he tried to leave but was blocked or restrained by employees and auxiliary police officers deployed to guard the casino.

He eventually called the police and left after they arrived. He was later found to have fractured his shoulder, which he said resulted from him being manhandled.

Footage of the events, captured on the casino's surveillance cameras, was shown in court yesterday.

Mr Vergis, in his opening statement, said it was unfair that the couple, who were the aggressors, were allowed to roam free while his client was held against his will for an hour. "Ironically, the cooling-off room turned out to be a pressure cooker that brought Mr Goel to a boiling point," he said.

Besides unspecified damages for his injuries and distress, Mr Goel is seeking about $400,000 for loss of income and $16,000 for medical costs. Sats Security Services, which provided the auxiliary police officers, has been named by RWS as a third party in the suit to bear the liability for any damages ordered.

Mr Sreenivasan suggested that Mr Goel was trying to "get some sort of payday" out of the incident.

He pointed to an Australian newspaper report which said he was seeking more than $1 million. Mr Goel also wanted $350,000 from RWS when it wanted to drop an allegation that he was drunk at the time.

Mr Goel denied providing the figure to the newspaper and said he deserved to be compensated because RWS had besmirched his reputation by alleging he was drunk.

He asked if Mr Sreenivasan would swop places with him after watching the footage.

The counsel replied: "If I'm given $1 million, I would probably swop my position with you."

The trial continues.


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

Monetary Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Act 2015 - Monetary Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Act 2015 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 388 of 2015)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court holds doctor should have advised patient of risks of natural delivery of baby

19 Jun 2015

Hearing to assess damages payable by Roy Ngerng to PM Lee for defamation begins today

Straits Times
01 Jul 2015
Walter Sim

SINGAPORE - The three-day hearing to assess the amount of damages blogger Roy Ngerng has to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation begins today (July 1) in the High Court.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin had ruled last November that Mr Ngerng, 34, defamed PM Lee by suggesting the Prime Minister misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

PM Lee is claiming aggravated damages, asserting malicious intent in Mr Ngerng's publication of the article on May 15 last year on his blog The Heart Truths.

In the post, Mr Ngerng juxtaposed a Channel NewsAsia chart detailing the relationship among City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, against his own chart of the purported ties between the CPF and PM Lee and sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Six current and former CHC leaders are facing prosecution for the alleged misuse of $50 million in church funds.

Justice Lee noted the case "has come to be associated with the criminal misappropriation of funds in the mind of any ordinary, reasonable person". He also noted that, in Mr Ngerng's post, "the allegation that 'money is being misappropriated' is unconditional and unequivocal".

It contains as well an implicit comparison between the lack of information given to auditors in the CHC case, and the lack of transparency with regard to CPF monies, added Justice Lee. This, he said, carries the implication that Mr Lee is reluctant to be transparent about the finances of the Government and GIC "because he wants to conceal the evidence of the criminal misappropriation".

In issuing a summary judgment - which means giving a ruling without the case going to trial because the court agrees with the applicant that the defence arguments are baseless - Justice Lee had said he could not accept Mr Ngerng's only defence that the lawsuit was unconstitutional.

He also ruled that Mr Ngerng cannot republish the allegation of criminal misappropriation, but his freedom of speech would not be curtailed.

The blogger has continued to blog about the CPF issue.

Last month, he made an attempt in the High Court to engage Queen's Counsel (QC) Heather Rogers to argue his case at the hearing on damages.

But it was dismissed by Justice Steven Chong, who said that although QC Rogers is eminent in the field of defamation law in the United Kingdom, she does not have special qualifications or experience to argue Mr Ngerng's case here as it is "local-centric".

Also, the case at the damages stage was not complex enough to require even a local Senior Counsel - let alone a QC - and that Mr Ngerng had thus far been "content" with being represented by local lawyers who are not Senior Counsel, he noted.

This was so, even during the hearing to determine liability, which is "more complex" in nature, said Justice Chong.

He ordered Mr Ngerng to pay $6,000 to PM Lee for legal fees he incurred in the blogger's unsuccessful bid.

This is on top of the $29,000 in legal fees and related expenses the blogger paid PM Lee on February 6.


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

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Lift Upgrading Works) (No. 2) Order 2015 (S 387 of 2015)

Legislative amendments to strengthen the MAS' anti-money laundering efforts and counter the financing of terrorism

18 Jun 2015

MAS to cut distinction between int'l, domestic banking ops

Business Times
01 Jul 2015
Jamie Lee

Tharman says the domestic banking unit-Asian currency unit divide has been losing its relevance over the years

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plans to remove a longstanding division between two accounting units for assets and liabilities held by banks here: one for those held mainly in Singapore dollars, and the other for foreign currencies. This would effectively remove a key distinction between domestic and international banking operations.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, announced this on Tuesday at the 42nd annual dinner of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

There are currently two accounting units held by banks here.

One is known as the domestic banking unit (DBU), through which banks account for their domestically focused activities. Consequently, most of the loans and deposits are denominated in Singapore dollars.

The second is known as the Asian currency unit (ACU), through which a bank accounts for its offshore operations. These are entirely denominated in foreign currencies.

Mr Tharman said the segregation for more than 40 years was meant as a way to safeguard domestic financial stability. But this was done without unduly impinging on the regional activities of banks in Singapore.

With this framework, MAS had imposed additional prudential requirements on the banks' domestic businesses in Singapore. This was also meant to provide "developmental incentives" such as tax breaks to encourage the growth of offshore banking activities out of Singapore.

But there have been major global regulatory developments in the last five years that resulted in banks' offshore activities being subject to rules that are broadly similar to those governing the domestic banking business in Singapore, said Mr Tharman.

This comes as the MAS has imposed new regulatory requirements, in the wake of the financial crisis. For example, foreign banks with a significant retail presence in Singapore must locally incorporate its retail operations. HSBC and Maybank will have to do so. That subsidiary will need to meet the same suite of regulations as the local banks, with the aim being to reduce risks to local depositors.

"The DBU-ACU divide served us well for decades, but has been losing its relevance," said Mr Tharman.

"The enhanced global and domestic regulatory standards mean that the DBU-ACU divide is no longer useful. If we continue with the divide, it would merely impose undue administrative burden on banks, without materially enhancing prudential soundness or systemic stability."

Mr Tharman also noted that Singapore's "developmental incentives" have no longer been based on the domestic versus offshore distinction, and the divide between domestic and offshore banking has, in practice, been increasingly porous.

Singapore will remain committed to promoting the international business of banks here, he said.

The details will be released in a consultation paper in August.

MAS will also extend a SkillsFuture programme aimed at helping polytechnic graduates secure employment, to the financial sector. Mr Tharman noted that major banks in Singapore have committed to provide at least 200 places for polytechnic graduates in the coming year through this programme. MAS will, at the same time, provide scholarships and study awards, meant to help Singaporeans in the financial sector to develop and deepen skills.

The regulator will also set up a Financial Centre Advisory Panel, comprising senior leaders from the banking, insurance, and asset management industries.

Mr Tharman noted that new technologies will have a "significant bearing" on the scale and nature of jobs in the financial sector.

"Many jobs in finance will be at risk around the world. But if we prepare well for the changes reshaping global finance, there is significant opportunity in this for Singapore and for Singaporeans working in finance."


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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 31) Notification 2015 (S 386 of 2015)

Practical aspects of the revised and new Anti-Money Laundering Notices for Banks and Credit Card/Charge Card Licensees issued by MAS

18 Jun 2015

Airbus sued by 10 families of AirAsia Indonesia crash victims

Business Times
01 Jul 2015
Nisha Ramchandani

[Singapore] PLANEMAKER Airbus is being sued by 10 families of passengers who were on board the fatal AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ 8501 when it crashed into the Java Sea last December.

The single-aisle A320 aircraft was Singapore-bound from Surabaya when it ran into bad weather. The crash killed 162 passengers and crew.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that in addition to the inclement weather, the aircraft had suffered a malfunction of the fly-by-wire system, said Chicago-based law firm Wisner Group, which is representing the 10 families.

Lawyer Floyd Wisner said in a statement: "Airbus and its supplier-manufacturers are aware of problems that cause the fly-by-wire protection to malfunction, yet they appear to have done nothing about it, despite many incidents."

The lawsuit argues that the aircraft in question was "defectively and unreasonably dangerous".

Mr Wisner also took budget airline AirAsia to task for offering families "only half" the compensation being paid to families of other recent air disasters.

"AirAsia is not handling the claims of its passengers pursuant to international standards, but is treating its passengers differently to those on MH370, MH17 and Germanwings," he stressed.

"Despite the promises of AirAsia's owner Tony Fernandes that the victims' families would be treated fairly, AirAsia is proving that it is a low-fare, low-compensation airline."

AirAsia Indonesia is a unit of Malaysia-based AirAsia.

When contacted by The Business Times, AirAsia declined to comment, stating that it has not been named a defendant in the lawsuit, although in the press statement, Mr Wisner indicated that there are plans to make AirAsia a party to the US litigation.

Singapore-based Airbus spokesman Sean Lee said: "An official investigation to determine the cause of the accident is ongoing and Airbus is offering its full support to the Indonesian authorities."

The lawsuit, filed in the state of Illinois in the US, also names Honeywell International, Motorola Inc and other suppliers - together with Airbus - as defendants.


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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 30) Notification 2015 (S 385 of 2015)

SHC considers scope of own name defence in Trade Marks Act

18 Jun 2015

Battle over child custody spawns key point of law

Straits Times
30 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

Orders under guardianship Act subject to review in a divorce: Judge

A MARRIAGE between a German man and a Ukrainian woman that spawned a child and separation within 19 months also gave birth to a new important point of law.

The woman had won care and control of their child under the Guardianship of Infants Act (GIA) before the couple divorced in 2012, but the court has now ruled that such orders are subject to review in a divorce, when the court settles matters such as asset division and child custody.

This means a court order in the mother's favour under the Act may swing in the father's if the High Court deems it should, on the merits of a case.

"In order to not deny the parties and the child of the broader discretion conferred to it pursuant to the (Women's) Charter, the Ancillaries Court would have to consider the issues of custody, care and control and access afresh," said Justice Belinda Ang in judgment grounds released last week.

The 48-year-old German businessman had met and married the 38-year-old woman in Singapore in 2007 after a short cyberspace courtship, which led her to come here from Germany.

Some eight months after their daughter was born the following year, the couple began to live apart.

"All in all, the parties' virtual meeting, (her) marriage to (him), relocation to Singapore and pregnancy happened almost impulsively in smooth succession. Sadly but not surprisingly, the marriage was very short-lived," noted the judge.

The couple separated in 2009 and the woman filed for divorce three years later. An interim divorce judgment was given, pending settlement of ancillary matters by the court, such as the question of whom the child was to live with.

The husband's lawyer, Mr Ranjit Singh, asked the court to order shared care and control, urging it to relook the arrangements made under the GIA.

Shared care and control meant the child would have both parents in her life, he said.

Objecting, the woman's lawyer, Ms Bernice Loo, argued for the GIA order to stand except that access terms be changed to take into account the primary school schedule of the child, who is now seven years old.

Justice Ang said a shared arrangement may not be practical as the child was transitioning from kindergarten to primary school, among other things.

She ruled that care and control remain with the mother, with liberal access for the father to be worked out. The couple would have joint custody.

The judge also raised the woman's share from their joint asset - their matrimonial home - to $100,000, less the $40,000 she had already received.

The judge also ordered that he pay her $3,075 in monthly maintenance.

Background Story


In order to not deny the parties and the child of the broader discretion conferred to it pursuant to the (Women's) Charter, the Ancillaries Court would have to consider the issues of custody, care and control and access afresh.

- Justice Belinda Ang

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

ATZ v AUA [2015] SGHC 161

Singapore Tourism (Cess Collection) Act - Singapore Tourism (Tourist Hotels, Tourist Food Establishments and Tourist Public Houses) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 384 of 2015)

SCA: Rights under a licence agreement are contractual and not proprietary in nature

17 Jun 2015

Apex court overturns acquittal

Straits Times
30 Jun 2015
Selina Lum

Nigerian lied many times to anti-narcotics officers about 2kg of Ice in suitcase

THE Court of Appeal yesterday overturned the acquittal of a 29-year-old Nigerian man for trafficking in nearly 2kg of methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice.

The three-judge court found that Ilechukwu Uchechuku Chukwudi had lied numerous times in his statements to anti-narcotics officers to distance himself from the drugs found in the suitcase he had brought into Singapore.

The court rejected Ilechukwu's explanations for his deliberate lies, saying they were "no more than convenient excuses".

The case was sent back to the lower court for the trial judge to make a finding on whether his role was limited to that of a courier. This would affect whether he is sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

Ilechukwu, who arrived in Singapore on Nov 13, 2011, claimed he had come here to buy laptops to sell back home. He said he had brought a laptop bag to the airport in Lagos but was handed a black suitcase by an acquaintance who asked him to pass it to a Singaporean contact.

In Singapore, he paid for one night's stay at a Chinatown budget hotel. Shortly after getting a call telling him to meet a woman, he took a taxi to Clarke Quay and passed the suitcase to Singaporean Hamidah Awang, 49.

After they parted ways, Hamidah was arrested at the Woodlands checkpoint as she was driving out of Singapore with the suitcase. Ilechukwu was arrested in his hotel room the next day.

The pair were tried together in the High Court for drug trafficking. Last November, Hamidah was convicted, while Ilechukwu was acquitted. She has yet to be sentenced as well.

Despite the obvious lies in Ilechukwu's statements, the trial judge accepted he had come to Singapore on business and did not know that the suitcase contained drugs.

The prosecution appealed, arguing that the trial judge was wrong to have disregarded his lies and to have accepted that he was a genuine businessman.

Among other things, Ilechukwu had lied after his arrest that he brought only his laptop bag to Singapore, that he did not go to Clarke Quay, that he did not give anything to anybody and that he had never seen Hamidah.

But airport surveillance footage showed him collecting the suitcase. Hamidah also testified he had passed it to her.

In court, Ilechukwu said he had lied because he did not know the full facts of what had happened, so he decided that the safest thing to do was to deny anything that was not in his possession.

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

Public Prosecutor v Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi [2015] SGCA 33

Monetary Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 14 of 2015)

Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2015: Increased minimum debt threshold

17 Jun 2015

$225m boost for financial technology

Straits Times
30 Jun 2015
Grace Leong

Financial firms can tap fund for innovation labs, infrastructure

A $225 MILLION initiative to help financial firms set up innovation labs and to fund infrastructure to deliver financial technology (fintech) services was announced yesterday.

The Financial Sector Technology & Innovation (FSTI) scheme is one of several programmes aimed at establishing Singapore as a smart financial centre, which in turn is part of the Government's "smart nation" initiative, said Mr Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday.

Mr Menon told the Global Technology Law conference that the MAS will develop a regulatory approach that strengthens the industry's cyber security as well as devising initiatives to support the adoption of new technologies. These include developing efficient digital payments systems and regulatory reporting and smart surveillance systems.

Metlife and Swiss bank UBS have applied to tap FSTI funds to set up innovation labs, although other institutions have already established innovation centres on their own.

Other FSTI-supported projects will include a decentralised record-keeping system that prevents duplicate invoicing in trade finance, a cyber-risk test-bed and a natural catastrophe data analytics exchange.

Mr Menon also noted that digital and mobile payments, authentication and biometrics, cloud computing and learning machines could transform the finance industry.

High Court Justice Lee Seiu Kin said at the event that the law needs to evolve alongside technological developments to prevent rogue practices and disrupt technology-enabled crime in the financial sector.

"The convergence of technology and finance has reinvented the landscape of the financial sector," he said. "Electronic commerce has been indubitably improved by the proliferation of convenient payment solutions such as PayPal and credit cards. The rise of virtual currencies such as bitcoin has provided a refreshing take on traditional exchanges of value.

"These technological creations have brought with them complex regulatory challenges since they could easily be turned into vehicles for criminal conduct. For instance, the use of bitcoin with anonymisation services could provide the necessary anonymity for criminal syndicates to operate undetected."

Mr Menon agreed that several areas need improvement.

"As more financial services are delivered over the Internet, the frequency, scale and complexity of cyber attacks on financial institutions have increased globally. Hackers and cyber criminals are constantly probing IT systems for weaknesses to exploit," he said.

A new wave of next-generation cyber security solutions is emerging, including trusted computing, security analytics, threat intelligence and active breach detection.

Mr Menon noted that as more stores and restaurants introduce self-checkout facilities to improve productivity, there is a need to promote greater adoption of new payment technologies, including electronic direct debit authorisation and fund transfers using mobile numbers or social networks.

There is also a need to develop a unified point-of-sale mobile terminal system.

Preparing for changes on jobs and skills is critical as technology will "make obsolete many jobs in the financial sectors, but also create new ones", added Mr Menon.

The MAS will work with the industry, the Institute of Banking and Finance, training providers and universities and polytechnics, and also provide funding to financial institutions and support training opportunities.

Background Story


• A regulatory approach that strengthens the industry's cyber security
• Initiatives that support the adoption of new technologies. These include developing efficient digital payments systems and regulatory reporting and smart surveillance systems.

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

Companies Act - Companies Act (Amendment of Eighth Schedule) Notification 2015 (S 383 of 2015)

IPOS Case Summary: The Polo/Lauren Company, L.P. v United States Polo Association [2015] SGIPOS 10 (whether registration made in bad faith and marks are similar)

17 Jun 2015

Heroin trafficker fails in attempt to escape death penalty

Straits Times
30 Jun 2015
Selina Lum

A HEROIN trafficker who has been on death row for more than four years yesterday failed in his bid to escape the gallows, after the High Court found that he did not meet the criteria to be re-sentenced to life imprisonment.

Since Jan 1, 2013, 11 drug offenders have had their death sentences commuted thus.

Kester Ng Wei Ren, 54, is the first to have his application for re-sentencing dismissed, when he failed to convince the court he was a mere courier.

Ng was convicted in 2010 of trafficking in 23.38g of heroin and given the then mandatory death penalty. His appeal was dismissed later that year.

In 2011, hangings were put on hold while the Government reviewed the death penalty regime. On Jan 1, 2013, new laws came into effect giving judges the discretion to sentence drug offenders to life imprisonment instead of a mandatory death penalty.

The lighter sentence, however, applies only to those who are couriers transporting or delivering drugs. They must also be certifed by the prosecution to have substantively assisted the authorities or found to be suffering from a mental abnormality.

Yesterday, Ng's lawyer Manoj Nandwani sought to show that he was a courier and the drugs were for his own consumption only.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun argued that someone who meant to sell drugs cannot be considered to be a mere courier.

Ng was arrested by anti-narcotics officers on Aug 12, 2008, and found to have packets of heroin and methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, on him. A search of a Geylang apartment, one of his three residential addresses, uncovered more drugs - Ice, Nimetazepam tablets and heroin - two weighing scales and more than $6,000 in cash.

Ng faced seven charges but the prosecution proceeded on only one charge of trafficking in 23.38g of heroin. Anyone convicted of trafficking in more than 15g of the drug faces the death penalty.

He claimed he had intended to traffick only in 9.92g and the rest was for his own consumption.


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

Companies Act - Companies Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Notification 2015 (S 382 of 2015)

MAS consults on Regulatory Framework for Intermediaries Dealing in OTC Derivative Contracts

16 Jun 2015

Singapore M&A deal value seen dipping in 2015

Business Times
30 Jun 2015
Ong Hui Qun

[Singapore] SINGAPORE's total value of completed merger and acquisition (M&A) deals may fall this year on the back of sluggish world trade volumes and China's economic slowdown, according to Baker & McKenzie.

The Global Transactions Forecast report, conducted by the global law firm and Oxford Economics, predicts that the Republic's total value of completed M&A deals will dip from US$25.2 billion in 2014 to around US$21 billion in 2015 before peaking at US$25.5 billion in 2018.

Increased government spending on infrastructure and improved world trade activity should, however, boost Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. Domestic equity prices and transactional activity are expected to rise in tandem.

M&A deal activity will then slow between 2019 and 2020 following a pullback in equity prices.

The share of inbound cross-border transactions is seen to remain stable at 38 per cent of Singapore's total completed M&A deal value should hold steady in 2018, compared with 37 per cent in 2014.

Similarly, Singapore's domestic initial public offering (IPO) issuance is projected to fall from US$2.1 billion in 2014 to US$745.5 million this year, before peaking at US$3.2 billion in 2018.

"Looking ahead, we expect deal-making activity involving Singapore to gather more momentum in the next few years as we continue to see interest in the healthcare sector, food and beverage, and financial services in Southeast Asia," said Andrew Martin, head of corporate and securities practice group at Baker & McKenzie.

Highlighting Singapore's potential role in the Asean Economic Community, Mr Martin expressed hope that the cooperation will draw greater regional interest, with Singapore "perfectly placed as its deal-making hub".

This is in line with the broader outlook for Asia Pacific, which, according to the report, will re-emerge as one of the world's most dynamic growth stories for M&A starting next year. A resurgence in cross-border transactions, including outbound activity from China into neighbouring Asian countries, will drive M&A transactions from an expected US$605 billion this year to US$755 billion in 2018.

The region's IPO activity is also expected to remain subdued this year, before picking up to reach US$87.4 billion in 2018.

Globally, the fundamental drivers of global transactions are pointing to a continued strong upturn in M&A and IPOs over the next three years, says Baker & McKenzie.

These regional and global upward shifts are not expected to last, however, as analysts foresee that developed markets will raise interest rates with recovery on the horizon. As the world adjusts to the end of easy credit, interest in deal-making will soften by 2019, said the report.

Conveying optimism about the near future nevertheless, Baker & McKenzie's global head of M&A Tim Gee said: "The structural drivers, cyclical trends such as equity prices and economic conditions such as GDP growth are ripe for deals until 2017."

"Perhaps more importantly, positive business sentiment is back - CEOs have the confidence to pursue their strategies and the equity markets are rewarding those who deliver," he added.

Consumer goods and services, technology and pharmaceuticals, healthcare, telecommunications, and financials are forecast to be the most active sectors over the next five years.


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

Companies Act - Companies (Maximum Amount Payable in Priority in Winding Up) Order 2015 (S 381 of 2015)

SHC: The financial services industry reference check system – to say or not to say…

16 Jun 2015

Improper for lawyers to use threats: Voices

29 Jun 2015

We refer to the letter, “Address ‘threats’ in lawyers’ letters” (June 26). Paragraph 27 of the Law Society’s Practice Directions states that it is improper for a solicitor to communicate a threat of criminal proceedings to achieve a stated objective.

However, it is not improper for a solicitor to communicate with a party requiring him to comply with a particular order, enjoinment or statutory provision, and state that failure to do so would result in that party being liable to an offence or a penalty — and for a solicitor to identify the offence or penalty under reference.

Section 85(1) of the Legal Profession Act allows any person to make a complaint to the Law Society if a lawyer has acted improperly.

Shawn Toh

Director, Communications

The Law Society of Singapore

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Companies Act - Companies (Filing of Documents) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (S 380 of 2015)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court issues key ruling for liquidators bringing claims against fraudulent company directors

16 Jun 2015

Taxman claws back millions in fraudulent PIC claims

Straits Times
29 Jun 2015
Chia Yan Min

Iras moves to curb abuse of scheme meant to boost productivity

THE taxman has taken action over 245 fraudulent claims under a wide-ranging scheme that helps companies increase productivity through new technology and innovation.

These wrongful claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme date back to when it was introduced in 2010.

The cash payouts and bonuses clawed back from - or not paid to - these claimants totalled about $10 million as of May 31, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said. The amount includes penalties and fines.

Three of the cases are the subject of court cases this month.

One earlier case of abuse involved a company which falsely made a claim for the cash payout for the purchase of computer equipment worth more than $193,000. However, it spent only $1,500 on used computer equipment.

Iras, which administers the scheme, told The Straits Times that it has investigated 471 PIC claims to date.

The PIC scheme offers tax deductions or cash payouts to companies that invest in areas such as staff training, information technology or automation equipment to boost their productivity.

In all, companies have benefited from $2.9 billion in tax savings and cash payouts over the 2011 to 2014 years of assessment, an Iras spokesman said.

The number of companies using the PIC has been steadily growing.

In the 2014 year of assessment, 61,300 firms - or 44 per cent of active companies here - benefited from the scheme.

This is up from 52,500 - or 40 per cent - of active companies in the 2013 year of assessment, and 45,500 - or 37 per cent - of active companies the year before that.

The taxable income for each year of assessment refers to income earned in the company's preceding financial year.

The Iras spokesman said PIC applications "with suspicious characteristics that strongly indicate illegitimate claims" will be rejected upfront unless businesses can prove that they have fulfilled the conditions to qualify.

New laws were introduced last November to curb abuse of the scheme.

Businesses are now required to prove their IT and automation equipment is "in use" before they can claim PIC cash payouts.

Previously, companies just had to show that they had spent the money.

Businesses should also be able to "articulate the equipment's intended use" to Iras, said Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo during the Parliamentary debate on the law change.

The law also allows the Comptroller of Income Tax to deny PIC benefits to companies engaged in objectionable arrangements which seek to abuse the scheme.

In a report earlier this month, Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng noted that, after Parliament passed the new laws in November, new business formation plummeted.

There had been a surge in businesses set up from March to October last year, a trend some market watchers and policymakers interpreted as a sign of renewed business confidence.

But Mr Kit said this optimism may have been misplaced.

"We had viewed this surge as reflecting new businesses set up to take advantage of generous incentives such as the PIC, not all of which could be involved in wholly productive activities, given incidences of fraudulent PIC claims."

New business formation fell after the regulations were tightened in November and "normalised" to levels seen in 2012 and 2013, Mr Kit added.

Mr Paul Cornelius, a corporate tax partner at PwC Singapore, said that the tweaks to the law "certainly seem to present a barrier to anyone seeking to unfairly take advantage of the scheme".

While it is a challenge to identify every possible kind of potential abuse and every potential perpetrator, regulators typically look for an absence of real commercial purpose and economic substance, he added.



THE tax authorities here keep a close watch for tell-tale signs of dodgy claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.

Suspicious applications strongly indicating illegitimate claims will be rejected upfront unless the businesses can prove they have met the conditions to qualify for the PIC cash payout, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said.

Signs of potential fraud could include the following:

• Businesses that do not employ genuine employees.

These businesses attempted to make CPF contributions to three individuals just to meet the "three local employees" condition for securing PIC cash payouts.

To substantiate their claims, these businesses prepared employment contracts that were purportedly signed by the "employees".

Upon review, Iras found that many such "employees" merely "lent" their names to help someone they knew and did not carry out work for the businesses.

• Businesses that engage in high-value cash transactions

Businesses have claimed that all transactions, including revenue from sales and qualifying PIC expenditure, were conducted entirely in cash despite the transactions being valued in tens or hundreds of thousands dollars.

These businesses claimed that they were therefore unable to provide banking documentation to Iras to verify the existence of such transactions.

In many of such cases, the tax authority's audits revealed that the transactions were not genuine.


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

Companies Act - Companies (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (S 379 of 2015)

SHC clarifies how service of process may be effected on foreign-domiciled defendants

15 Jun 2015

Why construction firms are choosing mediation

Business Times
27 Jun 2015
Seah Choo Meng

It simplifies the dispute by focusing on the business priorities of both parties who are in control of the settlement terms

WHEN a landowner hires a contractor to design and build a project, it is standard practice for the contractor to engage several subcontractors, as well as suppliers, to assist in completing and delivering the project. With so many parties involved, it is not surprising that misunderstandings and disputes occur.

To manage contractual disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner, a growing number of businesses are turning to mediation, an informal method of dispute resolution facilitated by a neutral third party. The Singapore Mediation Centre saw 337 matters mediated last year, a 57 per cent increase from 2013. Of these, the construction industry saw 49 matters - nearly twice as many as any other industry.

Here are some reasons why construction firms are choosing mediation instead of taking their disputes to court.

Opportunity costs involved

The opportunity cost of a court battle can be very high for a construction firm, especially if the firm is sued by another party. This is because one of the main criteria in the tender and award process is that there must be no major legal cases against the contractor. In other words, the contractor will be given a lower rating in the evaluation process and hence will be less likely to get the contract.

Also, suppliers and subcontractors will be wary of working with the company for fear of not getting paid.

The company will be forced to reduce operations until the lawsuit is completed, which could be several years later.

In comparison, the mediation process (from application to settlement) can often be completed in a matter of weeks, and the company is free to take on new work in the meantime.

Flexibility of the mediation process

Construction disputes often revolve around costs and payments, especially variation costs related to changes in design or defects and non-compliance in the completed work, as well as a lack of clarity in contract terms.

Thus, going to court often involves a long and painful process of determining liability for multiple items based on factual and legal arguments, sometimes requiring many experts to express opinions or valuations.

On the other hand, mediation offers the flexibility of setting aside the emphasis on individual agendas and simplifies the dispute by focusing on the business priorities of both sides. As long as the disputing parties are able to agree on a mutual settlement, they can sign a legally binding agreement that will end the dispute.

Confidentiality and preserving the firm's reputation

Mediation is strictly confidential and preserves the reputation of the firm. You certainly do not want to be known to be litigious or quarrelsome, especially if you are a prominent company. You also do not want to let people know that you have problems with a job, as the news could easily get blown out of proportion.

In a recent case, a contractor and subcontractor had a dispute over the fees due to the subcontractor. If the case had gone to court, it would have been made known that the contractor had subcontracted the entire project, which would not have reflected well on their professionalism. While I do not support what the contractor had done, my point is that through mediation, the parties were able to settle the matter quietly and unobtrusively.

Control over settlement terms

Most construction firms do not expect disputes and even if they do, they do not normally have a budget for legal disputes, so a court battle can be very taxing on their finances.

While firms often go to court hoping to be awarded the highest possible compensation, it can often be an all-or-nothing gamble. I have seen clients whose lawyers told them that their case was solid and infallible, advising them not to settle in mediation, but eventually lost their court case.

In contrast, mediation puts you firmly in control of the settlement terms and allows you to draw a line at exactly how much you are willing to concede or to hold firm. It is within your power to ensure that the signed agreement reflects your business priorities.

Construction firms that want to use mediation to resolve disputes can consider the following pointers.

Time is money

It is imperative to weigh the opportunity cost of engaging in a legal dispute against the potential gains. Don't get carried away with profit maximisation in a single project to the extent that you lose sight of the big picture and neglect the overall development and expansion of your business.

I have many clients who were initially convinced that their case was strong but once they came to the mediation table, they realised that the other party also had a decent argument and that winning in court was not going to be as straightforward as they thought or as advised by their lawyers.

Prioritise business continuity

Even if you win a court case, you may find that you have lost out on further business opportunities with the other party. Instead, settle your dispute with mediation in a non-adversarial setting, work out a win-win solution, shake hands and preserve your relationship.

Protect your company from legal risk

Include a mediation clause in all contracts. SMEs, especially subcontractors, can be vulnerable to lawsuits as the main contractor will often try to drag out the dispute and use their deeper pockets to "bully" the subcontractors into giving up.

By using a mediation clause, you can make it compulsory for all disputes to try the mediation route first and increase the chances of an early settlement.

The writer has 18 years' experience in mediating construction disputes and also provides arbitration, adjudication, neutral evaluation and expert witness services

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Approved Institutions) (No. 9) Notification 2015 (S 378 of 2015)

Clarifications on the Mental Capacity Act

15 Jun 2015

Views on Income Tax Act changes sought

Straits Times
27 Jun 2015

MEMBERS of the public now have the opportunity to comment on proposed changes to the Income Tax Act outlined in this year's Budget.

Feedback can be lodged until July 24 through e-mail, fax, post or the Finance Ministry's website. One proposed change involves cushioning large companies' internationalisation activities with a five-year concessionary tax rate of 10 per cent and a double tax deduction that covers staff postings to new overseas entities.

The Government will also support small and medium-sized enterprises in their strategic acquisitions, by lowering the acquisition cost cap from $100 million to $20 million, as well as increasing the mergers and acquisitions allowance rate from 5 per cent to 25 per cent.

Source: Straits 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. 9) Order 2015 (S 377 of 2015)

SCA considers whether obligation to use reasonable endeavours to obtain consent of third party extended to taking further steps after consent had been initially refused

15 Jun 2015

Independent auditors for banks' outsourcing vendors

Business Times
27 Jun 2015
Jamie Lee

[Singapore] SINGAPORE-BASED firms handling outsourced work from banks involving sensitive data and material businesses must soon hire an independent auditor to go through their internal controls every year, and in effect, meet a set of guidelines outlined by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

This overturns the current set-up, where financial institutions have their auditors show up to go through the controls of their third-party vendors. There have been, until now, no clear standards stating how regular these audits should be, or key factors that should be evaluated.

Such third-party vendors will also have to pay tens of thousands annually for such audits, which are submitted to banking clients to prove that the vendors' internal controls are effective. This cost for such audits - to be completed by the second half of next year - could be passed on to banks by vendors.

The announcement on Friday follows some high-profile incidents. There was the data theft involving Standard Chartered Bank, which said in late-2013 that statements of 647 private banking clients had been stolen through a server of Fuji Xerox.

And in 2010, DBS's system crashed, causing a massive service disruption for more than seven hours. This occurred because a routine repair job of its data storage system, maintained by IBM, went wrong and triggered the failure of most of its systems, including the one for back-up.

ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon said vendors support such a move because they are asked by individual banks to participate in separate audits, which take up time and resources.

Johnson Yau, sales director at MediaLink, which handles accounts for at least 16 financial institutions, noted that the cost of audit could mean additional expenses of S$40,000 a year.

But this beats going through more than a dozen audits ordered by the banks, he said, adding that the costs could be passed on to banks that require more rigorous audits that go beyond the ABS guidelines.

It has been observed, too, that companies that act as middlemen between banks and small print shops - and through this model, cut outsourcing costs further - will find it hard to address the potential lapses by their sub-contractors with this new audit requirement.

Mark Jansen, third party trust leader, PwC Singapore, told BT: "This is a paradigm shift for companies in the business of servicing the financial services sector. It makes them de-facto regulated to the same standards and scrutiny as their regulated customers." Service companies will have to re-think their pricing models, he noted, adding that smaller players may find it hard to keep up and exit the sector.

There are some global figures that suggest banks are not as vigilant about outsourcing as they should. Just 34 per cent of the 758 financial companies polled by PwC recently have assessed the security of third-party vendors over the last 12 months, PwC's 2015 global report on information security showed.

And besides taking a hit to reputation, banks must bear immediate costs to service disruption, and risks must now be more clearly weighted against savings through outsourcing.

"The costs of security incidents jumped about 25 per cent in 2014 compared to a year ago, with the number of financial firms reporting losses of US$10-US$19.9 million more than doubling from 2013," PwC said. But security spending rose just 5 per cent to US$11.3 million in the same period for billion-dollar institutions.


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

Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act - Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Air) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 376 of 2015)

New AML/CFT predicate offences, effective 3 June 2015

15 Jun 2015

Law don who beat up cabby gets 4 months' jail

Straits Times
27 Jun 2015
Hoe Pei Shan

Prof ordered to pay $1.5k compensation over drunken attack on 70-year-old

BLOOD was streaming down his face, but the punches kept coming, and 70-year-old cabby Sun Chun Hua began losing consciousness. His assailant, who is bigger than him, ran off only after a young man saw the fight and called for help.

It has been almost a year and a half since he was attacked by an assistant law professor from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who had initially refused to pay his cab fare. But Mr Sun told The Straits Times that he still vividly remembers the incident.

He was speaking after the professor, Sundram Peter Soosay, was yesterday sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay $1,500 in compensation to his victim. The 43-year-old could also end up paying with his job for the attack, which District Judge Victor Yeo said was "wholly uncalled for".

An NUS spokesman told The Straits Times: "The university expects all members of its community to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.

"Dr Soosay has been convicted of a serious offence. The university has suspended him without pay since May 29 this year, and will now initiate disciplinary action."

The Straits Times understands that while NUS is still reviewing its options, termination is a possibility.

Soosay, who was born in Malaysia and is a Singapore permanent resident, boarded Mr Sun's cab in the early hours of Christmas Day in 2013 while intoxicated, and vomited soon after. He then alighted near King Albert Park, in Clementi Road, and walked away without paying the fare.

After Mr Sun chased him and threatened to call the police, Soosay handed him a $50 note. Instead of waiting for his change, he struck Mr Sun from behind, straddling him and punching his face repeatedly.

Mr Sun needed multiple stitches on his face and left arm, where he suffered a deep wound that exposed the bone, and had to be hospitalised. His injuries left him unable to work for 17 days, and it took him more than a month to regain the use of his left arm and resume driving.

Fingering his scars, Mr Sun told The Straits Times yesterday that he has since stopped driving his cab late at night and avoids picking up drunk passengers.

He added that he is not troubled about whether Soosay keeps his job or how much compensation he gets. All he wants is a sincere apology.

"I trust the police and the court to handle the case, and I believe that justice will be delivered," said Mr Sun.

"So long as he (Soosay) is sincerely remorseful, it does not matter how much he pays me. But since the incident, he has not once said he's sorry."

The cabby said he will work for as long as he can despite his family's concerns about his safety. He and his 61-year-old wife have four grown-up children.

He also said he wants to thank the young man who had called for help.

"I don't even know his name or how to reach him, but I really want to tell him he was my saviour. I don't know what would have happened had he not called out to stop the man," said Mr Sun, who spoke to The Straits Times at an Ang Mo Kio coffee shop near his home.

Soosay, who initially claimed that Mr Sun was the first to attack - a testimony that Judge Yeo called "convenient conjecture and hypothesis" - told the court yesterday through his lawyer that he would be appealing his conviction and sentence.


Background Story

Mr Sun needed multiple stitches on his face and left arm where he suffered a deep wound that exposed the bone, and had to be hospitalised. His injuries left him unable to work for 17 days, and it took him more than a month to regain the use of his left arm and resume driving.

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

Merchant Shipping Act - Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 375 of 2015)

SCA considers proper relationship between arbitral tribunals and the courts and restates principles of setting aside of arbitral awards

12 Jun 2015

DPP appeals against man's casino offence acquittal

Straits Times
27 Jun 2015
Selina Lum

S'porean had paid $100 entry levy, but did so using friend's name

IS A person considered to have paid the $100 levy to enter a casino if the payment was made under someone else's name?

The question is being deliberated by the High Court as it mulls over an appeal by prosecutors in the case of a Singaporean man who paid the levy and entered a casino using a friend's identity card.

Teo Choon Chai, 25, had pleaded guilty to four counts of entering the Marina Bay Sands casino under false pretences and was sentenced to four weeks' jail.

However, he was acquitted of four separate counts of non-payment of the entry levy after he contested the charges in a trial.

The prosecution appealed yesterday to quash the acquittal, arguing that payment of the levy is invalid if made under another person's name.

Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon reserved judgment and will give his decision at a later date.

Under the Casino Control Act, a citizen or permanent resident is required to pay a $100 levy in order to enter a casino.

Anyone convicted of entering a casino without paying the levy faces a maximum fine of $1,000 and also has to cough up the levy.

However, the statute does not explicitly spell out whether the entry levy must be paid under the person's own identity.

In the current case, Teo had lost his identity card, so he used a friend's to enter the casino on three occasions in August 2013.

Each time, he paid the levy under the friend's identity. He was detained by a security officer on Sept 4, 2013, when he tried to enter the casino using the same method.

Last year, he was cleared of the non-payment charges by a district judge, who found that the law did not specifically state that payment of the levy is invalid if made under another person's name.

The district judge noted that paying the levy using another person's name would not undermine the objective of deterring casual and impulse gambling.

But yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat argued that the law must be construed to mean that payment of the levy is invalid if made using another person's name.

He argued that a person's identity is an essential part of the entry levy regime, which is part of wider social safeguards against problem gambling, and the district judge's interpretation opens a back door for excluded persons to try to enter casinos.

However, lawyer Arvindran Manoosegaran, appointed by the court to give an independent view, agreed with the district judge that a person does not commit an offence of non-payment if he pays the levy under another person's name.


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

Air Navigation Act - Air Navigation (Exemption) Order 2015 (S 374 of 2015)

[HKG] High Court confirms the effectiveness of non-reliance clauses in bank-customer contracts

12 Jun 2015

Time to review SGX's wearing of two hats

Business Times
27 Jun 2015
Kenneth Lim

Call from market stakeholders follows MAS official's comment that there could be scope to reduce oversight overlaps

[Singapore] MARKET stakeholders welcomed a review of the dual role of Singapore Exchange (SGX) as a regulator and a commercial business, a day after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said there could be scope to do so.

"A listed company should not be a regulator," Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS) president David Gerald said, reflecting comments made by others.

In an opinion published in Singapore media on Friday, MAS deputy managing director for financial supervision Ong Chong Tee wrote: "In a more competitive multi-exchange landscape, there is a need to mitigate potential conflicts of interests and ensure efficiency in regulation. For example, there could be scope to reduce any overlaps between the oversight functions of the MAS and the exchanges."

When pressed for what oversight functions, exactly, may be overlapping, MAS did not elaborate.

But the rest of the market certainly had some ideas.

To begin with, the gripe is not that the regulatory system in Singapore is necessarily bad.

Mr Gerald said MAS's recent reprimand of SGX over a major market outage showed that the financial authority was "doing a good job" in its oversight of the exchange. And SGX, Mr Gerald said, was "run by men of integrity".

Indeed, MAS has long argued that the current regime, in which SGX is both a regulator and a commercial exchange, posed no fundamental issues.

Still, the principle behind a listed company that was also in charge of the rules was problematic, Mr Gerald said, adding that SIAS will take up the matter with MAS.

One possibility mentioned was to shift regulation of exchange members - the brokers and dealers - to independent, self-regulated organisations, using a model such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) in the United States. Finra, which regulates securities brokers, is governed by the industry and members of the public, and reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

One senior trader in Singapore, who declined to be named, said SGX cannot remain a regulator once another exchange enters the country. "You can look at some of the other markets," the trader said. "Australia, where you have more than one exchange, the regulatory body must be above the exchanges...In all of those models, it would suggest that an overarching body that's not involved as a beneficiary of any of the rules should be the one in charge of the rules."

Whether a Finra model will work in Singapore is debatable, the trader said. For a start, Singapore's market may not be big enough to justify another layer of bureaucracy. If MAS simply assumes the oversight function, that might also allow for faster changes when policymakers feel a need to address certain aspects of the market. "The question is whether an independent body can actually be better than the MAS...You have an eco-system already. Will this new structure be better?" the trader said.

Joy Tan, who jointly heads the financial services regulatory practice at Wong Partnership, noted that criticism of Finra in the wake of the global financial crisis revealed the risks of industry self- regulation without strong government oversight. "What has been seen with industry self-regulation is the risk of other external influences or even regulatory capture, whether real or perceived," she said.

Whatever form change takes, it might be time to start thinking about it, seemed to be the consensus.

"Has the securities market in Singapore come to a stage of maturity where you can split the commercial and regulatory functions? I would say the Singapore market has become a lot more mature. . .It's heartening that they're looking into the matter," said Phillip Fong, managing partner at Harry Elias.


Source: Business 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) Rules 2015 (S 373 of 2015)

SGX announces plan to introduce “comply or explain” framework for sustainability reporting

12 Jun 2015

Legalise cannabis? No way, says Masagos

Straits Times
27 Jun 2015
Hoe Pei Shan & Ng Huiwen

Medicinal value not proven, he says at anti-drug event

LOBBYISTS around the world may be pushing for the legalisation of cannabis, but it is "wrong and dangerous" to view it as a soft drug, Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli warned yesterday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 20th Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign carnival at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Mr Masagos, who is also Minister (Prime Minister's Office) and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, tried to "dispel myths" surrounding marijuana, the other name for cannabis.

These myths are increasingly being perpetuated online by social media and foreign news reports about legalisation of the drug in other parts of the world, most recently in several American states, for its purported medicinal value.

But these medical benefits for pain and epilepsy management "are not conclusive", said Mr Masagos, pointing to how cannabis has not been approved for use by medical authorities worldwide, not even by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Cannabis is addictive and "especially harmful to young people", he added, which is worrying as the number of young drug abusers in Singapore has been on the rise.

There were 1,110 abusers aged under 30 arrested last year, up 34 per cent from 826 in 2010.

"My message to youths is this: Keep saying no to drugs, whatever form they come in. They will ruin your lives and your future," he said.

In order to find ways to better address the growing problem of drug abuse, a Task Force on Youth and Drugs was convened last year.

Chaired by Mr Masagos, it surveyed 700 people aged 12 to 29, of whom 237 were abusers, and came up with several recommendations and measures.

Among them is a new counselling, support and guidance programme for youth abusers that incorporates parental input in the rehabilitation process.

The Ministry of Home Affairs will also form an Anti-drug Abuse Advocacy Network bringing together families, youth leaders and the medical community in an effort to raise awareness of latest drug trends.

An educational anti-drug mobile game produced by Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Interactive and Digital Media was launched yesterday.

Called Nelzon, the game is available in Android and Apple app stores. Players aim to avoid drugs, gangsters who tout them and the temptation to try them by toggling a game character to "jump" or "slide" over these "obstacles".

Final-year polytechnic student Ernest Ong, 19, who was part of the team behind the game, said: "Gaming is popular among young people and so I find it meaningful to teach them about drugs and their harmful effects through this platform."



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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 29) Notification 2015 (S 372 of 2015)

IP due diligence in M&A transactions

11 Jun 2015

Proposed display ban: Cigarette sellers expect confusion

Straits Times
27 Jun 2015
Melissa Lin

Buyers can't point at what they want

A PROPOSAL to ban shops from displaying cigarettes for sale will result in a host of problems, said retailers. They expect confusion, longer transaction times and added business costs should the rule kick in.

But most business owners said it is unlikely to affect sales much.

Under the proposed amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, retailers have to keep tobacco products out of patrons' sight, in opaque storage units.

Private psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow, an addictions specialist, said the ban will reduce impulse cigarette-buying and, for those trying to quit smoking, reduce the visual cues that entice them to smoke. But it will have no effect on addicts, he added.

The measures are not practical given that shops sell over 100 types of cigarettes, said Mr Hong Poh Hin, vice-chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association.

"Now, customers can point at a cigarette pack and we know where it is," he said. "But if there's a curtain covering the packs and my worker is new, how will they know where to find the correct pack? It's not efficient."

Another amendment to the Act will allow retailers to show text-only price lists of tobacco products, which are currently prohibited as a form of advertisement, upon request.

Mr Alan Tay, the chairman of the Singapore Mini Mart Association, said the authorities should also allow brand logos to be put on the price list. Many mini-mart employees are Chinese-educated and may not be able to match the brand names to the ones on the packs, he said.

"Quarrels are bound to happen when workers sell the wrong pack to customers," he said.

Ms Lilienne Chong, merchandise director at 7-Eleven, said many of its franchisees are small and medium-sized enterprises "already facing a very challenging operating environment".

"While we are fully supportive of the fundamental objectives behind the display ban... business will be affected," she said.

Mr Maurice Perry Lin, 30, who has been trying to quit smoking for seven months, said the measures are not good enough.

"I don't need to see the pack to crave a cigarette. What matters most is the smell," said the assistant manager, who has been smoking since he was 15.


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

Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act 2014 - Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act (Amendment of Schedule) (No. 4) Order 2015 (S 371 of 2015)

Singapore merger regime: Notification not compulsory but highly recommended?

11 Jun 2015

Family in 3-way tussle over businessman's will

Straits Times
26 Jun 2015
Selina Lum

Wife battling two sons over ownership of shop and claiming $600k against his estate

EXACTLY 12 years to the date of the death of a small-time businessman, his family members met in court for the start of a hearing into a three-way tussle over his million-dollar estate.

Madam Low Kim Thai, 79, who was left $3,000 in her late husband's will, is battling two of her sons over the ownership of a Boon Lay Housing Board shop unit, valued at $800,000 in 2002.

Her husband and the father of her four sons and three daughters, Mr Lai Thai Lok, was the registered owner of 51 per cent of the property, while her second son Foong Sin held a 49 per cent stake. But Madam Low now contends that the 51 per cent share belongs to her, and not her husband.

She is also claiming $600,000 that her husband received in 1992 when he transferred his rights in a Bedok HDB shop unit to a neighbour.

The money had been deposited into two bank accounts in her name, but she asserts that the funds were "spirited away" by her youngest son.

In June 2003, the patriarch had made a will giving his share of the Boon Lay property to eldest son Khian Hin, youngest son Hoon Woon and grandson Yida, the son of his bankrupt third son Foong Choong.

He willed his other assets, including $400,000 in the bank, to his three daughters, eldest son, youngest son and grandson. Foong Sin and Madam Low were given just $3,000 each.

After the patriarch died on June 25, 2003, Madam Low became the sole owner of their four-room HDB flat in Marsiling.

When Hoon Woon, appointed as the executor of the will, tried to distribute the assets, his elder brother Foong Sin refused to hand over the duplicate lease of the Boon Lay shop. Foong Sin said he owned the whole unit, not just 49 per cent, and that his father was holding 51 per cent on trust for him.

In 2012, Hoon Woon, represented by Mr Ramalingam Kasi, sued Foong Sin, represented by Mr Pratap Kishan.

The following year, Madam Low jumped into the fray.

The matriarch, represented by Mr Suresh Nair, applied to be added as a defendant in the suit, staking a claim on 51 per cent of the Boon Lay unit and claiming $600,000 against her husband's estate.

Madam Low, who married Mr Lai when she was 18, contends that her husband did not pay for the two shops and did not own them.

His name was on the documents because he was a traditional Chinese man who did not want his wife to be the registered lessee of the units, she asserts. He had rented the units at first.

She contends that she set up the two shops using her personal savings from working at her fishball noodles and laksa stall.

Madam Low says that she ran the two shops while raising seven children and was not formally paid a salary until 2005.

Hoon Woon contends that his father had decided to buy the Boon Lay property, keeping the majority stake while giving his four sons 49 per cent. Foong Sin, who ran the store, later bought over his three brothers' shares.

Hoon Woon argues that Foong Sin did not pay fully for their shares and their father came up with part of the money. He said that other than helping out at the store, his mother was not involved in the acquisition of the shop.

But Foong Sin said he paid his three brothers in full and his father did not contribute any money to the purchase of the shop.

Both Madam Low and Foong Sin are arguing that Mr Lai's will is not valid as the circumstances were suspicious and cast doubt on whether Mr Lai, who was in poor health at the time, was capable of making a valid will.

But Hoon Woon contends that the circumstances were not suspicious and that his father made the will of his own free will.

The trial, which is scheduled for 12 days, continues.


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

Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act - Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Prohibited Tobacco Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 370 of 2015)

SCA: FIDIC contracts and the enforceability of interim arbitral awards in Singapore

10 Jun 2015

Scope may exist to review oversight roles of Singapore exchanges: MAS

Business Times
26 Jun 2015
Kenneth Lim

MAS, SGX also seeking views on how to improve capital markets here

[Singapore] SINGAPORE may have to reduce overlaps between the oversight functions of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the exchanges as industry competition increases, a key MAS official said.

Addressing various issues regarding Singapore's securities market in an opinion piece published on Friday in the Singapore media, MAS managing director of financial supervision Ong Chong Tee said the regulator is also open to improving arrangements to help remisiers adapt to continuous all-day trading. Also, MAS and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) will hold dialogue sessions with various stakeholders to gather feedback and ideas to improve the country's capital markets.

The opinion piece also gives a hint of the direction in thinking on Singapore's securities sector.

MAS and SGX have made a number of regulatory changes over the past year to strengthen Singapore's securities market in response to concerns about market irregularities, low trading volumes and a lack of quality listings, Mr Ong wrote.

The measures "aim to achieve a robust and vibrant securities market, where companies can raise capital efficiently, investors can pursue their financial objectives, and intermediaries can serve their customers' needs effectively", he said.

Noting that the industry landscape was becoming more competitive, Mr Ong noted that there could be room to improve the way exchanges and markets are regulated. An exchange such as SGX currently is both a commercial entity as well as a regulator.

"In a more competitive multi-exchange landscape, there is a need to mitigate potential conflicts of interests and ensure efficiency in regulation," Mr Ong wrote. "For example, there could be scope to reduce any overlaps between the oversight functions of the MAS and the exchanges."

Until now, the position usually taken is that the current regime in which the SGX is both regulator and commercial exchange poses no fundamental issues.

Addressing remisiers, who have been especially vocal and often disapproving of the many changes in the marketplace, Mr Ong urged them to adapt to the times.

"Brokerage firms and remisiers need to broaden their services beyond merely executing trades for their clients," he pointed out. "For example, they could provide personalised advisory and risk management services, catering to the specific investment needs of their clients."

Addressing an often-raised issue by the Society of Remisiers, Mr Ong asserted that it is not tenable to reverse the course on continuous all-day trading (CAT) and bring back the lunch hour.

"The larger question is whether Singapore as an international financial centre can afford not to have CAT," he wrote. "Financial markets trade round the clock. CAT is a common feature in major markets including the US, UK, Australia, and Europe. Investors in these markets are able to manage their exposures without a break in exchange trading hours."

But MAS is prepared to help remisiers better cope with all-day trading.

"When CAT was implemented in 2011, alternative arrangements were considered to assist remisiers to support their clients continuously, such as the channelling of transactions through brokers' central dealing facilities or via mobile devices," Mr Ong wrote. "MAS and SGX are ready to work with the affected parties to review whether these arrangements can be further improved."

MAS and SGX will also be having more discussions with market stakeholders.

"Some stakeholder groups have expressed a desire for even more dialogue," Mr Ong said. "MAS and SGX will hold joint roundtable sessions with various stakeholders to gather feedback and ideas to improve our capital markets."

In terms of the quality of listed companies, Mr Ong said that while SGX has raised the bar for mainboard listings, among other measures, a balance had to be struck in allowing businesses to access capital.

"Improving the quality of listings is important," he noted. "But a well-functioning securities market should also serve as a platform for companies in different phases of growth to list and raise capital as long as they meet the requirements."

He stood firm on a number of measures that have generated some controversy.

On SGX's introduction of a minimum trading price for mainboard-listed companies, Mr Ong wrote: "While there will indeed be some short-term adjustment costs, it is important to not lose sight of the longer term objective of enhancing the integrity of the market as a whole - one that is less prone to bouts of excessive speculation or manipulation."

Mr Ong also argued that the specified investment products (SIP) regime was essential to protecting retail investors, and customer suitability assessment could not be replaced by simple disclosures.

"The Lehman mini-bond episode has shown that a presumption that retail investors can understand the investment risk of complex products upon signing a risk disclosure statement is flawed," he wrote.

He also acknowledged that investigations into the 2013 penny stock saga have been going on for a while, but said the process was sometimes necessarily long.

"It is important that the investigation process be rigorous and not rushed," Mr Ong said. "There is often a web of details to be ascertained in each case. To be effective, investigations need to be confidential so as not to tip off suspects."

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

Environmental Protection and Management Act - Environmental Protection and Management (Air Impurities) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 369 of 2015)

CCS publishes Paper on Auction Design and Competition Concerns

10 Jun 2015

Address ‘threats’ in lawyers’ letters: Voices

26 Jun 2015

As reported in “Law firm in Dallas Buyers Club action accused of bullying tactics” (June 23), local firm Samuel Seow Law Corporation has issued demand letters to the M1 customers who had allegedly downloaded the film Dallas Buyers Club illegally.

The wording of the letters may have been construed as threats to those unfamiliar with the legal system’s processes. Such actions by lawyers may be more prevalent than we think.

Personally, when I was involved in a traffic accident in 2012, the lawyer hired by the other party to claim for repairs wrote to my insurer and me and used threatening, accusatory words.

The lawyer was aware that the respective insurance companies would investigate and decide on matters relating to motor accident claims.

The intention of writing to a motorist, even before the due processes are carried out, is to bully him into settling an unjustifiable claim. Although such actions are not illegal, they are unethical.

I hope the Law Ministry will provide clear guidelines on such behaviour. Demand letters should be based on facts, not threats.

Gan Chin Yean

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Prisons Act - Prisons (Declaration of Prison) Notification 2015 (S 368 of 2015)

[GBR] Consent: Time to say goodbye to Bolam and Sidaway?

10 Jun 2015

Time to talk about new laws on dying: Forum

Straits Times
26 Jun 2015

DR CHONG Siow Ann's commentary is timely and enlightening ("Rage, rage against the (prolonged) dying of the light"; last Saturday).

I agree that "modern medicine allows doctors to prolong life by artificial means - sometimes to the detriment of the patient's well-being".

My father suffered from terminal cancer, with further treatment not possible.

All of us, including my father, knew that he was dying, but he was conscious and suffered severe pain and mental agony for months, because, although he wanted to go quickly and peacefully, we, the doctors, continued to keep him alive - to suffer.

This is because the law says so.

Where is the logic?

The law was enacted hundreds of years ago, and the Hippocratic Oath was enunciated thousands of years ago in Greece.

I agree with Dr Chong that we need to discuss end-of-life issues, even assisted suicide.

The Advance Medical Directive could not be used for my father, because it does not go far enough. It applies only to the unconscious patient.

It is the dying patient who is conscious and suffering who needs to be relieved of his suffering.

The dying patient should have the right to decide for himself how and when he should go.

It is not the doctors, the relatives, nor society who should decide for him.

There is no question of abuse. Most people do not like to talk about dying and are very confused about the subject.

Because of this, there is a pressing need for a forum to be set up to openly discuss this issue and formulate new rules to update the law in Singapore.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 28) Notification 2015 (S 367 of 2015)

CCS consults on proposed extension of block exemption order for liner shipping agreements

09 Jun 2015

Govt, judges cannot be sued for judicial decisions: Apex court

Straits Times
25 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

THE apex court has made it clear that neither the Government nor judges can be sued for judicial decisions made, pointing to judicial immunity under the the Government Proceedings Act (GPA).

The court yesterday released judgment grounds on why it had thrown out the $54 million in claims that a contractor and his firm had made against the Government, in a case which saw the Government's liability for judicial acts dealt with for the first time by the Court of Appeal.

At issue before the court comprising Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang, and Justice Tay Yong Kwang, was whether the Government could rely on the GPA to resist the claims.

"In Singapore, the general rule is that the Government may be liable for, inter alia, the tortious acts of its public officers," noted Justice Chao. This means that the Government is liable like any ordinary employer.

However, exceptions to this rule specified in the Act include those exercising judicial functions, he said.

The litigant in the case and his firm Ho Pak Kim Realty (HPK) were disgruntled with the outcomes of two court cases and sued the Government for the way judges handled the cases.

The first case involved a set of court orders between 2009 and 2011 governing ancillary matters after the marriage of the litigant - known only by his initials AHQ to protect his two children - was dissolved. This included care and custody of his children.

The second case involved a spat between his firm and developer Revitech over a construction project. The case stretched seven years from 2006.

Last year, he sued the Government, seeking $50 million in damages for judicial orders made in relation to the ancillary matters of his divorce, claiming not only that the orders were wrong but also the judges involved had acted maliciously against him.

In the second case, HPK sought $4.8 million in damages, alleging that the judge involved had acted unfairly and the appeals court had erred in supporting the judge's decision.

A High Court judge rejected the two appeals last September.

The litigant appealed further and the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court was right in dismissing the suits. The court said the litigant and his firm had either exhausted their rights of appeal or refused to pursue the proper means of seeking recourse. "To any reasonable person, that should have been the end of the matter. Regrettably, AHQ and HPK did not think so."

Justice Chao said for the judicial system to function properly, the judiciary should not be "harassed by frivolous claims".

The GPA applied in this case as the court orders in question were made during judicial proceedings, he said.

"The independence of the Judiciary is one of the foundation pillars of Singapore's constitutional framework and must not be shaken. To this end, the Government should not be liable for the acts of the Judiciary, over which it has no control or influence," wrote Judge Chao.


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

AHQ v Attorney-General and another appeal [2015] SGCA 32

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Registration and Licensing) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015 (S 366 of 2015)

Considerations in tax planning for IP assets: Maximising value through better IP tax planning

09 Jun 2015

Six from NUS Law get into Citi internship programme

Business Times
25 Jun 2015
Elizabeth Mak

Three-month-long stint's other partner is local law firm Rajah & Tann

[Singapore] THE three-month-long Legal Internship Programme launched by Citibank in February, in a partnership with the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law and local law firm Rajah & Tann, is now into its second intake.

It has seen increased interest in the in-house banking law programme from third and fourth-year undergraduate law students - with applications tripling to 60. Of this lot, six students were chosen.

Andrew Wan, general counsel for markets & securities services at Citi Asia Pacific, said: "We have consistently seen our business partners in the bank roll out programmes designed to tap local talent.

"When we sat down with the legal management team, we realised that we had an opportunity here, particularly when we looked at Singapore and the quality of its programmes.

"This is not the typical two-week internship where a student just comes in and has a very cursory experience with an organisation, but rather we really want to invest in the individual and have them have a real experience."

Interns take part in activities, such as lunch-time seminars, with Citi's partnerships with multiple firms.

They also sit in on fortnightly sessions where teams from programme partner Rajah & Tann and Citi's in-house lawyers take turns to teach each other about their respective areas of focus.

Rajah & Tann has committed to granting interview opportunities to the interns at the end of their programmes, and award a training contract to a select few.

"The work of the in-house counsel has evolved dramatically over the last few decades," Lee Eng Beng, managing partner at Rajah & Tann, said.

He hopes the programme will raise awareness of the versatility of the law degree, he said.

Citi's Mr Wan said each intern is paired with a mentor from Citi Singapore's 45-strong legal staff who is at the director level or higher - equivalent to partner-level experience.

Interns are required to accompany their mentors to various meetings, and experience what they work on on a day-to-day basis.

One of the students from the second cycle, Bernice Gan, said: "I'm onto my fourth week of the programme and I won't deny that the learning curve has been pretty steep.

"Although I come from a law and finance background, to actually see the law working in a banking setting is really something from a different perspective."

Simon Chesterman, dean of NUS Law said: "It is important that all law graduates need to be able to see the world through lenses other than legal lenses.

"You need to be able to understand the business dimension and you would need to understand your clients, particularly in the more competitive markets these days."

Professor Chesterman said that this internship was designed to offer law students both exposure to different career paths and experience that will be useful, whatever path they choose.

The programme is also a means of allowing managerial-level lawyers to interact with the "next generation", according to Mr Wan.

Louis Chan, deputy general counsel for markets & securities services at Citi Asia Pacific, and Ms Gan's mentor, said: "This has helped me sharpen my management skills. It encourages me to find ways to motivate and retain a new generation of lawyers who may have a very different mentality to work-life balance."

He added that he learned that younger generations define success very differently from its traditional sense, and that they look for jobs in which they can have flexibility and unique personal experiences.

"I think in this age, where time is precious, it comes at an opportunity cost to the younger lawyers where they're working at a very competitive environment - industry experience is valued."


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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Electronic Road Pricing System) (Exemption) Order 2015 (S 365 of 2015)

An offender’s lack of antecedents: A closer look at its role in sentencing

09 Jun 2015

MAS raps SGX for market outage lapses

Business Times
25 Jun 2015
Melissa Tan

It slaps fee freeze on exchange; exchange says it will fully comply with remedial actions and spend S$20 million on speeding up tech infrastructure improvement

[Singapore] THE Singapore Exchange (SGX) failed to meet standards for service recovery in its massive three-hour market meltdown last November and needs to buck up, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a stinging reprimand on Wednesday as it slapped a fee freeze on the exchange and spelled out a series of remedial actions.

To this, the exchange said at a press briefing at its office that it would fully comply with MAS's directives and, in line with that, would spend S$20 million on speeding up its tech infrastructure improvement.

The penalties imposed on SGX stopped short of an explicit fine, which some market watchers said was good enough. However, others questioned whether a fine ought to have been imposed given the severity of the trading disruption.

The regulator's formal rebuke to the exchange, believed to be the first in a long time, came in the wake of an SGX board committee of inquiry report on the Nov 5 trading glitch - the most severe and widespread market outage here since 2007.

Noting that SGX had taken a full 52 minutes to discover that there had been a complete power outage at its primary data centre in November, the committee said that the exchange needed "clearer and more comprehensive business continuity and incident management procedures".

The SGX's standard operating procedures also had not included intra-day service recovery at its primary data centre, which led to decisions "having to be made on an ad hoc basis" on the day of the breakdown, the panel also said, adding that poor communications procedures meant that information about the market outage was delayed and then disseminated at different times on various channels, generating confusion among the public.

It found that the root cause of the trading outage was a combination of a faulty device and a flawed power supply design. Specifically, one backup power generator malfunctioned and when the data centre's power system switched to an alternative backup, that triggered a power trip and total power outage.

However, committee chairman Quah Wee Ghee told the briefing on Wednesday that the SGX has already fixed the root cause of the November meltdown and generally has "sound practices" in technology design.

Another SGX trading outage in December, unrelated to the November one, involved a delayed market opening due to a software problem.

The MAS took both the November and December outages into account in its reprimand, saying that the SGX had not recovered some of its critical systems within a "four-hour recovery time objective" and that the exchange's monitoring systems had not been able to spot problems quickly.

"While SGX has met its primary obligation as an exchange to maintain fair, orderly and transparent markets, it has fallen below service recovery standards on both incidents," the MAS said.

MAS added that it has told the exchange to improve its monitoring systems and recovery capabilities, its business continuity management and how it communicates during a crisis. It also said that the SGX will not raise fees for the securities and derivatives markets until it has completed its improvements to the regulator's satisfaction, and the exchange will also donate S$1 million to the investor education fund.

In probably his last press conference as SGX head honcho, outgoing chief executive Magnus Bocker told the briefing on Wednesday that the SGX had had no plans to raise its traditional fees but had originally intended to "restructure" its post-trade fees in the second half of this year.

It would shelve those plans until the fee moratorium was lifted, he said, adding that redirecting S$20 million of capex towards strengthening the bourse's tech infrastructure also meant that most other non-tech investments would now have to proceed at a slower pace.

"We are reprioritising," Mr Bocker said, noting that the exchange expects to spend about S$70-75 million of capex on tech and tech-related investments this year and the next. He added that in previous years, the annual tech-related capex had been around S$40-45 million.

As part of improving its systems, he said that the exchange was designing an enterprise command centre with real-time tools to improve its monitoring, and would have the plans for the centre ready by the end of September this year.

The SGX also said in a statement that it has started to carry out more realistic and complex drills as part of its business continuity management, and has shifted oversight for business continuity from its tech division to its risk management division.

The exchange aims to finish implementing its various measures by the end of the year, Mr Bocker said. Incoming chief executive Loh Boon Chye was not at the briefing.

SGX board chairman Chew Choon Seng, who was also on the inquiry committee, said that the board would monitor the progress of the improvements and report it to MAS every quarter.

Dealers said on Wednesday that MAS's reprimand was good enough, especially since the exchange had not suffered major outages since December 2014.

"It's more a slap on the wrist, but if the slap works, then good for them. We don't need to use a hammer," one broker said. However, he added that if another major disruption happens again, the regulator ought to explicitly fine the SGX.

Corporate governance specialist Mak Yuen Teen, an associate professor at NUS Business School, asked whether the MAS had a "proper framework" of publicly known sanctions and penalties for the exchange, similar to what is in place for service providers such as telcos and transport operators.

"For telcos, transport providers, casinos, it's very clear what range of penalties can be imposed. There is only one SGX, but in a sense that make it even more critical - they effectively have a monopoly so it's even more important that they do their job properly."

Apart from Mr Quah and Mr Chew, the other two members of the panel were Kevin Kwok and Lee Hsien Yang. All four men are SGX board directors.


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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 11) Notification 2015 (S 364 of 2015)

The fair tenancy framework: A step in the right direction

09 Jun 2015

Ex-NTUC leader Phey Yew Kok turns himself in after 35 years on the run

Business Times
25 Jun 2015
Teh Shi Ning

PM Lee says Singapore has zero tolerance for corruption, even when it's embarassing for the government

[Singapore] MORE than three decades after he first jumped bail and fled Singapore, former trade union leader and People's Action Party member of parliament Phey Yew Kok appeared in court on Wednesday to face the corruption charges first served on him in 1979.

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said Phey, now 81, had turned himself in at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday and was escorted back to Singapore by CPIB officers on Tuesday.

He was first charged in December 1979 with four counts of criminal breach of trust involving S$82,520 and two other charges, under the Trade Unions Act, of unlawfully using S$17,745 of union funds to buy shares in a private supermarket, Forward Supermarket, in 1978.

Phey was then released on bail of S$100,000 but did not have his passport impounded. A warrant of arrest was issued against him after he failed to turn up in court on Jan 7, 1980. His two bailors lost S$95,000 of their bail bonds.

In a Facebook post on the matter, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday wrote: "We have maintained a clean and non-corrupt system in Singapore for half a century because we have zero tolerance for corruption. When we discover wrongdoing, we do not hesitate to act. We will not allow any cover up, even when it is awkward or embarrassing for the government."

At the time of his charges, Phey was in his second term as PAP's MP for Boon Teck. He was also chairman of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and general secretary of three trade unions - the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation, the Pioneer Industries Employees Union and the Singapore Air Transport-workers' Union.

After he jumped bail, Phey was sacked from these posts, and stripped of leadership posts at other organisations such as the Singapore Labour Foundation, the advisory council of the Skills Development Fund and the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association. He also lost his seat in Parliament.

In the years that followed, in response to parliamentary questions about the hunt for Phey, the government said that investigations found that he had fled to Kuala Lumpur by train on Dec 31, 1979, and headed on to Bangkok. CPIB officers went to Bangkok to locate the fugitive, even though Singapore did not have an extradition treaty with Thailand, but could not find him.

Phey has also been raised by opposition parties at election rally speeches over the years as an example of a disgraced PAP politician - including at the Hougang by-election in 2012.

In response to media queries on Wednesday, PM Lee said: "He has been charged in court, and the law will have to take its course. This will bring closure to a long outstanding case involving a person who was holding public office as an MP and a senior union leader."

The Straits Times reported that the prosecution has applied for Phey to be remanded at Changi Prison for investigations and that more charges will be tendered against him. A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for July 23.

CPIB also said on Wednesday that Phey will be required to assist in further investigations in relation to other offences he may have committed.

In a brief media statement yesterday, NTUC also noted the development, saying: "We must now let the law take its course."


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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 10) Notification 2015 (S 363 of 2015)

Supreme Court Note: PP v Christeen d/o Jayamany [2015] SGHC 126 (s 33B(2) Misuse of Drugs Act)

Supreme Court Note
08 Jun 2015

Five non-exhaustive factors guide the application of ss 33B(2)(a) and 33B(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed). In determining whether an accused person satisfies what is commonly known as the “courier” exception (ie, one of the twin conditions to qualify for alternative sentencing), the following non-exhaustive factors could be distilled:

(a) whether the role is a common and ordinary incident of transporting, sending or delivering a drug;

(b) whether such involvement is necessary to deliver the drugs, including:

(i) the degree of alteration to the drugs; and

(ii) the extent to which such involvement looks beyond his immediate recipient of the drugs;

(c) the extent in scope and time of the functions which the offender performs;

(d) the degree of executive decision-making powers which the accused has; and

(e) whether the offender receives a distinct form of benefit for performing his extra functions.

Four aspects of the second accused’s involvement in the drug offences were considered. The first two aspects were generally incidental, ie, collecting payment for drugs couriered, and forwarding to the drug recipient (the first accused in this case) details of downstream deliveries to be done by her. However, for the latter aspect, the second accused was more actively involved by being a two-way conduit of information and by seeking confirmations that those downstream deliveries were successful. The other two aspects were not incidental, ie, recruiting or administering the payment for other drug couriers, and asking drug recipients to find more drug customers and offering higher payment therefor. The second accused’s cumulative conduct, especially the fact that he had asked the first accused to find more customers, fell outside s 33B(2)(a).

The Court also observed that the Prosecution should, upon conviction of an accused person, be ready to address the Court on whether the Public Prosecutor would be issuing a certificate of substantive assistance under s 33B(2)(b).

At Public Prosecutor v Christeen d/o Jayamany and another [2015] SGHC 126, paras 46, 48, 68 to 73, 77, 80, 81, 83 and 85 to 87. To view the judgment, click <here>.

Disclaimer: The above is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.

The legacy of the Magna Carta

Straits Times
25 Jun 2015

THE Magna Carta, or Great Charter, was a failure as a peace treaty, torn up just eight weeks after it was signed in June 1215. But its 800th anniversary this year is feted rightly for what it represents: the fight for civil liberties and democracy in England and many parts of the world through the centuries.

The charter was signed to stop a civil war between the English King John and rebel barons disgruntled with the extortionate taxes imposed on them to finance his wars with France. The barons were also unhappy with the huge powers of the monarchy. A good part of the document - more than a third - limited the king's powers, particularly his ability to impose unlimited taxes, and granted certain rights to the people. Under the charter, no one, including the king, was above the law, a nod to the concept of the rule of law. But it applied only to a small group of people, the barons, and was quickly nullified by the Pope. It was to be many centuries from the signing of the Magna Carta before Britain developed the suite of freedoms its people enjoy today.

The Magna Carta's influence went beyond Britain's shores, inspiring the revolution - and the revolutionaries' slogan of "no taxation without representation" - that led to the establishment of the United States. Most of all, it is seen as a precursor to universal human rights and an inspiration to people struggling for justice and freedom throughout the world. Its influence can be seen in the US Bill of Rights that guarantees certain personal freedoms and restricts the government's powers, and in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, described as an "international Magna Carta for all mankind". It has been invoked by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

Of course, with freedoms come responsibilities. There are, and should be, legal restrictions and ethical and moral constraints on the exercise of freedom to the extent that it hurts others. In several European countries, for example, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust and, in Germany, this comes under the law against incitement of hatred that carries prison terms as punishment. In Singapore, the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act prohibits attacks on any religion and the authorities may issue a restraining order or prosecute those who violate the law.

In celebrating the Magna Carta, it cannot be forgotten that there are countries where people still do not enjoy the range of civil rights that they should. There is also a need to safeguard hard-won rights from erosion, whether through extremist ideologies or through the exclusion or marginalisation of minorities. The Magna Carta remains a beacon of hope.

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Approved Institutions) (No. 8) Notification 2015 (S 362 of 2015)

Consultation Paper on Review of Accident & Health Insurance Regulatory Framework

08 Jun 2015

Resident goes to court over S&CC

Straits Times
25 Jun 2015
Rachel Au-Yong

A RESIDENT of a new Housing Board development in Hougang has gone to court to obtain a refund of the service and conservancy charges (S&CC) she paid to the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Corporate travel manager Melinda Teo, 37, made a report to the Small Claims Tribunal on Monday, calling for the return of the $367.20 she had paid AHPETC between last November and May this year.

Ms Teo, who lives in the 680-unit Parkland Residences, a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project, argued that she need not have to pay the fees as the Workers' Party-run town council had taken over the management and maintenance of the property only on June 1.

Before that, the project's developer, Kwan Hwee Investment, had been asked by the HDB to clean the common areas while the paperwork for AHPETC to take over the care of the property was being finalised.

The scheme, with HDB flats designed and built by private developers, was suspended in 2011 after a public outcry over the pricey units.

Ms Teo's move follows a petition more than 300 residents of Parkland Residences had sent to the town council earlier this month, demanding that their S&CC before June 1 be waived or refunded.

But an AHPETC spokesman had told reporters then that it cannot return the S&CC to residents as it has to compensate Kwan Hwee Investment for the maintenance work done before June 1.

Ms Teo, however, retorted yesterday: "If the town council did not appoint the developer on its own accord, how can it take our money just because the developer is asking for a reimbursement?"

Following her court action, an AHPETC representative will have to attend a meeting at the Small Claims Tribunal on July 2, according to a tribunal notice issued to the town council.

Otherwise, an order could be given against the town council. The order could include a mandatory compensation to the claimant for claims below $10,000.

Ms Teo said that she decided to take the legal route as "our e-mail and petition have received only silent treatment from the MPs and town council".

AHPETC did not respond to queries by press time.


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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Medifund Committees) Order 2015 (S 361 of 2015)

Interpreting s 292(1)(a) of the Penal Code

08 Jun 2015

New guidelines to protect research participants

24 Jun 2015
Siau Ming En

SINGAPORE — When researchers in a human biomedical research project unintentionally come across a finding that suggests potential health risks, they sometimes face a dilemma on whether they should inform the participant about it.

This issue of incidental findings from such research was among several that the Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) was trying to address when it was revising its ethics guidelines released today (June 23).

Speaking at a press conference held at the National Research Foundation headquarters, BAC member Kon Oi Lian noted that with the flourishing of genomic science research, questions on giving consent and managing incidental findings had been raised in recent years.

Dr Kon, the head of the division of medical sciences in the National Cancer Centre Singapore, noted that at times the unanticipated findings are either known to cause a disease or associated with a high likelihood of leading to a future disorder. “Many research participants have given their biological materials but they have not, at that time of donation, been specifically asked to make a decision if we find something — as it were by accident, but would we feel is clinically relevant to you — would you or would you not like to be informed of it?”

The revised set of guidelines now recommends that researchers ask participants if they would like to be informed of these “clinically significant” findings during the consent-taking process if there is a possibility that such findings may emerge. Previously, researchers had the option to not share such findings with the participants.

Human biomedical research is conducted to study, diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, injury or disorder of the human mind or body; and involves humans, human tissues or information derived from humans.

Professor Alastair Campbell, also a BAC member, said the scope of defining such research was also expanded to ensure that any research, even if it is done by others, such as social scientists, will be covered by proper ethical research guidelines.

Another revision to the guidelines is to respect the views of minors — individuals under 21 years old — who are capable of making their own decisions. Previously, a parent or guardian’s consent would suffice.

Prof Campbell said there is an increasing view globally that if the young person is able to understand what is involved, he has as much standing as parents who are seeking to protect the welfare of their children. “In other words, a young person, perfectly able to understand the nature of what’s being proposed, should have the right to refuse even if their parents are willing to consent,” said Prof Campbell, a professor of medical ethics at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.

Between July and August 2012, the committee had put up the proposed guidelines for public consultation. Two dialogue sessions were also held for researchers, the general public religious groups, among others, that year. BAC chairman Richard Magnus, when asked if the guidelines were legally binding, noted that as the guidelines were a consolidation of past recommendations, some had already been passed as legislation.

Those not hard coded in the law, he noted, becomes “soft law” that represents institutional best practices for human biomedical research.

The set of revised guidelines comes as the Ministry of Health mulls over the draft Human Biomedical Research Bill announced last November, which aims to formalise standards in the area of biomedical research and protect the welfare of research participants. There has also been more long-term research in the area over the years, such as the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes, or GUSTO, birth cohort study and more recently, a large-scale preconception study that involve 1,000 local couples.


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Foreign Income) (No. 5) Order 2015 (S 360 of 2015)

Housing developers to meet new requirements for show flats, standard forms, and governance

05 Jun 2015

NUS trio win international law contest

Straits Times
24 Jun 2015
Toh Ting Wei

A TEAM from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Law has won an international law contest, with its three members clinching individual honours as well.

The inaugural Herbert Smith Freehills Competition Law Moot - which was held at King's College London from June 12 to 14 - saw final-year students Jeremiah Lau, Benjamin Wong and Lisa Tan triumph against the University of Amsterdam in the finals, to finish first in a pool of 12 teams.

Ms Tan, 23, was also awarded the Best Oralist prize, while Mr Lau, 24, and Mr Wong, 25, finished as runners-up alongside two other participants.

Saying her individual prize was "completely unexpected", Ms Tan revealed yesterday that it was her first time participating in a moot since her freshman year.

She said: "It was very tough initially as I had many things to work on, but I'm thankful to the NUS team, in particular Associate Professor Eleanor Wong, for painstakingly helping me to identify my problems and giving me tips on how to overcome them."

Ms Tan credited the trio's teamwork as being crucial. It was the only three-member team in the competition, with the others having only two members, which gave the trio less time to make their individual presentations. However, they were able to benefit from having "greater stamina" to address questions posed by the moot bench, according to Ms Tan.

Coached by Associate Professor Burton Ong, the team spent more than five months preparing for the competition, including two weeks of intensive preparation for the oral rounds.

Prof Ong pointed out that not many would have expected the team to outperform its European counterparts, given that the competition was based on European Competition laws.

He added: "I am not surprised at all by the team's achievement - Jeremiah, Benjamin and Lisa are among the best students I have encountered in my years as a law tutor, and it was very satisfying to see them demonstrate what I already knew they were capable of to an international audience."


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

Government Securities (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 15 of 2015)

Consultation paper on changes to regulatory framework for accident & health insurance

05 Jun 2015

Noble should pay heed to its corporate governance

Business Times
24 Jun 2015
Mak Yuen Teen

Its practices in picking its board of directors, remuneration policy and degree of disclosure fly in the face of a company that is reportedly working on improving transparency

THE third report issued by Iceberg Research and some commentators have touched on the corporate governance of Noble Group, in particular the long tenure of some of its independent directors. However, there has not been an in-depth assessment of its corporate governance.

The Governance and Transparency Index (GTI), published by The Business Times and the National University of Singapore's Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) and sponsored by CPA Australia, provides an indication of the overall quality of Noble's corporate governance and transparency. The 2014 GTI gave it an overall score of 41, placing it in 293rd position in a field of 644 companies covered. This was an unusually low ranking for such a large company. Interestingly, in 2013, Noble was ranked far lower - at 503 - with a score of just 28.

In this commentary, I will discuss in depth two key areas of Noble's corporate governance - its board of directors and its remuneration policy and disclosures.


Before its recent annual general meeting (AGM) on April 17, 2015, it had a 13-member board, with an executive chairman, two other executive directors, two non-independent non-executive directors and eight independent directors.

At the recent AGM, the two non-independent non-executive directors did not seek re-election. On May 6, Noble appointed an additional independent director, making it a 12-member board, with three-quarters being independent directors. Perhaps the new appointment was a reaction to shareholders at the AGM, or to recent criticisms about its corporate governance; otherwise, it should have put this new director up for election at the AGM, rather than give shareholders the opportunity to scrutinise and approve his election only at the next AGM.

In my view, Noble's board is still larger than it needs to be, and in its case, more directors do not translate into better diversity. Its board appears over-weighted by independent directors with a banking background. Perhaps it feels it needs a lot of banker-type directors who are able to help it build relationships with banks, given the 41 principal bankers listed in its annual report.

There are also a number of interlocking company and board relationships among the independent directors. The inter-connectedness and lack of diversity among the independent directors is likely related to how Noble appoints directors. In its annual report, it says the appointment of directors is based on the Chairman consulting individually with directors on possible candidates, who are then considered by the nominating committee. This appears to be a classic example of a board which appoints directors through an "old boys' network", purely through recommendations of incumbent directors.

The appointment of the newest independent director, Paul Jeremy Brough, seems to support this. He joined KPMG Hong Kong in 1983, became a partner in 1991 and retired as a senior partner in 2012.

Iain Ferguson Bruce, a current independent director and the audit committee chairman, was also a senior partner of KPMG in Hong Kong, having retired in 1996. Clearly, the pair know each other. Of all the possible independent-director candidates in Hong Kong and elsewhere, Noble appointed one with ties with an incumbent independent director.

The appointment of Mr Brough is particularly surprising, given the public scrutiny Noble is facing. This suggests that it is oblivious to or does not care about public perceptions. Some may argue that this is a sign of hubris.

Mr Brough may have been brought in to ultimately replace Mr Bruce on the board and the audit committee. Mr Bruce sits on the boards of six other listed companies - five listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and one on New York Stock Exchange - and has other key appointments; he is the busiest director in terms of number of listed company directorships on a board stacked with busy individuals based on their directorships and key appointments. He also chairs what is arguably one of Noble's two most critical committees - the audit committee (the other being the risk committee).

Although Mr Bruce is a qualified accountant who had had a distinguished career in KPMG, he retired almost 20 years ago, when financial reporting standards were much different from today's. Given that accounting firms are essentially full-service consulting firms, he may not necessarily have the requisite background to understand the complex financial reporting issues in a global commodities player like Noble.

Similarly, though Mr Brough also had a distinguished career in an accounting firm, it would nevertheless be important for shareholders to assess whether he has the necessary background for a company like Noble when considering whether to support his election at the next AGM.

For such a large board with so many independent directors, the lack of any independent directors with strong experience in the commodities industry is rather surprising, and would lead to questions about the ability of the board to challenge management on the company's business model and strategies. Further, while many of the independent directors have international appointments, they are all based in or closely connected, to Hong Kong, though Noble is listed here and operates globally.

The company does not disclose the age of its directors in the annual report. Online searches reveal that at least four out of nine of its independent directors are over 70 years old; the youngest is 58, and the oldest, 85. As a well-known American corporate-governance activist and director once said: "The reason he is so accomplished is because he is old." I have nothing against older directors, but I think Noble can do with some younger blood on its board, who bring current and relevant skills and competencies to the boardroom.

Four of its nine independent directors have served more than nine years. Noble said it has done a "particularly rigorous review" and concluded that they are all still independent; it also said it does not feel it is appropriate to set a limit on number of directorships held by its directors.

If we look at the profiles of its independent directors, busy-ness appears to be a criterion for appointment, rather than a basis for exclusion. The manner in which Noble dealt with the two new guidelines in the 2012 Code of Corporate Governance - those pertaining to degree of independence and setting a limit on maximum number of listed-company directorships - tells us something about its attitude towards corporate governance in general, and its lack of interest in implementing guidelines in the Code (as my discussion of its remuneration policy and disclosures would further confirm).

There are other questionable board and committee practices. For example, the executive chairman is a member of the audit, nominating and remuneration committees, which is not good practice and indicates the pervasive influence that he has in the corporate governance of the company.

In my opinion, stakeholders of Noble should not expect the board to be an independent and effective monitor of management.


Noble is opaque when it comes to remuneration of directors and senior executives. It discloses the remuneration of its executive directors, top five executives and non-executive directors in bands of S$250,000.

For the three executive directors, it discloses a top band of S$1.5 million and above, together with the percentage mix; for the top five key management executives, it discloses that they were each paid S$1.5 million and up. It does not comply with the Code's recommendation to disclose the total remuneration of the top five key management personnel who are not directors. For the non-executive directors, it provides the rather useless disclosure that they were all paid below S$250,000. As is common, it falls back on the competitiveness of the industry, sensitivity and confidentiality as excuses for opaqueness.

Its other required disclosures give some additional information: Note 6 to the financial statements said that in 2014, the three executive directors were paid a total of US$17 million (with three-quarters being the fair value of share-based payments) and the non-executive directors, US$690,000. In other words, the average remuneration of the three executive directors was well above the starting point of the "S$1.5 million and above" top band.

It should be pointed out that if Noble had listed in HK, such opaqueness would not fly, because the HK listing rules require the disclosure of the exact remuneration of each individual director (including executive director).

Noble is also extremely poor in disclosing its remuneration policy. It vaguely mentions that it links incentive remuneration for senior management to group and divisional earnings and that it may use other role-specific measures (that is, individual performance measures); it does not reveal the fee structure for its non-executive directors.

Noble makes a number of disclosures in the notes related to the assumptions used to value share options, which it uses extensively, but there are no indications that the vesting or exercise of the options is staggered at all. Presumably, this means that all the options granted can be exercised after the minimum period under the listing rules, which is one year for non-discounted options.

This leads to concerns that the options will promote short-termism among the executive directors and senior executives. What is worse is that Noble gives share options to all its independent directors, including those who serve on the audit and risk committees; these options align their incentives closely to management, and may encourage them to promote risk-taking rather than to oversee risk management, and think short-term.

The questionable corporate governance practices I have described will give critics of Noble's accounting practices more ammunition, as board oversight, remuneration practices and financial reporting quality are inextricably linked.

Noble has promised to improve its transparency. It should also take a very hard look at its corporate governance if it wants to regain investors' confidence.

The writer is an associate professor at the NUS Business School, where he teaches corporate governance and ethics. He developed the Governance and Transparency Index in 2009 and was involved in the first three issues of the index. He does not own shares in Noble and has no connection to the other critics of Noble.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 359 of 2015)

SHC clarifies sentencing principles for public sector and private sector corruption

05 Jun 2015

Tackling maritime crime without going overboard

Business Times
24 Jun 2015
David Hughes

SSA says that it is important to distinguish between armed robbery and piracy, noting that only 14% of attacks on merchant vessels in Q1 are classified as piracy

IF a gang of cut-throats armed to the teeth climb on to your tanker, knock your crew about and pump the ship's cargo into a waiting vessel, you probably will not be wondering whether they are pirates or armed robbers.

There is, however, an important legal difference between the two. It is why the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur receives and disseminates reports on piracy and on armed robbery.

For some purposes, though, the two can be lumped together, as seen from the IMB's comments that, after a steady drop in global piracy over the last few years, attacks went up 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 from the corresponding period in 2014.

In the same vein, in April, an IMB report on the first three months of this year said a small coastal tanker was being hijacked by pirates in South-east Asia every two weeks on average, and that more than half (55 per cent) of the world's 54 piracy and armed robbery incidents this year happened in South-east Asia.

But the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) has stressed that it is important to distinguish between armed robbery and piracy when reporting incidents in South-east Asian waters.

In a study it commissioned to determine the scale of threat posed to seafarers in the region, it found that in the first quarter of this year, the vast majority of incidents in the region were armed robberies, that is, incidents that happened in the territorial waters and under the jurisdiction of the sovereign state; incidents are classified as piracy when they take place on the high seas.

Where help comes from

This definition closely follows Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

SSA says the distinction determines whether a merchant vessel seeks protection from the navy or coast guard of the littoral state, or from the navy or coastguard of the vessel's flag of registry. This is broadly the situation, though there are circumstances where the provisions of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation could be relevant.

Recent reports of "pirate" attacks were more likely to have been armed robberies targeted at specific vessel types, particularly when they were in port or at anchor, says SSA.

This is actually a help if either a distress message is sent out or somebody sees what is happening. If an attack occurs in territorial waters, the local military and law enforcement agencies can act without problems over jurisdiction.

On the other hand, the recent capture of the suspected hijackers of the tanker Orkim Harmony shows how effective co-operation between countries in the region can be.

While it is outrageous that tankers are being attacked, it is also important to keep these incidents in perspective. SSA stresses that, with an estimated 50,000 to 90,000 vessels moving through the straits of Malacca and Singapore each year and more ships sailing around South-east Asia and South China Sea, the likelihood of merchant vessels being attacked is very small, given that they exercise high vigilance and conduct anti-boarding watches.

SSA is also right to point out that the situation in the South China Sea is vastly different from that in the Gulf of Aden, where heavily armed pirates board vessels in open seas with plans to take the ship and its crew hostage for ransom.

Somali pirates

The SSA uses the present tense in reference to incidents off eastern Africa, but naval patrols and the use of armed security guards have been effective in preventing successful attacks by Somali pirates.

The industry is, however, a very long way from needing armed teams on merchant ships in South-east Asia.

The SSA commissioned a technical report to examine incidents of armed robbery and piracy in South-east Asian waters and the South China Sea, basing it on detailed analyses of IMB's quarterly reports and also those of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) for the first quarter of this year.

The findings revealed that only 14 percent of attacks on merchant vessels were classified as piracy; and of the remaining 85 per cent of incidents, almost half took place while the vessel was in port or at anchorage.

Nevertheless, merchant ships must take all precautions possible and SSA is encouraging masters and crews to ensure they practise recognised methods of countering possible boarding while in South-east Asian waters.

It advises that, if the ship is boarded, masters should put the well-being of their crew first, while fully complying with the standing instructions of their companies.

SSA has worked with ReCAAP to provide Guidelines for Tug Boats and Barges Against Piracy and Sea Robbery, which can be found online at www.recaap.org. It points out that the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia-Based Piracy (BMP4) can be successfully adapted for use in South-east Asia.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships must be taken seriously, and the signs are encouraging. Perpetrators are being caught. Making sure this sort of crime doesn't pay is the key to eradicating it.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Carbon Emissions Tax) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 358 of 2015)

Facilitating securities-based crowdfunding in Singapore

05 Jun 2015

Keppel FELS, Sembcorp Marine deny allegations of Brazil bribery

Business Times
24 Jun 2015
Nikita Mathur

[Singapore] SINGAPORE shipbuilders Keppel FELS Ltd and Sembcorp Marine Ltd's unit Jurong Shipyard Pte have firmly denied any allegations of participation in Brazil's ongoing bribery scandal involving contracts to build deep-water drilling vessels.

Both companies, global leaders in off-shore deep-water engineering, were among several other companies alleged to have paid bribes through intermediaries in order to obtain contracts worth around US$800 million each, which would allow the construction of 21 deep-water drilling vessels, said a report by Bloomberg on Tuesday.

The contracts allowed the construction of deep-water rigs which would then be leased to the state-controlled oil producer by a company established by several Brazilian banks and Petrobras called Sete Brasil, the report added. The allegations were based on a testimony released on Friday by a Brazilian court.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Keppel FELS strongly refuted allegations regarding its involvement in the payment of bribes relating to the investigations surrounding Petrobras.

"We would like to emphasise that Keppel Group has a Code of Conduct which prohibits, among others, bribery and corruption. Our employees are required to conduct themselves with integrity, in an ethical and proper manner, and in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate, including anti-bribery laws," the company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, added.

To comment, Sembcorp Marine referred to a statement made in February, saying: "Sembcorp Marine did not make any illegal payments and the group's policies and contracts prohibit bribery and unethical behaviour."

The allegations in the testimony released on Friday were made by a former Petrobras and Sete executive from the engineering and services division, Pedro Barusco. He has agreed to give up around US$97 million he said he earned from bribes, which included payments made by shipyards to obtain work with Sete, Bloomberg's report added.

The allegations, first made in February, are part of an ongoing investigation codenamed Operation "Lava Jato" or Operation Car Wash that is looking into how government-linked parties implemented money-laundering and corruption schemes involving state- run oil company Petrobras.

However, the claims appeared to have no bearing on the companies' stock prices. Keppel Corporation shares closed at S$8.40 on Tuesday, down a cent, and Sembcorp Marine shares closed unchanged at S$2.88.

In the alleged plan which would have taken place over a decade, Brazil's political parties were said to have helped promote selected candidates to powerful positions within Petrobras, after which these executives would allegedly take bribes for contracts and allegedly use part of the money to fund political campaigns, reported Bloomberg.

The investigation has also seen the recent arrest of Marcelo Odebrecht, chief executive officer of Latin America's biggest engineering and construction group, Odebrecht SA, Bloomberg reported. Odebrecht has refuted all bribery charges.

The report added that the chief executive officers of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd's partners have also been detained and questioned as part of police investigations. Kawasaki partnered companies including Odebrecht in a shipyard that won contracts with Sete.


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

Government Contracts Act - Government Contracts (Authorisation) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 357 of 2015)

IPOS Case Summary: Ceramiche Caesar v Caesarstone Sdot Yam [2015] SGIPOS 9 (whether marks similar)

04 Jun 2015

Lunch to mark Subhas Anandan's 'happiest day'

Straits Times
24 Jun 2015
Lim Yi Han

THE late criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan's happiest day of the year was June 23. It was the day his son Sujesh was born.

So, yesterday, a lunch was held in memory of Mr Subhas at the Supreme Court. Mr Subhas died of heart failure in January at the age of 67.

The buffet lunch was organised by the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore, which Mr Subhas co-founded.

The association's acting president, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, who is also Mr Subhas' nephew, called for a minute of applause instead of the traditional minute of silence for his late uncle.

However, he stopped halfway and said, to laughter from the crowd: "In Subhas' style, he would say 20 seconds is enough."

More than 50 people from the legal fraternity attended the event, including Attorney-General V. K. Rajah, Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon and Mr Subhas' long-time friends, lawyers Noor Marican and Amolat Singh.

Addressing them, Mr Sunil said: "All of you would have worked with Subhas in one way or another, and touched his life...

"We hope to do this once a year, and to also continue his legacy to fight for the underprivileged."

Judicial Commissioner See, who is also the Presiding Judge of the State Courts said: "Subhas really impressed me as someone who was always professional... He always gave his best.

"I have seen few criminal lawyers with the same level of commitment that Subhas had."

Senior Counsel Mavis Chionh, chief prosecutor at the Attorney-General's Chambers' Criminal Justice Division, said: "All of us prosecutors who have worked with Subhas will remember him as a man with a very big heart, who fought very hard to help his clients. We certainly admire him for that."


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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 9) Notification 2015 (S 356 of 2015)

SHC: Service of process out of jurisdiction

04 Jun 2015

Amos Yee to be remanded at IMH

Straits Times
24 Jun 2015
Olivia Ho

TEENAGE blogger Amos Yee will be remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to undergo psychiatric examination.

In a pre-sentence hearing, the court was told yesterday that a prison report found the 16-year-old physically and mentally fit for reformative training.

However, a psychiatric assessment by Dr Munidasa Winslow contained in the report suggested that Yee may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder - which can be characterised by social deficits and communication difficulties.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur therefore ordered that Yee be remanded at the IMH for two weeks to see if he is suitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO).

First implemented in 2010, an MTO requires offenders with mental conditions to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to two years in lieu of jail time.

The Straits Times understands Yee also submitted an undertaking to the court, agreeing to make the offending posts private and not disseminate them further. As of 5pm yesterday, the posts were no longer accessible on Yee's blog and YouTube channel.

Yee's case is scheduled to be heard again on July 6, when Judge Kaur will consider sentencing options such as an MTO and reformative training. On June 2, she had ordered him to be remanded for three weeks to be assessed for a reformative training report.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun noted that the prosecution had already suggested that Yee be examined by psychiatrists on previous occasions.

Yee had been found guilty of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video and uploading an obscene image.

Yesterday, Yee seemed wan and unkempt and sat unsmiling in the dock. He has spent almost 40 days in remand to date.

Defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell said his client had not objected to the IMH assessment.

He said: "The judge is clearly doing her level best to ensure that Amos gets the best treatment and perhaps rehabilitation."

Yee's mother, Madam Mary Toh, 48, arrived in court wearing a T-shirt with a #FreeAmosYee slogan in support of her son.

The shirt depicted Yee in a banana-esque submarine, referencing The Beatles' hit Yellow Submarine.

His father, computer engineer Alphonsus Yee, told reporters his son had not been previously diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

He said: "There has been a lot of speculation online about it, but nothing in his growing-up years suggested this."


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

Immigration Act - Immigration (Immigration Anchorages) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 355 of 2015)

[MYA] Myanmar’s new competition law

04 Jun 2015

High Court dismisses appeals by directors of Profitable Plots

Straits Times
23 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

TWO directors of land-banking firm Profitable Plots, who were jailed a total of 15 years for cheating investors, have had their appeals against their sentences dismissed by the High Court.

Britons Timothy Goldring, 60, and John Nordmann, 55, were both convicted in the State Courts a year ago on 18 charges of cheating after a 64-day joint trial that began in April 2013.

Goldring was jailed for seven years and Nordmann got an eight-year sentence after investors lost around $915,000.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang, in judgment grounds released yesterday, said their jail terms were neither "unduly harsh" nor "too lenient". Pointing to aggravating factors, he said that despite the evidence against them, they blamed "virtually everyone else except themselves" for Profitable Plots' downfall and failed to provide restitution to those they cheated.

This despite receiving just over US$1 million (S$1.3 million) in remuneration along with fellow director Geraldine Thomas, 46, from the Boron investment scheme they used. They had lured clients to invest in it by promising 12.5 per cent returns within six months. Instead, they lost $3.1 million after part of the returns was used to pay Profitable Plots' existing debts.

Some 68 other charges were stood down. Ms Thomas, a Singaporean, was acquitted during the trial.

Profitable Plots, set up in 2005, was known for its TV commercials that featured former English football stars Bryan Robson and Steve McMahon urging viewers to "buy UK land".

The authorities took notice when angry clients stormed its offices in Stanley Street near Shenton Way, demanding what they claimed were overdue payouts.

Both Goldring and Nordmann appealed to the High Court, representing themselves and arguing that the district judge was "wrong in several ways and for a whole gamut of reasons".

They provided 29 appeal grounds each and their written submissions ran into 377 pages, noted Justice Tay, who heard the appeals in February and April this year.

The judge was not convinced and affirmed both conviction and sentence. He found that both men "concealed material information from the staff and investors", having known from the outset that Boron product sales were insufficient to produce the returns they had promised and clients' investments were spent elsewhere.

Justice Tay noted that Nordmann and his wife Geraldine had shipped 18 tonnes of personal effects from their home in Malaysia to France while the probe was going on.

"Clearly they had ample means and opportunity to make restitution, at least in part, to the victims of the Boron scheme," he wrote, noting that only $66,000 remained in the firm's bank accounts seized by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) during its probe.

"Despite the evidence... they blamed virtually everyone except themselves for (Profitable Plots') downfall. They blamed CAD for intervening, third parties for speaking up in the public sphere and hastening (Profitable Plots') downfall, investors for trying to defraud them."

However, he rejected the prosecution's call to enhance the jail terms imposed.


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

Goldring, Timothy Nicholas v Public Prosecutor and other appeals [2015] SGHC 158

Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 - Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 354 of 2015)

Regulating new technologies and their real world impacts: The Uber example

03 Jun 2015

Law firm in Dallas Buyers Club action accused of bullying tactics

23 Jun 2015
Kelly Ng

Lawyers representing film studio had used threats of criminal proceedings to advance civil claims, says NGO

SINGAPORE — The local chapter of a non-governmental organisation promoting the use of Internet has lodged a complaint with the Law Society, against lawyers from the legal firm representing the United States film studio Dallas Buyers Club LLC.

The studio is going after people here who allegedly downloaded the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club illegally, and the first batch of demand letters issued to 77 M1 subscribers by the lawyers from Samuel Seow Law Corporation had used threats of criminal proceedings to advance civil claims, thus breaching the Law Society’s ethical guidelines for legal practitioners, said the Internet Society (Singapore)’s president Harish Pillay, who personally handed the written complaint to the Law Society last week.

The complaint is against Mr Robert Raj Joseph and Mr Lee Heng Eam from Samuel Seow Law Corp’s litigation and dispute resolution practice group. Mr Raj is the director of the group while Mr Lee is an associate. When contacted, Mr Raj said he is on leave and referred this newspaper to the firm’s managing director Samuel Seow.

Mr Seow told TODAY he has no knowledge of the complaint. He added that the demand letters, which were first sent out in April, were issued by Mr Raj, who is leaving the company and has been placed on gardening leave. Mr Raj’s departure is not linked to the handling of the case, Mr Seow said. He added that he and a “new team” took over the case file from Mr Raj just last week.

Mr Seow said his law firm recently sent out a new batch of letters — which were worded differently — to StarHub and Singtel subscribers who allegedly downloaded the movie illegally.

The demand letters issued to the M1 subscribers had asked for a written offer of damages and costs, and Mr Raj said in April the studio had received and accepted “quite a number of” offers of compensation. These letters had spelt out a maximum fine of S$50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years for a conviction under Section 136(3) of the Copyright Act, and a maximum S$20,000 fine and six months’ jail term under Section 136(3A) of the Act.

Mr Pillay, who works in the information technology industry, said the demand letters were worded in the manner of a “big bully”, and the law firm had engaged in a “bad bullying tactic”.

“These words make people panic, especially those who are not legally trained ... They are blaming people of alleged transgression without proof ... Those who are a bit naive will settle,” said Mr Pillay. He noted that some alleged offenders may have made compensations without seeking legal help.

The Law Society’s Practice Directions and Rulings Guide 2013 states that it is improper for a solicitor to “communicate in writing or otherwise a threat of criminal proceedings in order to achieve a stated objective in any circumstance, for example, to compel a witness to attend at the solicitor’s office to give a statement or to sign a written statement despatched to him”.

Contacted by TODAY, the Law Society declined to comment on the complaint. Its spokesperson said the society was bound by the Legal Profession Act to maintain confidentiality of proceedings that are being conducted.

“The Law Society is therefore unable to comment if it has or has not received a complaint against any named lawyer or the status of any complaint received,” said the spokesperson.

Apart from Singapore, Dallas Buyers Club LLC has also started legal action in Australia and the US, where it is going after more than 4,700 and 1,000 Internet users, respectively. It had reportedly identified more than 500 Singapore IP addresses here through which the movie was said to have been downloaded illegally.

The Internet Society (Singapore) said there are alternative ways of encouraging legitimate content distribution. Lawyer Bryan Tan, who is the chapter’s treasurer, said that with the prevalence of the Internet, work will be copied and shared, and the question is how to legitimise such practices. The Creative Commons licensing system, which allows content creators to decide if their work can be modified or shared under commercial or non-commercial grounds, was set up to address this problem, Mr Pillay pointed out. “In this day and age, everything is a remix,” he said.


The Dallas Buyers Club saga

• Film studio Dallas Buyers Club LLC is going after people here who allegedly downloaded Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club illegally
• First batch of demand letters were issued to 77 M1 subscribers by Samuel Seow Law Corporation
• Dallas Buyers Club LLC has also started legal action in Australia and the US, where it is going after more than 4,700 and 1,000 Internet users, respectively
• It had reportedly identified more than 500 Singapore IP addresses here through which the movie was said to have been illegally downloaded


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Approved Institutions) (No. 7) Notification 2015 (S 353 of 2015)

Latest developments: Developmental guidelines for care of seniors; information to patients; Interpol orange notice on potentially lethal diet pills

03 Jun 2015

Apple makes U-turn on no-royalties plan

Straits Times
23 Jun 2015
Trevor Tan

Music industry applauds move to pay fees during free trial period

APPLE yesterday performed an abrupt U-turn on its decision not to pay royalties during Apple Music's three-month free trial, following protests from independent labels and country singer Taylor Swift.

The music streaming service is due to launch in 100 countries, including Singapore, on June 30, with customers getting the free trial before deciding whether to subscribe.

While the change of heart may initially have caused a public relations embarrassment for the tech giant, the industry is giving Apple the thumbs up for its willingness to tweak its plans.

Mr Colin Goh, co-founder and managing director of Ocean Butterflies Music, one of the biggest independent music labels in Singapore, said: "It shows the kind of respect that Apple has for music publishers, which is not what you get from some other companies."

He would not specify which company would not pay music publishers royalties, but he is understood to mean Apple's rival Spotify.

Its music streaming service has a free streaming tier for which artists and songwriters are not paid royalties.

American singer Swift spoke out against Spotify last year and withheld her entire catalogue from the service.

In a blog post yesterday titled "To Apple, Love Taylor", the 25-year-old called on Apple to abandon its plans for no payouts during its free trial period.

Within a day, Apple's senior vice-president for Internet software and services, Mr Eddy Cue, responded to the star on Twitter, saying: "Apple will always make sure that artist (sic) are paid... We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple."

The singer replied, tweeting: "I am elated and relieved."

However, she has yet to confirm if she will put her music on Apple Music.

Mr Matthew Pollins, digital media lawyer at Olswang Asia, said Apple has set the standard for royalty payments even if music is distributed for free.

"This move will ensure that artists are reimbursed each time their song is streamed, regardless of whether that stream is paid for by the end user or not," he said.

Local singer and songwriter Jaime Wong, 25, is relieved. "We don't get the kind of traffic and exposure that the chart-topping singers do, so every stream counts towards our earnings," she said.

"This move could be a game-changer for the online music industry."


Source: Straits 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. 8) Order 2015 (S 352 of 2015)

Latest developments: Wilful default of their fiduciary duties; production of company records; return of confidential information

03 Jun 2015

UN agency calls for Amos Yee's immediate release

Straits Times
23 Jun 2015
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

THE United Nations Human Rights Office for South-east Asia yesterday called for the immediate release of teenage blogger Amos Yee, who has been remanded at Changi Prison since June 2.

In a statement, the Bangkok-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Government to review the 16-year-old's conviction and asked that prosecutors also drop their demand that Yee be sentenced to a stint at the Reformative Training Centre (RTC).

Yee was found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video.

The prosecution asked the court at that time to consider probation for Yee.

But at an urgent closed-door hearing on May 27, the court heard that Yee refused to go for any interviews with his assigned probation officer, and that he again made public the video and obscene image that landed him in trouble in the first place.

On June 2, he was remanded for three weeks after District Judge Jasvender Kaur called for a report to assess if he is suitable for reformative training.

This is a rehabilitative sentencing option for young offenders aged under 21 who are found unsuitable for probation.

A stint lasts between 18 and 30 months.

Offenders will not have contact with adult inmates. But, unlike probation, a stint at RTC will leave them with a criminal record.

Yee is due in court today, where he may learn of his sentence.

The OHCHR said yesterday it was aware that Yee was being assessed for reformative training. But it expressed concern that the RTC is "akin to detention and usually applied to juvenile offenders involved in serious crimes".

The UN agency said it recognised Singapore's concerns about issues of public morality and social harmony. However, it did not think that reformative training was an appropriate sentence for Yee.

The OHCHR also appealed to the authorities to "give special consideration to his juvenile status".


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

Air Navigation Act - Air Navigation (Amendment No. 2) Order 2015 (S 351 of 2015)

Launch of web aggregator of life insurance products and sale of direct purchase insurance products

03 Jun 2015

Can new chief revive fortunes of ailing SGX?

Straits Times
23 Jun 2015
Grace Leong

Raise trading volumes. Make securities sizzle. Bring back the lunch break. The incoming Singapore Exchange chief has his work cut out for him

BANKING veteran Loh Boon Chye takes over as chief executive officer of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on July 14, amid hopes that he will revitalise South-east Asia's second-largest bourse.

Mr Loh is taking the helm when the contrast between the China and Hong Kong bourses and the SGX could not be more stark.

China and Hong Kong are charging ahead in the year's biggest bull run to date, with the Shanghai Composite Index and the Shenzhen Composite Index having chalked up staggering 12-month returns of 121 per cent and 158 per cent, respectively. Hong Kong has achieved an 18.8 per cent return so far.

Meanwhile, The Straits Times Index has barely kept its head above water with a 1.8 per cent return in the same period.

Except for China and Hong Kong, most bourses in Asia suffered a downturn in trading as foreign investors pulled out, anticipating a tightening of United States monetary policy. In Singapore, trading volumes shrank amid a continued drought in large listings and as the after-effects of a multibillion-dollar penny stock crash in 2013 linger.

This year could well be one of the worst on record for new listings: There are only three so far, raising US$41 million (S$55 million), a fraction of the US$600 million raised a year earlier.

That the average value of shares traded on Singapore's exchange each day trails China, Hong Kong and Tokyo is no surprise, but the fact that it is even lower than that of regional neighbour Thailand, which saw a military coup last year, is definitely cause for concern.

Given the dire statistics, it is no wonder the market is looking forward to a new CEO.

The market has spoken

ALTHOUGH the market has been in the doldrums for some time, it has not been for want of trying. Various initiatives have been rolled out. These include the SGX cutting the standard lot size for stock transactions to 100 shares from 1,000 and the introduction of market makers and liquidity providers.

Despite these and other measures, daily average trading value fell by 2 per cent last month to $1.1 billion from the figure a year earlier. For the month of May, securities turnover was $23 billion, down 2 per cent from the sum a year earlier, underscoring the uphill task the SGX faces.

The outgoing SGX chief executive, Swedish-born Mr Magnus Bocker, who joined the exchange in 2010 from Nasdaq OMX Group, has long tried to improve trading volumes. He tried to form alliances with other exchanges but had limited success. Shortly after joining the SGX, Mr Bocker launched a bold US$8.8 billion takeover bid for Australian exchange operator, ASX, but this was blocked the next year by the Australian government.

He also wanted a link between stockbroking houses in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, known as the Asean Trading Link, to evolve into a formal connection between the region's exchanges. But trading activity through the link has been low.

Mr Bocker saw establishing direct connections between exchanges, instead of replacing mergers and acquisitions, as the industry's main growth strategy, particularly in Asia. Last year, there was an agreement with the Taiwan Stock Exchange to cooperate on a study of a cost-efficient link between the Singapore and Taiwan markets, but that has not advanced.

Unhappy remisiers

IT DID not help that a key stakeholder group has grown disenfranchised as securities trading volume waned, along with a growing investor trend to trade through online platforms offering lower commissions.

"Over the past few years, we saw an SGX policy of over-focusing on promoting derivatives to the neglect of the basic stocks and shares sector," said Mr Jimmy Ho, president of the Society of Remisiers (Singapore).

The exchange rolled out derivatives trading based on a variety of Asian assets, from Chinese stocks to the Indian currency. Under Mr Bocker's tenure, trading volumes for derivatives reached record highs, jumping 89 per cent last month from the volumes a year ago, as the bull run in China fuelled activity in the FTSE China A50 futures contract.

The SGX, in its latest earnings announcement on April 22, said derivatives revenue has become an increasingly important revenue contributor, accounting for 40 per cent of its income.

But in creating a booming derivatives business that has helped diversify the SGX's revenues, there has been a negative result. Many remisiers and brokers in the securities business feel they are increasingly being marginalised.

The derivatives segment is largely the preserve of institutions and ultra-wealthy investors as they typically have access to sophisticated strategies. "The retail investing community do not participate in derivatives as much because they may not have as much access," said CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo.

Then there is the ongoing unhappiness over the scrapping of the lunch break in 2013. Those who want the lunch break reinstated claim that scrapping it did not raise trading volumes. Instead, it deprives them of the opportunity to meet clients at lunch.

But proponents of all-day uninterrupted trading days argue that this gives investors the flexibility to manage their trading positions at all times, especially when market-moving news breaks. All-day trading is the norm in the US, Europe, Australia, South Korea and India.

Industry wish list

REMISIERS are hoping that Mr Loh, the incoming SGX chief, can help rejuvenate the local market and rebuild relations with the local trading and investing community via a consultative approach. They would like to see the SGX work with dealers and remisiers to show the public that this is not a sunset industry.

Analysts point to Mr Loh's experience as a positive sign that he can help bring back the high-profile initial public offerings that the Singapore market craves.

"He has seen deals and understands what motivates companies to list in Singapore, and why they aren't choosing to do so now," Mr Teo said.

Big public listings here are now rare, no thanks to the collapse of S-chips in 2007, the lingering effects of the global financial crisis and, more recently, the penny stock rout in October 2013. These have combined to drain liquidity out of the local market and lower its standing and valuation in the eyes of the investors.

Some are even pushing for anti-speculation trading regulations introduced in the wake of the October 2013 penny stock crash to be reversed as these are being blamed for the extremely thin volumes.

But these trading rules were also introduced with the aim of making investing in blue chips more affordable, curbing excessive speculation and market manipulation, and improving the quality of listings.

If the quality of the market is improved, then this will make it more attractive to investors, say the proponents of these moves.

And indeed, having been an independent SGX director and a member of its regulatory management committee, Mr Loh has the chops to help improve the regulatory framework further, said Securities Investors Association (Singapore) president David Gerald.

"The listing rules and other legislation must be re-looked to see if there can be practical safeguards against officers in foreign listings committing fraud to the detriment of Singapore investors. Currently, Singapore investors are helpless when officers in foreign listings squander or steal the company's monies," he said.

Still, the biggest question right now is how much the SGX's malaise is due to an over-emphasis on derivatives - and whether this is a neglect of the core securities business, as the remisiers claim, or whether the move to derivatives is just a symptom of more deep-seated challenges.

The growth of China as an economic power would automatically fuel the growth of its stock market, as well as that of Hong Kong's, and divert investors away from the likes of Singapore.

"It also depends on whether investors want to invest in our stock market or buy other markets. They will go to where they think they can make money," said Phillips Securities managing director Loh Hoon Sun.

High hopes

THE incoming CEO is in for a honeymoon period, as the industry regards Mr Loh as an old hand with a local perspective. He will also not be coming in cold to the company as he was an SGX board director from October 2003 to September 2012.

He has spent 26 years in the financial service industry, including leading Deutsche Bank Singapore's investment-banking team in the region, and was most recently deputy president and head of global markets for the Asia-Pacific at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Dr Ernest Kan, chief of operations, clients and markets at Deloitte Singapore, said: "Growing both the quality and quantity of companies listed on the Singapore bourse is another challenge that must be addressed. The most pressing need for Mr Loh would be to build a strong and market- driven team quickly."

But the honeymoon period will not last long as the market looks to Mr Loh to work a miracle and restore the SGX's fortunes.


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

Air Navigation Act - Air Navigation (Protected Areas) Order 2015 (S 350 of 2015)

Non-eligibility period for retrenchment benefits in Employment Act down from three to two years

02 Jun 2015

Singaporean, 23, charged in hospital shooting case

23 Jun 2015
Alfred Chua

SINGAPORE — The man at the centre of the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) shooting last Saturday was today (June 22) charged with the unlawful discharge of firearms — which carries the mandatory death penalty — and will be held in remand for a week to assist in investigations.

Muhammad Iskandar Sa'at (picture), 23, was brought to court on a holding charge, which means that the prosecution may amend the charge when investigations have concluded. Asking for Muhammad Iskandar to be further remanded, Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man said the charge was a “fairly serious and recent one”.

District Judge Eddy Tham granted the request.

Muhammad Iskandar is alleged to have fired three shots from a police officer’s gun while trying to escape from the police on Saturday. Muhd Iskandar, who was arrested for motor vehicle theft the day before, had been taken to KTPH after he complained of chest pains.

While in a medical examination room, he allegedly attacked the police officer watching over him, 31-year-old Mohammad Sadli Razli.

It is understood that he had first hit Mr Mohammad Sadli with his police baton, then made a grab for the officer’s service revolver, a .38 inch caliber Taurus. Muhammad Iskandar sustained superficial injuries while Mr Mohammad Sadli suffered gunshot wounds to his left thumb and right foot. He is now in stable condition.

A second police officer who brought Muhd Iskandar into the medical examination room is said to have left the room before the incident took place.

Asked by reporters at a Home Team event today about the standard operating procedure for police officers in such situations, Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zuklifli said the case is still before the courts and an investigation is being done.

“The findings from these investigation will help us diagnose what the problems are and what kind of correction we may need to make in the future,” said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Muhammad Iskandar appeared in court this afternoon clad in a white polo shirt. He showed no emotion as the charge was read to him, and requested to speak with his sister-in-law after his charge was read out to him.

His cases will be heard next Monday at 3pm.


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act - Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (Amendment of First and Second Schedules) Notification 2015 (S 349 of 2015)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court Press Summary: Starbucks (HK) v British Sky Broadcasting Group [2015] UKSC 31 (whether respondents use of product name amounted to passing off)

02 Jun 2015

Deadlocks: Should directors boycott meetings?

Business Times
22 Jun 2015
Abdul Jabbar bin Karam Din

It may be seen as dereliction of a director's fiduciary duty if he does not participate and influence the outcomes of a meeting, or at least to record his position

THERE can be problematic situations, such as in a shareholders' deadlock, when directors may feel that their best option is to purposely not attend a meeting. This, in effect, means choosing to boycott a meeting.

A common reason for a director to opt not to attend a meeting could be to avoid the unpleasantness of being caught in a heated crossfire.

From a tactical standpoint, directors may collectively decide to be absent so that the mandatory quorum requirements are not met, thus invalidating the meeting proper and preventing a quarrelsome decision from being passed. This effectively creates a deadlock situation before the meeting if the convener is unable to proceed without the requisite quorum. However, even if the meeting proceeds, there could also be a deadlock if there is a prescribed minimum level of voting support required for resolutions on certain matters to be passed and these voting thresholds are not met.

Boycotting a meeting is, however, generally not advisable for directors.

To start, there is a way out for the meeting convener even if there is no quorum for a meeting.

Under company law, a director or a member entitled to vote at a meeting, can apply to the courts to "order a meeting to be called, held and conducted in such manner as the Court thinks fit, and give such ancillary or consequential directions as it thinks expedient" including the direction that "one member present in person or by proxy shall be deemed to constitute a meeting" (Section 182, Companies Act).

This was illustrated in the recent High Court decision in Lim Yew Ming v Aik Chuan Construction Pte Ltd released on April 15, 2015.

The majority shareholder in this case had called meetings to pass certain resolutions to further his vision of how the company should proceed. This vision was not shared by the other shareholders. The minority shareholders boycotted the meetings, rendering each meeting a non-starter from the lack of a quorum.

The majority shareholder then sought a court order under Section 182 of the Companies Act that a quorum of one be deemed sufficient for a general meeting of the company. The court found there was sufficient "impracticability" in the situation to warrant court intervention. It therefore allowed the meeting to proceed with a quorum of one.

This case helpfully clarified that there need not be deadlocks that prevent day-to-day management. It emphasised how minority shareholders cannot use the quorum provisions as the exercise of a form of veto rights over the decisions of majority shareholders. That said, the courts will still conduct a holistic assessment of all relevant factors before deciding on an intervention.

In fact, to proactively avoid deadlocks, directors and shareholders can ensure that the articles of association of their companies are sufficiently clear on quorums. For example, the articles of association may specifically provide if the usual requisite quorum of two or more is not present, the meeting will be adjourned for a specified short period of time and then whoever so present will be a sufficient quorum at such adjourned meeting.

Although it is arguable how one person can constitute a "meeting", the courts have recognised that the articles of a company can provide for a quorum of one at a meeting. Otherwise the general rule is that at least two persons are required to constitute a meeting.

In general, directors and shareholders should note that refusing to attend relevant meetings to render them inquorate is not advisable.

Meetings are an important mechanism to allow decisions to be properly made, and for proposals to be debated and voted upon. In the Aik Chuan case, the High Court noted that decisions at the meeting may still be influenced by those choosing to attend, no matter how slim the opportunity. After all, a slim opportunity to vote and influence decisions may well be preferable to a situation where the court orders that a quorum of one be sufficient for the meeting, and the majority can then push through with the decisions and sideline the minority.

For a director, it could be a dereliction of his director's duties to purposely absent himself from an important meeting. One significant way a director properly discharges his duties is simply to attend meetings and contribute to the decision making process. It may be seen as not fulfilling his fiduciary duty to act honestly and diligently in the best interests of the company if he does not make the effort to participate and influence the outcomes of a meeting, or at least to record his position.

The writer is a member of the Professional Development Committee of the Singapore Institute of Directors

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

Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act - Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Amendment of First and Second Schedules) Order 2015 (S 348 of 2015)

Supreme Court Note: Ram Das V N P v SIA Engineering [2015] SGHC 74 (offer to settle on liability only is valid and effective under O 22A r 9 ROC)

Supreme Court Note
27 May 2015

The High Court considered whether an offer to settle that dealt only with the issue of liability was able to attract the cost consequences under O 22A r 9(3) of the Rules of Court, and held that on a purposive interpretation of the rules relating to offers to settle, such an offer was valid and apt to attract the cost consequences under the Rules of Court. 

The purpose behind the offer to settle regime is to encourage the expeditious resolution of disputes. In this regard, offers to settle may be made for both monetary and non-monetary claims. There is no reason to restrict the validity of offers to settle to require a monetary value, even if the claim was for an unliquidated sum, when the action was bifurcated. Also, plain reading of O 22A r 9(4) suggests that if the plaintiff obtained a less favourable judgment at first instance, the cost consequences therein would apply to any subsequent proceedings, inclusive of the appeal.

At Ram Das V N P v SIA Engineering Co Ltd [2015] SGHC 74 at 27 to 61 and 65 to 75. To view the judgment, click <here>.

Disclaimer: The above is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.


Shooting case at hospital: Man could face death penalty

22 Jun 2015

SINGAPORE — The police have classified Saturday’s incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where a police officer was shot, as an unlawful discharge of firearms under the Arms Offences Act, an offence that carries the death penalty.

The suspect, a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was arrested for motor vehicle theft on Friday, will be hauled to court this afternoon on this holding charge.

The police update last night came after Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters in the morning that the illegal use of firearms is taken very seriously.

“Any illegal discharge of firearms is a very serious offence. Police investigations are ongoing and it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,” said Mr Teo on the sidelines of a community event.

The suspect, who was under remand for further investigations into his alleged motor vehicle theft, had complained of chest pains on Saturday and was escorted by police officers to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to seek medical attention.

At about 7.05pm, while inside one of the hospital’s examination rooms, which are not accessible to the public, the suspect attempted to escape and struggled with one of the officers.

TODAY understands that the suspect had attacked the 31-year-old officer while his colleague stepped out of the room. The suspect is believed to have taken hold of the officer’s baton and used it to beat the latter.

He then snatched the officer’s revolver and discharged three rounds, before he was subdued and the situation was brought under control. The accused sustained superficial injuries.

Channel NewsAsia reported that a Khoo Teck Puat Hospital spokesman had said the officer needed immediate microsurgery on his hand and that a hand surgeon was immediately available at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

In its update yesterday, the police said that the officer, who suffered gunshot wounds to his left thumb and right foot, has since undergone surgery.

He is now in a stable condition.

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Singapore Academy of Law Act - Singapore Academy of Law (Conveyancing Money) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 347 of 2015)

Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act 2015: Law to regulate supply and consumption of liquor at public places takes effects

27 May 2015

Man warned over drone at SEA Games

Straits Times
21 Jun 2015
Olivia Ho

A 55-year-old man was given a stern warning after he was caught flying a drone near the National Stadium.

He had been using the unmanned aircraft to take photos of the fireworks at the closing ceremony of the 28th South-east Asian Games last Tuesday. Police caught him operating the drone without a permit in Kallang Riverside Park close to 9pm.

Flying a drone in a designated Special Event Area such as the National Stadium is an offence under the Public Order Act.

The man could have been fined up to $20,000, jailed up to 12 months, or both.

A police statement yesterday said: "Flying an unmanned aircraft near a fireworks area is especially dangerous and can cause severe harm to members of the public who are watching the fireworks."

The use of drones was the subject of debate in Parliament last month, when a new law regulating their use was passed.

Under the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Bill, which kicked in at the start of this month, operators need a permit to fly a drone that weighs more than 7kg, as well as for commercial purposes such as taking pictures of an outdoor wedding.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said 20 incidents involving drones have been reported since April last year, including two instances when drones dropped on MRT tracks after their operators lost control of them.

Two days ago, a Woodlands resident, in a posting on citizen journalism platform Stomp, complained about a man he had spotted repeatedly operating a drone near his block of flats. The man had failed to show him a permit for the drone, he wrote.


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

Singapore Academy of Law Act - Singapore Academy of Law (Stakeholding) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 346 of 2015)

Work Injury Compensation Act: Higher compensation limits and wider scope of expenses claimable

27 May 2015

CJ lauds support for helping ex-convicts: Wee Chong Jin in 1965

Straits Times
21 Jun 2015

Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin thanked the public for supporting efforts to build a rehabilitation and vocational facility in Woodlands for ex-offenders this week in 1965.

He was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Singapore Aftercare Association, of which he was president.

The Penang-born judge studied at Raffles Institution and Cambridge University and later moved to Singapore to work as a lawyer.

In 1963, he became the first local Chief Justice in Singapore and the youngest to be appointed, at the age of 45.

In 1987, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in civil law from Oxford University for his contributions to Singapore's judiciary during its formative years.

He went on to be Singapore's longest-serving Chief Justice, and was in office for 27 years before retiring in 1990.

He died in 2005.

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

Singapore Academy of Law Act - Singapore Academy of Law (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 345 of 2015)

SHC provides guidance on the assessment of evidence in cases with limited documentation and emphasises fundamental principle of company law

26 May 2015

Court blocks use of civil suit data for police report

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

Firm had asked to be allowed to give cops info it found in civil proceedings

A JUDGE refused to allow confidential information obtained by a plaintiff in a civil suit to be used in a police report against the same defendants, making clear that civil and criminal proceedings differ even if they arise from the same facts.

Justice Choo Han Teck spelt out the difference between the two in a rare case in which one party tried to use information gathered for a civil suit to support a criminal investigation.

In the case, cloud-based payroll and human resource management solutions firm I-Admin (Singapore) had sued two former employees who joined a rival firm about 15 months after leaving their former company.

I-Admin claimed that the two women breached the confidentiality clause in their contracts by taking data from their software programs and downloading them into their new company's system.

The information included the personal and private information of I-Admin's clients, which included banks and large corporations.

I-Admin sued former employee Hong Ying Ting and three other parties not named in the judgment. The three comprise the other former I-Admin staff, the rival company and a director who owned a 46 per cent share in the rival.

I-Admin, represented by Rajah & Tann lawyers Lionel Tan and Jocelyn Chan, then obtained court orders to seize computers belonging to the rival firm and hired experts to study the software and mechanism of these computers.

But a deal had been reached between the opposing parties to reduce the risk of confidential documents being used outside the litigation.

I-Admin then went to court for permission to provide police with a copy of the extracted materials to show that a previous report lodged by the defendants was false.

Allen & Gledhill Senior Counsel Stanley Lai and lawyer Clara Tung objected for the defendants, pointing out that the purpose of extracting the information from them had solely been to produce an expert's report.

In a judgment released yesterday, Justice Choo said that while I-Admin is entitled to make a police report, it is not necessary to show police the information found in the computers.

He said people are entitled to make a police report if they think a criminal offence may have been committed, adding that "it is against the public interest to prevent the making of such complaints".

"I find there are no exceptional circumstances justifying the release of such information for the purposes of making a police report and, in fact, it would be unduly prejudicial to the defendants if it were so allowed," said the judge.

"The police can invoke their own powers to seize the information. The police may then verify whether the information is true and whether the matter can be referred to the public prosecutor for criminal proceedings to commence."


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


I-Admin (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Hong Ying Ting and others [2015] SGHC 153

Public Transport Council Act - Public Transport Council (Penalty Fees) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (S 344 of 2015)

MAS to phase in borrowing limit on unsecured credit over four years

26 May 2015

Noble Group sues ex-China customer to block wind up

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
Andrea Tan

This Bloomberg article was first published on 20 June 2015 in the Singapore English broadsheet, The The Straits Times.
SLW obtained permission to reproduce the article to give the legal community a broader view of legal reports from various news syndicates.

Chinese firm seeking payment from Noble Resources of alleged debt

Noble Group Ltd., Asia’s biggest commodity trader, sued a former Chinese iron ore customer of ten-years standing to stop any attempts to shut a Singapore unit over an alleged debt of $102,718.

Noble Resources International Pte has been granted an interim injunction by the Singapore High Court preventing Rizhao Zhongrui Native Produce Co. from winding-up proceedings, and is pursuing separate claims against the firm, Noble said in a statement. A closed hearing is scheduled for June 25.

The Chinese firm shouldn’t be allowed to harass and “assert undue commercial pressure” with the threat of action, Noble Resources’ global head of iron ore and special ores Timothy Gazzard said in court papers. Zhongrui said it suffered loss and reputational damage over poor quality iron ore it bought and that Noble was aggressive and unreasonable.

Noble Resources’ “reputation and credibility would be in serious danger of being irreparably damaged,” if Zhongrui isn’t restrained from trying to wind it up, Gazzard said in the court papers. Zhongrui’s attempts may also trigger default provisions in banking and credit facilities, contracts with suppliers and customers and reflect negatively on parent Noble, he said.

Wider Front

The Singapore court case comes as Noble fights on a wider front against criticisms of its accounting practices. In Hong Kong, the trader is also suing a former employee, whom it claims is behind the anonymous group Iceberg Research, for spreading false information about the company. Noble in an open letter this week to critics, which included an ex-Morgan Stanley banker, defended its methods and valuations.

Zhongrui didn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls seeking comments.

Disputes between the decade-long partners began last year according to court papers. After a few rounds of e-mail exchanges with lawyers from both companies, the Rizhao, Shandong-based company in April issued a statutory demand for the payment that resulted in Noble’s lawsuit. A creditor can seek to liquidate a company if payment isn’t made within three weeks after the demand.

“The statutory demand was plainly an abuse of process,” Noble said in its e-mailed response.

Financially Strong

Noble is financially strong and there’s no suggestion that Noble Resources is insolvent, the commodity trader’s lawyers wrote to Zhongrui on April 15, urging the Chinese company to withdraw its statutory demand or face legal action. The unit had a 76 percent jump in net income to $176 million in 2013 on sales of $17.2 billion.

Zhongrui won’t “lose any sleep” and will resist Noble Resources’ claims, the Chinese firm’s lawyers said in court papers.

Noble rose 2.2 percent to 69.5 Singapore cents at 1:23 p.m. on Friday. The stock has tumbled about 42 percent since Iceberg Research sparked debate about Noble’s accounting with a series of critical reports from February. Standard & Poor’s Investor Services on June 11 revised Noble’s credit rating outlook to negative from stable.

The case is Noble Resources International Pte v Rizhao Zhongrui Native Produce Co., OS374/2015. Singapore High Court.

Used with permission of Bloomberg L.P. Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

Background story

Mongolian firm sold for $87m

COMMODITY trader Noble Group said yesterday that it has sold its 100 per cent stake in a Mongolian company for US$65 million (S$87 million) in cash.

The company, Enkhtunkh Orchlon (EO), owns 50,022ha of land in Mongolia's South Gobi basin.

Noble said it has previously conducted exploration activities overseen by an independent international geological consulting group on the land.

The exploration included mapping, ground magnetic and geophysical surveys, and drilling 200 test holes, "which confirmed coking and thermal coal" on the land.

It said the exploration had previously confirmed the development prospects of the plot as a "contiguous extension" of land owned by Australia-based Guildford Coal on which commercial production work is being carried out.

Noble said the book value and net tangible asset value of the shares of EO at the date of disposal were US$57.8 million and US$57.5 million respectively.

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

Preservation of Monuments Act - Preservation of Monuments Order 2015 (S 343 of 2015)

SCA: Clause limiting injunctive relief to the ground of fraud upheld

25 May 2015

The case for good legacy planning

Business Times
20 Jun 2015
Tang Hang Wu

When well-heeled married couples call it quits, where their divorce is heard matters as much as how their assets are divvied up

Lately, the titanic divorce battle between Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng, the non-executive chairman of Laura Ashley, and his wife, Pauline Chai, has been making media waves.

The battle lines have been drawn. Dr Khoo has chosen Kuala Lumpur as his field of warfare, but Ms Chai prefers to engage swords in London, going so far as to disclose to the English High Court that she keeps 1,000 pairs of designer shoes in her sprawling estate in Hertfordshire in order for the court to agree to take jurisdiction.

Thus far, she has successfully obtained a court order in England for her husband to pay her an interim maintenance.

Dr Khoo's position is that under Malaysian law, a wife's domicile follows that of her husband. Presumably, both parties believe that Ms Chai would be entitled to a lesser payout if the divorce proceedings are heard in Malaysia. And so the battle rages on, on both fronts.

In Hong Kong, the divorce of top engineer Otto Poon has unnerved trust professionals. Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal ruled that a family trust controlled by him worth HK$1 billion (S$172.5 million) is to be treated as his financial resource and that Mrs Poon is entitled to about HK$750 million.

Trusts are usually set up to ringfence assets against creditors and other claimants. For the court to decide that the settlor of the trust had a continued interest in the trust assets (the "financial resource" finding made by the court) undermines the raisons d'etre of many trusts.

In order to reach the conclusion that the trust was his "financial resource", the Hong Kong judges looked very closely at the workings of the family trust and the assets held by it.

The court held that the test of whether the discretionary trust was Mr Poon's "financial resource" depended on whether the court was satisfied that if he were to request the trustee to advance the whole or part of the capital or income of the trust to him, the trustee, acting in accordance with its duties, would, on the balance of probabilities, be likely to accede to that request.

In making this assessment, the Court ought to take into account the creation and terms of the trust, the letters of wishes, the nature of the trust assets and previous distributions made by the trustee. Looking at the facts, the Hong Kong Court was satisfied that the family trust was indeed Mr Poon's "financial resource".

He who draws the battle lines wins the war?

Why do parties engage in a protracted battle over which court is to have jurisdiction? The recent "big money" divorce cases in England and Hong Kong may have something to do with it.

In 2007, the so-called "King of London Insurance Market", John Charman, was ordered to pay his ex-wife, Beverly Charman, the sum of �48 million (S$101.7 million), the biggest divorce payout at that time.

Last year, the English courts ordered hedge-fund billionaire, Sir Chris Hohn, to pay �337 million to his ex-wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn. In 2011, Samathur Li, the heir of property tycoon Samuel Tak Lee, was ordered to pay HK$1.2 billion to his former wife, Florence Tsang. Last year, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal slashed this figure to almost a third of the original award.

As a result of these awards in London and Hong Kong, these two jurisdictions have respectively grown reputations as the divorce capitals of the world and of Asia for marriages in the Commonwealth.

Claimants are angling to have their cases heard before these - supposedly more generous - judges.

English law subscribes to the yardstick of equal division as a starting point (and often the end point as well) between a couple. This philosophy is also applied in equal force to wealthy couples, regardless of the parties' role as the breadwinner or homemaker.

In Hong Kong, the Court of Final Appeal has also said that to confine a non-working wife's award to the sum needed to meet her "reasonable requirements" is patently unfair and discriminatory. Unsurprisingly, many wives of wealthy Chinese businessmen have sought to file divorce proceedings in Hong Kong instead of mainland China.

The challenge with filing divorce proceedings in London or Hong Kong, however, is for the spouse to show a sufficient connection to these jurisdictions. Otherwise, the other spouse may successfully apply for a stay of these proceedings.

Singapore's position

It is interesting to contrast the English and Hong Kong approach to division of matrimonial property with Singapore's family law. In Singapore, the courts do not start with the yardstick of equal division.

In a careful review of decided Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal cases from 2005 to 2010 published by the Singapore Academy of Law, leading family law commentator Lim Hui Min has demonstrated that in divorces involving high-net-worth individuals, the court has generally awarded the homemaker spouse between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of the total matrimonial assets.

Based on this, Ms Lim said that generally, a "super" homemaker who has not contributed to the matrimonial assets can look forward to being granted, at most, half the matrimonial assets. A "super" breadwinner, however, would usually be granted more than 50 per cent.

Will Singapore divorcees go forum-shopping too?

Given these statistics, high-net-worth international couples may find themselves arguing that their divorce should be presided over by a foreign judge, rather than in Singapore courts.

As Judicial Commissioner Debbie Ong wrote in the preface of her recent book, International Issues in Family Law in Singapore, "The increase in international marriages and families raises challenging legal issues that affect family life, marriage and divorce. Marriages are more 'globalised' today, in that they growingly involve parties with connections to different countries."

Nobody gets married in the expectation of an unhappy end to the union. Broken marriages plague both rich and poor alike. However, when you have a thousand pairs of shoes in your English country home, or a trust fund in the billions, the simple fact is that there is more at stake financially when your marriage starts to splinter.

In addition to fighting over who gets the kids and the wedding silver, these days extended legal campaigns are fought over which court should have jurisdiction, because of a perceived arbitrage in the divorce awards in different courts.

Arguably, these are problems only rich people have. But an end to any marriage is a bitter pill, even for the wealthy. Anything we can do to alleviate any future suffering - especially if there are children involved - is good legacy planning.

The writer is a professor and director of the Centre for Cross-Border Commercial Law in Asia at the School of Law, Singapore Management University, and a consultant at TSMP Law Corporation, where he co-heads the Trusts and Private Wealth practice

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

Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015 (Act 16 of 2015)

CCS clears first proposed joint venture for aircraft MRO services

25 May 2015

Professor joins Peter Low law firm as consultant

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

Michael Hor is dean of HK University's Law Faculty

PROMINENT law don Michael Hor has been appointed a consultant at Peter Low LLC, at a time when the law firm is handling a slew of high-profile public interest cases.

Professor Hor, 54, dean of Hong Kong University's Law Faculty, holds a Singapore lawyer's practising certificate. This means he can appear in court if required.

The firm's managing director, Mr Peter Low, said: "Michael brings with him decades of thought leadership in constitutional law, criminal law, evidence law and criminal procedure rules both in Singapore and abroad. His appointment will add depth to our firm's established practice.

"As a law firm which regularly litigates cases involving novel points of law, we are excited to welcome Michael to the forefront of shaping the criminal law in Singapore."

Prof Hor had spent 25 years at the National University of Singapore, where he was a senior professor and one of two candidates shortlisted in 2009 to succeed then law dean Tan Cheng Han.

He had previously served as consultant to the Ministry of Law and the Singapore Law Society's Criminal Practice Committee.

At Peter Low LLC, the key cases lined up in the months ahead include the Aljunied-Hougang- Punggol East Town Council case. The firm is defending the town council against the Ministry of National Development's appeal over a High Court refusal of its application to appoint independent accountants to the town council.

Another case involves the appeal of Dr Ting Choon Meng, who lost a patent case against the Defence Ministry but went on to air his grievances in a video and article on a blog. A State Court judge had ordered last month that the items include a notice to say that certain statements made by Dr Ting have been declared false by the court. Dr Ting had been taken to court under the new Protection from Harassment Act and seeks to clarify a novel point - whether the Act was meant to cover such cases involving the Government.

The firm's director, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, said having Prof Hor on board will "enable us to provide our clients with holistic, comparative and cutting edge advice on all areas of criminal justice".

Yesterday, Prof Hor said: "In the last few decades, the legal system of Singapore has come to be the envy of other jurisdictions. It can justifiably boast of a judiciary, a profession, government legal officers and two law schools which are of the highest calibre.

"The mark of a mature legal system is a vibrant culture of criminal, constitutional and administrative law litigation, and Singapore is no exception.

"By accepting this consultancy, I hope, in a small way, to continue to contribute to the healthy development of what may be called public interest litigation in Singapore."


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

Police Force (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 10 of 2015)

SHC: The Chem Orchid: Proper termination of a bareboat charter party

25 May 2015

CTE crash that killed 4: Driver gets maximum 5 years' jail

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
Elena Chong

A FORMER logistics operations director who caused the deaths of four people in a horrific accident was given the maximum five years in jail yesterday, with the judge calling it the "ultimate traffic offence".

Not only did Toh Cheng Yang ram his car into the victims at high speed, but he also did so under the heavy influence of a drug which causes drowsiness and impairs motor skills.

The 36-year-old, who was also banned from driving for 20 years, is however appealing against the sentence.

He had admitted that his dangerous driving caused the deaths of a Singaporean trainee pilot, his Korean girlfriend and her parents on the Central Expressway (CTE) on Aug 9, 2013.

Toh also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of nitrazepam - a prescription drug used to treat insomnia and convulsions - to such an extent that he was incapable of having proper control of his Honda Stream multi-purpose vehicle.

The victims had been standing at the back of their car, which had stopped at the chevrons before the exit to Yio Chu Kang Road, to retrieve a breakdown sign and tools for changing a punctured tyre when Toh ploughed into them just before 4am.

Singaporean Amron Ayoub, 23, had been driving his accountant girlfriend, Ms Song Ji Soo, 24, her golfer brother Song Seoung Hwan, 32, and parents Song Jung Woo, 55, and Kim Mee Kyung, 53, to Changi Airport.

Ms Song and her parents died on the spot, while Mr Amron died later in hospital. Ms Song's brother, who had remained at the right rear passenger door of the vehicle, survived the accident unhurt.

District Judge Low Wee Ping said Toh had "practically almost wiped out an entire family". "You have also committed one of the most reprehensible traffic offences. You drove under the influence of drugs. You had between five and 15 times above the therapeutic level of nitrazepam. It was more than twice the amount which would produce toxicity."

The judge explained that the case thus fell within the band of cases for which the maximum sentence should be imposed.

Toh was observed swaying between lanes along the CTE after drinking at a pub, and also seen speeding at between 90kmh and 110kmh. Just before the collision, he did not apply his brakes and was apparently trying to take the exit when he headed directly for the chevrons.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man said Toh had previous convictions for drug-related offences and compounded his "utterly irresponsible behaviour" by driving at high speeds.

He called for a signal to be sent that hazardous driving, especially that which needlessly causes death or injury to other road users, will be punished harshly.

Online, many questioned if a five-year jail sentence was enough. But Mr Ayoub Ahmat, 53, the father of the killed Singaporean, believes the law has dealt fairly with the accused.

"At the end of the day it's an accident; there's no intention," he told The Straits Times yesterday. "What happened will continue to haunt him. He also has his own family. I think the (court) has made the right decision."


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

Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015 - Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015 (Commencement) (No. 2) Notification 2015 (S 342 2015)

AML/CFT obligations of corporate service providers under ACRA’s enhanced regulatory framework

22 May 2015

Sim Lim case: Accused hiring lawyers

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
Lim Yi Han

FOUR staff members of a Sim Lim Square mobile phone shop that gained notoriety over the bullying of a Vietnamese tourist have decided to engage lawyers instead of pleading guilty.

They had previously indicated that they would plead guilty to cheating, but now Kam Kok Keong, 31, Lim Hong Ching, 33, and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, are looking to hire a lawyer.

The fourth employee of the now-defunct Mobile Air, Koh Guan Seng, 38, has already hired a lawyer to reduce his charges.

Jover Chew, 33, owner of Mobile Air, is facing charges of cheating and criminal intimidation.

Last year, Mobile Air gained international notoriety after a video showed Vietnamese tourist Pham Van Thoai kneeling at the shop after buying an iPhone 6.

Mr Thoai claimed that he had been quoted a price of $950 for an iPhone 6, but was later asked to fork out an additional $1,500 for a warranty.

Chew also came under fire for refunding a Chinese national $1,010 in coins last October.

The video went viral and prompted a wave of changes at Sim Lim Square, as well as proposed changes to strengthen consumer protection here.

All five men were arrested on May 27 and charged two days later. Koh faces 15 counts of cheating involving $9,789; Kam was charged with eight counts involving $3,710; Lim Hong Ching faces two counts of cheating involving $1,600; and Kelvin Lim was charged with one count involving $330.

Chew, who has a lawyer, was charged with cheating 25 people, and the total amount involved was $14,449. He was also charged with criminal intimidation, for threatening to have a victim's work permit revoked if he did not pay $600.

Yesterday, Koh told the judge that he had engaged lawyer Edmund Wong to reduce his charges.

When District Judge Siva Shanmugam asked Kam why he did not hire a lawyer previously, he said it was because he was raising money.

Both Koh and Kam are out on bail of $20,000 each.

Both Lim Hong Ching and Kelvin Lim also said they wanted to hire lawyers and are out on bail of $10,000 each.

Mr Thoai and the woman were not among those named in the charges against Chew.

For each cheating offence, the five of them face up to 10 years' jail and a fine. If convicted of criminal intimidation, Chew also faces up to two years' jail and/or a fine.


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

Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015 - Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 341 2015)

Remote Gambling Act 2014: MAS issues new payment blocking order encompassing merchant banks and finance companies

21 May 2015

Amos Yee in remand but Facebook posts appear

Straits Times
20 Jun 2015
Olivia Ho

TEENAGE blogger Amos Yee is into his third week of remand, yet his Facebook page has suddenly come alive again in the past two days.

Since Thursday, seven posts have appeared on the 16-year-old's public page.

The first, which read "What's up doc? Hahahaha...", popped up at about 5pm on Thursday.

It was followed a few hours later by another post, which posed the question: "How is it that I am in prison, yet I am still able to post something on Facebook?"

It is still not clear how the Facebook page is being updated.

The Singapore Prison Service confirmed that "all inmates and remandees do not have access to any telecommunication devices within the prison institutions".

Yee was found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video.

He was remanded for three weeks on June 2, after District Judge Jasvender Kaur called for a report to assess if he is suitable for reformative training.

Many of the Facebook posts complain about prison life.

One laments the lack of exposure to sunshine, while others criticise the attitudes of police officers, such as towards Yee's opting for vegetarian meals.

All three of Yee's lawyers - Mr Alfred Dodwell, Mr Chong Jia Hao and Mr Ervin Tan - said when contacted that they were not aware the posts were being made.

Mr Chong said yesterday: "We aren't aware of how this is happening and we don't want to speculate. We'll just focus on preparing for the sentencing. Everything else is secondary."

Netizens had their own theories. Some speculated that Yee had written the posts beforehand and scheduled them to appear later. Others suggested that he had given his Facebook password to a third party, or that his account had been hacked.

Yee's mother, Madam Mary Toh, declined to comment on how the posts were being made.

He is next due in court on Tuesday, where he may learn his sentence.


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

Interpretation Act - Interpretation (Temporary Reduction of Electronic Road Pricing System Charges) Order 2015 (S 340 2015)

SHC refuses injunction to restrain re-entry by landlord

21 May 2015

Crackdown on corporate tax evasion 'unlikely to affect S'pore'

Straits Times
19 Jun 2015
Jacqueline Woo

A GLOBAL crackdown on firms "shifting profits" abroad to evade tax is likely to have little impact here, given Singapore's compliance with international practices, say PwC executives.

They note that, while Singapore's corporate tax rate of 17 per cent is among the lowest in the world, its legal framework will deter multinationals from moving profits here to avoid levies in another jurisdiction.

Australia is among the latest to join the crackdown. Last month, it proposed a new law to tighten loopholes while targeting the activities of about 30 multinationals. Similar efforts have taken place in Europe and India.

PwC Singapore tax leader Chris Woo told The Straits Times in a recent interview that it would be very hard for profit-shifting to happen in Singapore, given its compliance with international tax standards and strong tax treaty network.

"It is, in a way, still business as usual," he said, noting Singapore is always conscious of the need to meet global standards.

He said: "There might be refining of tax regulations to increase clarity, transparency, or increased reporting, which would help businesses based here better demonstrate their substance."

On the sidelines of PwC's global tax symposium, which ended on May 28, he said Singapore had always been rigorous about attracting businesses with substantive business operations.

"To businesses, we have a strong rule of law - it's a safe country with robust infrastructure. As a financial centre, it adds to the global value chain.

"These commercial factors far outweigh the tax factor, which is just icing on the cake."

He said the bigger challenge is dealing with firms that are taxed two or even three times.

"It's the same dollar earned, but a company can be taxed twice, in two countries."

PwC global tax leader Rick Stamm said: "A good system taxes profits only once, somewhere in the world. It should also support global trade - be transparent and clear."

A project pushed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that aims to standardise tax rules worldwide - and includes eliminating double taxation - could be the "best chance to get positive near-term change", he said.


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

Police Force Act - Police (Special Constabulary) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 339 2015)

MAS Notice on anti-money laundering & countering the financing of terrorism

20 May 2015

Tighter MOM rules to prevent crane accidents

Straits Times
19 Jun 2015
Amos Lee

ELEVEN dangerous incidents involving cranes have already been recorded so far this year, compared with 12 cases in the whole of last year.

This has prompted the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to introduce two safety measures to combat this worrying trend.

It is making it compulsory for all mobile cranes to have data loggers to better keep track of things such as maintenance schedules.

All new mobile cranes must have data loggers from August, while existing cranes need to be equipped with them by Aug 1, 2018.

MOM is also making the current demerit system for workplace accidents stricter.

The measures were unveiled on Wednesday by Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education, at the launch of the Construction Safety, Health and Security Campaign at the Employment and Employability Institute.

Mr Osman Adam, 51, a products support manager of crane supply and rental company Tat Hong Holdings, said data loggers can help to boost safety.

"The data loggers record all activities on the crane, such as maintenance schedules, lifting and tracking the weight of loads to prevent overloading," he said.

But it might be hard to install these on existing cranes, he said.

"We have more than 200 cranes and most are involved in projects at the moment; it will be expensive and probably time consuming as well," he added.

Installing a data logger costs at least $10,000 a crane. So the Workplace Safety and Health Council has launched a co-funding scheme to cover up to half the cost, capped at $5,000 per mobile crane.

At Wednesday's event, Mr Hawazi also outlined changes to the demerit points system.

Under the existing system, companies are not barred from hiring new foreign workers when there is a fatal accident.

But under the enhanced system, a company will be barred from hiring new foreign workers for three months after one workplace fatality.

These changes would encourage crane operators to be more careful, said Mr Hawazi.

"We must remember that every worker is someone's spouse, parent or child. As employers, it is our duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace for them," he said.


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

Police Force Act - Police Force (Composition of Offences) Regulations 2015 (S 338 2015)

SHC: Employer successfully sues for breach of the implied term of good faith and fidelity and breach of confidence

20 May 2015

Protecting property agents and consumers: Forum

Straits Times
19 Jun 2015

MR PALANISAMY Ramadas called on the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) to do more to protect property agents, and consider legislating commissions due to them ("Property agents don't have it easy"; June 1).

The CEA regulates estate agency work in Singapore, and ensures that real estate sales staff comply with the Estate Agents Act.

Consumers may choose to handle property transactions on their own or engage sales staff to do so. Consumers are more likely to engage the professional services of sales staff who have good knowledge of estate agency work.

The payment and amount of commission are contractual matters between the consumer and his sales staff.

To safeguard the interests of both the consumer and sales staff, the CEA has prescribed estate agency agreements for the sale, purchase or lease of residential properties in Singapore.

The CEA advises consumers and sales staff to use the prescribed agreements to put on record the commission agreed on by both parties.

Heng Whoo Kiat

Deputy Director (Licensing)

Council for Estate Agencies

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

Police Force (Amendment) Act 2015 - Police Force (Amendment) Act 2015 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 337 2015)

SHC: Employer successfully claims against employee for breaches of fiduciary duties but faces challenges in proving damages

04 May 2015

Driver jailed a week for injuring man with forklift

Straits Times
19 Jun 2015
Elena Chong

He did not have training, licence to drive the vehicle and hit victim twice

A DRIVER who reversed into a lorry driver standing nearby and left him seriously injured was jailed for a week yesterday.

Theenatayalan Ahumoolam, 27, hit the wrong gear by mistake and pinned Mr Leonard Yeo Tze Chiang, 34, against a concrete pillar. The Malaysian hit him again when he drove the forklift forward and reversed a second time in the accident at the Amtech Building in Sin Ming Road on May 29 last year.

Mr Yeo suffered a broken pelvic bone and underwent an emergency operation at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He spent more than two months in hospital and had further surgery.

He also needed to see trauma surgeons, urologists, orthopaedic surgeons and a psychiatrist. He now has a tube that drains urine, and has spent more than $46,000 in medical bills.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong told the court that both men were acquainted as they worked for different companies in the same building.

The court also heard that Theenatayalan, whose job scope was to oversee deliveries for an investment firm, does not have the requisite training or licence to drive a forklift.

Investigations showed he had been clearing wooden pallets and chatting with Mr Yeo moments before the accident. After he moved the forklift away from Mr Yeo, he went to help him.

Theenatayalan said in mitigation that he was remorseful and asked for forgiveness. He also admitted he had been negligent but did not mean to hurt anyone.

He could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing grievous hurt through negligence.


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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (New Drivers) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015 (S 336 2015)

SCA: Guidelines for judicial review of arbitral awards

04 May 2015

Bid to delay paying $7.7m guarantee for loan denied

Straits Times
18 Jun 2015
K.C. Vijayan

Judge rules businesswoman's defence on issue of security as ‘unsound’

Prominent businesswoman Jannie Chan has failed in her bid to set aside a statutory order to pay up US$5.7 million (S$7.7 million) on a guarantee for a bank loan.

Ms Chan argued that the creditor, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), had made a flawed application. She also wanted more time to set aside the statutory demand order.

But Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu was not convinced by her defence, saying it was "unsound" and that court application for a time extension was not justified.

ANZ had made a loan to Timor Global (TGL), which was registered in Timor Leste. Ms Chan is a director and shareholder in TGL.

TGL pledged its assets to the bank for the loan and Ms Chan executed a personal guarantee with the other directors to underwrite the loan.

The bank then sought to claim the debt from her in a demand letter last October.

Her lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, argued that the bank's demand order was defective as the security offered by TGL - which are the assets that the loan is tied to - was not disclosed. He urged that this be taken into account. It is understood this would have raised the prospect of the bank recovering part of the loan from the company's assets instead of going straight for Ms Chan.

But ANZ's lawyer, Mr Chou Sean Yu, countered that based on the bankruptcy rules, "security" referred only to security provided by the debtor (Ms Chan) to whom the statutory demand was issued.

In his judgment released yesterday, Justice Kan noted Mr Chou's view, pointing out that two High Court judges had dealt with and settled the issue of "security" to be referring solely to the debtor who was the subject of the proceedings.

An interpretation of the referred laws that "enables a debtor to rely on security which he has not provided, but has been provided by another party to lower his indebtedness does not promote a proper balance of interests..." said Justice Kan. "It is really not unfair that a debtor is not permitted to rely on security put up by another party."

The judge also rejected her explanation that her lawyer was negotiating with the bank to stop the bankruptcy petition against her, which accounted for her late application. He rejected her application for an extension of time.

"A delay of 70 days was substantial as the application should have been made within 14 days. The reason for the delay was unsatisfactory..." said Justice Kan in judgment grounds released yesterday

Mr Thuraisingam said yesterday that Ms Chan will be appealing the High Court decision.


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

Chan Siew Lee Jannie v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd [2015] SGHC 157