12 December 2017
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Is Singapore ready as the GDPR deadline draws near?

Business Times
12 Dec 2017
Sheena Chin

AS Singapore works towards becoming a Smart Nation, it is important to strike a balance between leveraging Big Data to transform the economy and data privacy. On the business front, data relating to individual behaviours and preferences have translated into a competitive advantage for many organisations. However, while many organisations have recognised the value of data as the new fuel for growth, not all are well prepared for the fast-evolving data regulation landscape, both locally and across the globe.

In recent months, Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) proposed a revision to the existing Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which will require organisations to inform customers of personal data breaches as soon as they are discovered. Organisations must also report the breach within 72 hours. This will add to the existing PDPA which comprises various rules governing the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data in Singapore. Rapid advances in technologies - such as the ability of devices to seamlessly collect and transmit personal data across networks - present challenges for consent-based approaches to personal data protection. It is critical for organisations to be mindful that the proposed review will potentially impact their organisations if they process personal data for internal use or on behalf of another organisation.

Adopted in April 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The new regulation, which will take effect from May 25, 2018, will include an overview of where and how personal data - including credit card details, banking and health records - is stored and transferred.

Though GDPR may seem to affect only those residing in the EU, local businesses should not dismiss the regulations, especially since Singapore is by far the EU's largest commercial partner in Asean, accounting for about one-third of EU-Asean trade in goods and services, and roughly two-thirds of investments between the two regions.

A recent study by Veritas has identified a consistent trend among local organisations. It suggests that companies have a prevalent amount of ROT (redundant, obsolete and trivial) and dark data stored on premises and in the cloud. If left unchecked, business data will unnecessarily cost organisations around the world a cumulative US$ 3.3 trillion by 2020.

According to the latest Veritas study on GDPR, more than half of organisations in Singapore (56 per cent) are concerned that they will not be able to meet the new EU requirements, and only 18 per cent feel they are already GDPR-compliant. But it is encouraging to note that 95 per cent of the organisations here plan to drive behaviourial changes through training, rewards and contracts to help ensure that they comply with GDPR policies.

Notwithstanding the alarming statistics, it is only fair to acknowledge that the biggest challenge for many organisations in Singapore is understanding what data resides in their complex IT environments, how to protect the data and delete it from the network when requested or when it's no longer needed. Veritas research also shows that a third (34 per cent) of organisations in Singapore do not have the right technology in place to cope with GDPR. With just six months to go before the rules take effect, organisations should look to establish a clearly defined governance strategy with data management tools at the core.

As with any new regulation, companies need to be aware of the risks of prosecution and breaking the principles of GDPR, which could result in huge penalties of up to four per cent of global turnover or 20 million euros (S$32 million), whichever is greater. However, the severity of the failure to comply will not just end with these penalties.

Being non-compliant to GDPR could potentially have a devastating impact on an organisation's brand image, especially if and when a compliance failure is made public, potentially as a result of the new obligations to notify data breaches to those affected. Other adverse consequences include the devaluation of the brand as well as the loss of customer loyalty - which most companies fear. According to the same Veritas study on GDPR, 20 per cent of the companies surveyed fear that negative media or social coverage could cause their organisation to lose customers.

To remain GDPR-compliant, companies can follow these guidelines to ensure that their organisation is kept in check:


The critical first step in complying with GDPR is gaining a holistic understanding of where all the personal data held by your organisation is located. Building a data map of where this information is being stored, who has access to it, how long it is being retained, and where it is being moved is critical to understanding how your enterprise is processing and managing personal data.


Residents of the EU can now request visibility into all of the personal data held on them by submitting a Subject Access Request (SAR). They can also request that the data be corrected (if factually incorrect), ported (to a suitable export format) or deleted. Ensuring that your organisation can undertake and service these requests in a timely manner is critical to avoiding GDPR penalties.


Data minimisation, one of the main tenets of GDPR, is designed to ensure that organisations reduce the overall amount of stored personal data. This is done by keeping personal data only for the period of time directly related to the original intended purpose. Deploying and enforcing retention policies that automatically expire data over time would establish the cornerstone of your GDPR strategy.


Under GDPR, organisations have a general obligation to implement technical and organisational measures to show they have considered and integrated data protection into all data collection and processing activities. Organisations may benefit from existing advisory services that are available to educate and transfer knowledge to global legal, compliance and privacy teams as to how the solution can help meet the GDPR challenge.


GDPR requires all organisations to report certain types of data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority, and in some cases to the individuals affected. You should assure that you have capabilities in place to monitor for possible breaches - such as unexpected or unusual file access patterns - and to quickly trigger reporting procedures.

By following these best practices, companies would be able to comply with GDPR and other regulations, such as PDPA. Businesses would also establish data management capabilities that are more robust and compliant than before. To keep up with the changing technology landscape, it is more important than ever to have the appropriate data management measures in place, to ensure that companies are on the right side of the law.

The writer is Singapore country manager at Veritas.

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Chua Hock Soon James v Public Prosecutor and other appeals - [2017] SGHC 230

Building Control Act - Building Control (Inspection of Buildings) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 508 of 2017)

The fall and rise of legal education in Singapore

Straits Times
12 Dec 2017
Simon Chesterman

The 60th anniversary of legal education in Singapore offers a chance to look back on the history of the rule of law in Singapore - and forward to how the practice of law is changing.

Six decades ago, the first law students enrolled as colonial subjects in the new Department of Law of the University of Malaya. Four years later, the class of 1961 graduated from a faculty of what would shortly be renamed the University of Singapore, the country itself on the cusp of independence.

Given the importance of the rule of law to Singapore today, it may be surprising to learn that the study of law had earlier been actively discouraged by colonial authorities, here and across much of the British Empire. This was sometimes justified as a question of priorities - engineers, doctors and agriculturalists were said to be more useful in a developing economy. But it is also clear that lawyers were viewed with suspicion as potential troublemakers.

Speaking in 1959, Singapore's founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who had studied law at Cambridge, opined that the British learnt from the mistake of allowing legal education in India: "They knew that large numbers of lawyers meant large numbers of self-employed intellectuals who were well-versed in the mechanics of the colonial system and who then set out to lead the mass of the local people in breaking down the colonial system."

People like him, in other words.

Such wariness of the dangers of a legal training continued into independence, with various efforts to match the number of law graduates to the number of lawyers required by the economy. Indeed, those efforts continue today in tweaking the domestic and international supply of lawyers.

A decade ago, what is now the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law lost our monopoly status, welcoming some healthy competition from the Singapore Management University and, more recently, the Singapore University of Social Sciences - both law schools headed, I am proud to note, by members of our alumni (classes of 2006 and 1978 respectively).

Indeed, from a dearth, it has been suggested that we now have a "glut", as Minister for Law K. Shanmugam (class of 1984) put it, though this is primarily due to the fact that there are now more Singaporeans studying law in England than in all three local universities combined. Unfortunately, a large proportion of those graduates who spend thousands of pounds on their degrees later fail the bar exam necessary to practise law in Singapore.

The importance of educating lawyers in Singapore is no longer questioned. Indeed, it is recognised as vital to our aspirations to be a dispute resolution hub and underpinning other sectors of the economy, most obviously financial services. Legal academics today are not only expected to produce highly-qualified graduates, but also to help position Singapore as a thought leader in legal research.

Yet if the supply side of legal education in Singapore has changed, this is nothing compared with the transformation in demand.

Speaking at NUS Law's 60th anniversary dinner in October, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (class of 1986) challenged us to prepare students for a globalised profession, to instil a commitment to public service, to embrace the opportunities of the digital revolution and to examine whether our current admissions process is best suited to identifying those who will thrive in the profession.

In the first two of these areas, we are making progress. On globalisation, fully half of our students spend a semester or more on exchange, some earning a master's degree in their fourth year through partnerships with New York University, King's College London and other leading schools.

The rest benefit from the diverse students from around the world who join our upper years. We are nonetheless exploring more ways for students to travel for shorter periods, in particular, exposing them to jurisdictions in Asia. The hope is to enable them to take advantage of the growing market for legal services exported from Singapore. As Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah (class of 1986) reported earlier this year, the value of that market more than doubled between 2008 and last year.

On public service, we launched a new Centre for Pro Bono and Clinical Legal Education in October this year, with the aim of broadening and deepening the opportunities for students to see the law in action with real clients, real problems and real consequences. This echoed a sentiment expressed last month by President Halimah Yacob (class of 1978) in her first speech as NUS chancellor, in which she stressed the importance of the university developing its strong tradition of service.

Law and technology is a faster moving target, but with tremendous opportunities in both education and research. We now offer courses on everything, from data protection to the law of artificial intelligence, but are considering more radical ideas, from specialist degrees to including coding as part of the first year at law school.

On the research front, questions raised by the digital revolution range from governance of smart contracts and blockchain to liability for damage caused by autonomous vehicles. In some cases, our students are racing ahead of their professors, with student groups such as Alt+Law and legal analytics start-up Lex Quanta.

Admissions is another area that we continue to study. One modest step is an increase in our discretionary shortlisting from 10 to 15 per cent, meaning that candidates are selected for an interview and written test not solely on academic marks. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that no deserving student is unable to take full advantage of a place in law school for financial reasons.

More radical possibilities exist here too, such as making law a graduate degree, as it is in the United States, a model embraced by my own alma mater, Melbourne Law School, a decade ago.

Legal education, then, has long been tied to the expansion of the legal sector in Singapore, while the rule of law remains vital to the fate of the country as a whole.

The cohort of students that commenced studies 60 years ago was a remarkable group of men and women. Professor Tommy Koh later served as Singapore's first ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Chan Sek Keong as attorney-general and later chief justice, Dr Thio Su Mien as dean of the Faculty of Law, Mr Koh Eng Tian as solicitor-general, Mr Goh Yong Hong as police commissioner, Mr T.P.B. Menon as president of the Law Society, and so on.

They were the first of 10,000 graduates who now occupy leading positions in the profession, such as Attorney-General Lucien Wong (class of 1978), public office, such as former deputy prime minister S. Jayakumar (class of 1963), as well as in diverse fields such as the arts (Mr Ivan Heng, class of 1988), fashion (Ms Priscilla Shunmugam, class of 2006), and technology (Mr Tan Min-Liang, class of 2002).

On behalf of them, and indeed on behalf of all lawyers, let me take this opportunity, in my last piece in these pages for the year, to wish you (but in no way to guarantee or assume liability for) a reasonably merry Christmas and/or festive period.

Terms and conditions apply.

  • The writer is dean and professor of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

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Tan Buck Hai v United U-LI Projects Pte Ltd - [2017] SGIPOS 14

Income Tax (Amendment) Bill (Bill 36 of 2017)

Singapore competition panel lifts curbs on car service and repairs

Business Times
12 Dec 2017

COME next year, drivers will be able to fix their cars at a workshop of their choice - sometimes at far lower prices - and not worry too much about losing their warranty, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said in a statement on Monday.

Under current warranty restrictions, drivers can service or repair their cars only at authorised workshops. Fixing their cars at independent workshops will void their warranty.

The change, which will affect existing and new warranties, comes after the CCS concluded an inquiry into the supply of car parts.

Current restrictions deter car owners from using independent workshops, restricting the workshops' ability to compete effectively with authorised ones, the watchdog said.

This restriction may, in turn, allow authorised workshops to charge customers higher prices for servicing, repair and parts, it added.

The change will mean that car dealers can void warranties or reject claims only if they establish that independent workshops damaged or caused defects to the vehicle under warranty, the watchdog added.

Toh Han Li, CCS' chief executive, said: "The removal of the warranty restrictions will facilitate a more competitive market for car repairs and servicing, with more choices for car owners, and opportunities for existing and new independent workshops."

According to the CCS, market feedback indicates that authorised workshops can charge two to three times more for comparable parts and servicing.

For example, an oil filter change at the independent workshop can be in the ballpark of S$100, but an authorised one will charge about S$200, said one industry source.

Francis Lim, president of the Singapore Motor Workshop Association (SMWA), said the changes will "open up the market", and give car owners more choice.

Mr Lim, who is also group director of BCC Automotive, said that authorised workshops require cars under warranty to be brought in for servicing after it clocks a certain mileage.

If the owner decides to take his car to an independent party instead - which means the authorised workshops will not have any servicing records - they can void the warranty, he explained.

However, this will not be the case any more, he added.

Authorised dealers said they welcome the competition.

Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda agent Kah Motor, said: "As long as the (independent) workshops are good and are able to do the work prescribed, I don't see why not."

But Mr Wong said that if the workshop damages the parts, and customers try to make a warranty claim, it will be an issue.

Mr Wong said that even before the changes, Kah Motor has generally honoured the warranties, even though customers had their cars serviced outside, as long as it was determined that it was a manufacturer's problem.

Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "To compete for the business, after-sales service is something we will improve on our end, in terms of professionalism and the turn-around time."

Still, Mr Ron Lim said cars are getting more high-tech, with features such as lane departure sensors and forward collision warning systems.

He added that manufacturers are always concerned that "customers receive the appropriate repairs and servicing for the car, so it doesn't affect the vehicle's performance".

Joey Lim, managing director of independent workshop Harmony Motor, who is also SMWA's secretary, said independent workshops will now have to beef up their technical know-how, to service newer car models, which are typically those still under warranty.

According to the SMWA, which has more than 700 members, there are about 2,500 motor workshops in Singapore.

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Ng Huat Seng and another v Munib Mohammad Madni and another - [2017] SGCA 58

Property Tax (Amendment) Bill (Bill 35 of 2017)

Addressing tough questions on tax hikes

Straits Times
12 Dec 2017
Elgin Toh

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and tax increases - at least since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a clear indication last month that tax rates will have to go up before long.

It is not yet known which taxes will rise, when they will rise and by how much. But Mr Lee's political aim of sounding the alarm in advance was, no doubt, to kick-start the work of persuading people on the principle of the matter - the need for a hike - so that when the specifics come, they will be less jarring.

Pundits are betting on a goods and services tax (GST) hike to be announced in Budget 2018. But one theory is that it may be years before anyone pays more than the current 7 per cent, as some believe the rise will kick in only after the next general election. After all, Mr Lee has said revenues are sufficient for this term, which ends in 2021, unless an election is called early.

Whether the tax hike takes effect before or after the election, the Government's priority now is to get Singaporeans on board. This Mr Lee has begun to do, listing three major items that need more funding: economic restructuring, infrastructure investment and social spending.

Economic restructuring is happening when technological change is accelerating and jobs are being disrupted globally. Concurrently, Singapore is reducing its reliance on foreign workers, forcing firms to raise productivity. Spending will be needed to retrain displaced workers and to help firms make productivity-enhancing changes to their work processes.

Infrastructure improvements - the second area - are expensive but vital for raising the quality of life and economic competitiveness. Projects take years, even decades, to realise. If work does not begin now, nobody will feel the effects for a time, but at some point, Singapore will fall behind. Upgrades in the works include the airport, the seaports and water infrastructure.

Finally, social spending will go north because an ageing population will require more healthcare expenditure.

Trying to keep expenditure constant will mean lowering the subsidy level per person, which would be unfair to the baby boomer generation. They are a bigger drag on national finances because of their size - but they have also contributed a larger share to the nation's progress during their working years.

None of the three reasons for raising taxes is controversial. The Government is likely to put out different permutations of these arguments at dialogue sessions with various segments of the population in the coming months.

That said, in an era of better-educated voters, to make the most convincing case, the Government may have to go one step further: by pre-empting and addressing difficult yet reasonable questions.

In economic restructuring, the Government will do well to show that the schemes are effective in helping employers and employees make the transition. It is a well-reported fact that during the implementation of the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, for example, con men went around trying to get businesses to sign up for it in a fraudulent way - with the two sides splitting the gains, to the taxpayer's disadvantage. Under the PIC, the Government gave financial incentives to firms that invested in machinery and training, among other things.

Some of these con men were caught and convicted. Others had their applications rejected.

It will be useful if the Government can show that enforcement against such abuses is effective, and that money spent on economic restructuring in general yields fair returns.

In infrastructure, a growing view among experts is that Singapore can afford to be less averse to financing infrastructure through debt. This was done in the early post-independence years, when finances were tight. After the economy took off, the general approach has been to fund them using current revenues.

Pundits are betting on a goods and services tax hike to be announced in Budget 2018. But some believe the rise will kick in only after the next general election. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The advantages of paying upfront include savings on interest payments, and not having to face external scrutiny by prospective creditors. But a key disadvantage has to do with inter-generational fairness. The Government is making the present generation pay for long-term projects that benefit future generations.

Spreading out payments over the term of the debt would involve paying more money overall, but would arguably be a more equitable way of evening out the burden between Singaporeans today and in the future. It would reduce the need to increase the current tax burden.

Whether the tax hike takes effect before or after the election, the Government's priority now is to get Singaporeans on board. This Mr Lee has begun to do, listing three major items that need more funding: economic restructuring, infrastructure investment and social spending.

Concerns about inter-generational fairness have also been raised in relation to the upcoming tax hike by some economists who say a bigger share of gains from the reserves can be used for current needs.

Finally, in social spending, one question is whether healthcare and other facilities being built to meet elderly needs today are designed so they can be re-purposed for other uses - in anticipation of the elderly population shrinking in the years after the baby boomer generation.

This is a point that environmental gerontologist Emi Kiyota of Japan has raised during her recent visits to Singapore as a visiting fellow of the Centre for Liveable Cities.

She notes that in the early years of dealing with its silver tsunami, Japan built many elderly-related facilities - not unlike what Singapore is now doing. Later on, there was a surplus of such facilities when the demographics shifted. She suggests that Singapore builds facilities that can be re-configured for other uses, to avoid wasting resources.

The broader question here is whether Singapore has given enough thought not just to the silver tsunami landscape, but the post-silver tsunami one as well.

This Government has a reputation for considering any major policy change from all possible angles. The questions above and others that people will pose in the months to come would have been considered at length. If the answers are communicated well, it will minimise the fallout from the tax hike.

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Public Prosecutor v Lim Choon Hong and another - [2017] SGHC 237

Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill (Bill 34 of 2017)

Comprehensive framework to ensure foreign workers' well-being: Forum

Straits Times
11 Dec 2017

We are heartened by the concerns of Dr George Wong Seow Choon (Legislation needed to take care of foreign workers; Nov 29) and Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng (Do more to protect those who report errant employers; Nov 29).

We agree that our foreign workers deserve a safe and fair environment to live and work in.

This requires the Government, employers, accommodation providers, employment agencies and the foreign workers themselves to play their parts.

We have progressively strengthened our laws and policies governing the fair treatment of foreign workers.

In addition to a safe work environment, employers are required to provide their work permit holders with upkeep and acceptable accommodation.

Employment agencies owe a duty of care to the foreign workers whom they place, and are prohibited from overcharging.

Accommodation providers such as dormitory operators are also required to abide by standards on sanitation, space norms and amenities like Wi-Fi.

Coupled with a robust inspection regime, complaints on housing conditions have decreased from about 580 in 2014 to about 440 in the first 11 months of the year.

In the past five years, about 40 employment agencies have been prosecuted or issued with composition fines or warnings for overcharging.

Over the same period, about 160 employers have been prosecuted for salary non-payment, and 26 for providing substandard accommodation to their foreign workers.

Foreign workers must play their part too.

They have multiple channels to report employment issues, and should do so as early as possible.

Since the setting up of the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management in April, we have assisted more than 2,000 foreign workers to recover their unpaid salaries in full.

Foreign workers who are being sent home before their claims are settled can inform our immigration officers at the checkpoints, who will assist in referring them to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Foreign workers are informed of this right when they arrive here.

Action will also be taken against employers who attempt to send their workers home without settling all outstanding claims.

We work closely with non-governmental organisations like the Migrant Workers Centre to ensure that the well-being of foreign workers is not compromised during the claim period.

We also work with partner agencies to help take care of our foreign workers' social needs.

We have facilitated the setting up of dedicated foreign worker recreation centres, which provide alternative gathering spots and amenities for their use.

The MOM is committed to protecting the rights and interests of all workers.

Those with information on illegal recruitment and workplace practices can call MOM on 6438-5122 or e-mail mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg

All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Kevin Teoh

Divisional Director

Foreign Manpower Management Division

Ministry of Manpower

In the past five years, about 40 employment agencies have been prosecuted or issued with composition fines or warnings for overcharging.

Over the same period, about 160 employers have been prosecuted for salary non-payment, and 26 for providing substandard accommodation to their foreign workers.

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Multi Access Limited v Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holding Limited - [2017] SGIPOS 13

Audit (Amendment) Bill (Bill 33 of 2017)

Unjustified attacks do huge disservice to police: Minister

Straits Times
11 Dec 2017
Ng Huiwen

Unjustified attacks made against the police should be rebutted, as these do a huge disservice to the officers in blue who put their lives at risk to keep Singapore safe, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

"In many countries, unjustified attacks on police have eventually led to the weakening of law enforcement," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"We do not intend to let that happen in Singapore. And I believe that the vast majority of Singaporeans support our approach to maintaining law and order," he said.

In another post, Mr Shanmugam addressed online criticism of police tactics used during recent raids on illegal brothels near Rowell Road.

Speed and surprise are key elements during raids, and the police "cannot be expected to knock on the door, and wait for a response", Mr Shanmugam said.

"What do we expect - the gangsters (who might be present) will open the door, and politely admit to their actions? And even if gangsters are not present, we expect the women involved to be cooperative?" he added.

He explained that the police wear masks during such operations to hide their identities, as the syndicates behind these illegal brothels would retaliate, if they can.

He added that he had been quite puzzled by the criticism directed at the police, and "the deeply flawed, misplaced sympathies" for those in the vice trade.

Sharing further details of the case in his post, he said that there had been complaints about the sex workers in the area, with a syndicate seemingly in operation.

During the raid last Friday, more than 20 people - all foreigners - were arrested, including a 16-year-old male sex worker. One suspect injured himself while trying to escape.

Many of them were transgender sex workers, he said, adding that the police are concerned about human trafficking as well.

While the operations were ongoing, the police had noticed a woman filming a video, he added.

She later made a post online accusing the police of "wasting taxpayer money, terrorising women". The post has since been taken down.

In response, Mr Shanmugam said: "Would she prefer that police didn't do anything? (Would she) like the sex workers to continue soliciting for customers along the roads and bringing them into HDB estates among our families and children? What about the exploitation of underage youngsters?"

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Pram Nair v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGCA 56

Infrastructure Protection Bill (Bill 32 of 2017)

SGX to hike derivatives member fees as much as 10-fold from January

Business Times
11 Dec 2017
Cai Haoxiang

First revision in 15 years aligns fees to growth in membership value, says SGX spokeswoman

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) will drastically hike membership fees for derivatives trading members in 2018, in some cases as much as 10 times, The Business Times has learnt.

Membership fees for a proprietary trading member with direct market access to fast data feeds, for example, will go up from S$2,000 a year to S$25,000 a year from 2018. The new fees take effect on Jan 2.

The fee hikes, the first in 15 years, will affect a few hundred derivatives members, based on numbers provided by an SGX spokeswoman. They only affect derivatives members, not securities ones.

BT saw a circular on the changes which went out last week.

"In the past 15 years where SGX has allowed membership fees to remain unchanged, SGX's volume has grown more than five times with up to 60 new products," it said.

"SGX has also invested substantial resources in revamping its regulatory, technology and client servicing infrastructure," it said. "With these developments, SGX will be revising its membership fees with the aim to bringing it a level commensurate with the value that membership offers."

The surprise move has irked some small and mid-sized traders, though a number used the Hokkien phrase "bo bian", meaning there is nothing to be done about it. Some said they were not consulted about the change, and the message given by the hikes is that they are no longer needed.

"It is not about the money but there's a sense of being squeezed," said one trader, an industry veteran. He said SGX seems only interested in profits, at the expense of creating an ecosystem where smaller players can flourish. "I'm thinking of retiring soon. I wonder if there will be any local players left in 10 years' time," he said.

In the exchange's first quarter ended Sep 30, 2017, revenue was up 7 per cent to S$204 million from a year ago, while net profit was up 9 per cent to S$91 million. The numbers were the strongest in two years.

SGX's derivatives segment is a significant part of its business, comprising two-fifths of total revenue and a third of operating profit for that quarter.

However, an SGX insider who declined to be named said that membership fees at US rival CME Group can be much higher across different tiers.

The fee hike is more about recovering costs for the investments SGX has made in new trading technology, and differentiating its offerings, he said.

Numbers of individual trading members have dwindled through the years, and those surviving are those who are doing well. As for the rest, it does not make sense to charge them S$1,000 a year - understood to be the current rate - for a higher-end offering, he said. Meanwhile, memberships might not make sense for everybody, he said.

With the rise of electronic trading, the structure of the market has also changed. In old times, memberships came with trading discounts. But today, memberships are less relevant. Large volume players are wooed with rebates and incentives regardless, he said.

At a meeting of proprietary trading house owners on Friday afternoon attended by BT, a key issue discussed was whe-ther to switch to more powerful but expensive platform. Total platform costs dwarf the membership fee hikes.

Traders said they would pay the higher membership fees, given how there is still money to be made trading contracts like Nikkei and China A50 futures.

Another trader said that while SGX's move is "a bit high-handed", it is impractical to stop becoming a member. "Ai tan jia, bo bian," he said, using another Hokkien phrase which means that one has to work hard to earn money to eat. Most players try to arbitrage between exchanges, so they will still want to trade at SGX. So it makes sense to pay for a membership to get discounted clearing fees, he said.

At press time, BT was not able to conclusively compare SGX's membership costs and clearing fee structure relative to its rivals. SGX can offer lower clearing fees for some products, but API (application programming interface) fees can be higher, some say. APIs refer to an essential part of the trading infrastructure.

Mid-tier local traders, however, grumble that the cost structure at SGX might favour large players which trade significant volumes.

Asked about the fee hikes, an SGX spokeswoman said membership value has grown with the exchange's investments in the derivatives market. "With the alignment of fees to membership value, SGX remains cost competitive," she said.

She noted how membership offers discounts on clearing and connectivity fees, "which far exceed the annual fee for active traders".

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

Zynergy Solar Projects & Services Pvt Ltd v Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd - [2017] SGHC 223

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Bill (Bill 31 of 2017)

ADV: How Can You Accurately Navigate Complex Cross-Border Matters?

Singapore Law Watch
11 Dec 2017
Thomson Reuters

Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Sudi and others - [2017] SGHC 228

Interpretation Act - Interpretation (Temporary Suspension of Electronic Road Pricing System Charges) Order 2017 (S 507 of 2017)

AGC sets out arguments for bringing case against Li Shengwu

Straits Times
09 Dec 2017
Seow Bei Yi

Putting Facebook settings to 'friends only' does not entitle him to claim privacy, it says

Mr Li Shengwu, 32, may have put his Facebook privacy settings on "friends only" when he published a post that allegedly attacked the independence of Singapore's judiciary, but this does not entitle him to claim privacy, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has argued.

It made the point in written submissions filed in the High Court, for bringing contempt of court proceedings against Mr Li, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The AGC said that as he chose the medium of publication, it should be taken that he was fully aware the post could be disseminated to a broader audience.

This could therefore "pose a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice", it added in documents obtained by The Straits Times yesterday.

The papers, filed in August, set out the arguments for the AGC moving forward with its case against Mr Li, the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and a junior fellow at Harvard University in Massachusetts in the United States.

Documents also revealed he had been served court papers on Oct 17 at his work space at the university by a US-based legal services firm.

This was after "multiple unsuccessful attempts" made at Harvard University, and at his home in Cambridge. The US firm tried 11 times on seven different occasions between Oct 2 and Oct 14, but to no avail, according to the court documents.

On Monday, Mr Li's lawyers in Singapore said they needed time to address the "novel grounds" the AGC used to justify serving the papers out of its jurisdiction. They said they would be applying to set aside the court order that allowed the AGC to serve papers on their client in the US.

The case centres on a July 15 Facebook post in which Mr Li said "the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system", and that foreign media had been cowed into self-censorship because of previous legal action.

Although the post was put to a "friends only" privacy setting, it was published by several websites and circulated on social media.

Mr Li previously said it was not his intent to attack the judiciary.

He also said he would not have given approval for his private post to be shared publicly and was, thus, not responsible for its "widespread and unauthorised publication".

The post was related to a family dispute over the fate of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's home at 38, Oxley Road. It spilled into the public sphere in June.

The AGC argued that for the case to proceed, it is not necessary to prove Mr Li intended to undermine public confidence, only that he intentionally published the post.

Mr Li subsequently changed parts of it, but the AGC said his amendment of the post to clarify its meaning showed he was aware the phrase "pliant court system" was open to being understood at face value.

The AGC added that "it is irrelevant whether the material was posted outside Singapore".

It said, "since it can be accessed in Singapore, its publication occurs in Singapore".

The next pre-trial conference is expected to take place on Jan 4.

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

Chia Kok Weng v Chia Kwok Yeo and another - [2017] SGCA 54

SGX: Consultation Paper on Proposed Changes to Securities Settlement Framework and Service Enhancements


CPIB commends 18 individuals for acts against corruption

Straits Times
09 Dec 2017
Ng Jun Sen

One would think it foolish to try bribing a police officer in a country ranked the seventh least corrupt place in the world.

But, under pressure and faced with incriminating evidence, some still try.

Just ask Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Patrick Chan Wai Hoong, 44, who was offered bribes while on duty in two separate incidents in 2016 and 2017. He rejected them on both occasions, and the suspects faced more severe penalties.

Said ASP Chan: "People do try all types of methods to get out of that situation they are in, and they do not necessarily offer cash. Some offer cigarettes, others offer sexual services.

"All officers, not just myself, will reject these gifts. We must have integrity to not take bribes, so that the public have confidence in our police force."

For his actions in turning down money and gifts, including an offer of $10,000, ASP Chan was commended by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) yesterday morning. A total of 18 individuals from the public and private sector received plaques for their stance against corruption.

Among them was Singapore Safety Driving Centre automotive tester, Goh King Seng, who was offered $500 by a Chinese national who performed badly in his driving test last year. The student driver was later jailed for three weeks for the attempted bribe.

The Esplanade's security executive, Peter Rennie Tee Keng Lye, received a plaque for rejecting repeated bribery attempts by a club director and two floor managers. He had responded to a fight outside the nightclub, Queen, and was told by the three staff not to report the incident.

The three were fined between $4,000 and $10,000 each.

The two cases involving ASP Chan occurred while he was recording police statements from two female suspects for vice-related activities.

He recalled: "In the 2016 incident, she was panicking because she thought I had evidence against her. But her mind was clear enough when she offered the $10,000."

The suspect was arrested for the act of bribery, even though ASP Chan was just conducting checks on her involvement in an unlicensed massage parlour case.

Both female suspects in the two incidents were later jailed for a month each for corruption.

CPIB director Wong Hong Kuan on Friday spoke about the need for Singapore to remain corruption-free.

He said: "Corruption is a fact of life but let us not make it our way of life. We have come a long way since 1950s when Singapore was plagued with corruption, moving from a third to a first world least corrupt nation.

"We should zealously guard what our forefathers had built over the last six decades and not let acts of greed ruin it."


People do try all types of methods to get out of that situation they are in, and they do not necessarily offer cash. Some offer cigarettes, others offer sexual services.


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


Tozzi Srl (formerly known as Tozzi Industries SpA) v Bumi Armada Offshore Holdings Ltd and another - [2017] SGHC(I) 08

IPOS Trade Marks Circular No. 10/2017

Airbnb needs to respect S'pore laws: Forum

Straits Times
09 Dec 2017

Airbnb is engaging in double talk (Two Airbnb hosts charged over illegal home sharing in first case under new laws; ST Online, Dec 5).

On the one hand, it says it is working with the authorities to make short-term rentals work here.

On the other hand, it continues to allow its website to be used for activities that contravene Singapore's laws.

Singapore's rules on home sharing are clear.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is right to restrict the leasing of private residential properties to at least a three-month tenure - a concession from the previous six months.

A private residential property should not become a public, commercially driven hotel, where guests come and go on a daily basis.

Such a turnover is a major hassle for residents, including the added cost of security and maintenance, among others.

Properties for short-term rentals should be restricted to a new "hybrid" category of real estate.

Only the owners of these properties - not its tenants - can lease them on a short-term basis, and they should be taxed a "hybrid residential-commercial" rate to level the playing field with other hospitality players.

The URA must also come down hard on anyone, including industry players like Airbnb, who continues to lease out rooms and apartments at unapproved properties.

It is time for Airbnb to morph into a more socially aware and responsible organisation, and show respect for the laws of the countries that it operates in.

Toh Cheng Seong

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

Public Prosecutor v Dominic Martin Fernandez and another - [2017] SGHC 226

IPOS: Circular No. 8/2017: Enhancements to patent application process

Citizenship can be revoked even if person is not prosecuted or a convict, lawyers say

08 Dec 2017
Alfred Chua

The Government has the power to strip a naturalised citizen of his citizenship, if it is satisfied that the person had engaged in activities harmful to public safety and order, even if he is not charged or convicted in court.

Lawyers and law academics raised this point while commenting on the case of former S-League player Gaye Alassane, 43, who was served a notice on “proposed deprivation of citizenship” on Thursday (Dec 7).

Pending any appeal, he would lose his citizenship for being “an active and trusted member” of an international match-fixing syndicate. Alassane, who was born in Mali, became a Singaporean in 2003.

The Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) said in a media statement that he is subjected to a Police Supervision Order. Those placed on this order have to observe curfews and travel restrictions, and report regularly to the police, among other measures. Flouting these restrictions could result in a jail term.

Lawyer Amolat Singh explained that a person does not need to be brought before court to have his citizenship revoked. In some cases, because the person is tied to a powerful syndicate, no witnesses or whistleblowers may come forward to offer evidence for the crimes, he added.

The MHA said that for Alassane’s case, “witnesses were afraid of testifying against (him) and his syndicate members in open court for fear of reprisal”.

Thus, an important factor is not so much whether or not the person was hauled to court, but if the activities are detrimental to public safety, peace or good order, lawyer Edmond Pereira said.

A naturalised citizen can also have citizenship withdrawn if it was obtained fraudulently or granted by mistake.

The MHA told TODAY that 1987 was the last time it took away the citizenship of a naturalised citizen because the person engaged in activities that went against “the interests of Singapore’s public safety, peace and good order”. He had committed various serious offences including drug trafficking, it said without identifying the person.

In 2013, then-Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean told Parliament that 16 people had had their citizenship recalled for various reasons since 1987, under Articles 129 and 130 of the Constitution.

Singapore Management University’s law don Eugene Tan noted that such occurrences are uncommon, “because the consequences to the person concerned are severe — becoming stateless”.

In reviewing citizenship status, the MHA takes into consideration factors such as the nature and severity of the act, and whether the person’s activities have breached public peace, or affected Singapore’s essential services, or was prejudicial to national security or public order.

“Every case will be considered carefully before a decision is made,” its spokesperson added.

Once a decision is made to invalidate the citizenship, the person would be served a notice and has 21 days to file an appeal. He will remain a citizen throughout the appeal process, which will be referred to a Citizenship Committee of Inquiry.

If the appeal is denied, or if the person does not file an appeal within 21 days, he would lose citizenship and be rendered stateless.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

IPOS: Monster Energy Company v Mixi, Inc - [2017] SGIPOS 12

State Courts RC No 4 of 2017: Pilot Programme For The Conduct Of “Documents-Only” Civil Trials And Assessments Of Damages

State Courts

Jail for man who broke into office with M. Ravi

Straits Times
08 Dec 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Using a screwdriver, lawyer M. Ravi and his friend Lai Yew Thiam gained entry into the locked office of a law firm on multiple occasions.

Lai, who has been in and out of jail since 1978 for crimes including theft and drug offences, was sentenced to four weeks' jail yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of housebreaking.

The 56-year-old admitted that he and Ravi had broken into the office of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm at People's Park Centre in Upper Cross Street on June 23 and 27. A third count of breaking into the same firm on June 17 was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Ravi, 48, was barred from practising for two years on Oct 27 last year. Despite this, the firm employed the human rights activist, letting him work at its office. However, on June 8, his employment was terminated and he was told he had to vacate the premises by June 16. Court papers did not reveal the reason for Ravi's termination.

Ravi and Lai first broke into the office on June 17, and the firm's staff called the police, making clear the pair were not welcome. The lock was then changed. The pair went back five days later and tried to enter but failed.

Undeterred, they returned the next day at around noon. Using a screwdriver, Lai managed to unscrew the sides of the metal shutter to bypass the new lock. The police were alerted and the pair left "after some initial resistance", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong.

The pair returned to the law firm on June 27 and committed housebreaking yet again.

DPP Ong urged District Judge Brenda Tan to sentence Lai to at least four weeks' jail for each housebreaking charge.

Lai's lawyer Satwant Singh pleaded for his client to be jailed for a maximum of four weeks, adding: "His last brush with the law was in 2009 and since then, he has been rebuilding his life for the sake of his son." Lai works with his brother-in-law in their family business.

He is out on bail of $5,000 and has to surrender himself at the State Courts on Jan 15 to begin his sentence.

On Nov 27, Ravi pleaded guilty to one count each of housebreaking, assault and causing hurt by performing a rash act. He is out on $20,000 bail and will be back in court on Jan 5.

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

U-Manga International Business Co., Ltd v Nunufish.com - [2017] SGIPOS 11

Law Soc: Practice guides on cross-examination of child witnesses and cross-examination of complainants and victims of sexual offences

Law Society

Certain documents mentioned in this notice are accessible only by Law Society Members with their user ID and password via The Law Society of Singapore website.

Consultation on practice guides on cross-examination of child witnesses and cross-examination of complainants and victims of sexual offences 

1. Practice Guide on Cross-examination of Child Witnesses

2. Practice Guide on Cross-examination of Complainants and Victims of Sexual Offences

The Law Society is seeking feedback on the draft Practice Guides on the Cross-examination of Child Witnesses as well as the Cross-examination of Complainants and/or Victims of Sexual Offences. The cross-examination of a complainant or victim of a sexual offence, especially a child who may have been the victim of a sexual crime, is probably one of the most challenging courtroom situations a defence counsel will encounter. The objective of both Practice Guides is to provide counsels with practical tips, coupled with examples, to assist them in how they may wish to elicit responses from such vulnerable witnesses. Please click on the relevant links to the draft Practice Guides above for access.

The Law Society invites members to provide their feedback and views on the drafts by 13 November 2017. All views may be sent in electronic form to the following e-mail address sanjaykrishnan@lawsoc.org.sg

Analysts see a case for wealth tax, but dent to hub status a concern

Business Times
08 Dec 2017
Vivien Shiao

Whether it's capital gain, estate or higher property tax, side effects need to be studied

Taxes on privately held wealth could help address issues of widening inequality and contribute a significant sum to government coffers, but Singapore's reputation as a global wealth management hub might take a hit.

Analysts told The Business Times that it is a tricky tightrope to navigate, even as taxes could take on many forms, ranging from further property taxes to capital gains tax or even the reintroduction of estate tax, which was abolished in Singapore in 2008.

Singapore does not have capital gains tax, which refers to taxes levied on profits from the sale of an investment asset such as equities or bonds. Estate duties, also known as inheritance taxes, are collected from assets left behind after an individual's death.

The possibility of taxes on privately held wealth surfaced on Thursday at the official opening of the new premises of Nanyang Technological University's Wealth Management Institute at one-north.

In off-the-cuff remarks made before his speech at the event, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat recalled a question posed during The Straits Times Global Forum on Tuesday, where he was asked why government revenue has to be raised instead of touching government reserves.

He told the audience on Thursday that he had made the case on how Singapore's reserves were used in times of need such as the Global Financial Crisis as bank guarantees, which led to the continued stability of the Singapore dollar and economic growth.

Mr Heng joked: "I don't know if the person who asked the question was someone from the wealth management industry who thought that I was thinking of taxing wealth and trying to divert me from doing that. Unfortunately he had the opposite effect.

"I had a few people come up to me after that and said: 'Minister Heng, I'm convinced you don't touch sovereign wealth, but what about private wealth'?"

He did not elaborate any further, but it has invited speculation among tax specialists and economists that some form of taxes on private wealth could also be announced in the upcoming Singapore Budget 2018.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said that it is " not a matter of whether, but a matter of when" taxes would have to be raised. The top contenders for a tax hike so far have been the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and e-commerce tax.

With Minister Heng's latest comments on Thursday, the door of possibilities has since widened.

Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan welcomed the idea of a wealth tax, saying: "My view is that higher wealth taxes should definitely be one of the options on the table, besides the oft-mentioned GST."

But analysts say it has to be weighed against a potential negative impact on Singapore's status as a major wealth management and financial hub.

"The concept of 'those who have more, should pay more' is easy to understand but hard to execute," said Goh Siow Hui, partner, Tax Services, Ernst & Young Solutions LLP.

For example, estate duty was abolished in 2008 as it did not achieve the objective of taxing the wealthy more, she added. According to then Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the estate duty affected the "middle and upper-middle-income estates disproportionately compared to wealthier ones".

Mizuho Bank economist Vishnu Varathan explained that this was partly because the truly wealthy would be able to set up trust structures that would avoid the estate duty. But he added that estate tax could be worth revisiting.

"Demographically, we are an ageing population. You see a lot more inheritance taking place as it's a function of our age profile. In addition, the value of the estate being bequeathed will also go up dramatically given that property prices have shot up in the last 20 years," he said.

This means that if estate duty is re-introduced today, it could potentially contribute 1.5-2 per cent of government operating revenue annually, up from an annual average of about 0.6 per cent between 2003-2007, Mr Varathan added.

Another form of tax on private wealth could be additional taxes on property, suggested analysts.

Credit Suisse's Mr Wan suggested that rates for property taxes could be raised and made "even more progressive" to further raise tax revenues. He sees changes in property taxes as the most likely wealth tax that could be announced for Budget 2018.

But with property cooling measures already in place since 2009, analysts are mixed about the need for more taxes in the area.

"We want to make sure we are actually posing a wealth tax, rather than a transaction tax. You don't want to over-penalise people," added Mr Varathan.

Another option that analysts put forth is the capital gains tax, which is common in other countries such as the US and Australia.

But according to them, this is the least compelling option as it could affect Singapore's competitive edge as a private wealth management capital by creating frictional costs in transactions and could even dissuade mergers and acquisitions.

EY's Ms Goh said: "The imposition of any tax that is solely targeted at the level of personal or private wealth could run counter-intuitive to the efforts that the Singapore government has put in place in the last decade, to develop Singapore into the premier hub for wealth management in Singapore, attracting foreign investors to work and live."

Even as the Singapore tax system aims to be a progressive one, analysts say that it should not get to the point where the wealthy get overly squeezed.

Mr Varathan quipped: "It's always tempting to say: There's so much wealth in Singapore, can we tax that? But we don't want a case of slaughtering the golden goose. The real thought behind is to make society more equitable, and not appear anti-wealth per se."

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

EQ Capital Investments Ltd v Sunbreeze Group Investments Ltd and others - [2017] SGHCR 15

Family Justice Court PD Amendment No. 5 of 2017 - New paras 25A, 25B, 103, 104, 147, Forms 209A, 209B, 259

SGX proposes to fix weak spots in disclosure rules

Business Times
08 Dec 2017
Claire Huang

Singapore's bourse operator has zoomed in on the weak spots in disclosure requirements under listing rules and - in a move welcomed by observers - has proposed refinements to improve the transparency and accountability of companies.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Thursday said it has suggested three areas to be tweaked: secondary fund-raising, interested-person transactions (IPTs), and significant transactions and loans.

Under secondary fund-raising, SGX has proposed that listed companies provide a more upfront and prominent report on the discount, ratio and other principal terms for rights issues. Companies are also required to put out a directors' statement on why the rights issue is in the best interest of the issuer and the basis for it.

They should further declare the use of proceeds and the intended use of any unutilised amount if a rights issue takes place within a year of another fund-raising, SGX suggested.

It also recommended that interested-person transactions (IPT) that are under S$100,000 no longer be exempted from announcements or a shareholder vote, and that greater clarity be offered on the nature of the relationship with the interested person. The bourse operator proposed that those covered by the IPT mandate - the relevant director, chief executive or controlling shareholder of the issuer - be identified.

SGX is also suggesting additional disclosures for loans that are not part of the issuer's "ordinary course of business".

If no valuation is done for an acquisition or disposal of assets that is a major transaction, it wants companies to explain why; the exception will be if the transaction involves shares.

SGX has also recommended that companies appoint a competent and independent valuer for significant asset disposals.

Tan Boon Gin, the chief executive of Singapore Exchange Regulation, said: "We are proposing to recalibrate the disclosure regime using a risk-based approach, following extensive engagements with investors, companies and other stakeholders. The additional disclosures we are proposing address key areas of concern of the market and the exchange."

The public are invited to offer feedback on the proposed listing rule changes by Jan 12. If the recommendations are accepted, SGX expects to implement the changes next year.

Corporate governance advocate Mak Yuen Teen, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, said he would like to see further refinements in how ratios are calculated when determining whether an IPT is disclosable or requires shareholders' approval.

"We are rather too reliant on NTA (net tangible assets) for instance, in calculating ratios. Also, I think our disclosures rules on acquisitions and realisations that are dependent on whether they are in the ordinary course of business or change the risk profile of the issuer are too subjective and could be circumvented."

Asked if further disclosures will be onerous on smaller listed companies, he said: "Smaller companies often face greater risk of abuse because it's easier to obtain substantial stakes to influence transactions in one's favour.

"There's also less institutional shareholders' presence and less analyst coverage in smaller companies to provide checks and balances."

Robson Lee, a partner with US law firm Gibson Dunn, noted that the new secondary fund-raising requirements are not unlike when an issuer first raises funds at an initial public offering (IPO). As for the IPT tweaks, he said the new rules will plug current gaps and enable non-interested shareholders to periodically vote on any proposed long term IPT, based on comprehensive public-disclosure rules, with reference to the periodic confirmations and recommendations of the audit committee.

Mr Lee added that all major acquisitions and disposals have potential financial or even business impact on the group. In most instances where a controlling shareholder proposes such a corporate action, the market has inadequate information on the value of such transactions, "which would be a done deal even if an extraordinary general meeting is required for the transaction", he noted.

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

CAA Technologies Pte Ltd v Newcon Builders Pte Ltd - [2017] SGCA 53

Sup Ct RC No 2 of 2017 -Appointment of Vice-President of Court of Appeal

Supreme Court

American-Muslim preacher’s views not a threat to social harmony: Voices

08 Dec 2017

As a Christian, I do not see how the views of American-Muslim preacher Yusuf Estes denigrate the Christian faith or “damage social harmony”, by claiming that it is “not part of Islam to celebrate other people’s holidays” or questioning the religious basis for Christmas. (“S’pore blocks American-Muslim preacher from entering to preach on Islamic-themed cruise”, Dec 2)

A Muslim is fully entitled to refrain from participating in religious festivities of other religions.

Article 16(3) of the Singapore Constitution guarantees that no person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own.

In a 1999 case, the Singapore Court of Appeal explained that this is meant to protect a person’s right to choose his own religion. For example, a Muslim cannot be “required to take part in” a Christian ceremony such as the Holy Communion.

Furthermore, Estes’ view that Christmas was ‘from the Solstice celebration, and had been going on for hundreds of years before the time of Jesus’, is neither new nor offensive.

It is a widely known among many scholars that Jesus Christ was not born on Dec 25 of 1 AD.

Historians and Christian scholars alike recognise that the ancient Roman Empire celebrated Saturnalia, a winter solstice festival, at or about the time of Dec 25 each year.

According to Sam Moorhead of the British Museum, after the Roman Empire embraced Christianity as its official religion, Saturnalia was incorporated as a Christian holy day.

While many Christians celebrate Christmas, there are also those who do not.

The discussion is an ongoing one, among Christians and non-Christians alike, as to the origins of Christmas or whether it is acceptable to “redeem” such ancient Roman festivals. This is a natural and reasonable exercise of freedom of speech and religion.

However, it is quite another thing for the Government to stifle the discussion by deeming certain perspectives as offensive or denigratory.

In order to promote respect for religious freedom and harmony, the right of every person to pursue religious truth and live in line with his conscience should be respected and upheld. Short of real threats to public order, health or morality, the Government should respect the right of every person to profess, practise and propagate his religion.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Ng Chye Huay v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGHC 224

Sup Ct PD Amendment No. 5 of 2017 - Amendments to Part II, Part XIII and App A

Supreme Court




Dear Sir/Mdm,

1       It is hereby notified that amendments have been made to Part II, Part XIII and Appendix A of the Supreme Court Practice Directions. The amendments are summarised below:

a.       amendments to paragraph 21 on Production of record of hearing and deletion of Form 3 (Request for Record of Hearing) in Appendix A;

b.      amendments to paragraph 22 on Use of electronic and other devices; and

c.       amendments to paragraph 108(2) on Filing documents through service bureau.

2       The amendments will take effect on 1 October 2017.

3       Please find below a document reflecting the marked-up amendments to the Practice Directions.

4       The electronic Practice Directions will be amended to reflect these changes.

Dated this 29thday of September 2017.


Singapore's ageing population a ticking 'time bomb'

Business Times
07 Dec 2017
Vivien Shiao

UOB economist expects GST hikes over 2 years to cope with resulting rise in govt spending and lower tax revenue, but OCBC economist says raising GST is not only option

Singapore's population will reach a critical juncture next year, as the number of people above 65 will equal those under 15 for the first time in history, UOB economist Francis Tan has said in a research note.

But even as the greying demographic exacts its toll on government spending, economists have different takes on how revenue can be raised to fund this spending.

In his report, Mr Tan warned that the situation is a ticking "demographic time bomb", with implications on costs, taxes, labour and productivity.

As it is, Singapore already has the oldest society among Asean's 10 member nations; the median age of its resident population is 40.5 years old. In contrast, the projected median age for Asean in 2020 is 29.8 years.

By 2030, the gap between the young and old in Singapore is expected to widen considerably; the percentage of seniors will rise to 27 per cent, and that of youths will fall to 10.8 per cent. This will put Singapore on a similar footing with current-day Japan, the oldest society in the world with 26.6 per cent of its population above 65 years old.

With increasingly heavy costs that come from an ageing population in areas such as healthcare and social services, Singapore's primary budget deficit will widen.

Mr Tan said: "Not only will the increase in spending widen the budget deficit, the slowdown in economic contribution as more of the population drops out of the labour force will also reduce tax revenue for the government, resulting in a double whammy."

To cope with that, the government will have to find more ways to increase revenue, he said, echoing the recent comment by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - that it is "not a matter of whether, but a matter of when" taxes would have to be raised.

Mr Tan said this is likely to come in the form of a revision to the Goods and Services Tax (GST); he expects two GST hikes over the next two years, to be announced in the 2018 Singapore Budget.

He is forecasting an increase of one percentage point to 8 per cent, likely to be implemented on April 1, and then perhaps another one percentage point hike exactly a year later. "Being in the middle of the electoral term, the GST hike is more likely to be implemented early, rather than near the end of the term."

He added that this year's higher economic growth is likely to push up wages next year, providing "some cushion" against consumption cutbacks due to a raised GST.

The GST, last raised in 2007, is the third biggest contributor to Singapore's budget after net investment returns and corporate income tax.

OCBC economist Selena Ling contends, however, that raising GST is not the only way for the government to boost fiscal revenue.

Asset taxes, stamp duties, customs and excise taxes, betting taxes and motor taxes are some alternative sources of such revenue, she said. It could even be a combination of GST and other sin taxes, she added.

As the population in Singapore gets older and richer, bringing back the estate tax is also another possibility. Ms Ling said this could contribute 1 to 3 per cent of revenue if needed.

"My point is that all options are on the table. We don't have to narrow ourselves and say it has to be GST, per se."

Taxing e-commerce transactions is yet another option to consider, and this is already being done around the world, she said, describing this route as the harvesting of "low-hanging fruit" to raise revenue without raising the quantum of GST.

The GST is a regressive tax, which means lower-income households would feel the pinch more.

Ms Ling acknowledges that government expenditure needs have risen rapidly, but differs from UOB's Mr Tan on the urgency of tax hikes to increase revenue.

She said: "I would hesitate to say that there's an immediate need to raise revenue next year. My concern would be the timing. If we are going to shift monetary policy from neutral to a slight appreciation stance, and if you raise taxes, you are tightening both the fiscal and monetary policy levers."

This is likely to exert additional pressure on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are still struggling to cope with economic restructuring and high costs, she said.

But if there is one thing economists agree on, it is that tax hikes are on the horizon.

Ms Ling said: "There is no smoke without a fire. The fact that the government has hinted quite strongly that there are some tax changes coming up means that they will probably announce something in the 2018 budget."

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

Heng Tze Yong v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGHC 225

State Ct PD Amendment No. 5 of 2017: New PD 90, 118

State Courts

Dennis Wee Realty hit with record S$66,000 fine

Business Times
07 Dec 2017
Rachel Mui

DWR also faces a 12-month ban for not warning investors of risks in overseas property purchases

Dennis Wee Realty (DWR) has been fined a record S$66,000 by the Council for Estate Agencies' (CEA) disciplinary committee for not highlighting to investors the risks involved in buying overseas properties.

DWR was also banned from transacting or marketing properties abroad for 12 months with effect from Nov 24, 2017.

The fine is the largest penalty meted out thus far to a property agency for failing to abide by regulations on the sale or marketing of properties abroad.

In a statement on Wednesday, the CEA said DWR is liable for "six charges of failing to provide a written advisory message to six sets of investors to draw their attention to the risks involved in purchasing foreign properties".

"Throughout the property marketing process, DWR's property agents did not provide the investors with a written advisory message stating that the investors must conduct due diligence. They did not highlight to the investors the risks that are involved for consumers buying foreign property, and that the transaction is subject to foreign laws and to any change in policies and rules in the UK," the CEA said.

In 2014, the investors had purchased 18 units in two hotel developments in the UK through DWR - the Ibis Budget Hotel located in Lymm and the Ibis Budget Hotel in Knutsford, Cheshire. A unit in the Lymm Project was sold for £94,500 (S$170,965), while a unit in the Knutsford Project was sold for £82,500.

Subsequently, they made full payments amounting £1.64 million to the UK developers - Hotel Options (Lymm) and Hotel Options (Knutsford).

When the developers entered into administration in 2015, investors did not receive the amounts they were promised as investment returns.

DWR's agents had previously told investors that they would obtain annual returns ranging from 8 to 12 per cent for the first three years following their purchase. After which, they would receive a capital uplift on the purchase price ranging from 9 to 20 per cent, with a guarantee by the developers to buy the property back from the investors at the end of the three years.

According to the CEA, the investors received monthly returns for periods ranging from one month to six months before payment ceased. To date, they have not been paid the remaining guaranteed annual monthly returns and the capital uplift on the purchase price as promised.

Between April and September 2014, DWR conducted seminars in Singapore to market and sell the two hotels. To entice members of the public to its seminar, DWR had made false representations in their advertisement such as "Meet the developer" and other claims, the CEA said. This was despite the fact that DWR knew these developers would not be present. Four of the six sets of investors had attended the seminars.

Given the complexities and risks involved with purchasing foreign properties, the CEA cautioned that consumers should exercise due diligence before entering into any agreement to buy properties abroad and not rely entirely on the advice from representatives of the foreign developer.

The CEA is a statutory board established in 2010 under the Estate Agents Act to regulate and promote the development of a professional and trusted real estate agency industry.

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

Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGHC 222

Law Soc: BCA - Provision of information on quality of past projects to home buyers

Law Society

Certain documents mentioned in this notice are accessible only by Law Society Members with their user ID and password via The Law Society of Singapore website.

Building and Construction Authority
Provision of Information on Quality of Past Projects to Home Buyers 

The Controller of Housing has issued a circular regarding provision of information on quality of past projects to home buyers.

To help home buyers make more informed decisions when they purchase uncompleted private residential properties, developers are encouraged to provide information on the Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) scores as well as the QM ratings of the private residential projects completed by them and/or their related corporations in the past 5 years in their sales documents.

Click here to view the circular.

Court can't pre-empt SAF's action: Judge

Straits Times
06 Dec 2017
K.C. Vijayan

How an offender's career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would be affected should have no bearing on the sentence meted out, a judge has pointed out.

Justice Chan Seng Onn said this on the back of raising a motorist's $5,000 fine for punching a pedestrian to three weeks' jail on appeal. He found that the district court was "heavily influenced" by Lim Yee Hua's submission that a jail term would apparently have sounded the death knell for his SAF career.

"It would be unprincipled for the courts to pre-empt how the SAF might discipline its soldiers and attempt to influence that by imposing a more lenient court sentence just because the court takes the view that the soldier might be disciplined too severely by the SAF."

Justice Chan made clear "it is not the business of the courts to indirectly alleviate the consequences" of any SAF disciplinary action.

The judge's remarks supplement a ruling by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in a case earlier this year: The Chief Justice had rejected the argument that an offender should not receive punishment above a certain degree or of a certain type because he would lose his job or face disciplinary proceedings otherwise.

In the current case, Lim, 37, was fined a total $9,000 by a district judge in January for two charges.

He had caused hurt to Mr Basil Ho, 50, near Block 503B, Canberra Link in Sembawang on July 11, 2014.

Mr Ho was about to use the zebra crossing that evening when Lim's black Honda Airwave drove through, almost hitting him.

Upset, Mr Ho hit the top of the car as it passed him. He was later accosted by Lim, an army officer, at the block. He was punched by Lim when an argument ensued.

Mr Ho then went back to the zebra crossing - where Lim had left his car - to take down the car plate number to make a police report.

There, Lim confronted Mr Ho again, and, among other things, punched the back of his neck.

Lim was trying to thwart Mr Ho's bid to make a police report by preventing him from leaving the scene and intimidating him.

Lim was fined $4,000 for the first assault and $5,000 for the second charge. The prosecution appealed to the High Court, arguing that the sentences were inadequate.

Justice Chan affirmed the $4,000 fine for the first charge but allowed the prosecution's appeal on the second offence in judgment grounds last week. He ordered that Lim be refunded the $5,000 fine paid and be jailed for three weeks instead.

Justice Chan said Lim's bid to interfere with Mr Ho's attempt to lodge a police report by intimidating him and preventing him from leaving the scene was a significant aggravating factor for sentencing.

Lim, defended by lawyer Chentil Kumarasingam, said a jail term would increase the likelihood of a discharge from the SAF. This meant the loss of $108,000 in retirement benefits, for example. Prosecutors Mohamed Faizal and Dora Tay said the arguments had no merit.

Said Justice Chan: "Lim's arguments vis-a-vis both the setbacks to his career advancement that he has already endured and the nature of the disciplinary action that might be taken against him by the SAF ought not to have any bearing on my determination of the appropriate sentence."

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

Public Prosecutor v Ong Say Kiat - [2017] SGHC 221

Family Justice Court PD Amendment No. 4 of 2017 - New para 7

Duo charged over illegal home rental under new regulations

Straits Times
06 Dec 2017
Ng Jun Sen

Property agents allegedly used Airbnb to let out condo units for under six months

Two men were charged yesterday over their roles in providing illegal short-term stays to tenants.

This is the first use of new regulations against home sharing since they kicked in on May 15.

Property agents Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Songliang, 34, face four charges each for renting out their condominium units to others for under six months.

They are expected to plead guilty.

The Straits Times understands that the men had used popular home-sharing service Airbnb.

According to court documents, both men had allegedly worked together to rent out four units at D'Leedon condominium in Farrer Road for short-term stays without permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Under the Planning Act, the new rules make it illegal to rent out, sublet or share one's private residential property with others for under six months. Following a 2015 public consultation by the URA, the bar was lowered to under three months for private homes from June 30 this year. For Housing Board flats, the minimum stay is still six months.

However, Tan and Yao allegedly committed the offences before the three-month bar set in. Court documents were unclear as to whether they were owners, occupiers or acting as property agents for the units.

The amendment renders the provision of short-term stays for payment a form of development.

Under the Planning Act, those who carry out or allow the development of any residences without approval from the Government are liable to be fined up to $200,000. Repeat offenders face jail time of up to a year, on top of the $200,000 fine.

Those who are convicted but continue to rent out the unit can be fined up to $10,000 a day.

URA prosecutor Douglas Neo said that as this was the first mention of the cases for the two men, more time was needed for prosecutors to prepare for them.

The two men's cases will be heard again next month. Both were represented in court by Ms Wong Soo Chih of Ho Wong Law Practice.

HDB residents are also subject to stern penalties, such as fines and having their units repossessed, if they let out their flats or bedrooms on a short-term basis.

The URA is considering a new class of private homes where short-term rentals are allowed.

This means the Airbnb model may still thrive here, though few details about this upcoming class of housing have emerged so far.

There are around 8,700 Singapore listings on Airbnb now, playing host to more than 330,000 travellers over the past year.

A URA spokesman said the law is meant to safeguard the living environment of neighbouring residents. There were a total of 985 cases of unauthorised short-term accommodation in private homes in 2015 and last year, and about 750 from January this year to last month.

Not all cases end up in court - most offenders comply after they receive enforcement notices from the URA. But recalcitrant ones and those who blatantly disregard the regulations, even after URA action, face prosecution.

In response to queries from ST, a spokesman for Airbnb said its business has helped Singapore's economy, driving around $324 million of economic activity here last year.

"The current framework for home sharing in Singapore doesn't reflect how Singaporeans travel or use their homes today. The current framework also stands in contrast with Singapore's commitment to innovation," said the spokesman.

She said the company is helping locals to earn supplementary income, with the average host earning $4,700 a year.

Under the Planning Act, those who carry out or allow the development of any residences without approval from the Government are liable to be fined up to $200,000. Repeat offenders face jail time of up to a year, on top of the $200,000 fine.

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


The “Dream Star” - [2017] SGHC 220

State Ct PD Amendment No. 4 of 2017: New PD 37, 38, 120A, Form 9A(A), App B, C, E

State Courts

Nam Cheong sweetens terms for US$336m debt restructuring

Business Times
06 Dec 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

Nam Cheong on Tuesday publicly unveiled the revised terms for its debt restructuring, though these are still some way off from some noteholders' expectations.

The Singapore-listed offshore support vessel released its first proposed terms for the restructuring of US$336 million unsecured debt and note issuances in early September. Those terms have been improved upon and simplified in its revised proposal that was tabled with its scheme of arrangement filed with Singapore's High Court.

The revised proposal calls for 35 per cent of the unsecured debt, which are deemed non-sustainable, to be converted to equity at US$1 to 30 shares, compared to US$1 to 17 shares tabled in September.

It has also removed an immediate share conversion option initially proposed for the restructuring of the remaining US$220 million debt. Debt-holders now get to choose between two options for this sustainable portion, converting to a term loan facility to be repaid in stages from 2021 to 2024; or cashing out at a recovery rate of between 5 US cents and 20 US cents for every US$1 sustainable debt held.

But one retail noteholder Ong CP said the revised conversion ratio is still way off the mark from the expectations he and his fellow noteholders have shared at the informal noteholders meeting held in September.

He explained that the revised ratio implied a conversion share price of 3.3 US cents, which is three times the rights share subscription price.

Nam Cheong said the rights shares will be priced at 1.4 Singapore cents, or at 30 per cent discount on its last traded price of 2 Singapore cents before it entered into a trading suspension. The company had clarified that the rights issue to raise new money is offered to all existing shareholders - and not just to anchor shareholder, Tiong Su Kouk. Mr Tiong had pledged to pump another RM50 million new equity into the listed entity.

Mr Ong stressed that he and his fellow noteholders are seeking only for a fair deal and not objecting to swapping debt for equity. The Malaysian noteholder also said he got hold of the scheme document carrying the revised terms only last Friday. This leaves a tight window to respond by the stipulated Dec 14 deadline for submitting the voting instruction form if he so wishes to appoint a proxy for the scheme meeting on Jan 24.

The Business Times understands that the revised terms were presented to an Oct 27 court hearing during which the notes trustees and the informal steering committee for noteholders were also present.

The scheme document or explanatory note carrying the revised terms was sent on Nov 23 to the registered noteholders or mostly banks, which then forwarded it to the individual noteholders. Nam Cheong is also said to have lined up briefings with several groups of noteholders on Wednesday.

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

Tan Shi Lin v Poh Che Thiam - [2017] SGHC 219

Mediation Act introducing mediation framework takes effect on 1 November 2017

12 Dec 2017

SGX, stakeholders roll out new guide to prevent insider trading

Business Times
06 Dec 2017
Claire Huang

Collaborative effort lists recommendations and best practices

Singapore companies and their advisers are now better equipped to deter insider trading.

This, as the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and various stakeholders have launched a guide on the prevention of insider trading, listing out recommendations and best practices.

The guide - a culmination of collaboration between SGX and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (Isca), the Law Society of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) - contains recommended principles and guidelines to help companies and their advisers retain control over the flow of confidential information.

It also suggests ways to strike a balance when it comes to restricting staff dealing in the company's securities and to create a culture of compliance, SGX on Tuesday said.

In particular, the guide touches on arrangements for ensuring confidential information generated and/or received stays confidential until it is reasonably expected to be disclosed under the relevant laws, regulations and the listing rules.

Other areas included in the guide are ways to minimise risks of accidental leakage of confidential information; characteristics of effective trading restrictions on dealings in securities; and how to promote strong awareness of the importance of appropriate handling and control of confidential information.

Examples are also given to illustrate how the principles and guidelines can be put into practice.

SGX said it is not meant to be prescriptive or exhaustive, and needs to be customised to each company's unique profile and circumstances.

Said Tan Boon Gin, CEO of Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo): "Insider trading is hard to detect and prosecute as the leakage of inside information occurs covertly in private, off the exchange; the pre-emptive approach is we believe, the best way to deal with this risk. Our partnership with industry participants on this guide is similar to how we worked with member firms on the Trade Surveillance Handbook and Members' Surveillance Dashboard. We look forward to more collaborative efforts with the whole eco-system to take the fight against market misconduct further upstream."

Various stakeholders have also welcomed the move with the director of ABS, Ong-Ang Ai Boon, saying the guide will be invaluable in ensuring best practice standards, while Joyce Koh, executive director of SID pointed out that it will clarify grey zones and help firms avoid minefields.

Lee Fook Chiew, Isca's CEO, noted that the guide would enhance trust among stakeholders of the organisation, including the staff members. "By recognising and minimising the risk of accidental information leaks or misuse of confidential information, business leaders are better equipped to safeguard the interests of organisations and ensure their organisations meet statutory obligations."

Legal professions who deal with confidential material and advise clients on these matters will also find the recommendations useful, noted Adrian Chan, chairman of the Corporate Practice Committee of the Law Society of Singapore.

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

Infectious Diseases Act - Infectious Diseases (Quarantine) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 708 of 2017)

Singapore Court of Appeal declines implying term of due diligence and expedition into construction contract

12 Dec 2017

Technology has put content pirates ahead of the curve, experts say

06 Dec 2017
Valerie Koh

Technology advancements have put purveyors of piracy ahead of the curve, making it more difficult to tackle the issue, said intellectual property lawyers and experts.

Their comments came in the wake of Bloomberg’s report on Monday (Nov 4), in which the Asia-based Coalition Against Piracy called Singapore a haven for piracy of copyrighted programming by media companies such as Walt Disney and HBO.

Set-top boxes – used to stream movies, television shows or sports programmes – have, in the past, decoded encrypted broadcasts offered by Starhub. The sale and distribution of these decoders are illegal under the Broadcasting Act.

However, in the past three to five years, new technologies have allowed pirates to circumvent the law. The latest iteration makes use of apps to access copyrighted content.

“The technology now is different… the set-top boxes do not need to decrypt programming – they merely need to search for the content out there and then stream it. This gives the added advantage of on-demand viewing,” said Mr Bryan Tan, a partner at Pinsent Masons law firm.

Mr Roger Harvey, a regional director at digital platform security firm Irdeto, said pirates have been able to offer set-top boxes at low prices, adapting to new technologies and consumer demand with “speed, unhindered by rules and regulations”.

Advancements in technology, increasing broadband availability and the ease of buying these devices have fueled their popularity, he added.

“Although the devices themselves are not illegal in their own right, their open nature makes it simple for the pirates to exploit,” he said.

Pay-TV operators Starhub and Singtel said piracy and the popularity of illicit streaming devices are growing in Singapore.

“(It) is alarming and runs counter to Singapore’s ambitions to be a Smart Nation... we urge our government partners to work even closer with us to uphold the legal rights of content owners,” said a Starhub spokesperson.

Piracy and illicit streaming devices are tantamount to theft and present a “serious threat” to the creative industry, the spokesperson added.

Singtel’s spokesperson said: “It is a problem that requires urgent attention and concerted action from all parties in the ecosystem, including content owners, service providers, the public, as well as regulators and authorities.”

In the past, there have been attempts to clamp down on sellers – specifically, for set-top boxes working as decoders.

In May 2014, two men were charged under the Broadcasting Act for dealing in illegal set-top boxes. A total of 233 boxes were seized in a police raid, weeks after Singtel expressed displeasure over illegal set-top boxes allowing illegal access to English Premier League broadcasts, which both Singtel and Starhub shared.

However, the set-top boxes nowadays that use apps to stream content do not have decoders and are considered legal.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) reaffirmed its stance that only such devices with decoding capabilities are illegal.

“Our position has not changed. The devices highlighted in (the 2014 incident) were designed to decode encrypted broadcast signals, allowing users full access to TV programmes without paying subscription fees. In such a scenario, copyright infringement is an issue as the devices were used in a manner that is illegal,” it told TODAY.

It also told Bloomberg that copyright infringement was “not so much” about a device or technology but, rather, the manner in which these were being used.

While consumers are encouraged to access content from authorised content providers, IPOS also highlighted a recent study by market researcher Sycamore, which pointed towards a lack of access to legitimate content as a reason for copyright infringement. It urged industry players to make more legitimate content available at “competitive prices”.

The Sycamore study, commissioned by industry group Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) found that two in five in Singapore actively access pirated content.

But Mr Neil Gane, general manager of the Casbaa Coalition Against Piracy, voiced concerns over the “overt sales” of set-top boxes in malls and IT fairs. This, he said, is rarely seen “in such volume” in other parts of the region.

“What are predominantly sold in Sim Lim Square and at Singapore’s many IT exhibitions are illicit streaming devices preloaded with piracy enabling applications. They are not ‘empty’ and therefore ‘legal’ boxes,” he said.

The courts in countries such as United Kingdom and United States have recognised the sale of these devices – preloaded with applications allowing for access to pirated content – as illegal, he added.

Amica Law director Jason Chan said apart from clamping down on pirates, industry players must also “provide a means for the public to turn their attention away from pirated content to legitimate content”.

“Even if you stop these boxes, something else will come up. Going after the boxes is only a limited solution. The pirates will come up with another way,” he said.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Environmental Public Health Act - Environmental Public Health (General Waste Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 707 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: Public Prosecutor v Yeo Ek Boon, Jeffrey and another matter [2017] SGHC 306 (sentencing framework for offences of causing hurt to police officers under s 332 of the Penal Code)

Supreme Court Note
12 Dec 2017

The High Court has laid down a sentencing framework for offences of causing hurt to police officers under s 332 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed).

In this case, two police officers had responded to a call for assistance about a male Chinese who had behaved aggressively at a club. The subject had headed towards the canal along Bukit Timah Road. Subsequently, at about 3.41am that same day, the police officers located him near the canal, asleep on a grass patch. After the police officers woke him up, he started to behave aggressively towards them. He directed vulgarities at them, and slapped one of the police officers once on his left cheek. He later pleaded guilty to a charge under s 332 of the Penal Code and was sentenced to one week’s imprisonment by the district judge. The Prosecution appealed against the sentence on the basis that it was manifestly inadequate.

The High Court allowed the appeal and increased the sentence to ten weeks’ imprisonment. The High Court held further that it was appropriate to have a sentencing framework foroffences against police officers and public servants who were performing duties akin to police duties under s 332 of the Penal Code. The objective of the sentencing framework was to clarify and rationalise the existing state of the law, utilising the full sentencing range prescribed by Parliament, and not to alter established sentencing policy.

The sentencing framework laid down comprisedthree broad sentencing bands, within which the severity of an offence, and hence the sentence to be imposed, may be determined on the basis of the twin considerations of harm and culpability. The first sentencing band applied in cases of lesser harm and lower culpability, and attracted fines or sentences of up to one year’s imprisonment. This encompassed the existing sentencing norm, under which a custodial sentence of two to nine months’ imprisonment would generally be imposed for cases of causing hurt to police officers. Fines should be meted out only in very exceptional cases, where the offending act ranked the lowest in the harm-and-culpability spectrum. They should generally be available only to young offenders or offenders with some mental disorder. The second sentencing band comprised offences of a higher level of seriousness, and attracted sentences of one to three years’ imprisonment. These were usually cases where (a) minor injuries were caused but the offender’s culpability was high or (b) serious injuries were caused but the offender’s culpability was low. The third sentencing band covered the most serious of offences under s 332 of the Penal Code, where there was a high degree of both harm and culpability, and would usually feature a large number of aggravating factors. These would attract sentences of three to seven years’ imprisonment. Caning was appropriate as a general rule where an offender exhibited inordinate violence, used weapons or where he attempted to snatch or to use the police officer’s firearms in the course of causing hurt to the police officer.

The present facts fell in the lower end of the first sentencing band. The harm which the police officer sustained was slight, and the circumstances of the offence were such that there would be no prospect of a possible erosion of public respect for police authority. Factors that increased the offender’s culpability were also few. While a sentence of one week’s imprisonment was manifestly inadequate, ten weeks’ imprisonment was appropriate and sufficient punishment.

At Public Prosecutor v Yeo Ek Boon, Jeffrey and another matter[2017] SGHC 306, paras 50, 52, 57, 59, 67, 68, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76 and 77. 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. 

S'pore's first bitcoin case heads for trial

Straits Times
06 Dec 2017
Grace Leong

Singapore's first legal dispute involving the cryptocurrency bitcoin is headed for trial in the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC).

At issue are trade proceeds, whose value has swelled from US$3.78 million (S$5.1 million) to potentially over US$30 million, thanks to bitcoin's meteoric surge past US$11,000 in recent days.

Electronic market maker B2C2 sued bitcoin exchange operator Quoine in May over trades that were allegedly wrongfully reversed, which resulted in the proceeds being deducted.

In a summary judgment hearing yesterday, B2C2 sought to recover 3,084.78582325 bitcoins from Quoine, alleging Quoine's breach of trust "deprived it of the opportunity to sell the proceeds on the date of their highest intermediate value".

But SICC International Judge Simon Thorley yesterday declined to grant summary judgment. The case was directed for trial, at which point it will be determined whether B2C2, if it prevails, is entitled to recover the bitcoins, or the value of the bitcoins taking into account any increase in value since the alleged breach, The Straits Times understands.

B2C2, represented by Mr Danny Ong of Rajah & Tann, said it had placed orders on Quoine's platform to sell ethereum - another cryptocurrency - for bitcoin at 10 bitcoins for one ethereum.

The orders were filled in a series of trades on April 19, resulting in B2C2 paying 309.2518 ethereum for 3,092.517116 bitcoins. The bitcoins were credited into B2C2's account that day. But the following day, the trades were reversed by Quoine and the proceeds allegedly "misappropriated" from the account without authorisation.

Quoine, which is incorporated here, told B2C2 that it was entitled to do so because the trades were "mostly trades with huge mark-up over fair global market price". It said the average market price that day was only about 0.03929075 bitcoin for one ethereum.

But the virtual currency market is at present unregulated in Singapore, and Quoine has not cited any statute or regulation that was violated, B2C2 said.

No dollar value for that amount of bitcoin was provided in the lawsuit but according to cryptocurrency exchange CoinDesk, the amount translated to US$3.78 million based on an exchange rate of US$1,226.94 for a bitcoin on April 19. But increased interest from institutional investors has resulted in bitcoin spiking through US$11,000 on Nov 29 for the first time, and surging more than 1,000 per cent this year.

Quoine, represented by Mr Paul Ong of Allen & Gledhill, claimed that B2C2 is "seeking to profit from a technical glitch". "The circumstances which led to each of the orders being placed at more than 100 times higher than the actual market price of ethereum/bitcoin as at April 19 is a highly material question which cannot be determined without a trial," Quoine argued.

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

Environmental Public Health Act - Environmental Public Health (Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 706 of 2017)

MAS established Cyber Security Panel

11 Dec 2017

Shipper cleared of trademark infringement

Straits Times
05 Dec 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Freight forwarder not importer of fake goods, nor did it act in concert with importers: Court

The companies behind glitzy brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry and Hermes have failed in their lawsuits against a Singapore freight forwarder involved in shipping fake goods from China via Singapore to Batam.

The goods could have fetched over $1 million.

In a landmark case, the High Court last month ruled that freight forwarder Megastar Shipping was not liable as it was not the importer nor did it act in concert with the importers under the Trade Marks Act (TMA).

"The fact that (Megastar) as freight forwarder... was required to submit or make declarations under Singapore Customs rules and regulations does not mean Megastar is to be treated as an importer or exporter for the purposes of the TMA," Justice George Wei wrote, in judgment grounds issued last month.

"This is so even though some of the Customs permits and declarations may name (Megastar) as the importer," he added.

The case goes back to April 2013, when Singapore Customs inspected two 40-foot containers, and seized nearly 31,000 items, including China-made bags, shoes, belts and other fashion accessories - all fakes.

They were shipped from two ports in China to Singapore for onward shipment to Batam in smaller vessels. The court heard that the goods could not be be shipped directly to Batam - the large container vessels could not enter Batam port because the water there was too shallow.

So, the goods had to be unloaded here, and the containers reshipped on smaller "feeder" vessels.

The trademark owners of the four brands, and Sanrio Company, which is behind the Hello Kitty line of goods, then sued Megastar for trademark infringement, alleging Megastar had imported the fakes here.

The five plaintiffs, represented by three sets of lawyers, including Mr M. Ravindran, Mr Dedar Singh Gill and Mr Andy Leck, argued that the only issue was, who should be liable as an "importer" under the TMA, and Megastar as the local consignee was the importer.

They added that it was "irrelevant" whether Megastar knew if the containers carried counterfeit goods, among other things.

Megastar, defended by lawyers Leonard Chia and Ng Liu Qing in all five suits, denied the claims and said that even if the fake goods had been imported into Singapore, Megastar was not involved in the shipment from China to Singapore, and so could not be the importer.

Megastar served as a "mere freight forwarder", having been notified in March 2013 by a third party in Batam about the incoming shipments to Singapore, and to arrange their transfer to Batam with the details of the vessel that it was given.

Justice Wei said although the fakes were not meant to be released into the Singapore market, they were deemed to be imported into Singapore based on the provisions of the TMA. He ruled that the importer was not Megastar but either the firm that shipped the goods from China or the third party in Batam.

He added that Megastar was not the would-be exporter from Singapore to Batam, and found that it did not share a "common design" with them to commit the infringement.

Justice Wei said Megastar was "engaged as a freight forwarder by the third party" for a limited purpose.

He dismissed the case and ordered costs to be paid to Megastar. The fakes have since been destroyed.

Said the judge: "There is no basis for the court to find that just because the goods were properly inspected and detained by Singapore Customs, Parliament must have intended there to be a local defendant against whom the intellectual property rights owner could claim and hold liable for the substantive act of infringement by importation."

Intellectual property law expert Martin Schweiger, who operates here and in Munich, lauded the court's decision that the freight forwarder is not at fault.

"This saves an entire industry in Singapore," he said.

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

Parking Places Act - Parking Places (Housing and Development Board) (Amendment No. 3) Order 2017 (S 705 of 2017)

[EU] Application of European Union General Data Protection Regulations to Singapore organisations from 25 May 2018

11 Dec 2017

Rifle association wins defamation suit

Straits Times
05 Dec 2017
Selina Lum

Key figure in local shooting scene told to pay $30,000 in damages for defamatory remarks

Mr Michael Vaz, a prominent figure in the local shooting scene, was ordered by the High Court yesterday to pay damages of $30,000 for defaming the Singapore Rifle Association (SRA).

The defamation suit arose over two statements made by Mr Vaz in his capacity as president of the Singapore Gun Club (SGC).

One was circulated via e-mail to club members and the other was published on the club's website and Facebook page.

Mr Vaz made the remarks following the closure of the National Shooting Centre in February last year after the police found licensing irregularities at the armouries of the SGC and the SRA - both tenants at the centre - and seized 77 firearms.

Mr Vaz is also president of the Singapore Shooting Association, the national authority for shooting.

In his statements, Mr Vaz insinuated that the SRA was to blame for the closure of the centre, as well as for proposed enhanced security requirements imposed by the police.

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau found that on reading Mr Vaz's statements, an ordinary person would infer that the centre was closed due to SRA's non-compliance with the police requirements and that the new rules and procedures were being implemented due to SRA's fault.

The judge said the statements were not justified as the centre had been closed to facilitate police investigations and the enhanced security requirements had been sought by the police long before the closure.

The judge rejected Mr Vaz's defence of qualified privilege, saying he could have limited himself to explaining the closure to SGC members without going into the details of SRA's breaches.

"The defendant had no duty to convey these to SGC members and SGC members had neither the duty nor the interest to receive such information," said the judge.

In terms of damages, the judge noted that the SRA, which has 155 years of history and boasts prominent members among its ranks, was a reputable organisation.

While SRA's reputation had "taken a hit somewhat" after the licensing irregularities were uncovered, Mr Vaz's statements had done further damage, he said.

He also took into account Mr Vaz's high standing in the shooting community, which means his remarks will be taken very seriously and cause more damage to SRA's reputation than if they had come from an average SGC member.

Mr Vaz was also ordered to pay legal costs to the SRA, which was represented by Drew & Napier lawyer Wendell Wong.

In a press statement, a spokesman for the SRA council said it felt vindicated by the decision.

The spokesman noted that Mr Vaz refused to take down the defamatory posts despite requests made by the SRA.

The court's finding that Mr Vaz had damaged SRA's reputation and the award of damages and legal costs to the SRA "will definitely help to close this chapter", said the spokesman.

Contacted for comment, Mr Vaz said: "The court has its view and I have my own view. I disagree with the court's view."

He added that he will wait for advice from his lawyers on whether to appeal.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Singapore — Ethiopia) (Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement) Order 2017 (S 704 of 2017)

Tiuta International Limited (in liquidation) (Respondent) v De Villiers Surveyors Limited (Appellant) [2017] UKSC 77 (on appeal from [2016] EWCA Civ 661)

08 Dec 2017

Mastermind of $38m Keppel Club scam pleads guilty

Straits Times
05 Dec 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

70-year-old former employee duped 1,341 people into paying for fake memberships over a decade

Over 10 years, Keppel Club employee Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, would tell prospective buyers that there were club memberships available for transfer.

Instead of paying the club directly, the buyers would be instructed to make payment to third parties, including Setho's friend, and this accomplice's family members.

A supervisor at the membership department would enter these buyers' names into the database and issue them with membership cards.

In total, between June 1, 2004, and Aug 1, 2014, Setho duped 1,341 people into paying about $37.5 million for fake memberships.

Yesterday, Setho, 70, pleaded guilty to 60 counts of cheating.

Her two accomplices, membership department supervisor Nah Hak Chuah and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, both 67, admitted to their roles in the scam on Nov 30.

According to the charges Setho pleaded guilty to, the buyers paid between $26,500 and $41,500 each.

The buyers were directed to pay the purchase prices and transfer fees to third parties, including Cheo, her daughter, mother and brother-in-law.

Cheo's three family members were not club members.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said: "These buyers or their nominees were able to enter Keppel Club and make use of the club facilities as they were issued with membership cards and their details had been entered into the system.

"They did not realise what went on behind the scenes at the membership department."

Investigations revealed that Setho received at least $11 million from the cheating offences.

The court heard that besides the 60 counts of cheating, Setho has 3,121 other charges that will be considered during sentencing.

They are for an additional 1,281 counts of cheating, 1,339 counts of abetting false entries into the club's electronic membership database, and 501 counts of dealing with the benefits of her criminal conduct.

DPP Hon said Setho worked at Keppel Club for nearly 48 years from 1966.

Setho, who now moves around in a wheelchair, started off as a general clerk and was promoted through the ranks. She was a personal assistant to the general manager when she committed the offences.

The general manager oversaw membership matters.

He lodged a police report on Aug 13, 2014, stating that Setho had cheated new members of Keppel Club into buying club memberships from "phantom buyers" and directed them to pay the fees to third parties.

As of that month, the club had 2,682 legitimate members.

Setho is out on bail of $300,000 and will be back in court on Feb 9 next year. Nah admitted to 30 of 1,280 charges of making false entries in the club's electronic membership database.

Cheo pleaded guilty to 20 of 303 counts of money laundering.

The cases involving Nah and Cheo have been adjourned to next month.

Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each charge.

  • About the case

  • Three people have pleaded guilty over their roles in a scam where 1,341 people were duped into paying about $37.5 million for fake memberships at the Keppel Club.

    They are the general manager's personal assistant Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, 70; supervisor at the membership department Nah Hak Chuah, 67; and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, also 67, who is Setho's friend.

    The offences took place from June 1, 2004, to Aug 1, 2014.

    The Business Times first reported the case in December 2014, stating that Keppel Club, which is more than a century old, had been "rocked by a recent shocking discovery of 'phantom' memberships".

    A well-placed source told The Straits Times then that a long-serving club employee - later found to be Setho - was suspected of having issued some 1,200 membership cards without crediting any of the transfer fees to the club.

    It was understood that she was sacked in October 2014.

    The trio were charged in court late last year.

    Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said Keppel Club ceased the sale of new transferable memberships in 1989. It also stopped the sale of new non-transferable memberships in 1997.

    DPP Hon said: "Since then, anyone who wishes to become a Keppel Club member has to purchase the membership from an existing member... The purchase price includes a fixed transfer fee of $12,000, plus prevailing GST rate, and an account activation fee ranging from $300 to $530 across the years, both to be paid to Keppel Club."

    But the victims paid their fees to third parties instead.

    Investigations found that Setho, who was the mastermind, received at least $11 million of the proceeds from her cheating offences.

    Shaffiq Alkhatib

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

Newspaper and Printing Presses Act - Newspaper and Printing Presses (Exemption from Part III of Act) (Amendment No. 5) Order 2017 (S 703 of 2017)

Securities and futures regulations revised to extend deadline for disallowing reporting of internally generated UTI of uncleared specified derivatives contract that is not electronically confirmed from 1 Oct 2017 to 1 Apr 2018

08 Dec 2017

Li Shengwu's lawyers applying to set aside court order

Straits Times
05 Dec 2017
Seow Bei Yi and Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

The lawyers of Mr Li Shengwu will apply to set aside the court order allowing the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to serve papers on their client in the United States.

The AGC had earlier served papers for contempt of court against Mr Li, who is the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

A pre-trial conference for the case was held at the High Court yesterday, attended by Senior Counsel Francis Ng for the AGC and Mr Li's counsel, Mr Abraham Vergis of Providence Law.

In a statement, Providence Law said it informed the court that it will make an application to set aside the ex parte - or one-sided - order that allowed the AGC to personally serve papers on Mr Li, 32, who is a junior fellow at Harvard University.

Noting that the court papers filed by the AGC exceeded 1,300 pages, the law firm said: "We explained we needed time to address the novel grounds which the AGC relied on to justify serving the papers out of jurisdiction."

The court directed that Mr Li file his application by Dec 22, and the next pre-trial conference is expected to take place on Jan 4.

When contacted, Mr Vergis declined further comment. The AGC did not reply to queries on the issue.

Lawyer Choo Zheng Xi said the case against Mr Li cannot proceed if the application to set aside the court order goes through. If so, the AGC could appeal against that decision to the Court of Appeal, or re-apply to court in a way that is procedurally correct, he said.

Mr Choo recalled that a similar appeal was made in the case of Mr Alex Au, whom he acted for when the socio-political blogger was accused of contempt of court in 2013.

"The judge, at first instance, did not give AGC permission to even start proceedings against Mr Au in relation to one statement of alleged contempt of court," Mr Choo said.

Mr Au was subsequently fined $8,000 for comments that undermined confidence in the judiciary.

Veteran lawyer Amolat Singh said: "By applying to set aside the order, what Mr Li's lawyers are saying is that the service (of papers) could have been improper or defective."

He noted that the court listens to only one party when an ex parte order is obtained.

"Now, Mr Li will be able to put forward his own reasons on why this service may have been defective," Mr Singh said, adding: "If they manage to set it aside, technically, the papers would not have been served to Mr Li yet."

Mr Li previously said he would not return to Singapore to face the contempt proceedings.

The case centres on a July 15 Facebook post in which Mr Li said "the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system", and that foreign media had been cowed into self-censorship because of previous legal action.

The post was related to a family dispute over the fate of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's home at 38, Oxley Road that spilled into the public sphere in June.

The AGC called the post an "egregious and baseless attack" on the judiciary. It wrote to Mr Li to demand an apology, but he declined, saying his post was private.

Mr Li also contended that the post did not constitute contempt of court when read in context.

He added that he had amended it to remove any misunderstanding, but would not take it down.

Among other things, Mr Li said his criticism was directed not at the judiciary but at the Singapore Government's "aggressive use" of legal rules like defamation laws to constrain reporting by international media.

The AGC received permission from the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings in August.

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

Remote Gambling Act 2014 - Remote Gambling (Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 702 of 2017)

[GBR] English High Court finds documentation created for internal investigations not covered by legal professional privilege

08 Dec 2017

Maersk cements lead in container shipping

Business Times
05 Dec 2017
Jacqueline Woo

With the acquisition of Hamburg Sud, the combined entity now holds an 18% share of global capacity

Maersk Line's 3.7 billion euro (S$5.5 billion) acquisition of Hamburg Sud is propelling the container shipping giant - already the world's No. 1 carrier - further ahead of its competitors in the relentless race for market share.

And for Singapore, a bigger Maersk would only mean higher box volumes here, according to the company's chief commercial officer Vincent Clerc.

"Our strategy is to move away from being a conglomerate present in different industries to being a company focused on transportation and logistics," Mr Clerc said in an interview with The Business Times on Monday.

"With the acquisition of Hamburg Sud, we are really cementing our leadership position in container transportation, and we are building our presence in key markets like Latin America and Oceania, where Hamburg Sud has historically been strong."

Maersk ranks as the largest container shipping line worldwide with 646 vessels, while Hamburg Sud is the seventh largest, with 116 ships.

Together, they now hold an 18 per cent share of global capacity - up from Maersk's 15 per cent share prior to the acquisition - comprising 762 container vessels with a combined container capacity of about four million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

In comparison, Mediterranean Shipping Co, the world's No. 2 player, has a share of 14.6 per cent as at Dec 1, followed by CMA CGM at around 11.6 per cent, according to shipping data provider Alphaliner.

Maersk also expects to reap operational cost savings in the range of US$350 million to US$400 million annually for the first few years, starting 2019.

With the acquisition done, Maersk will now move to reflag most of Hamburg Sud's vessels, including some of the German-flagged ships, to either Denmark or Singapore.

This exercise will likely be completed over the coming months, said Mr Clerc, although the company has yet to decide on the exact number of vessels that will fly each flag.

Maersk has investments in Singapore totalling over US$12 billion, including 46 vessels and rigs under the Singapore flag.

"For a long time, we've built very deep relationships in Singapore, we've had a lot of activities here - it's a place that makes sense for us," said Mr Clerc.

"And as we integrate Hamburg Sud and continue to grow as a company, Singapore will benefit with an increase in numbers for the transshipment moves happening here," he added. All of Hamburg Sud's transshipment activities for South-east Asia will remain in Singapore, unchanged.

Already, Maersk's share of transshipment volumes through Singapore has grown significantly in recent years, even as the shipping line continues to utilise its dedicated berths at Malaysia's Tanjung Pelepas port. Singapore handled about 4.5 million TEUs of Maersk containers last year, up 69 per cent from the 2.7 million TEUs seen in 2013.

"Singapore has traditionally been one of the real pivot areas for trade and shipping, and South-east Asia is the area in Asia that is seeing the strongest growth right now. Obviously, Singapore is the natural transshipment hub for South-east Asia," noted Mr Clerc.

That said, Maersk's acquisition of Hamburg Sud will only have "a minor impact" on box traffic coming through Singapore since the German firm is a relatively small carrier in the South-east Asia region, said Tan Hua Joo, executive consultant of Alphaliner.

On the buyout, Mr Clerc said Maersk has chosen a "light- touch integration" approach, where it will maintain and run Hamburg Sud as a separate commercial entity, with no changes to the frontline.

"Hamburg Sud is a company that has a long and proud history, and it stands for a lot (in terms of business) in Latin America especially, and in Oceania. We think we can build on this brand (by) maintaining what makes Hamburg Sud different and preserving it, so the customers of Hamburg Sud can continue to get the services they've been used to getting from the company," he said.

Such an approach is poles apart from what Maersk had implemented with P&O Nedlloyd back in 2006, when it bought over the company. "We decided to integrate everything at that time, which meant a lot of changes for the customers at P&O back then, who had chosen P&O for a certain reason and ended up getting a Maersk service. It took some time for us to find the right formula to make that happen," Mr Clerc recalled.

"By taking this 'light-touch' approach with Hamburg Sud, we can preserve the two brands and create a better product overall for our customers."

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Registration of Power-Assisted Bicycles) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 701 of 2017)

MAS issues amendments to MAS Notice 637 of "Risk based capital adequacy requirements for banks incorporated in Singapore": Alternative approach for computing amount of capital floors

07 Dec 2017

Plans for more transparent Sibor seen benefiting borrowers

Business Times
05 Dec 2017
Siow Li Sen

Proposals to reform Sibor, the Singapore interbank offered rate used by banks to price consumer loans, should benefit borrowers as efforts get underway to make the benchmark setting process more transparent.

The two main proposals call for changes in the way Sibor is calculated and for the rarely-used 12-month Sibor rate to be scrapped.

Sibor, set daily by panel banks submitting the rate at which they can borrow Singapore dollars, is currently published in four tenors - the one-, three-, six- and 12-month tenors. The one- and three-month ones are most widely used, and account for more than nine in 10 contracts that use the Sibor benchmark.

The proposed changes are contained in a consultation paper jointly released on Monday by the ABS (Association of Banks in Singapore) Benchmarks Administration Co Pte Ltd and the Singapore Foreign Exchange Market Committee (SFEMC).

The consultation ends on Feb 5.

The panel's proposed primary change is to reference a broader set of banks' borrowing transactions beyond those in the interbank market.

Lam Kun Kin, co-chair of the SFEMC and the ABS-SFEMC industry working group on Sibor, noted that there has been a structural change in the sources of funding markets both in Singapore and globally.

"Interbank funding activity has declined significantly, and all banks have to tap corporate deposits and other wholesale funding, which qualify as acceptable liquidity in meeting the various Basel requirements."

Following the 2007/8 global financial crisis, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision tightened the rules aimed at strengthening banks by requiring them to raise their liquidity and lower their leverage.

"There is no available hard information, but this change (of tapping other funding sources) is very much apparent from the heavy competition for such deposits at quarter-end or year-end," said Mr Lam.

The underlying market for Sibor has extended from the interbank unsecured market to include other wholesale funding transactions - in particular, non-bank sources such as statutory boards, town councils, public-sector entities, insurers, fund managers and corporates.

Mr Lam said: "The proposal should be beneficial to consumers in terms of ensuring greater clarity and consistency among banks in contributing rates for Sibor computation and reducing the reliance on expert judgement which may differ from bank to bank."

Commenting on the proposals to reform Sibor, OCBC Bank's Head of Treasury Reseach & Strategy Selena Ling said: "There has been a fair bit of consultation within the industry, so it should not be too disruptive on the markets."

ABS Director Ong-Ang Ai Boon addded: "Based on back testing, the new Sibor does not differ too much from the current Sibor, and should not impact the man on the street." She said the panel banks in their expert judgement already consider the wholesale funding market.

The efforts to reform Sibor are in line with global developments for improving the robustness and integrity of financial benchmarks, adopted since 2014. Major interbank markets such as London and Europe are taking similar steps; Japan has already implemented a reformed Tokyo interbank offered rate (Tibor).

In 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore found that 20 banks here tried to rig key borrowing and currency rates. The authority did not fine the banks, but ordered them to set aside additional reserves for a year.

The reform on financial benchmark settings follows the global rate rigging scandal and UK and US authorities slapped fines of hundreds of millions of dollars on many banks.

"In terms of pricing of loans, there could be greater reliance on the shorter-dated Sibor rates and/or SOR going forward. The 12-month Sibor is rarely used anyway," said Ms Ling. The SOR is the swap-offer rate, the benchmark used for commercial loans.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Vehicle Removal, Storage and Release Charges — Land Transport Authority) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 700 of 2017)

ACRA issues Registrar's Interpretation No. 1 of 2017 on section 64A of Companies Act on issue of shares with different voting rights by public companies

07 Dec 2017

Causes week: Needy kids get help in learning to read

Straits Times
05 Dec 2017
Toh Wen Li

Ask 11-year-old Nur Elliana Elmie to tell you about her favourite book and she gets all excited.

"I really like those 'weird facts' books," said the Primary 5 pupil. "I learnt that in the past, dragonflies' wings were three times the width of a frisbee."

Elliana was the first pupil to benefit from literacy programme ReadAble, which was founded by three young lawyers in 2014.

At first, she had one-on-one sessions with a volunteer. These were held in her two-room Jalan Kukoh flat off Chin Swee Road, where she lives with her mother, housewife Ariyana Samuji, 36.

Mother and daughter helped to spread the word, and soon, as many as 12 children living in the area would gather at Elliana's home for reading sessions at once, even spilling over into the stairwell.

About two years ago, ReadAble found a new home at the Jalan Kukoh Residents' Committee Centre, where it now runs reading classes with elements of speech and drama for pupils aged two to 12 every Saturday.

It has benefited more than 60 children so far, and ReadAble has also installed bookshelves filled with books in the homes of at least six families. Sometimes it takes the children on trips to the museum and theatre.

Pupils come from the Chin Swee area, which has a large number of low-income families. Some of them receive mentoring from ReadAble's volunteers on weekdays too.

The children read from a set of graded books called Fitzroy Readers, which use the phonics method. Pupils are given books and worksheets that match their reading ability, rather than school level. The centre also has a community library with over 700 children's books.

Poet and Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong, 28, who co-founded the programme with lawyers Jonathan Muk, 28, and Michelle Yeo, 29, said there has been a marked improvement in many of these pupils' literacy and interpersonal skills. Some, as old as 11 at the time, could barely read when they joined the programme.

When The Straits Times visited ReadAble's centre in Jalan Kukoh last month, business owner and volunteer Rachel Kok, 29, was reading an illustrated book with Firaz, seven, and Yan Ting, eight, for the third time. "We don't see this as tuition," Ms Kok said, adding that beyond teaching the children to read, volunteers also try to "inculcate values" and become a regular figure in their pupils' lives.

ReadAble has about 40 volunteers at the moment, and a low pupil-teacher ratio, often with one to two children per volunteer.

Al-Adam Al-Sofli, five, did not know how to read when he came to the centre at the start of last year, and would cry a lot. His English has since improved, and he is more comfortable interacting with others.

His mother, receptionist Sharon Chong, 40, told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "He prefers speaking to me in English now... When he was smaller, he was scared of others, but now he is all right with strangers."

Madam Chong, a Malaysian whose husband lives in a nursing home, is the sole breadwinner in her family. She also takes private English lessons with ReadAble.

Mr Muk said he wants the programme to give the less privileged a leg-up.

"Many children here are street-smart and clearly quite intelligent, but they were failing at school.

"You don't choose where you were born," he added.

• To find out more, go to www.facebook.com/ReadAbleSG/

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Quota System) (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2017 (S 699 of 2017)

[INT] How Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") are regarded or regulated in various countries

06 Dec 2017

ADV: Choose to study law with Birmingham City University!

Singapore Law Watch
05 Dec 2017

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Recovery of Vehicle Licence Fees and Costs) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 698 of 2017)

MAS proposes revisions to anti-commingling policy to make it easier for banks to conduct or invest in permissible non-financial businesses

05 Dec 2017

Jump in crimes committed via online channels

Straits Times
04 Dec 2017
Aw Cheng Wei

The amorphous cyberspace is sprouting more crimes these days, with police recording a jump in the number of crimes committed via online channels here.

The number of computer misuse and cyber security cases has shot up from 280 reports in 2015 to 758 last year, the police told The Straits Times.

In the first six months of this year, police received 366 reports, a 46.4 per cent rise from the 250 reported for the same period last year.

Syndicates and individuals operating online have been resorting to everything from unauthorised access to company servers to the hacking of Internet banking accounts.

One particular ruse, known as the DHL scam, was so rampant at one point that the real courier firm said it received 200 calls a day about it.

In the scam, syndicate members fooled victims into believing that they were involved in sending parcels containing illegal items.

In another type of scam, victims were directed to a fake police website to key in personal particulars and details of bank accounts.

Last Monday, the mastermind behind one syndicate - Malaysian Teng Weng Liang, 26 - was sentenced to 8 1/2 years' jail for his role in the scam which involved $983,000, the longest sentence to date involving the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (CMCA).

Police figures from August show that between January and June this year, $22.1 million was lost to Internet love scams, almost double the $11.2 million at the half-year mark last year.

And e-mail impersonation scams in the same period accounted for $21.9 million lost, up from last year's $17.4 million.

Superintendent Soo Lai Choon, head of the police's technology crime investigation branch which investigates CMCA cases and helps units such as the Commercial Affairs Department, said: "As the (use of the) Internet becomes more and more prevalent, crime is increasingly being shifted online."

He cited prostitution, gambling and extortion as some types of crimes that have moved from the physical world to cyberspace.

The rise in cybercrimes is consistent with trends observed in other countries, Supt Soo noted, adding that the police set up the Cyber Crime Command, part of the Criminal Investigation Department, in 2015 to handle the expected jump in cases.

Impersonation scams among common cyber threats

Common cyberthreats here include ransomware, phishing and impersonation scams, he said. Ransomware infects unprotected computers and locks them down with a ransom note, while phishing involves a fake website designed to look like an official site to trick users into providing their credentials.

The Cyber Security Agency, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office, said in a September report that there were 19 reports of ransomware and 2,512 phishing Web addresses associated with Singapore last year.

Supt Soo attributed the jump in CMCA cases to an increase in police impersonation scams.

His unit is working with an alliance that was formed in February, with partners such as Internet service providers, banks and telecoms providers. He added: "We were able to stop some of the money transfers (in police impersonation scams)."

Supt Soo's team was also responsible for the conviction of Singapore's first dark Web-related crime last month.

The man had gone on a shopping spree after buying stolen credit and debit card details, PayPal log-in credentials and software to wipe his laptop's memory once he switched it off on the dark Web, a part of the Internet which requires special software to access. He was sentenced to three years' jail.

Supt Soo said: "Almost all transactions that happened in the dark Web are illegal... It is for people who want to hide their traces."


Amount lost to Internet love scams between January and June this year, almost double the $11.2 million at the half-year mark last year.


Sum lost to e-mail impersonation scams in the same period, up from last year's $17.4 million.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Test) (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2017 (s 697 of 2017)

In This Issue: Indonesia and Thailand join the Madrid Protocol, Amendments to Patents Act and Registered Designs Act come into force for Singapore, Daidoh Limited v. New Yorker S.H.K. Jeans GmbH & Co. KG [2017] SGIPOS 16

04 Dec 2017

Why didn't anyone come to Annie Ee's aid?

Straits Times
03 Dec 2017
Tan Tam Mei

The horror felt by members of the public at the abuse and death of Miss Annie Ee Yu Lian should be channelled into action, said Dr Sudha Nair, executive director of Pave, a charity that specialises in tackling interpersonal violence.

"As a community, we need to take a stand and not be a bystander to issues of interpersonal violence. Annie is dead, but there are many like Annie who are still out there needing our help... We cannot stand by and do nothing."

Court documents revealed that throughout the period of abuse by a couple she regarded as family, Miss Ee, 26, had come into contact with neighbours, colleagues and, on separate occasions, a clinic assistant and doctor. "Yet, no one did anything," said Dr Nair.

Organisations that handle interpersonal violence cases say there are challenges that prevent victims from seeking help or bystanders from reporting such cases.

Ms Cherylene Aw, a representative from Trans Family Services, said that often, victims fear the negative impact on relationships, and legal or criminal implications for the abusers.

"Victims who are vulnerable adults also lack knowledge and awareness of their rights and are often unable to perceive acts as abusive or detrimental to their well-being," she said.

Ms Aw said that potential whistle-blowers might also be uncertain about what constitutes abuse, and the lack of knowledge of help available might prevent them from making a report. Some also fear compromising their own safety, should they be identified.

Executive director of the Disabled People's Association, Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, said: "Culturally, we are not comfortable with being seen to pry into the lives of others and making judgment.

"(But) if we think the situation warrants intervention, then we should not be scared to speak up and alert the authorities," she said.

Besides raising awareness of the avenues for reporting abuse and rallying the community to dispel myths that abuse is a private matter, the organisations The Sunday Times spoke to said the much-anticipated Vulnerable Adults Bill is a step forward in protecting vulnerable individuals.

The Bill proposes enhanced powers of access for appointed professionals to investigate and intervene in cases of alleged abuse of vulnerable adults. Other pointers include protecting the identities of whistle-blowers, which will encourage more people to report suspected abuse cases, said Dr Nair.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) intends to introduce the Bill in Parliament early next year. According to past reports, the Bill's introduction has been delayed twice since it was first announced in 2015.

In response to The Sunday Times' queries, a ministry spokesman said: "The Vulnerable Adults Bill is a complex legislation. MSF is working out the implementation details to ensure that appropriate action can be taken swiftly. We want to ensure that the various processes and resources are in place for effective implementation of this Bill."

The MSF's Adult Protective Service, which handles cases of vulnerable adult abuse and neglect, has seen 40 reported cases involving people with diagnosed or suspected intellectual disabilities since the service began in May 2015.

Lawyer Terence Seah, a partner at Virtus Law, said the proposed Bill can prevent tragedies such as Miss Ee's case from happening in the future. "The Bill will allow the authorities to intervene before harm happens, and aims to prevent and protect," he said.

"Traditionally, the police only come in when a crime has been committed, so this will give the authorities powers to investigate when abuse is suspected. The legislation will also signal that such crimes against vulnerable persons are reprehensible."


• Pave (Promoting Alternatives to Violence): 6555-0390

• Trans Safe Centre: 6449-9088

• Care Corner Project StART: 6476-1482

• Aware: 1800-777-5555

• NuLife Care & Counselling: 6300-8706


Culturally, we are not comfortable with being seen to pry into the lives of others and making judgment.

DR MARISSA LEE MEDJERAL-MILLS, executive director of the Disabled People's Association, on why people may not want to report cases of abuse.

Tan Tam Mei

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Registration and Licensing) (Amendment No. 6) Rules 2017 (S 696 of 2017)

Infamy and public shaming: The newest risk of using “offshore” entities

30 Nov 2017

It Changed My Life: 'We cannot just stand by the side'

Straits Times
03 Dec 2017
Wong Kim Hoh

A tough and poor childhood was the impetus for lawyer to start an initiative for youth to give back to society and help the less privileged

On Saturday, Satwant Singh will be setting off for a poor village called Ratokke in the Sangrur district of Punjab, India.

Going with him are about 20 young Singaporeans, aged between 18 and 21, from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

For three weeks, they will live among the villagers as they paint and renovate their run-down school. Among other things, they will be building a library and stocking it with 3,000 books, installing a water filtration system so that students can have clean water, and reconstructing the school's mouldy and dilapidated toilets.

They will also distribute stationery to students, and clothes and other necessities to poor villagers.

It's not Mr Singh's first such trip. The lawyer has been doing this every December for the past 14 years. The Ratokke village school will be the 17th school he has rebuilt and repaired with different teams of young volunteers.

Called Project Khwaish, it is an initiative he started and organised with the Young Sikh Association (YSA). Part of the funds come from the National Youth Council, with Mr Singh and his volunteers raising the rest.

"The volunteers are Chinese, Malays, Indians, Sikhs and Eurasians, Singaporeans. They live together, eat together, sleep on the floor together, learn to live as one entity. The common interest and goal is to do good," says Mr Singh, who is in his early 50s, adding that the focus is on schools because of his belief that education will give the poor a better shot at life.

He should know, because it was what forklifted him from his beginnings as a peon to a lawyer with his own firm.

The bearded Mr Singh is sitting in his shophouse office in Rifle Range Road. Blue is obviously a favourite colour since he's wearing a blue suit, blue tie, blue turban and an IWC Portuguese watch with a blue strap.

He was born in Johor, the fourth of eight children of a policeman-turned-driver and a housewife. When he was five, the family moved to Singapore where they lived for the next decade in a one-room flat in Whampoa.

Life was hard but he and his siblings, who had to sleep on the floor and share one toilet, were happy.

"There were eight of us so chicken was a luxury which we had once every two or three months. But on Sundays, my father would cook chapati, put sugar, make them into balls and feed them to us with Milo and that was joy, you know," he says, adding that the family could only afford to buy a TV when he was 15.

Although he did well at Griffiths Primary and Woodsville Secondary, he had to leave school after completing his O levels because his father couldn't afford to let him continue his studies.

"I was heartbroken. I remember I cried and cried and cried, I was so, so angry," he recalls.

His first job was as a peon for a textile company. After a month, his boss had him liaise with customers from Pakistan and India because he was streetsmart and conversant in Hindi and Punjabi.

"One year later, my boss opened a new shop in High Street Centre and asked me: 'Do you want to manage?' I said: 'No... I'm 17 years old, too young.' So he put a manager there but I ran the show, looked after the customers, did everything," he recalls.

That included stuffing tens of thousands of dollars in his pockets and depositing the cash at the bank.

"I'd walk all the way from High Street to the Indian Bank in Shenton Way, look around to make sure I wasn't being followed," says Mr Singh, who completed his A levels by attending night classes.

Financial problems at home prompted him to sign on with the Singapore Armed Forces after he completed his national service.

For nearly a decade, he was a physical training instructor (PTI) at the School of Basic Military Training. "A lot of men in Singapore were my recruits. They called me PTI Singh. I was a terror," he says with a grin.

He found the stint enjoyable but decided to call it a day in 1992 because of a back problem.

Life moved at a cyclonic pace over the next few years.

Professionally, he hit his stride, managing a clothing company.

"We were wholesalers. I managed to get into big department stores including Mustafa for my boss, selling by the container load. The salesmen all loved me, one of them was my former recruit," he says.

In the evenings, he attended classes for an external law degree from the University of London.

"It was jialat," he says, using the Hokkien phrase for hard or tiring.

To top it all, he got married during this period. His father had been bugging him as the eldest son to get married once he left the army.

Attempts to ward off his old man, who had picked him a bride from Punjab, came to nought. Things came to a head when his father was knocked down by a bus while riding his bicycle one day.

"My mother came to me crying, said it was critical, and asked me to fulfil his dying wish."

And so at 26, he found himself a married man.

"The minute I said yes, my father miraculously recovered. So all my friends said it was a hoax between the doctor, my father and my mother," he says with a guffaw.

Three months later, his wife became pregnant with their son Kevinjit, named after English footballer Kevin Keegan. Daughter Steffijit - named after German tennis player Steffi Graf - arrived two years later. Kevinjit, 24, is now a deejay, and Steffi, 22, is doing a degree in business management.

"Those were very difficult years. I went to work, went to school, came home, put my kids to sleep and studied until 3 or 4am before waking up at 7am," he says, adding that money was tight because he was still supporting his parents.

His life took a new turn after he was called to the Singapore bar and became a lawyer in March 1997.

He cut his legal teeth with Yeo Perumal Mohideen as a litigation lawyer; his clients were mainly foreign workers suing employers over wages and personal injury claims.

He tells stories of unscrupulous contractors forcibly packing off workers, sometimes with the help of security guards, back to India before they could seek legal recourse for their woes.

After nine months, Mr Singh joined another firm where he took on general litigation work for more than 10 years.

He struck out on his own and set up Satwant & Associates in 2010. He now has two offices, with about 15 staff including five lawyers.

Mr Singh's foray into community service started nearly 20 years ago when he became a volunteer at Meet The People sessions in Kolam Ayer.

It was a way of giving back.

"I came up through the very hard way, where nobody helped me. I was on my own and if I didn't survive, then just too bad.

"But I felt that if I could lend a helping hand, why not? We don't lose anything. If you can take the first step, you may make a big difference. Many of us want to help but don't know how or are shy."

The sessions, at which he would help handle requests from constituents, proved to be eye-opening in more ways than one.

He remembers a man, with five children, who owed the Housing Board $74,000 but refused to heed Mr Singh's advice to sell it and get a rental flat for a few years to rebuild his finances.

"I told him he shouldn't let HDB repossess the flat because he would lose money. He turned to me and said: 'How can you live in a one-room flat, Mr Singh? You know how difficult it is?'

"So I told him: 'Ten of us lived in a one-room flat with one toilet and survived for 10 years. So what is it that you want to tell me?' "

The man eventually did as Mr Singh advised.

Joining humanitarian charity Mercy Relief in 2003, he says, was also revealing and life changing.

Now the charity's vice-chairman, he has gone on many trips - Banda Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, Nepal after the 2015 earthquake - in which he witnessed carnage, destruction and human misery at close range. It reinforced in him the need "to do what we need to do to help our fellow humans".

"We need to go and help, we cannot just stand by the side," he says.

In 2003, Mr Sikh started the YSA with a few friends because they felt there was a lacuna in service organisations for Sikh youth.

Project Khwaish became their flagship programme; it takes its cue from Youth Expedition Project, a service-learning programme which sets out to nurture confident and socially-conscious young people.

It decided to do its community service projects in Punjab, because of its natural ties to the YSA as an organisation for Sikh youth.

Before each annual expedition, Mr Singh goes on reconnaissance trips, which he pays for out of his own pocket, to look for suitable schools in need of an upgrade. He then meets the teachers and village elders to firm up the project.

The volunteers come from different tertiary institutions and schools. Over three weeks, they do everything from building science labs and holding training sessions for teachers to setting up computer centres. They also hire local labourers to build walls and more complicated structures.

"By the time we leave, we give them a brand new school," says Mr Singh.

Volunteers are not allowed to stay in hotels and have to live, and eat, as the locals do.

"Only then will they appreciate life and what they have. They can't think: 'I go to the school, do a bit of work and save the world. That is never true... I always tell them just make a difference to one person. If you do, I say you've done your job, because that person will grow up and hopefully, he pays it forward."

Looking pleased, he says the volunteers benefit from the experience. "I've seen the impact. When the volunteers come back, they are better and they get involved in other community service work."

Asked how his life has changed because of what he does, Mr Singh says: "I appreciate life. I see people as people. And if they need help, I will give it if I can."

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

Parking Places Act - Parking Places (Parking of Heavy Vehicles) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 695 of 2017)

Six persons first to be charged under the organised crime act in connection with remote gambling offences

30 Nov 2017

Gynaecologist failed to carry out further evaluations

Straits Times
02 Dec 2017

We thank Dr Yik Keng Yeong for his letter (Defensive medicine is not the way to go; Nov 21).

Contrary to what the letter writer states, the Court of Three Judges upheld Dr Jen Shek Wei's conviction by the disciplinary tribunal of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in respect of his decision to remove the patient's ovarian mass without informing her.

He also failed to carry out further evaluations and investigations of the patient's condition when these were required.

The SMC disagrees that the court's decision would encourage defensive medicine, as suggested by Dr Yik.

Defensive medicine implies needless medicine, for example, excessive investigations which are not useful.

It was far from a defensive practice in this patient's case.

The reasons why such evaluations and investigations were necessary include the patient's presentation, medical and fertility status, the important reference to the widely accepted risk of malignancy index and Dr Jen's prescribed medications for the patient's infertility, causing excessive response in her ovaries.

Furthermore, Dr Jen removed the mass without properly seeking the patient's consent and giving a proper explanation.

"Good clinical acumen" would necessitate further evaluations and investigations, as indicated in the patient's case, before advising and seeking the consent of the patient to remove the mass surgically, which Dr Jen failed to do.

Frances Kong (Ms)

Deputy Head, Corporate Communications

Singapore Medical Council

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

Parking Places Act - Parking Places (Licensing and Control of Private Parking Places for Heavy Vehicles) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 694 of 2017)

IPOS Case Summary: Starbucks Corporation v Morinaga Nyugyo Kabushiki Kaisha [2017] SGIPOS 18

30 Nov 2017

Why separate sentencing framework needed

Straits Times
02 Dec 2017
K.C. Vijayan

While the penalties for hurting public servants are already spelt out under Section 332 of the Penal Code, the state wanted a separate sentencing framework under the same law to deal with offences committed against the police and law enforcement officers.

The prosecution had made this argument in its appeal for a stiffer jail term for Jeffrey Yeo, calling the one-week term he was given for slapping a cop "nominal".

It cited a 2009 case and how a similar approach was used to deal with offences against public transport workers, under Section 323 of the Penal Code.

The three-judge court agreed but in its judgment, the court held that the three-category sentencing framework should be confined to Section 332 offences against police officers and "public servants performing duties akin to police duties". They would include Commercial Affairs Department officers, those serving in the Special Constabulary and auxiliary police officers who carry out police duties.

The court held that there would be an overreach if the framework was applied to all Home Team officers. "The impetus of the framework in the first place was to address the unique position of police officers," said Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang.

"Police officers and public servants performing duties akin to police duties form the most visible category of law enforcement officers in daily life, are easy for the public to identify and are the most likely group to be involved in Section 332 offences because of the nature of their work," he added.

Lawyers contacted said the framework would provide uniformity in sentencing but said a broader approach had to be considered as well.

Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore president Sunil Sudheesan said: "What is also needed is an in-depth study of the numbers, involving sociologists, psychologists and others, to see what deters such conduct. There needs to be better public education to curb such behaviour and to underline public outrage at such conduct."

In welcoming the new sentencing framework, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesman said: "Police officers and other Home Team officers face risks daily in the line of duty to keep Singaporeans safe and secure. MHA will not tolerate any physical or verbal abuse of our officers. We will work with the Attorney-General's Chambers to press for deterrent sentences for such cases."

K.C. Vijayan

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 56) Notification 2017 (S 693 of 2017)

Singapore patents, registered designs and copyright legislation update

29 Nov 2017

LawSoc disputes advocacy group’s ‘mischievous and defamatory’ online post

01 Dec 2017
Kelly Ng

Advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) has removed a post on its website stating legal advice is "unnecessary" for workers with work injury compensation claims, following a forceful response from the Law Society of Singapore that branded parts of the article defamatory.

In the Nov 12 article titled "Injury Lawyers Ever Eager To Take Their Cut", TWC2 executive committee member Debbie Fordyce had included a list of 14 law firms most commonly engaged by workers that later appeared before TWC2. From 2014 to Aug this year, TWC2 helped more than 4,500 workers with injury claims – of this number, the vast majority had engaged a lawyer.

Ms Fordyce went on to describe how some lawyers or their assistants allegedly capitalised on foreign workers' ignorance to engage in unethical practices such as touting, taking up cases for which legal assistance is unnecessary, and doubling up as housing agents for workers denied support from their employers.

Unlike civil lawsuits, claims under the Work Injury Compensation Act (Wica) are a no-fault process. Ms Fordyce wrote that in TWC2's experience, most Wica claims do result in compensation for the victims and workers can get help with the claims from TWC2 or at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) at no extra cost.

In its work injury compensation guide for employees available online, MOM's advice is also that workers do not need a lawyer as the compensation amount is based on a fixed formula. The ministry has interpreters who can speak Bengali, Tamil, Mandarin and Malay to help workers, the guide stated.

Approached by TODAY, LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran and its personal injury and property damage committee chairman Willy Tay took issue with TWC2's "naming and shaming" of law firms. The article unfairly suggested it was neither necessary nor advantageous for work-injury victims to engage lawyers, they said.

"To tabulate a list of law firms… and prominently display the same on their website is both mischievous and defamatory of the law firms concerned," said Mr Vijayendran and Mr Tay.

"TWC2's zeal for a worthy cause has regrettably not been matched with a sense of balance, fair play and circumspection on this occasion."

The society wrote to TWC2 asking for the list of law firms to be removed. TWC2 removed the entire post from its website on Wednesday night (Nov 29). Ms Fordyce said it apologised for any offence caused.

"Our objective is not to malign the legal profession, but when we notice continuous and deliberate exploitation of the vulnerability of migrant workers by groups purporting to represent their interests, we feel the need to speak out," she said.

Mr Vijayendran and Mr Tay said it previously advised TWC2 to help workers with ethical grievances to lodge complaints, and the group did so. A proper inquiry of genuine complaints would be undertaken, they said.

In the last five years, eight of 450 complaints against lawyers lodged with the LawSoc related to workplace injury claims, the society told TODAY. Half of these were dismissed on merits, one was withdrawn by the workers, and two resulted in warnings. The last is still pending.

One of the listed lawyers who responded to TODAY's queries said the volume of cases handled by the law firms listed by TWC2 show the firms have served injured workers well.

"It is fallacious and misleading to say that injured migrant workers are afraid to discharge their respective lawyers. (Each worker) is aware of his right of access to justice...and is sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable enough to decide which law practice to engage, and if necessary, change his legal representative," said Mr Joseph Chen.

Ms Fordyce said she stands by her point that legal assistance is unnecessary for the bulk of Wica claims.

"It is easy money for doing nothing...The work injury compensation system is (also) available to all Singaporeans… Do Singaporeans regularly use lawyers (for this)?" she questioned.

In her post, Ms Fordyce had said some lawyers "pressurise" their clients to withdraw claims filed under the Wica and seek compensation through a civil suit, which could yield a higher amount of damages.

"But the process is not transparent and workers fear, justifiably, that their lawyer will extract a larger but unknown portion of the amount," she wrote.

Lawyers are not allowed to tout or pay referral fees, said Mr Vijayendran and Mr Tay. "The few black sheep in this Bar will face the music in the usual way," they said.

They maintained lawyers play a "valuable and critical role in advising foreign workers of their rights and remedies".

The choice between a common law claim (a lawsuit) and a statutory compensation claim (a Wica claim) is an important decision for an injured worker to make, they said.

"The choice must be a legally informed one requiring the advice and assistance of a lawyer. Some lawyers even assist pro bono. Injured workers engaging lawyers to advise and act for them is natural, necessary and part and parcel of the normal practice of law," they said.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) (No. 7) Notification 2017 (S 692 of 2017)

MAS consultation paper on proposed requirements on execution of customers' orders

28 Nov 2017

Starbucks loses claim against dairy firm logo

Straits Times
01 Dec 2017
Lester Hio

Its argument that Morinaga Milk's logo looks too similar to its own is rejected by Ipos

A Japan-based dairy firm can register a trademark for its line of milk coffees after an opposing claim made by coffee giant Starbucks was thrown out by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos).

Morinaga Nyugyo Kabushiki Kaisha, better known as Morinaga Milk, filed a trademark registration for its Mt Rainier line of milk coffees and lattes for sale in Singapore in October 2013. The black-and-white circular logo, with the Mt Rainier branding over a silhouette of the mountain bearing the name in the US city of Seattle, came under contention.

Starbucks opposed the registration on the grounds that it looked too similar to its circular, green-and-white mermaid logo. It said the use of similar concentric circles was central to its brand recognition.

The Seattle-based coffee company also said Morinaga's logo made a "direct reference" to Seattle, which is strongly associated with the coffee and cafe culture and is known as Starbucks' birthplace, according to judgment documents.

Morinaga was represented by lawyer Lim Siau Wen, while Starbucks was represented by lawyers Melvin Pang and Nicholas Ong.

In judgment grounds released last week, Ipos intellectual property adjudicator Lorraine Tay found no similarities between the two logos.

The concentric circles are not distinctive identifiers of Starbucks, she said. "It is a very simple device which is reduced to being part of the background and cannot on any count be considered to be a dominant feature." The "outstanding and dominant features" of Starbucks' logo "are the word 'Starbucks' and the mermaid device", which are more visually distinctive and associated with the company.

She also dismissed Starbucks' arguments that Morinaga's use of Mt Rainier was intended to deceive the public into thinking the company's milk coffee came from Seattle.

The association of the mountain to Seattle is not a direct one, she said. Instead, she said the logo title served an informative function of naming the mountain on the logo, rather than to evoke an association with Seattle.

It is also unlikely that coffee drinkers here will make the connection so readily. "Even if Mt Rainier is an iconic symbol of Seattle, the evidence does not establish that the average Singaporean would make this link or connection with Mt Rainier," she said.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Land Intensification Allowance) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2017 (S 691 of 2017)

Sale of Food (Amendment) Bill – Forthcoming Changes in Food Legislation

28 Nov 2017

Ex-MD of CSE-Transtel fined for insider trading

Straits Times
01 Dec 2017

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday it has taken action against Mr Tarek Abdel Tawab Mohamed Abdel Bary for insider trading in the shares of mainboard-listed CSE Global.

Mr Tarek Bary has admitted to contravening the Securities and Futures Act and will pay MAS a civil penalty of $423,000, after agreeing to settle the matter out of court. In addition, he is liable for $61,457.90 in legal costs and disbursements.

He has also given a voluntary undertaking not to be a company director or be involved in the management of a company for a period of two years with effect from Dec 18.

In August 2011, CSE Global reported a loss of $7 million in its second quarter. It stemmed from cost overruns linked to four projects undertaken by the engineering firm, including two projects in Saudi Arabia. Following the disclosure, the price of CSE shares fell by 13.9 per cent. Mr Tarek Bary was then managing director of CSE-Transtel, a wholly owned subsidiary of CSE Global.

On April 8, 2011, prior to CSE Global's announcement of its second-quarter results, he sold 500,000 CSE Global shares while in possession of non-public, price-sensitive information concerning cost overruns for the Saudi projects. It allowed him to avoid a $168,955 loss.

On March 1 this year, MAS took action in the courts against him for insider trading. On Monday, he agreed to settle the matter out of court.

MAS assistant managing director (capital markets) Lee Boon Ngiap said: "MAS does not tolerate any form of insider dealing... Listed companies are reminded to ensure that parties who have access to confidential and price-sensitive information are fully aware of their obligations under the law."

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

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore Act - Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (Scale of Dues, Rates and General Fees) (Amendment No. 3) Notification 2017 (S 690 of 2017)

SHC Issues first decision on rescue financing: Re: Attilan Group Ltd [2017] SGHC 283

27 Nov 2017

Two accused in club membership scam convicted

Straits Times
01 Dec 2017
Elena Chong

1,341 people duped over 10 years; one admits to making false entries and the other to money laundering

Over a period of 10 years, a supervisor of Keppel Club's membership department duped 1,341 people into believing that they had paid for membership at the club, even issuing them with cards which allowed them use of the facilities.

In all, the buyers forked out a total of $37.5 million for club memberships from 2004 to 2014, which included transfer fees of $17 million. The amount was supposed to be paid to Keppel Club.

Yesterday, the supervisor, Nah Hak Chuah, and a club member, Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, both 67, were convicted over their roles in the membership scam.

Nah admitted to 30 of 1,280 charges of making false entry in the electronic membership database in the Club Management System (CMS), while Cheo admitted to 20 of 303 charges of money laundering.

The trial of alleged mastermind Setho Oi Lin, alias Setho Irene, 70, is scheduled to begin next Monday.

The senior executive had worked in the club for nearly 48 years, and rose through the ranks. During the material time, she was a personal assistant to the general manager, the person in charge of membership transfers, enrolments, resignations and queries.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ian Ernst Chai said the general manager of the club lodged a police report on Aug 13, 2014, stating that both Nah and Cheo had cheated people into buying club memberships from phantom members.

Instead of paying the club, these buyers were directed to pay the purchase prices and transfer fees to third parties who included, among others, Cheo, her daughter, mother and brother-in-law, who were never members of the club. Cheo is Setho's personal friend.

After the club stopped selling new memberships in 1996, anyone who wishes to become a member has to buy the membership from an existing member at a mutually agreed price.

The purchase price would include a fixed transfer fee of $12,840 and an account activation fee ranging from $300 to $530 across the years, both to be paid to Keppel Club.

The balance of the purchase price, after deductions to Keppel Club, would go to the existing member selling the membership.

As of August 2014, the club had 2,682 legitimate members.

DPP Chai told Principal District Judge Bala Reddy that Setho allegedly started selling fake club memberships from 2004.

She would source for interested buyers on her own or inform membership agents that she had Keppel Club memberships for sale.

These agents would then source for buyers and put them in touch with Setho who knew that in fact, none of the memberships would be transferred from existing ones.

Some time between June 1 and Aug 1 in 2014, Setho instructed Nah to create new membership accounts for 1,280 buyers in the club's CMS. These buyers had been duped into buying club memberships from phantom members.

Nah knew that the new membership accounts to be created were false but still did it, thus falsifying records belonging to his employer.

He used information in the membership application forms, which contained the buyers' information and phantom sellers' names.

After the cheques or cashier's orders had been deposited, Cheo helped Setho transfer $6.1 million and kept at least $151,500 as commission payments, between Feb 23, 2010 and July 31, 2014.

The case was adjourned to Jan 10 for mitigation and sentencing.

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

Building Control Act - Building Control (Buildability and Productivity) (Amendment No. 4) Regulations 2017 (S 689 of 2017)

SHC: Challenges in assessing lost remuneration due to ex-employer’s negligent reference

27 Nov 2017

Court gives nod to Marco Polo's debt revamp schemes

Business Times
01 Dec 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

This extends the green light to the first O&M corporate restructuring calling for direct haircuts

Singapore's High Court on Thursday sanctioned two schemes of arrangement (SAs) filed by Marco Polo Marine and its key operating subsidiary, extending the green light to the first debt restructuring plan that calls for direct haircuts in the offshore and marine sector.

The Business Times (BT) understands that the court ruling has come after Marco Polo Marine won over support from its three key local lenders - DBS, OCBC and UOB - towards a plan tabling 69 per cent haircut on bank loans amounting to S$202 million.

UOB, as the largest bank lender answering for over S$90 million in loan value extended to Marco Polo, declined comment citing requirements of Singapore's Banking Act. DBS and OCBC did not respond to requests for comments.

But the financial market is abuzz with speculation that the three lenders may have decided to bite the bullet and take the prescribed write-offs because their exposures to Marco Polo are considered "manageable".

One banking source further suggested that backing Marco Polo's plan will not hurt the banks' bottom line if going by their claims, necessary provisions were already set aside for their loans to the sector.

The banks were also said to have been sold the proposition that Marco Polo has pulled off a feat no other troubled, listed O&M entity has managed so far - that is, pulling in nine investors who have pledged S$60 million new equity conditional among others on the success of its debt restructuring.

BT also understands that Marco Polo is considered within the financial circle as possibly a "test case" for certain bank lenders hoping to mirror the success New York-listed Tidewater achieved with its corporate work-out.

Marco Polo's plan anchored on severe haircuts for its creditors and massive equity dilution, which were also two key elements of Tidewater's debt restructuring exercise. In addition to the 69 per cent write-offs implied for its outstanding bank loans, Marco Polo has also pled for 71 per cent and 95 per cent debt forgiveness from its noteholders and for its contingent liabilities. Noteholders have already extended a majority vote in favour of supporting the plan and this paves the way for other scheme creditors to throw their hats into the ring.

Robson Lee, a partner with US law firm Gibson Dunn, said that further to the favourable noteholders' vote, what may have also helped to bring Marco Polo's bank lenders to the table was that the Singapore-listed group had to concurrently seek court protection in Indonesia against creditor claims with respect to its Batam-based subsidiary. He suggested that the Batam-based subsidiary's PKPU (Penundaan Kewajiban Pembayaran Utang) may have exerted pressure on the bank lenders to assist in expediting Marco Polo's debt restructuring process.

With its two SAs now sanctioned by the court, Marco Polo has moved on to convene an extraordinary general meeting on Dec 14 to seek shareholders' approval for issuing new securities to the nine investors, its creditors and as settlement of professional fees.

The company is proposing to issue 2.1 billion shares at 2.8 Singapore cents each to the nine new investors. A further one billion shares at 3.5 Singapore cents each will be placed with the company's creditors. Another 57.1 million shares at 3.5 Singapore cents apiece will be issued to RSM Corporate Advisory as consideration for professional fees. RSM is understood to have played an instrumental role in rounding up the S$60 million new equity deals with the nine investors.

For a start, the family of chief executive Sean Lee has already committed to diluting their controlling stake from 62 per cent to 6 per cent.

In exchange for the shareholders' support, the company is also proposing to issue 269.2 million free warrants on the basis of eight warrants for every 10 common shares held. Each warrant has an exercise price of 3.5 Singapore cents.

Commenting on the proposal at hand for the existing shareholders, UOB Kay Hian's analyst Foo Zhiwei said: "The deal is neither great nor overly bad ... but shareholders should be asking Marco Polo for a deliverable business plan, if any, and seek assurance that the management team would be up to the task."

Mr Sean Lee, in expressing his appreciation for the creditors' support so far, said: "I am grateful that the majority of stakeholders have decided to back our plan and allow the company to move forward with a strong balance sheet and comfortable working capital."

He added that he is looking forward to "a calmer journey" when the restructuring is completed and the nine investors have injected the fresh funds.

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

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Public Service Commission (Prison Officers) (Disciplinary Proceedings — Delegation of Functions) (Amendment) Directions 2017 (S 688 of 2017)

New tripartite standards on recruitment practices

27 Nov 2017

SGX aims to strike a balance in review of dual-class shares

Business Times
01 Dec 2017
Angela Tan

SGX RegCo chief says diverging views have been received, and will be studied

As a major capital market, Singapore cannot ignore the demands for a dual-class share structure, but this has to be weighed against the interests of investors, chief executive of SGX RegCo Tan Boon Gin said on Thursday.

He told The Business Times in an interview that the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has received wide-ranging feedback and suggestions on dual-class shares - a controversial structure which gives a small group of shareholders, typically owners and founders, greater voting power and rights disproportionate to the size of their shareholding.

"We have received a lot of feedback. We are still going through the feedback to see how we can strike the right balance. That's really where the crux is."

Mr Tan was speaking a day after reports that Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) announced its plans to accommodate a dual-class share structure and take applications under the new rules in the second half of next year.

He said the review of dual-class share structure was not about attracting more listings on SGX.

"Look at what CFE has been saying. They feel this is one of the things that may help Singapore companies make the transition, and we are trying to play our part.

"I don't really think we are looking at it purely from the point of attracting more listings. That has never been our starting point. Our starting point has been that Singapore is trying to move into a new economy. That's quite clear."

The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) pushed for the structure, which appeals to new-economy companies such as those in the information technology and biotech sectors, under a drive to ensure that Singapore maintains economic growth at a clip of 2 to 3 per cent.

The New York and Nasdaq bourses allow dual-class stocks to list.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), when asked about the status of Singapore's review of the idea, noted the diverse views on dual-class share structures.

Its spokesman said: "SGX, in consultation with MAS, is studying the feedback from the public consultation and will weigh all considerations carefully before coming to a decision on the matter in due course."

SGX should not lose sight on why there is a capital market here in the first place.

Mr Tan said: "We have a capital market because we want companies to raise funds to grow, to create jobs and allow the investing public to share in this growth. We must never lose sight of that. When it comes to companies, we want them to succeed.

"I do feel if certain companies require a certain corporate structure in order to succeed, I think that is an important factor that needs to be weighed up against the interests of investors. We would also want to broaden investors' choice."

Dual-class shares are favoured by company owners who want to raise funds without ceding control of business plans to the short-term demands of stock market investors. But it comes under fire from shareholder advocates, who argue that dual-class structures are directly at odds with the one-share-one-vote bedrock principle of shareholder democracy; the system also insulates management from challenges by other shareholders, these advocates say.

Mr Tan said investors ultimately make the final decision on whether to invest in a company or not. Many are already investing in the US markets, including dual-class shares stocks.

"The question is whether a balance can be struck that allows Singapore to have an exchange offering compelling products to both companies and investors, and which will complement and support technology-focused developments across the broader economy," he said.

In January 2016, Singapore paved the way for the SGX to permit listing of dual-class shares, by amending the Companies Act to allow Singapore public companies to issue classes of shares with different voting rights.

SGX's Listings Advisory Committee (LAC) said it was also in favour of dual-class share structures, subject to various corporate governance safeguards to mitigate the inherent risks they pose.

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

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Public Service Commission (Delegation of Disciplinary Functions) (Amendment) Directions 2017 (S 687 of 2017)

PDPC issued Proposed Advisory Guidelines on NRIC numbers

27 Nov 2017

GLP's shareholders give green light for privatisation

Business Times
01 Dec 2017
Nisha Ramachandani

Global Logistic Properties' (GLP) shareholders voted in favour of Nesta Investment Holdings' privatisation bid, with the final day of trading of GLP's shares on the Singapore Exchange expected to be Jan 4.

Nesta - a vehicle owned by Hopu, Hillhouse Capital, SMG, Bank of China Group Investment and Vanke - is taking GLP private at S$3.38 per share, which will take place via a scheme of arrangement. GLP's chief executive Ming Z Mei is a director of Nesta. At S$3.38 per share, this values the company at approximately S$16 billion on an equity value basis.

Of the total number of shareholders present and voting in person or by proxy at the scheme meeting on Thursday, 96.02 per cent voted for the scheme; meanwhile, of the total number of shares voted by shareholders present and voting in person or by proxy, 99.96 per cent voted in favour.

Sovereign wealth fund GIC, which owns a 36.84 per cent stake in GLP, also voted for the scheme.

The scheme will thus be presented to the High Court of Singapore for approval; if the scheme is sanctioned by the Court, it is expected to become binding on Jan 10. The payment date for shareholders is Jan 19, 2018 and GLP is expected to be delisted shortly after.

Dr Seek Ngee Huat, chairman of GLP's board, said: "The result from (the) scheme meeting brings us one step closer to the privatisation of GLP. A key objective of the independent strategic review was to maximise value for all shareholders, and we are pleased that the proposal received overwhelming support from shareholders. (The) scheme meeting marks a significant milestone and we would like to thank all GLP shareholders for their support since the IPO seven years ago."

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Estate Agents Act - Estate Agents (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 686 of 2017)

MAS issues response to feedback received from consultation on review of competency requirements for representatives conducting regulated activities under the Securities and Futures Act and Financial Advisors Act

24 Nov 2017

Apex court seeks enhanced sentencing powers to protect the young

Straits Times
30 Nov 2017
Selina Lum

The Court of Appeal has asked Parliament to give the courts enhanced powers to mete out tougher sentences in cases where the offender commits certain crimes against the vulnerable, especially children.

The apex court said this in written grounds released yesterday explaining why it had in July increased the jail term of a woman who had abused her four-year-old son so violently that he died .

Noraidah Mohd Yussof, 35, who had taken out her frustration on the boy because he could not recite the numbers 11 to 18 in Malay correctly, had her eight-year sentence raised to 14 1/2 years. The three judges said they would have given Noraidah an even harsher sentence for causing grievous hurt if they had the powers to do so.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who penned the judgment, said the courts show their condemnation by considering the victim's vulnerability an aggravating factor in sentencing. But this may not be sufficient.

"We therefore invite Parliament to consider affording the courts the power, when dealing with such offences, in particular those against children and young persons, to enhance the permitted punishment to 1 1/2 times the prescribed maximum penalty for certain offences."

The court noted that enacting legislation which identifies a certain class of criminal action as deserving of harsher punishment has been done before.

Parliament did so in 1998 in relation to several offences against foreign domestic workers. The offences included causing hurt or grievous hurt to, or wrongfully confining, such workers.

Similarly, enhanced penalties for racially or religiously aggravated offences were imposed in 2007.

The court also noted that the recent public consultation on a draft Vulnerable Adults Bill had proposed, among other things, inserting a new provision in the Penal Code for enhanced penalties of up to 1 1/2 times the permitted sentencing range for certain offences against vulnerable adults.

"This proposed change is entirely consistent with our call for the courts to be afforded the discretion to enhance sentences for certain offences against vulnerable victims, especially children and young persons," said the court.

In Noraidah's case, the abuse against her son lasted from March 2012 to August 2014.

In the final incident, she stepped on him and repeatedly pushed him to the ground, causing his head to hit the floor. She also grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the floor while pushing him against a wall, before letting him fall.

Last year, the High Court sentenced her to eight years in jail after she pleaded guilty to two charges of causing grievous hurt and four charges of ill-treating a child.

Prosecutors appealed to the apex court for a heavier sentence.

In the judgment, the court, which also comprised appeal judges Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong, set out the sentencing approach to guide the courts for violent offences against children and young persons that lead to serious injury or death.

For grievous hurt leading to death, the indicative starting point should be a jail term of about eight years, it said. For grievous hurt causing multiple fractures, it should be a jail term of about 3 1/2 years.

For male offenders below the age of 50, 12 or more strokes of the cane may be warranted if their actions caused death.

In the case of non-fatal serious injury, between six and 12 strokes of the cane may be warranted, said the court.

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Customs Act - Customs (Duties) (Amendment No. 3) Order 2017 (S 685 of 2017)

Parliament introduces Cross-Border Railways Bill 2017

24 Nov 2017

Apex court clears the air on reformative training

Straits Times
30 Nov 2017
Selina Lum

The Court of Appeal has clarified that reformative training is not a sentencing option for a probationer who has crossed the age of 21 when he is hauled back to court for breaching probation.

The ruling resolved conflicting court decisions on the applicable age to consider in determining whether such an offender is eligible for reformative training, a structured regime aimed at rehabilitating young offenders that can last between 18 months and three years.

In a written judgment released yesterday, the highest court in the land said it should be the offender's age on the day he was dealt with for breaching his probation.

Under the law, the court can order reformative training if the convicted person is aged 16 and above, but below 21 "on the day of his conviction".

The issue was raised to the apex court in May by a lawyer assigned to defend Muhammad Nur Abdullah, who was 19 when he was given three years' probation in 2013 for drug trafficking.

Muhammad Nur breached his probation order twice by committing a spate of new offences. By the time he was facing punishment for the second breach, he had turned 23. A district judge sentenced him to undergo reformative training. The prosecution appealed to the High Court, arguing that reformative training was not a sentencing option as Muhammad Nur was over 21 when he was sentenced for breaching his probation order.

The High Court agreed with the prosecution and sentenced him as an adult, imposing five years' jail and five strokes of the cane.

Muhammad Nur's lawyer, Mr Tan Hee Joek, then took the case to the Court of Appeal by way of a criminal reference, a rare procedure that can be invoked for cases that hinge on questions of law of public interest. Mr Tan argued that the relevant age was the age at the date of conviction and, therefore, his client was eligible for reformative training.

Although the prosecution had, in the past, sought sentences of reformative training in such circumstances, it changed its position after reviewing the relevant legislation. It eventually argued that reformative training could not be imposed in such circumstances.

In September, the apex court agreed with the prosecution's updated views.

Since the apex court's decision in September, the prosecution has taken remedial steps by applying to the High Court to revise the sentences of Noorsuriati Rasali and Muhammad Syukuri Hamdan, who were sentenced to reformative training on Dec 21 last year and Feb 13 this year respectively. Their sentences were quashed and substituted with jail terms for their respective offences after the prosecution conceded it had adopted a wrong position in law in their cases.

As the jail terms were backdated to their date of remand, they were expected to be released on the same day.

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Customs Act - Customs (Exemption from Section 15(2)) Order 2017 (S 684 of 2017)

SHC finds diversion of company's business constitutes oppression: Leong Chee Kin v Ideal Design Studio Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 192

24 Nov 2017

Social workers can get powers to manage seniors' finances

Straits Times
30 Nov 2017
Toh Yong Chuan

MSF pilot project targets elderly folk who have lost ability to make decisions and do not have family support

Seniors without family support can soon turn to social workers to help manage their finances if they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has introduced the Community Kin Service pilot project, where social workers with voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) may apply to the Family Justice Courts for powers to manage the finances of seniors under their care. The courts will then approve regular payments for the seniors' healthcare needs and household expenses, with MSF backing such court applications.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday: "The Community Kin Service allows VWOs to help fill the role that a next of kin would typically play in supporting a senior."

The MSF said in a statement that the pilot project will cover seniors who are 60 and above, have no family support and show signs of a declining ability to make decisions for themselves.

Two VWOs - Touch Community Services and AMKFSC Community Services - have been chosen for the pilot that starts early next year.

The MSF was unable to say how many seniors could potentially benefit from the scheme.

Touch said about 350 of the 7,000 seniors under its care are gradually losing the ability to make decisions for themselves, while AMKFSC estimated that 100 of the 1,000 seniors under its care may have dementia.

Ms Julia Lee, senior director at Touch, said the new scheme is an extension of what the VWO's social workers are already doing to help the seniors under their care.

"The social workers now take care of the seniors' medical and social needs. Some of the seniors also turned to us for help in managing their finances," she said. "But currently we cannot do that because we are not authorised to do so."

Mr Ng Koon Sing, head of senior services at AMKFSC Community Services, said the process of applying for the court order needs to be simplified for VWOs.

"The MSF is talking to the courts on how the process (of court applications) can be more streamlined. Our objective is not to create more work," he said.

Minister Lee, who was speaking at the first Asian Family Conference held at Orchard Hotel, said the ministry will run the pilot for "a year or two" before deciding whether to expand it. "As a safeguard, VWOs must provide annual reports to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to account for the use of funds," he added.

The OPG, which comes under the MSF, runs the Lasting Power of Attorney Scheme under the Mental Capacity Act, which lets people appoint a "donee" or "deputy" in advance to take care of legal decisions should they lose their mental ability to do so.


The social workers now take care of the seniors' medical and social needs. Some of the seniors also turned to us for help in managing their finances. But currently we cannot do that because we are not authorised to do so.

MS JULIA LEE, senior director at Touch Community Services, on how the new scheme will help its social workers.


The MSF is talking to the courts on how the process (of court applications) can be more streamlined. Our objective is not to create more work.

MR NG KOON SING, head of senior services at AMKFSC Community Services, on how the process needs to be simplified.

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Singapore Civil Defence Force Ambulance Drivers) (Exemption) Order 2017 (S 683 of 2017)

SCA upholds Takashimaya’s win in rent calculation dispute with Ngee Ann Development

22 Nov 2017

Those hired to manage seniors' affairs face stiffer rules

Straits Times
30 Nov 2017
Toh Yong Chuan

The professionals hired by seniors to manage their affairs when they lose the ability to take care of themselves will soon face stricter rules.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday that these paid professionals cannot be undischarged bankrupts, people convicted of serious crimes, or those who were involved in civil suits like breach of trust.

He added that his ministry, which is working on a registration scheme for these professionals, has decided to impose these new criteria "as an added layer of protection".

The paid professional scheme was announced by the ministry in December 2015 when it said it was seeking to amend the Mental Capacity Act. This would allow seniors without family or close friends to turn to paid professionals to act as their donees and deputies.

Parliament passed the amendments in March last year.

But while the law that paved the way for the scheme was passed nearly two years ago, Mr Lee said yesterday that the ministry is still working out its details, including the registration of professional deputies.

In response to queries on when the scheme would be ready, the ministry told The Straits Times last night that the certification course is an important component of the framework, to ensure potential professional deputies and donees are knowledgeable about their responsibilities and trained to carry them out in the seniors' best interests.

More details of the scheme will be given "in due course", it added.

In his speech, Mr Lee said his ministry is working with the Singapore University of Social Sciences to develop a training programme for such professionals. They cannot be related to the seniors and are likely to be lawyers, accountants, and healthcare and social service professionals, he added.

Toh Yong Chuan

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licences) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2017 (S 682 of 2017)

Recklessly misleading the court in Singapore and England

22 Nov 2017

Man who held boy hostage found guilty of kidnapping

Straits Times
30 Nov 2017
Elena Chong

He locked 2-year-old in flat with him during a 17-hour stand-off with victim's mother, police

A man who held his girlfriend's two-year-old son hostage and engaged in a 17-hour stand-off with police was convicted yesterday of kidnapping the child, as well as three other charges.

Muhammad Iskandah Suhaimi, 40, admitted to taking the toddler from his mother without her consent, having a knuckleduster, and possessing and taking crystal methamphetamine or Ice the day after he took the child.

Neither his 33-year-old girlfriend nor her son can be named due to a gag order.

At about 4pm on Sept 27 last year, Iskandah - who had been living in the rental flat for about a year with the victim and his mother - told his girlfriend to buy cigarettes for him.

When she stepped out of the flat with her son, he suddenly grabbed the boy and locked the main gate, with the victim inside.

He ignored his girlfriend's requests to let the victim go. She was afraid as she had not been apart from her son before and usually did not leave him alone with Iskandah.

Iskandah rejected her pleas to release the boy and he challenged her to call the police. She then went to get her mother's help and returned to the flat with her.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh said Iskandah still refused to let the victim go and said he would only do so if his girlfriend agreed to enter the flat in exchange for the victim. The girlfriend and her mother both did not agree as Iskandah had a history of violence towards his girlfriend.

Police arrived at about 7pm, 15 minutes after they were alerted.

Iskandah's girlfriend told the police that he had taken Ice earlier that day.

She also said they were having relationship problems, that he had hit her before, and was known to carry a knuckleduster with him.

DPP Koh said Iskandah continued to demand that his girlfriend go into the house in exchange for the child's release.

Iskandah was aggressive, uncooperative, impatient and highly agitated at various points in his dealings with the police, the court heard.

During the stand-off, he was seen taking drugs in the flat.

At around noon - the day after the stand-off started - a team from the Special Operations Command forced its way into the flat by breaking a the window and removing the front gate when Iskandah went to the toilet. The victim was rescued and Iskandah was arrested.

He had thought that his girlfriend would call the police and report him for taking drugs if he allowed her to take the child with her.

DPP Koh said the stand-off lasted about 17 hours - from about 6.40pm on Sept 27 to about noon the next day.

District Judge Carol Ling adjourned the case to Feb 26 for sentencing.

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Accountants Act - Accountants (Accounting Corporations, Accounting Firms and Accounting LLPs) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 681 of 2017)

Exploring nuclear energy as a future energy source for Singapore

22 Nov 2017

New sentencing framework set out to protect police officers

01 Dec 2017
Alfred Chua

Those who behave violently against police officers carrying out their duties can expect to face tougher punishment, according to a new sentencing framework set out by the High Court.

The framework will comprise three broad sentencing bands that range from a fine or a jail term of up to a year, to imprisonment of between three and seven years, depending on the severity of the offence.

Three High Court judges set out the framework after upping the jail sentence from one week to 10 weeks for a man who had slapped a policeman in April last year.

The prosecutors had appealed the jail sentence given to the man, Jeffrey Yeo Ek Boon, calling it “manifestly inadequate”. The High Court allowed the appeal and increased Yeo’s jail term in September.

“Police officers … frequently endanger their lives and risk their personal safety in the discharge of their duties to protect society by maintaining law and order,” Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang wrote in explaining the rationale behind the new framework, which was issued as part of the written judgement against Yeo released on Wednesday (Nov 29).

“While one could argue that danger is inherent in the work of the police on the ground, surely those who preserve law and order and protect society dutifully deserve to feel assured that they will be protected adequately by the law that they uphold.”

Punishment for an offender under the new framework would correspond to the extent and nature of injuries sustained by the police officer, as well as the manner and motivation of the suspect.

The first band, for instance, corresponds with cases where minor injuries are involved and the pain is momentary. An offender in this category may be fined, or jailed for up to a year.

“The majority of cases that have been prosecuted thus far fall into this category,” Justice Tay noted.

Offenders would only get away with a fine in “very exceptional” cases, such as when young offenders or those with mental disorders are involved, the judges added.

Cases that fall within the second band would include situations where the police officer suffered minor injuries from a suspect who was motivated to cause harm, or when the officer suffered serious injuries but the suspect’s culpability was low.

Jail sentences in this middle band would range from one to three years.

The third category, involving very serious and long-term injuries to a police officer, would see the offender face a jail term of between three and seven years, the maximum imprisonment sentence for those who cause hurt to deter a public servant from his duties.

“Such offences are generally intended to strike at the very heart of the police as an institution of law and order,” Justice Tay wrote.

In the case of Yeo, who had slapped a policeman after a night out drinking, the judges said his offences would fall into the lower end of the first category.

Police officers found the 26-year-old sprawled out on a grass patch near a canal along Bukit Timah Road on April 16, 2016. He became aggressive after the officers woke him.

Yeo muttered expletives, and then slapped one of the officers.

Commenting on the sentence given by the lower courts, the High Court judges agreed that it fell “far below the normal sentencing range”, despite the mitigating circumstances.

The new framework, Justice Tay wrote, must “reflect society’s opprobrium of such offences”.

In September, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam flagged the rising trend of Home Team uniformed officers being physically or verbally abused. There were 484 cases — or more than one a day — last year.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Law Minister, pointed out that the problem had worsened, with the number of such cases rising more than 65 per cent between 2014 and last year.

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Accountants Act - Accountants (Public Accountants) (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2017 (S 680 of 2017)

[EU] Google to challenge fine imposed by EU Commission

21 Nov 2017

Monk sued over A$240k 'study grant'

Straits Times
29 Nov 2017
Selina Lum

A Buddhist devotee told the High Court yesterday that he gave A$240,000 to a prominent monk in 2010 to pursue a doctoral degree but Venerable Guojun used part of the money to buy property in Australia instead.

Ven Guojun, the former abbot of Mahabodhi Monastery, bought a A$545,000 one-bedroom apartment in Sydney two months after businessman Lee Boon Teow made full payment of the "study grant". The property was sold in June this year for A$810,000 (S$828,000).

Mr Lee, who is also a trustee and a former management committee member of the monastery in Bukit Timah, has sued Ven Guojun for the return of the A$240,000.

"We trusted him because as a man (who has) renounced all worldly possessions, integrity forms the basic principle of his life. We gave him money for studies so he must use that money for that purpose," he said when cross-examined by Ven Guojun's lawyer, Mr Joseph Liow.

Mr Lee said he was unhappy with the monk for his "integrity issues".

"You can't be a monk in the day and a metrosexual at night," he said in Mandarin, in a reference to photographs taken last year of Ven Guojun in sports attire at the Marina Bay Sands hotel with a friend.

Mr Lee said he first handed over A$40,000 in cash to Ven Guojun, followed by a transfer of A$200,000 to the monk's bank account in Australia in April 2010.

He said he found out in June 2015 that Ven Guojun had bought an apartment in Sydney. The sale was completed in June 2010, shortly after the bank transfer.

From the bank statements provided by Ven Guojun, Mr Lee concluded that the monk had amassed a fortune of at least A$3 million by 2009. This figure was derived from calculations based on dividend payments credited into the account.

Ven Guojun acknowledges that he had received A$199,979 from Mr Lee but denies he had agreed to use the money solely for doctoral studies. He contends that it had been a gift for his own use, in a Buddhist practice known as "dana". He also contends that the money was given to thank him for blessing Mr Lee's construction business and for marriage counselling.

But Mr Lee counters that he was not facing any marital crisis; neither did his business "turn around" as a result of Ven Guojun's prayers.

The president of the Singapore Buddhist Federation, Venerable Kwang Phing, is lined up to testify for Mr Lee on various issues.

This is the second of three legal disputes brought by Mr Lee against Ven Guojun. A defamation suit arising from a Buddhist sculpture was settled last month. Another defamation suit is pending.

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Silver Support Scheme Act 2015 - Silver Support Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 679 of 2017)

Singapore's arbitration push

21 Nov 2017

Three firms fined over S$600,000 for rigging F1 bids

Business Times
29 Nov 2017
Nisha Ramachandi

Separately, two of the companies were found to have also rigged bids for a tender to supply services to a school

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has fined three corporate entities more than S$600,000 for being involved in rigging the bids for a tender for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.

Contractor group Cyclect, which consists of Chemicrete Enterprises, Cyclect Electrical Engineering and Cyclect Holdings, received the heaviest penalty for its role in the bid-rigging.

HPH Engineering and Peak Top Engineering were also fined for infringing Section 34 of the Competition Act.

The CCS initiated investigations after it received a complaint in relation to possible collusion and/or bid-rigging for the F1 tender for providing electrical services, as well as a tender for asset-tagging services for international school GEMS World Academy.

On April 23, 2015, Cyclect Electrical won the three-year contract for the Singapore Grand Prix after colluding with HPH and Peak Top, which inflated their bids by 25 to 30 per cent above that of Cyclect Electrical's, the CCS said. Chemicrete, a unit of Cyclect Group, also put in a bid.

Cyclect Electrical's bid was also 10 to 20 per cent above the winning bid for the previous F1 tender spanning 2011-2014, which it also won. However, that increase could have been due to other factors, including labour costs, the CCS highlighted.

Meanwhile, for a separate tender seeking asset-tagging services for the GEMS World Academy campus in Yishun, Chemicrete won the contract on March 31, 2015 after seeking HPH's assistance to support it by submitting a higher quote, the CCS said.

GEMS received a total of three quotes, including quotes from Chemicrete and HPH. In this case, HPH's inflated bid was 50 per cent higher than Chemicrete's.

The CCS fined Cyclect Group S$559,297 for the F1 tender and S$12,000 for the GEMS tender. The fines took into account a discount for leniency after the group came forward to provide the CCS with information to help with its investigations.

The discount for leniency can be up to 50 per cent, said the CCS, without disclosing the exact figure.

HPH was hit with a penalty of S$28,128 for the F1 tender and S$5,000 for the GEMS tender; Peak Top will have to pay a penalty of S$21,693 for the F1 tender.

The firms have two months to file an appeal.

The investigations, which, among other things, included inspecting the premises of Chemicrete and Cyclect Holdings, yielded evidence such as documents from key personnel at the companies and representations from the Cyclect Group.

There was also a WhatsApp message from an executive director at HPH sent to Chemicrete's general manager on Dec 10, 2014, which read: "Bro, have you check with your md (managing director) on the Grand Prix tender. How he want to work together. Or he want me to submit a bogus price only. Please advise."

Toh Han Li, chief executive of the CCS, said: "Bid-rigging is one of the most harmful types of anti-competitive conduct as it distorts the competitive bidding process, preventing businesses from getting the best value for their tenders."

He suggested that bidders educate their employees through compliance programmes. In addition, tendering companies can try to open the tender to as many bidders as possible to minimise bid-rigging, such as through e-procurement or breaking up the tender into smaller parcels.

In a statement, managing director of Cyclect Group, Melvin Tan, said: "We have never intentionally worked against industry practices. We have cooperated to the best of our ability during the investigations.

"Hence, this decision came as a shock to us. We are currently reviewing the decisions with our legal advisors and will be keeping all our options open, including an appeal."

HPH and Peak Top did not respond to queries from The Business Times.

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Financial Procedure Act - Financial (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 678 of 2017)

Summary of MAS Guideline on Digital Token Offerings

17 Nov 2017

SMRT's legal options depend on staff contracts

Straits Times
29 Nov 2017
Adrian Lim

The legal actions which SMRT can take against two ex-employees linked to last month's MRT tunnel flooding depend on the terms of their contract. The rail operator can also sue for damages caused by negligence, although this will be a challenging course of action, said legal experts.

On Monday, SMRT said that it had found 13 staff responsible for failing to maintain an anti-flooding system, which led to the tunnel between Bishan and Braddell stations becoming flooded on Oct 7, causing a major service disruption. Some of the staff were found to have falsified maintenance records.

Eight were sacked, one was demoted, and disciplinary action, which SMRT did not specify, was taken against another two, it was revealed on Monday.

Vice-president Tay Tien Seng and senior manager Ivan Kok, who quit shortly after the flooding incident, were found to have not exercised sufficient supervision during the seven-month period when records were falsified. On Monday, SMRT said it "reserves its right to pursue legal action against them as may be appropriate".

Asked about the legal options open to SMRT, lawyer Wayne Ong told The Straits Times yesterday: "If there were duties that the employees should have carried out - as described in their contract - and the employees did not do so, then it could be a breach of the contract."

He said it did not matter that they had quit as they were contractually bound when the breaches occurred.

Mr S. Sundaram, partner for litigation and dispute resolution at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said the employment contract may contain a term which allows SMRT to pursue legal recourse if the employees are found to be grossly negligent in performing their jobs.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said SMRT could sue for compensation for the damage to and the repair of ill-maintained equipment, if it can be proven that these were the "direct and foreseeable consequence of the staff members' deliberate dereliction of duties or wilful negligence".

But this is "an extreme and unlikely course of action, as it is challenging to succeed on this ground in court", and the probability of receiving damages, which may amount to millions, is very low, he added. Professor Tan said: "Ultimately, responsibility for the flooding lies solely with SMRT... The mere threat of and actual resort to legal action may also dramatically backfire, considering the negative public opinion and low staff morale."

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 55) Notification 2017 (S 676 of 2017)

Singapore's new inward re-domiciliation regime: A further move in positioning for the future economy

15 Nov 2017

Noble's balance sheet still unreliable: Iceberg

Business Times
29 Nov 2017
Andrea Soh

Commodity trader's recent contracts with Mkango Resources are also questionable, says research outfit; it calls for change of management in company

Iceberg Research issued another fresh attack on Noble Group on Tuesday, claiming that the commodity trader's balance sheet numbers are still unreliable, and that the contracts Noble recently signed with Mkango Resources are questionable.

In an open letter addressed to Noble's creditors, the research outfit maintained that Noble is overly-optimistic on the valuation of its remaining assets again, and that its liabilities have been "drastically undervalued".

The firm also does not have good traders who are able to manage risk, it added.

Pointing to Noble's collapse over the past two years, it said: "Equity holders have been almost wiped out and you are probably worried you will meet the same fate."

Noble declined to comment on these allegations. The group on Nov 15 said that it has started talks with its lenders to restructure almost US$4 billion in debt, confirming a development that had been widely anticipated by the market.

Bloomberg has reported that the group last week held talks in London with creditors including banks Societe Generale SA and ING Groep NV, and hedge funds Och Ziff Capital Management LLC and Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC.

Noble reportedly proposed to exchange its current debt, including bonds and a revolving credit facility maturing in May next year, for new debt with later maturities, without any haircut. This would effectively extend the maturity for its debt due between 2018 and 2022, to 2021 and 2024.

The new debt would come in three forms: bonds supported by cash flows from Noble's Asian coal and iron ore business; an asset-backed bond secured against other physical assets; and a mandatory convertible bond.

Noble has asked all creditors to agree to a unified counter-proposal by early this week, so as to reach a deal before the end of the year, according to the same report.

Iceberg said: "This restructuring will not address any of the fundamental weaknesses that led to Noble's collapse."

It called instead for a change of management in the company. "Noble needs new senior managers, ideally coming from another commodity trading house. They will bring competent traders with them, with an old-fashioned mentality: a trader is paid to make money and responsibly manage risk."

The researcher also cast doubt on Mkango Resources, a rare-earth exploration firm in Malawi that Noble recently agreed to invest £14 million (S$25 million) in.

Mkango, which is listed in Canada, has a market capitalisation of only C$11 million (S$11.6 million), it noted.

"Financing and signing offtake/marketing agreements with companies that don't produce anything is typical of the way Noble has created fictitious profit for years," Iceberg said.

The researcher first attacked Noble Group in end-2015, claiming that the group inflated the value of assets and some contracts.

Noble has consistently denied these claims. Still, the firm has been unable to shake off doubts that persisted over the actual value of its assets, and has since shrunk to a shadow of its former self. It had a market value of S$195.1 million on Tuesday, compared to over US$10 billion at its peak in 2010.

The firm also announced after market close on Tuesday that it has sold off its 100 per cent interest in Onsburg Ltd to Wadash Enterprises for US$1. Noble had carried Onsburg at about US$0.03 million on its books.

The disposal marks the latest in a string of divestments at a loss for the group as it reshapes its business.

The stock fell for the seventh time in eight days, slipping 1.3 cents, or 8.1 per cent, on Tuesday to close at 14.7 Singapore cents.

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 54) Notification 2017 (S 675 of 2017)

Latest IP developments: Design Law Reform Conference 2017; summaries of Monster Energy Company v Mixi, Inc. [2017] SGIPOS 12 and FMTM Distribution Ltd v Tan Jee Liang Trading as Yong Yew Trading Company [2017] SGIPOS 09

14 Nov 2017

Industry gearing up for new rules on facade checks

Straits Times
29 Nov 2017
Ng Jun Sen

Building managers could be required to conduct regular full-scale visual and close-up inspections

Regular inspections of windows, cladding and other external building features are on the cards, as rules on how facades are maintained are being tightened after a series of mishaps.

Industry players told The Straits Times that they are now getting ready for a new legislative framework that will require full-scale visual inspections as well as close-up inspections of facades.

Visual inspections involve the use of binoculars or aerial drones from afar, while close-up inspections will require a qualified person to oversee inspection of facade issues.

The proposed rules were discussed at the Glasstech Asia and Fenestration Asia 2017 conferences held last week at Marina Bay Sands, and a course to certify "facade inspectors" - a class of qualified persons unheard of thus far in the industry - was recently started at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy.

Currently, there is no legal requirement for building managers to inspect their building's envelope for flaws, defects and wear - a situation the managers said led to cases of buildings that have facades in dire need of repair or replacement.

In recent months, there have been a string of cases where cladding or other exterior features failed or fell off buildings.

When contacted, BCA confirmed it is reviewing the regulatory framework for the inspection of building facades to enhance public and building safety. It also acknowledged that it started a course in July to "raise knowledge and capability on facade inspection".

While the new legislation is yet to be announced, many building managers said they would welcome stricter regulation - too many owners and managers take short cuts because the rules hold owners liable only in the event of accidents, like when a panel falls on a passer-by.

Singapore Glass Association chairman Gan Geok Chua said nearly all recent cases of failing facades - falling glass panels or concrete features - could have been prevented had there been a proper inspection routine.

He added that some building managers or owners are desperate enough to take these risks because it costs money to frequently identify and resolve facade issues.

DP Architects technical director Mathieu Meur, who conducts the new BCA facade inspection course, agreed that the current practice leaves much to be desired: "The general attitude (today) is to wait for something to happen before calling in someone to inspect and fix the problem. The new regulations aim to correct this situation by making regular inspections of the facade compulsory."

Many warn, however, that inspections alone cannot be the silver bullet that fixes all facade problems. For example, in cases of fire performance of certain exterior cladding material, the only effective way to check them is through tests on samples taken from the building.

ST understands that the use of aluminium composite panels is being probed by the Singapore Civil Defence Force in the wake of a fire that killed a person at 30, Toh Guan Road earlier this year. The blaze reportedly spread across multiple floors via the building's external cladding.

Ultimately, industry experts said more people will need to be aware that a building's facade is not as sturdy as the building itself.

Said Singapore Safety Glass business development manager Gary Lee: "Facility managers don't even know there is a problem with the facade because they do not go check, but even if they do, they are not trained to identify issues when it is right in front of them... Buildings are supposed to last a long time... But facade material, even glass, can last for only a decade or so."


  • 2016: Cladding board falls at Circuit Road block 
    A cladding board made of calcium silicate fell off at Block 51, Circuit Road. An investigation by the Marine Parade Town Council later found a "loose connection of screws" in some of the claddings on the building.

    2016: Plaster slab falls at Hougang block
    A plaster slab got dislodged at Block 449, Hougang Avenue 10 and crashed to the ground. The Ang Mo Kio Town Council found out that the slab fell as it had deteriorated due to exposure to weather over time.

    2016: Sunshade gets dislodged at Tampines block 
    A concrete feature on the fourth floor of Block 201E, Tampines Street 23 got dislodged and landed on another sunshade below it. It was later found to have no reinforcement bars on one side. No one was hurt.

    2016: "Waterfall" at Cradels condo 
    A blocked drain at the Balestier condo's infinity pool led to the build-up of water, ultimately shattering some glass panels on the pool's facade. This created a sudden cascade of water onto the carpark below.

    2017: Aluminium panels fall at Indus Road block
    Two aluminium panels fell off the exterior of Block 77, Indus Road and hit the ground.

    2017: Concrete falls at Trivelis condo playground
    A piece of concrete fell 40 storeys from the roof of Trivelis condominium, a Design, Build and Sell Scheme project in Clementi, landing on a playground.

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Prescribed Futures Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 674 of 2017)

New Companies Act re-domiciliation provisions now in force

14 Nov 2017

How to future-proof cyber security laws

Straits Times
29 Nov 2017
Benjamin Ang

When the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) asked for views in their Public Consultation Paper on the draft Cybersecurity Bill earlier this year, they received so much feedback that they extended the consultation period.

Much of this feedback was positive, including support from industry experts, cyber security professionals and academics, for the comprehensiveness of the Bill in dealing with protection of critical information infrastructure. CII refers to the provision of key services such as telecommunications, transport, healthcare, banking and energy.

Others, including regional law firms, raised concerns about the powers granted to the CSA to take information when responding to cyber breach incidents, which they feared would conflict with banking secrecy and data privacy requirements, and could in turn harm the competitiveness of businesses here.

The CSA has since taken pains to clarify that it intends to focus on technical information, not personal data. More significantly, the report on the public consultation states that CSA will appoint assistant commissioners for each sector, to take into account existing sector-specific requirements, including international ones.

The public consultation resulted in several other significant changes and clarification. The report clarified that only systems that have been officially designated as CIIs will be subject to the legal duties of compliance, thus excluding suppliers and third-party vendors.

The fact that a company has been officially designated as a CII will no longer be subject to the Official Secrets Act.

Finally, the proposed licensing regime for individuals and companies in the provision of cyber security services will be also modified to "allow the Bill to be more future-proof and to enable it to stay relevant even as cyber security services continue to evolve".

It is from this last development that we can draw useful lessons for policy development in this field. The public and private sectors are united in the desire for the law to be dynamic and evolve to meet the changing threats. This is in line with the global quest for "future-proof legislation" that can adapt to rapid developments in the scientific, technical and technological field.

One of the keys to future-proof legislation is to build in flexibility. For example, the report has recognised that it would be unwieldy to legislate a distinction between "investigative" and "non-investigative" types of licensable services. Future-proofing sometimes requires stepping away from the very natural tendency to try to define every possible scenario in detail, because new situations will emerge that defy prediction.

Instead, it can be more effective to be flexible and to review the landscape on a regular basis.

Most recently the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act was amended to respond to the further evolution of cybercrime. The amendments create new offences for obtaining stolen personal information, hacking tools and more - actions which were not significant at the time of the original legislation.

Legislation can be considered future-proof if it is proactive, provides legal clarity and certainty, and if citizens see it as legitimate, because of participation in bringing outcomes or solutions to collective problems.

Public consultation is, therefore, a good way to help make legislation future-proof, especially in fields like cyber security where the issues affect every aspect of society.

Consultation on legislation is not new: Ministries and statutory boards have a long history of informal consultation with experts and major stakeholders. Today, many agencies post their requests for public consultation on the Government's Reach portal.

One example is the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which has shared that despite its drawbacks - it lengthens the policymaking process and requires resources - public consultation improves the policymaking process by tapping practitioners' market knowledge to validate and refine policies, identifying implementation issues in advance, providing an avenue to explain and garner support for policies, and providing greater certainty for affected parties.

These are all benefits that are deeply relevant to cyber security policy. A healthy level of public-private partnership and participation by industry, civil society, experts, academics and business owners can provide the Government with the breadth and depth of up-to-date expertise that is required for policymaking in this field, especially in response to developments in international regulations, quantum computing, big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

For example, businesses here may accept the CSA's powers for incident response for now, because of a high level of trust in the authorities. However, if international regulations like the European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) impose more requirements on Singapore companies dealing with European customers, the private sector may then have to step forward to form an independent industry body for oversight and to safeguard businesses.

A successful public-private partnership will require the active participation of all parties. Since the report mentions further public consultation, it should follow the best practices of this round, which include allowing the public contributions to influence decisions, recognising and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, and communicating to participants how their input affected the decisions. It would be unrealistic to expect the authority to implement every input, but every input should be recognised, to encourage participation in future processes.

On the other hand, industry, civil society, experts, academics and business owners should continue to contribute frankly and vigorously to the discussion. The healthy dialogue that has arisen from this public consultation is a good start, and will be essential in the years to come as cyber security develops in ways we cannot imagine today.

  • Benjamin Ang is Senior Fellow/ Head of Cyber and Homeland Defence, Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Markets) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2017 (S 673 of 2017)

MiFID II and APAC: How Far Does the Legislation Reach?

10 Nov 2017

Interview with retired Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin - an illustrious 50-year journey in law

Lianhe Zaobao
28 Nov 2017
Poh Lay Hoon

This article was first published on 12 November 2017 in the Singapore Mandarin broadsheet, Lianhe Zaobao.
SLW commissioned a translation to give the legal community a view of legal reports from different Singapore news outlets.

After Singapore mobile networks ceased offering 2G services in March this year, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin brought his old Nokia phone to the mobile phone store and asked the salesman to simply give him "any 3G phone that can make calls".

"My daughter told me I needed an upgrade and she gave me the latest iPhone. I don't even know what model it is," he said with a laugh, as he took out his mobile phone and looked for the printed model number.

Justice Chao's hearty laugh was infectious; his sense of humour was immediately apparent to the journalist and photographer.

Justice Chao left the public service two months ago after an illustrious career of 50 years. Now retired, he is travelling the world, his cheerful nature intact.

He was born in Singapore in 1942 and celebrated his 75th birthday this year. The Supreme Court recently held a valedictory reference on his retirement and launched a new book - A Judge for the Ages - published for him. It was a sign of the great respect and affection he commands in the judiciary and the legal fraternity.

Justice Chao is fluently bilingual and one of the few judges who read Lianhe Zaobao every day. During court hearings, he would prompt and correct court interpreters when he felt there was a lack of precision in the interpreting, all the while taking care not to embarrass them.

Father's far-sightedness in sending him to two schools gave him strong grounding in Chinese and English

As a child, Justice Chao, with his two brothers and two sisters, lived in a small guesthouse along Bencoolen Street which his parents ran - San Wah Hotel.

His Hainanese father was both traditional and pragmatic; he placed great importance on Confucian ethics and Chinese culture but also understood the practical value of having a good command of the English language.

He thus decided that the young Justice Chao, who was naturally intelligent, and his second brother, Chau Sik Ting (who later became a doctor), should go to two schools simultaneously. They would attend Catholic High School (a Chinese school) at Queen Street in the morning and Anglo-Chinese School (an English school) at Coleman Street in the afternoon.

The interval between the end of classes at one school and the start of classes at the other was just 15 minutes. Once the closing bell rang at Catholic High, Justice Chao would immediately change to his Anglo-Chinese School uniform and rush to the second school for his afternoon session, panting from his five- to six-minute run.

After almost four years, he switched to St. Joseph's Institution, which was next to Catholic High, for his English-medium education. During Primary Six, the school moved to Moulmein Road and Justice Chao became known for always being late for classes. He finally had to give up attending the school after a few months.

It was Chao's father's far-sightedness that allowed Justice Chao to build a strong foundation in English over the first six years of his education. The decision to leave St. Joseph's Institution was also made by his father after weighing the pros and cons. He firmly believed that "it is more important to be educated in a Chinese-medium school for one can always make up for any deficiency in English later".

Enjoyed reading court news since young

Justice Chao has enjoyed reading the newspapers since he was a child, particularly the court news. Even at a young age, he would sometimes question the decisions made by the judges. It was this passion that made him decide that he wanted to study law when he was in his second year of junior middle school.

As his Chinese school diploma from Catholic High was not recognised in Britain, he took the Cambridge School Leaving Certificate and two ‘A’ Level subjects conducted by the UK Associated Examining Board as a private candidate while doing his second and third year of his middle high school. In September 1962, with financial support from his father, he left for University College, London, embarking on his dream of studying law.

Doubts that artificial intelligence can ever replace lawyers completely

With law graduates facing difficulties getting employed today, will justice Chao still encourage the young to study law?

He noted that the current market for lawyers should not be a factor when deciding whether to join the field of law. "Many things in life are unpredictable. There seems to be a weak demand for lawyers now, but three to five years down the road, there may be a surge in demand."

As for the growing debate over whether artificial intelligence (AI) will replace lawyers one day, he noted that technology can indeed help to make the lawyers work more smartly and efficiently, particularly in the field of legal research and documentation for the normal commercial transactions.

"I doubt lawyers can be replaced completely, even though we can foresee that new technology could lead to the use of artificial intelligence in law. "

Justice Chao noted that technology cannot negotiate, nor could it appreciate changes in cultural norms.

"I also doubt that technology can distinguish between difficult or fine factual situations in the application of established legal principles. There will be a need for lawyers and judges. I do not think that these functions of lawyers and judges can simply be replaced by machines. "

Two plus two may sometimes equal five

Justice Chao joined the Attorney-General's Chambers in 1967 and became a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court in 1987. Subsequently, he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court and then a Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court. He is the only judge to have worked under four Chief Justices, penning more than 600 judgments over his long career.

Around 1988, he dealt with his first case involving the death penalty. That murder case remains clear in his memory: The foreigner who had committed murder had fled and his accomplice, who did not deal the fatal blow, was put on trial, and ultimately sentenced to death.

"As some evidence was lacking, I was worried about making a wrong judgment. At the time, such cases were heard by a two-judge bench. I was fortunate that the other judge was the late Supreme Court Justice T. S. Sinnathuray, as he was experienced and astute. "

Justice Chao had always found capital cases very trying.

"Sending someone to the gallows is like playing God; it is a difficult task, but you have to do it. The alternative is that you don't take the job," he said with candour.

Justice Chao was reappointed to the Court of Appeal an unprecedented five times after reaching the normal retirement age of 65.

As a Judge of Appeal, he had to deal with every kind of cases. Which were the issues that he found the most challenging to handle? He thought for a while before answering: "Intellectual Property, equity and land are more technical in nature and require more reading."

Careful to retain a sense of objectivity

This veteran of numerous court battles had to often remind himself to stay objective and "disregard what one would normally incline to think".

"One should not be too quick to judge because what you see and what you hear may only be prima facie. You need to let the parties involved explain their actions or words in order to get a complete understanding of the situation."

He noted that the responsibility of a judge is to probe further, to overcome prejudices and to understand that "even if a situation is unusual, there may be a possibility of it being true". Without constantly reminding oneself of this, there is the risk that one may yield to conventional thinking or act in a certain way.

"No system is faultless"

With regard to the Singapore judicial system, Justice Chao does not find any major problems because "no system is faultless".

"Two judges can hear the same case but come to different conclusions. That is why we have the appeal system, which provides a second chance. "

"We are not machines, where you enter the data and get an answer, like in mathematics, where two plus two always equals four. The reality is that, at times,  two plus two could be equal to five," he said with a laugh.

Impressions of major cases

Asked about cases that left a deep impression, Justice Chao mentioned that the recent case of Jabing Kho, a Sarawakian working in Singapore, was a difficult one.

In February 2008, Jabing joined a friend from his hometown to rob a foreign worker from China in Geylang. The victim, Cao Ruyin, later died of severe injuries after being savagely struck with a tree branch.

Jabing was sentenced to death and failed in his appeal. Subsequently, he was resentenced to life imprisonment due to a change in the law. The prosecution appealed, and the five-judge Court of Appeal later upheld the death sentence with a 3-2 majority.

Justice Chao said that all five judges agreed that the decision hinged on whether Jabing "exhibited a blatant disregard for human life when inflicting the blows".

"If it was just robbery, he would have fled after seeing the victim laying on the ground. Why did he use such savagery to cause the death of the victim?"

According to photographic evidence submitted, Cao's skull had been shattered into an indistinct mess and was a horrible sight. Justice Chao was one of the judges who upheld the death sentence.

Two groups of lawyers acting for the respondent subsequently filed a criminal motion and a civil application, seeking to overturn the death sentence, but both were ultimately dismissed.

Delivering the judgment in May last year, Justice Chao had stern words for the lawyers. He noted that the lawyers had filed a civil application for a criminal case. He reminded them that no court would allow applicants to indefinitely delay a case through constant and unceasing challenges. It was the first time that court reporters saw him "shows his impatience” in court.


Unlike many interviewees, Justice Chao was open and forthcoming in answering the questions of the interviewer. The journalist had emailed close to 30 questions to him earlier, but he came for the interview empty-handed, smiling and composed.

Just as the interview started, he unexpectedly put on a reluctant expression, like a primary school student, and pointed to the questions the journalist had printed out, saying: "These are a bit tough."

"No problem, I'll give you some time to prepare your testimony," was the interviewer’s response. Justice Chao guffawed before proceeding to meticulously answer each question.  

Is there political interference in the work of the judiciary?

It is a common refrain in the foreign media that there is political interference in Singapore's judicial system.

To this, Justice Chao said, "I have been a judge for almost 30 years and I have never received a phone call from anyone, including founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, instructing me how I should rule in a case.”

“It was the same when I was Attorney General. No one, including my good friend, Professor S. Jayakumar (former Deputy Prime Minister and Law Minister), ever called me to tell me what to do."

“For example, the James Gomez incident was a sensitive one. Gomez had admitted that he had made a mistake. I was the Attorney-General then and I had scrutinised the camera footage. After discussions with my subordinates, we decided not to initiate action against him. I felt there was a likelihood of truth in what he said."

Note: In 2006, James Gomez, who was second assistant secretary-general of the Workers' Party, had accused the Elections Department of not processing his minority-race candidate's application form, which was required for him to run in the General Election. This led to a controversy.

The authorities released closed-circuit television footage that showed that he did not submit the application form. Gomez had apologised, and the leaders of the People's Action Party had called him a ‘liar’. After the elections, police investigations were conducted, and he was eventually issued with a stern warning.

The Queen's Counsel who slept in court

Justice Chao also recalled an unusual occurrence in a case he heard more than two decades ago. Both the plaintiff and defendant had hired Queen's Counsel but one of them appeared to have fallen asleep when the other side was submitting.

After observing for a while, Justice Chao confirmed that the lawyer had indeed been nodding off.

He humorously told the local lawyer assisting, “Your partner has gone to a different world."

The local lawyer later explained that the Queen's Counsel was suffering from a certain medical condition, which had caused the episode.

Family matters

Justice Chao's wife is a retired secondary school teacher and all three of their daughters are married. The eldest now lives in Los Angeles and Justice Chao and his wife fly there every year to see their only granddaughter.

How does he describe himself as a husband and father?

"The most difficult task is being asked to judge yourself!" was his reply in Mandarin. He confessed that he plays the role of the stern father while his wife is the loving mother.

Throughout his 28 years as a judge and 50 years in the judicial and legal circles, Justice Chao has won wide respect for his patience in court. Unless lawyers digress from the issues at hand, he never interjects, allowing the lawyers to present their cases to the best of their ability.

There is a saying that "a patient man is the result of painstaking training by a fierce wife". However, Justice Chao does not accept the above statement. Have you ever argued with your wife? Who wins most of the arguments? After all you should be better able to make your arguments? He laughed at these questions before saying that every family would have their arguments and would also have their own ways of resolving them. He declined to reveal who wins most of the arguments.

The "secret" of not going to the toilet

Marathon hearings at the Court of Appeal can last from 230pm to past 8pm but one seldom sees judges going to the toilet. Is this because they have mastered the art of endurance?

"The secret is to drink less water. More goes in, more comes out; less goes in, less comes out. That is the law of nature," Justice Chao answered with a laugh.

“The glasses of water in front of us are for sipping and not for drinking. "

A journalist's hope that Justice Chao will hold classes on writing judgments after retirement

Justice Chao firmly believes in the principle that "judgments are written with the man-in-the-street in mind and must not be arcane and difficult to understand". His judgments have always been clear and accessible.

A Court reporter has jokingly suggested that he holds classes on writing judgments after he retires to help other judges. This will certainly ease the "suffering" of court reporters.

Justice Chao, who is currently travelling in Peru, learning about ancient cultures and civilisations, should certainly consider this suggestion seriously.

On the international stage

Justice Chao has safeguarded and defended Singapore's interests on the international stage for two decades, making great contributions in this regard. Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam and former Deputy Prime Minister Professor S. Jayakumar had the highest praise for him at the ceremony marking his retirement.

In 1968, three years after the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, Justice Chao, who was just 25 at the time, attended a UN Conference on the Law of Treaties. At the meeting, he endorsed and reaffirmed the position uttered by the Malaysian representative that the Malaysia/Singapore water agreement "could not be terminated or suspended for any political reason" and placed that understanding on record.

Justice Chao also took part in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea negotiations between 1974 and 1982. In addition, together with former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh, he was part of the team who successfully argued before the International Court of Justice at The Hague that Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore.

Justice Chao's primary school life was extremely busy, attending a medium school in the morning and an English medium school in the afternoon. Six years of shuttling between the schools had him build a solid foundation in both English and Chinese languages. This photograph was taken when Justice Chao was an 11-year-old student at Catholic High School. (Photograph Courtesy Of Justice Chao Hick Tin) 

Justice Chao (extreme right), Professor Tommy Koh  (second from right), an officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms Sharon Tan and the late Senior state counsel Sivakant Tiwari, attentted The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea held at Geneve in 1978. (Photograph Courtesy Of Justice Chao Hick Tin)

Source: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Finance Companies Act - Finance Companies (Exemption from sections 23(1) and 25(2)) Regulations 2017 (S 672 of 2017)

Singapore’s latest green efforts – draft Carbon Pricing Bill

09 Nov 2017

M. Ravi admits assaulting fellow lawyer

Straits Times
28 Nov 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Rights activist also pleads guilty to causing hurt to another lawyer

Lawyer and human rights activist Ravi Madasamy, better known as M. Ravi, admitted in court yesterday that he had assaulted fellow lawyer and opposition politician Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss.

The 54-year-old fell to the ground when Ravi shoved her in the seventh-storey corridor of The Adelphi at around 11am on Aug 8. The attack left her with a bruised right hip.

Ravi pleaded guilty to a separate charge yesterday of causing hurt to a second lawyer, Mr Nakoorsha Abdul Kadir, 42, by performing a rash act at the same spot minutes later.

Ravi, who has been barred from practising for two years since October last year, also admitted to breaking into one of the offices of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm on the fifth storey of People's Park Centre on June 27.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong said the law firm employed Ravi late last year and he worked in its People's Park Centre office.

But his employment was terminated and he was informed through a hand-delivered letter that he had to vacate the premises by June 16. Court papers did not reveal the reason for his termination.

According to court documents, Ravi broke into the office with his friend, Lai Yew Thiam, 56, whose case is still pending. They broke into the office twice, on June 17 and June 22, and police were notified on both occasions.

The firm changed the locks and hired a contractor to secure its shutter with screws. Undeterred, the duo went to the office again on June 27, armed with a screwdriver. Lai used it to remove the screws and they entered the premises.

On Aug 8, Ravi went to the law firm's office at The Adelphi and demanded to be allowed to enter. He was accompanied by three other men working for an organisation, the Lawyers Alliance for Human Rights Asia, which he founded.

Ravi's party was not allowed to enter and, as the men walked away, confronted Mrs Chong-Aruldoss who works at the firm. DPP Ong said: "Ravi stopped Jeannette abruptly and began questioning her aggressively... When Jeannette tried to walk away, Ravi forcefully pushed her, charged towards her and pushed her again... While Jeannette was on the ground, Ravi kicked and flung Jeannette's belongings, which were scattered on the ground, and also threw a shoe in Jeannette's direction while mocking her for being 'drama'."

When her colleague, Mr Nakoorsha, stepped in, Ravi picked up Mrs Chong-Aruldoss' handbag and flung it at his face.

Yesterday, Ravi's defence lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, told District Judge Brenda Tan that his client is well known for "championing the constitutional and human rights of his clients". He also said Ravi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006 and has been taking medication following his arrest this August. As he stood in the dock, Ravi told the court he was "mortified" by his own behaviour.

Judge Tan has called for a report to access his suitability for a mandatory treatment order, where offenders have to undergo treatment in lieu of jail time. Ravi is now out on $20,000 bail and will be back in court on Jan 5.

Four other charges, including two of committing public nuisance at the Sri Mariamman Temple earlier this year, will be taken into consideration during his sentencing.

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

Legal Profession Act - Legal Profession (Qualified Persons) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2017 (S 677 of 2017)

Contracting out of prevention principle in concurrent delay scenarios

09 Nov 2017

Move to curb sex crimes targeting kids, women online

Straits Times
28 Nov 2017
Seow Bei Yi

Singapore is considering new penalties to address sex crimes targeting women and children on the Internet, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in a Facebook post yesterday.

He also said he hopes to reassess issues surrounding marital rape, which is currently an offence only under limited circumstances.

"We made some amendments in 2007. We will see if more can be done," he said. "I intend more changes to the law." He added that the existing punishment regime for sex offences is under review.

There will also be moves next year to "deal with" the way sexual assault survivors can be cross-examined, and how they can give evidence in court from a safe space, he said.

Mr Shanmugam's comments come as people around the world observe 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, starting last Saturday.

Each year, the police see an average of 150 rape cases and 1,200 to 1,300 cases of outrage of modesty.

Last year, about one in six cases - out of 338 in total that the Association of Women for Action and Research's Sexual Assault Care Centre dealt with - involved some form of technology to facilitate or exacerbate sexual violence or harassment.

The most common type was image-based sexual abuse, including revenge pornography and "sextortion" - attempts to extort or coerce using nude images.

Lawyers said the new penalties could help to recognise targeting women and children online as an aggravating factor for sex crimes.

Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said such offences could include sexual grooming over the Internet, or disseminating private and intimate photographs of women out of revenge. He added that judges could be given greater latitude to mete out heavier penalties when there are aggravating factors.

"These seem to be the new kinds of crimes that we are seeing," said lawyer Amolat Singh, who noted that the intended victim may also be unsuspecting.

"People cultivate friendships online, and the intended victim is lulled into a false sense of security," he said, adding that children's access to technology may contribute to a growing trend.

The moves next year that Mr Shanmugam alluded to follow the Law Ministry's proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act in July. These include gag orders the moment a police report is lodged and automatic closed-door hearings.

In April, then Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin also said a review of the law on marital rape was under way to ensure that married women have the same protection against violence as unmarried women.

The laws were last changed a decade ago to recognise marital rape under some circumstances, such as if divorce proceedings have begun. Until 2007, the concept of marital rape was not recognised here.

"In this day and age, marital rape ought to be recognised as wrong under any circumstances," said Mr Thuraisingam.

Mr Shanmugam's post is the latest in a series of updates this year, aimed at making it easier for women to report sex crimes.

In February, the Ministry of Home Affairs unveiled a centre to examine people reporting rape within 72 hours, to avoid the stress of being taken to a public hospital. In April, Mr Shanmugam said that those who commit sex crimes against minors could face harsher penalties in future.

Last year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development investigated 107 cases of sexual abuse involving children, up from 82 in 2015.

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

Newspaper and Printing Presses Act - Newspaper and Printing Presses (Exemption from Part III of Act) (Amendment No. 4) Order 2017 (S 671 of 2017)

The opportunity to defend oneself, a requirement for “due inquiry”?: Case Update of Long Kim Wing v LTX-Credence Singapore Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 151

08 Nov 2017

Mastermind behind DHL parcel scam gets 8 1/2 years' jail

Straits Times
28 Nov 2017
Elena Chong

The mastermind behind what is commonly referred to as the DHL parcel scam, involving a total of $983,000, was sentenced to 81/2 years' jail yesterday.

The scam involved fraudsters posing as employees of a courier company. They would call victims and accuse them of sending parcels containing illegal items.

Malaysian Teng Weng Liang, 26, was identified as the brains behind the operation that has seen several offenders jailed. He is the 10th person to be convicted.

When the victims denied sending such parcels, the telephone call would be transferred to someone pretending to be a police officer, who would tell them they had to cooperate with the authorities if they wanted to clear their names.

The victims would be tricked into disclosing their Internet banking details, thinking the "authorities'' needed to access their bank accounts to carry out investigations.

In some cases, the victims were directed to a fake police website to key in their personal particulars and details of their bank accounts.

In other cases, the victims would be persuaded to transfer the money themselves, or to share their Internet banking details including one-time PINs, which the fraudsters used to transfer money to bank accounts Teng and his countrymen controlled. He would then direct his runners to withdraw the money from the accounts.

Teng used four bank accounts to launder money, two of which were provided by men who were charged for their part in the scam.

The other two, a United Overseas Bank account belonging to Greatland Company and a DBS Bank account belonging to Thaithanawat Song, were obtained from an unknown person in Malaysia.

Teng's accomplices - Malaysians Ooi Lun Xiang, 23, Hiu Sheng Fatt, 22, and Tee Jia Yong, 23 - are now serving jail terms of six years, five years and 40 months respectively.

Victims fell prey to the scam either because they feared criminal prosecution or because they genuinely wanted to help law enforcement authorities.

Teng, who was also involved in secret society activities with a syndicate operating out of Taiwan, was convicted of 10 out of 54 charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

The court heard that the police recovered at least $663,139.

Seeking a sentence of at least 8 1/2 years, Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said a stiff sentence would send a strong signal to foreign syndicates that money laundering would be severely dealt with.

In mitigation, Teng's lawyer, Mr Zaminder Singh Gill, said that by the time his client knew he was dealing with a syndicate, he was "too deep'' in it and unable to pull himself out.

Teng's sentence was backdated to Sept 3 last year. Under the law, he could have been fined up to $500,000 and jailed a maximum of 10 years for each charge.

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

Arms and Explosives Act - Arms and Explosives (Exemption from Section 13) Order 2017 (S 670 of 2017)

Simplified regulatory regime for venture capital fund managers comes into immediate effect

08 Nov 2017

Couple pleads guilty to torturing friend

Straits Times
28 Nov 2017
Selina Lum

Nearly every day for eight months, a 31-year-old woman physically abused a friend who lived with her, to "punish" her for lying and other purported misdeeds.

In March 2015, Tan Hui Zhen and her husband Pua Hak Chuan started using a 1kg roll of shrink wrap to assault the victim, a 26-year-old waitress with intellectual disabilities. They deliberately targeted her buttocks, where her injuries would be inconspicuous.

The beatings left blisters on Ms Annie Ee Yu Lian's buttocks - one about 8cm in diameter. The injuries were so serious that the couple used sanitary pads to dry the wounds and bandage them.

Ms Ee suffered her final beating on April 12, 2015.

By then, she was weak with multiple rib fractures, covered in bruises and blisters, short of breath and incontinent. But the couple, on seeing her lying in her own urine, accused her of urinating on the floor to get attention. While she lay slumped in a chair as they scolded her, they decided to punish her for her "bad attitude".

They repeatedly beat her with the shrink wrap, smashed a plastic dustbin on her, and left her on her mattress groaning.

The next morning, when they checked on her, she was lifeless.

Yesterday, Tan, now 33, and Pua, now 38, pleaded guilty to various charges for the extensive torture of Ms Ee, who died from multiple injuries in their four-room flat in Woodlands. An autopsy report showed that Ms Ee suffered fractures to seven vertebrae and 12 ribs.

The couple were initially charged with murder.

Tan pleaded guilty to two counts each of causing grievous hurt and causing grievous hurt with a weapon, while Pua pleaded guilty to one count of causing hurt and two counts of causing grievous hurt with a weapon.

Describing their acts as "an appalling case of abuse and cruelty", prosecutors are seeking 15 years' jail for Tan and 14 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane for Pua.

"Annie thought she had found a home and a family with the two accused. Unfortunately, they were not motivated by altruism," said Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang.

The DPP said the couple exploited the victim and subjected her to eight months of psychological and physical torture. The couple's "use of gratuitous violence and senseless brutality" led to her "excruciating" death, said the DPP.

Tan was 17 and Ms Ee 13 when they first met in 2001. Tan was a sales assistant at a clothing shop that Ms Ee's mother frequented. They lost touch but rekindled their friendship in 2013.

Ms Ee, who became estranged from her family, moved into Tan and Pua's flat in late 2013 and was tasked to do the housework.

The couple did not charge her rent at first but then started collecting $150 a month, increasing this gradually to $550.

Tan started assaulting Ms Ee in August 2014 after she blamed the victim for a bedbug infestation. Tan slapped and whipped her, tried to strangle her, banged her head against a wall, and kicked and stepped on her.

Pua was the "standby slapper" who occasionally took over when Tan became tired.

Ms Ee suffered in silence as Tan punished her for misdeeds such as lying or taking too long in the shower.

After the couple realised that Ms Ee was "afraid" of being hit with the shrink wrap, they decided to assault her with it. Almost daily, the couple beat her with the roll of wrap, with the beating sessions going on for as long as two hours.

In the weeks before her death, the couple noticed that she was becoming weak and was panting for breath. Pua suggested they stop hitting her to allow her to recover before "starting anew".

But after a few days, Tan resumed hitting Ms Ee to punish her for breaking the rules.

On the morning before the fatal assault, Ms Ee cut her wrist with a pair of scissors but Tan took the tool away.

The couple then went out. Returning, they found her lying face down in a puddle of urine. When Tan scolded her, Ms Ee said she could not control her bladder.

As Tan mopped up the mess, Ms Ee changed into a clean top but did not put on any shorts as her buttocks were too swollen and painful.

That evening, the couple left the flat to buy food for her and returned to find her in her own urine again.

Angered, Tan decided to punish her for her "bad attitude".

Tan swung the shrink wrap against Ms Ee's back multiple times as the victim pleaded with her to stop. When told to return to her room, she lost her balance and fell to the floor.

Pua told the victim to "stop acting" before thrusting the shrink wrap at her abdomen.

He also smashed a dustbin down on her with such force that the plastic cracked.

The next morning, after discovering that she was dead, Pua tore off a layer of plastic from the shrink wrap and flushed it down the toilet to get rid of fingerprints.

Tan then called her own brother to say Ms Ee had committed suicide, and eventually called the police.

When the officers arrived, Tan said the victim was a clumsy person who would often injure herself. She also claimed that Ms Ee often jumped up and landed on her buttocks for no apparent reason.

The couple later admitted assaulting her.

After the couple realised that Ms Ee was "afraid" of being hit with the shrink wrap, they decided to assault her with it.

Almost daily, the couple beat her with the roll of wrap, with the beating sessions going on for as long as two hours.

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


Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act - Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (Amendment of First Schedule) (No. 4) Order 2017 (S 669 of 2017)

From off-shore to on-shore: Moving foreign entities to Singapore under the Inward Re-domiciliation Regime

07 Nov 2017

PDPC investigating complaints against school

Straits Times
27 Nov 2017

The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) takes all alleged violations of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) very seriously and will look into all such feedback (Little action taken against flouting of data protection rules, by Mr Terence Lim; Nov 23).

We will not hesitate to take the necessary regulatory action if we ascertain that a breach had occurred.

Mr Lim first came to the PDPC in May to complain about receiving unsolicited marketing e-mails from Aventis School of Management (ASM).

The PDPC resolved Mr Lim's initial complaint immediately by taking up the issue with the ASM's data protection officer, and getting ASM to remove Mr Lim's e-mail address from its marketing mailing list.

Mr Lim then furnished the PDPC with more information about ASM's data collection practices which may have breached the PDPA.

The PDPC is currently investigating these additional complaints.

Contrary to Mr Lim's claim, our officers have been corresponding with him to keep him updated on the outcome of our investigations.

We seek his patience on the matter.

Evelyn Goh (Ms)


Communications & Policy

Personal Data Protection Commission

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

National University of Singapore (Corporatisation) Act - National University of Singapore Students’ Union and Constituent Bodies (Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 668 of 2017)

A Trio of Tax Amendments

07 Nov 2017

Anthony Ler's hired killer seeks release

Straits Times
26 Nov 2017
K.C. Vijayan

A smiling mastermind who engineered his own wife's murder, Anthony Ler had coached a lanky bespectacled 15-year-old and twisted the boy's mind into killing his victim in 2001.

Sixteen years after he was detained at the President's pleasure, the teenage killer, now 31, has applied to President Halimah Yacob for clemency, and to be released. He is hoping to have his life back.

To be detained at the President's pleasure is to be jailed for an indefinite term, subject to a periodic review.

During the trial in 2001, the teenager, identified only as Z, was described by the presiding judge as "a rather simple-minded and mild-mannered boy ensnared haplessly way out of season in adult intrigue and machinations... He was no killer and had too much conscience and compassion".

Ler, on the other hand, was a master manipulator who wore a smile that never faded.

In his book, the late lawyer Subhas Anandan, who represented Ler, described him as a man who wore a constant smile, which in reality was a sneer.

Ler conjured up a series of stories to protect himself, and maintained throughout a trial which gripped Singapore that he never intended for the teenager to actually kill his wife, Ms Annie Leong. It was a joke gone wrong, he said.

But both were found guilty. Ler was sent to the gallows on Dec 13, 2002, and Z, who did not appeal against his sentence on his lawyer's advice, has been serving an indefinite jail term since.

His lawyer Peter Ong Lip Cheng, who submitted the petition for him, said the 31-year-old has done well while serving time, matured considerably and has been studying for a degree while in prison.

Speaking to The Sunday Times yesterday, he added that the application, which the Istana received on Nov 17, has been supported by counsellors, friends and others in contact with him during his term in prison. Z's identity was not publicised then as he was a juvenile when the crime was committed.

Mr Ong, speaking from Chongqing, China, where he is attending a course, said: "He has consistently shown remorse, maturity and understanding of what he has done. If given the chance, he would also be a standing and active testimony to youths of the consequences of crime, and share his personal story in redeeming himself."

Z knifed Ms Leong, a 30-year-old insurance agent, as instructed by Ler, her estranged husband. It happened on the fourth-floor lift landing of a Housing Board block in Hougang on May 14, 2001. She died later in hospital from multiple knife wounds to her neck and chest.

Investigations showed Ler had approached Z and his teenage friends, but of the lot, Z felt he had to prove himself to Ler.

Ler, a self-confessed gambler and womaniser, wanted to retain the HDB flat he and Ms Leong owned, and custody of their daughter, who was then four years old. She would be 20 now.

Then Judicial Commissioner Tay Yong Kwang, who heard the case, said during the trial that "Anthony Ler hatched the idea of killing his wife, taught Z how to do it cleanly, kept egging him on and finally practically forced him to commit the offence".

Z's admissions of "self-loathing and utter confusion after the murder" were accepted by the court.

In his statements to the police when confessing to the crime, Z had written: "How I wished that I had never known Anthony. I have let my parents down and all those people around me. I do not know how people would think of me. I feel very lost and confused."

Mr Ong said Z's remorse and desire to change have been borne out by his work in prison in the last 16 years. He has been a model inmate with no record of misbehaviour.

Among other things, he has studied diligently through to his A levels and encouraged others to study and improve themselves as well. He also maintained close ties with his family in letters which showed character growth, he added.

Mr Ong, who was one of two lawyers defending Z during the 2001 trial, said Z has evolved from being the naive and weak-minded boy then to a resilient young man today, eager to make amends for his wrongdoings.

He said a 2003 Singapore report to a United Nations committee of convicted persons below the age of 18 detained at the President's leasure showed they can be considered for release after serving about 13 years of imprisonment.

The cases are reviewed after every four years but after the 10th year, they are reviewed annually, he said.

"This appeal is timely but it is not merely about the time served so far, but also on the evidence of his growth, maturity and readiness to contribute to society."

  • Detained at the President's pleasure: What does it mean?

  • Anyone below 18 convicted of a capital charge, such as murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking, will be spared the gallows and instead detained at the President's pleasure.

    It is a legal term to mean the person will be jailed indefinitely.

    His conduct and progress will be reviewed periodically and when found suitable for release, a recommendation will be made to the President, who may then direct the release.

    The boy who killed Ms Annie Leong was just 15 years old when he committed the crime. As such, he was detained at the President's pleasure.

    Now, after spending 16 years in prison, the 31-year-old is appealing to President Halimah Yacob to be granted clemency and set free.

    Deputy Public Prosecutor Paul Quan Kaih Shiuh had in 2004 argued that jailing the boy for an indefinite period was a severe penalty in sharp contrast to the provision in the Children and Young Persons Act, which allows a judge to exercise discretion in deciding an appropriate sentence.

    Samantha Boh

  • About the case

  • The Anthony Ler trial in 2001 made headlines, not only because he hired a 15-year-old to kill his estranged wife Annie Leong, but also for the show he put on to hide his crime.

    Ms Leong, 30, was stabbed multiple times outside a lift on the fourth floor of the Housing Board block where she was living with her mother and daughter.

    At her wake, Ler sat down with a New Paper reporter and admitted to being a bad husband. He said that he had "fouled up" their marriage with an affair and his gambling. He said that his wife was an angel, while he was the devil.

    But Ler insisted that he was innocent.

    Two days after the interview, Ler, then 34, was arrested at his Pasir Ris home and it emerged that he had offered a secondary school student $100,000 to kill Ms Leong, and even coached him on how to stab her in the neck.

    Ler was sentenced to death, and hanged on Dec 13, 2002. The student, because of his age, was spared the death penalty and detained indefinitely at the President's pleasure.

    Samantha Boh

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

Air Navigation Act - Air Navigation (Composition of Offences) Rules 2017 (S 667 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: Ng Huat Seng and another v Munib Mohammad Madni and another [2017] SGCA 58 (homeowners’ liability to neighbours for construction works undertaken on their property)

Supreme Court Note
07 Nov 2017

The Court of Appeal has made some observations on homeowners’ liability to neighbours for construction works undertaken on their property. In this case,the respondents hired a licensed contractor, Esthetix Design Pte Ltd (“Esthetix”), to demolish the existing house on their property and build another in its place. When demolition works were taking place, some falling debris damaged the neighbouring property, which belonged to the appellants. The appellants sued both Esthetix and the respondents in the tort of negligence. The district judge found against Esthetix but held that the respondents were not liable for the damage caused. The appellants pursued their claim against the respondents up to the Court of Appeal.

The appellants made submissions that related to three distinct heads of liability: (a) vicarious liability; (b) liability for the negligent selection of Esthetix; and (c) liability for the breach of a non-delegable duty of care. In the course of arguments, it was also suggested that the doctrine of ultra-hazardous acts, which imposed a non-delegable duty of care, should be subsumed under the general law of negligence (assuming it was recognised as part of the law in Singapore).

On the issue of vicarious liability, the Court held that the decisions by the UK Supreme Court in Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society and others [2012] 3 WLR 1319 and Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] 2 WLR 806 did not present a new analytical framework for determining whether vicarious liability should be imposed. Their essential contribution was to fine-tune the existing framework underlying the doctrine so as to accommodate the more diverse range of relationships which might be encountered in today’s context. These relationships possessed the same fundamental qualities as those which inhered in employer-employee relationships, and thus made it appropriate for vicarious liability to be imposed. The cases did not suggest that vicarious liability could be imposed for the lapses committed by an independent contractor. On the facts, the respondents were not vicariously liable for the negligence of Esthetix as they had engaged Esthetix as an independent contractor to carry out demolition works on their property. Furthermore, there was nothing at all to suggest that the respondents, by virtue of their relationship with Esthetix, had either created or significantly increased the risk of the harm that ensued.

On the issue of negligent selection, the Court found that the respondents had not breached their duty of care in selecting Esthetix, a licensed contractor, to carry out the demolition works.

On the issue of non-delegable duties, the Court held that the doctrine of ultra-hazardous acts should only be applied where an activity posed a material risk of causing exceptionally serious harm to others even if it was carried out with reasonable care. On the facts, the demolition works were not ultra-hazardous. There was also nothing to indicate that the appellants were in any sort of relationship of “special dependence” on or “particular vulnerability” in relation to the respondents so as to warrant the imposition of a non-delegable duty of care on the latter.

In the circumstances, the Court dismissed the appeal. Since, on a proper conception of the doctrine of ultra-hazardous acts, the demolition works in this case could not possibly come within its ambit, the Court observed that it was not necessary to reach a conclusive view on whether the doctrine should be recognised as part of the law in Singapore and, by extension, on whether it should be subsumed under the general law of negligence.

At Ng Huat Seng and another v Munib Mohammad Madni and another [2017] SGCA 58, paras 62, 63, 64, 69, 70, 76, 89, 96, 97, 103, 106. 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. 

Woman on drug-related capital charge gets rare discharge

Straits Times
26 Nov 2017
K.C. Vijayan

In a rare move, a woman facing a capital charge for allegedly importing drugs was freed on Thursday by a district court after having spent 13 months in a maximum security jail.

Ms Ting Swee Ling, 33, was issued with a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNATA) on the application of the prosecution which had reviewed her case. No reason was given in court.

Ms Ting, a Malaysian, was nabbed on Oct 26 last year at the Woodlands Checkpoint, when she was a pillion rider on a motorcycle on which two packets of a crystalline substance - containing more than 250g of pure methamphetamine or Ice - were found.

She was arrested together with motorcyclist Beh Chew Boo and both were charged with importing the drug, which on conviction carries a potential death penalty for any amount exceeding 250g. Beh is in remand and awaiting trial. He used to be her boyfriend.

Ms Ting's lawyer Peter Fernando made representations last month urging the prosecution to review the evidence and withdraw the case. Lawyers said that although a DNATA technically means she can still be re-arrested if there are new developments, in practice, the release is indefinite.

"I have not come across a case in my experience where an accused person issued with a DNATA is subsequently re-detained," said veteran lawyer Amolat Singh, who added that such a discharge can be made on various grounds.

After being freed in the evening, the first thing Ms Ting did was to head to Mr Fernando's office, with several siblings in tow.

She said: "I cannot thank him enough. My brothers are also here to thank him. They say if not for him, I will not be here now."

Ms Ting recalled that when she was first arrested last year, her mind went blank with disbelief.

She soon adapted to the prison routine, being lodged in a "special watch" cell with three other women aged 26, 27 and 41, all facing capital drug-related charges.

"But last week, I dreamt I was in a temple with my family and I found I had struck 4D numbers," she said.

Ms Ting added that she cried uncontrollably when she appeared in court on Thursday morning and was told by her lawyer Mr Fernando that she would be freed.

"I could not believe it and kept wondering if it was true. Very, very touching to see my family all in court waiting for me."

She shared one important lesson from her prison experience: "When I was outside, my friends were important and I was less close to my family. But in prison, I learnt that my family is more important than friends and I will stay much closer to my family from now on."

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

Education Endowment and Savings Schemes Act - Education Endowment and Savings Schemes (Scholarships, Bursaries and Awards) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 666 of 2017)

SHC provides guidance on what constitutes repudiatory conduct in relation to arbitration agreements

03 Nov 2017

Fidrec's role in resolving cases

Straits Times
26 Nov 2017
Lorna Tan

It is never a pleasant experience when consumers are dissatisfied with their purchases. Consumer disputes are usually stressful and may turn ugly for both the buyer and seller.

Sometimes it is not clear who is at fault and when the issue cannot be settled directly with the provider, the buyer and/or seller may take the legal and more costly route.

The Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (Fidrec) was set up in 2005 to provide an affordable alternative dispute resolution scheme that is independent and impartial. It adjudicates disputes between consumers and financial institutions, with a limit of up to $100,000 per claim for issues involving banks and insurers. There is no limit for mediated cases. Its services are available to all consumers who are individuals or sole proprietors.

There had been calls to Fidrec from the Consumers Association of Singapore and the public to disclose details of claims regularly to increase awareness on financial disputes. Here are some things you should know about Fidrec.

Q When can I go to Fidrec?

A Claims must be referred to Fidrec within six months of you receiving the final reply from the financial institution.

Q Do I have to pay a fee?

A Filing a complaint is free. You may lodge your complaint in person, by fax, post or e-mail. For queries, call Fidrec on 6327-8878.

Mediation is free. This is when a case manager takes your complaint up with the financial institution concerned. If he is unable to facilitate a resolution, you can proceed to adjudication, in which the case will be heard by a Fidrec adjudicator or a panel of adjudicators. There is an adjudication case fee of $53.50, payable by the consumer.

Q Should I accept the settlement offered by Fidrec's mediation?

A Weigh the pros and cons of a settlement offered at mediation. Mediation does have advantages, especially if your case may not be sufficiently strong, so do not be too quick to dismiss an offer.

Q What if I am not happy with Fidrec's ruling?

A The decision of the adjudicator or panel is final and binding on the financial institution, but not on you.

If you are unhappy with the decision, you are free to reject it and pursue your complaint through other avenues. This means that there is no disadvantage at all for you if you choose to lodge your complaint with the centre.

Q What is the Fidrec Non-Injury Motor Accident Scheme?

A This scheme helps consumers resolve non-injury motor accident disputes with insurers, in which the amount claimed is below $3,000. It covers claims by complainants against an insurance firm that is not their own insurer.

However, the dispute cap of $3,000 has been deemed too low by industry practitioners and the consumer watchdog because of increasing repair costs for cars.

Q How many complaints did Fidrec handle in its last financial year?

A There were 893 complaints handled between July 1 last year and June 30 this year, down 23 per cent from the previous year.

Most of the complaints, 396, were made against banks and finance firms. Life insurers attracted 289 complaints, general insurers were next with 167, while licensed financial advisers and insurance brokers got off lightly with only 41.

The bulk of the complaints, 517, were centred on an institution's practices and policies, including pricing and disputes on liability. There were 319 complaints involving market conduct issues such as inappropriate advice.

Fidrec resolved 1,042 complaints in the 12 months to June 30, including some lodged in previous years.

Mediation was used in 65.5 per cent of the cases and the rest went to adjudication. Awards were made in 26 out of the 359 adjudicated cases, while the rest were found to be without merit and ended up with no award to the consumers.

Lorna Tan

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


Education Endowment and Savings Schemes Act - Education Endowment and Savings Schemes (Edusave Pupils Fund) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 665 of 2017)

SGX consults on proposed amendments to Rulebooks

03 Nov 2017

Taxing questions

Straits Times
26 Nov 2017
Tham Yuen-C

It has been a week of speculation since the Prime Minister signalled that a tax hike is on the horizon, saying that such a move is inevitable given increased government spending. But not all are convinced. Insight examines the issues.

You would think it hard to find fault with cuddly pandas.

But the Singapore Zoo's Kai Kai and Jia Jia have become the target of some vitriol, ever since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last Sunday that taxes are set to rise as government spending grows.

The bears have been labelled a "waste of taxpayers' money" by some discussing the impending hike online - though erroneously, as taxpayers' funds were not used to bring them in from China. The pandas were sponsored by real estate company CapitaLand.

That Kai Kai and Jia Jia have become collateral damage in the debate on the tax hike speaks of how hairy the issue is.

The Government argues that a tax hike is a necessary move. Investments in infrastructure and social spending are costly, and the bill has to be footed somehow, said PM Lee at the People's Action Party convention. So raising taxes "is not a matter of whether, but a matter of when".

Already, government spending more than doubled between 2007 and last year, from $33 billion to $71 billion, and looks set to grow due to infrastructure needs, and also because the country takes care of both an ageing and aged populace.

But questions remain: Is the Government spending taxpayers' monies wisely? Must taxes be raised to foot the bill? And just how will this hike eventually happen?

Is the Government spending wisely?

Few quarrel with the Government's broad principle that it needs to spend on social services such as healthcare and education, ramping up infrastructure such as rail networks, and preparing Singaporeans for the future economy.

In fact, some economists and politicians believe that Singapore should spend more, such as on schemes to help reduce the rich-poor gap, and projects to improve transport infrastructure.

But some big-ticket items have come in for criticisms for wastefulness. Take the new, gleaming Changi Airport Terminal 4. Critics point out that the $45 million Budget Terminal was used for just six years before it was torn down in 2012. It was recently rebuilt as T4 to the tune of $985 million.

Asked about this by Insight, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah said the idea to have a terminal for budget carriers was first proposed when such airlines were becoming popular, but had to be changed "to keep up with current trends" as technology advanced.

Experts acknowledge that hindsight is perfect, but said that given the cost of mega infrastructure - infrastructure shot up from 15 per cent of government spending in 2007 to 22 per cent last year - policymakers have to be better in deciding which projects to embark on.

This is even as the Government grapples with the challenges of setting priorities as needs evolve: To build flats ahead of demand or just in time to meet demand? Build an underground road network for cars or pour the billions into public transport?

Another category of spending identified by PM Lee was on social services. Over the same period, it went up from about 35 per cent of expenditure to about 41 per cent.

Singapore actually spends relatively less on education, healthcare and welfare compared with other countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but the Government has said it gets bang for its buck. For example, government expenditure on health makes up just 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product here - compared with 6 per cent to 9 per cent in countries like Australia, Britain and France, but Singapore's healthcare system has consistently been ranked highly.

Still with the Budget running an operating deficit three years in a row, there are those like Nominated MP Randolph Tan who feel spending can and should be slashed in some areas.

"We should never rule out cutting down on social spending if it is necessary," said the Singapore University of Social Sciences economist, acknowledging that this would be an unpopular and difficult line to take for any government.

The self-professed fiscal conservative is also a supporter of means-testing as a way to limit spending.

"There will always be needs that the Government will have to step in to provide, but we should not cast the net so wide that it is spread out too thinly," he said.

So for instance, the Pioneer Generation Package, rolled out in 2014 and costing $8 billion, entitles anyone in the cohort - regardless of whether he has three properties or nothing to his name - to benefits such as healthcare subsidies.

An outreach programme linked to the package came under criticism by Straits Times reader Elsie Loo, who wrote to the paper's Forum page last Friday lamenting that taxpayers' money funnelled into the programme "could be better used elsewhere".

"The cost incurred will grow and will be huge considering the fast-growing number of seniors," she wrote, urging the authorities to consider mass briefings instead.

Asked about the package, Ms Indranee said it was conceived to thank the first generation of Singaporeans for their contributions, adding that it was "fitting that we recognise them".

Economist Tan Khee Giap from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) said that the Government also needs to think about the "exit mechanism" of schemes such as the Workfare Income Supplement, which tops up the income of low-wage workers. First announced in 2007, it was paying out at least $300 million a year for a start, and is expected to pay out $770 million this year.

At some point, the responsibility should fall on employers to train such workers and increase their pay, he added.

To put such comments in perspective, government spending makes up 18 per cent of GDP here, which is in line with Hong Kong and lower than OECD countries like South Korea (21 per cent) and Switzerland (33 per cent). Ms Indranee said all spending is approved only after many levels of internal checks, and is measured in terms of "the outcome and what that particular expenditure achieves".

The Government has also moved to rein in costs, such as by implementing a permanent 2 per cent downward adjustment to the budget caps of all ministries and organs of state from this April.

But those hoping that such moves will help to stave off tax hikes will be disappointed, since economists said these are not likely to push spending below current levels.

Rather, these are done to control the growth of spending, to guide Singapore onto a gentler trajectory as expenditure grows.

Why can't we use more of the reserves?

The next question then, is whether raising taxes is really the inevitable option.

Instead of making today's taxpayers fork out more, why not tap the reserves and their investment returns instead, some ask.

Currently, the net investment returns contribution (NIRC) framework allows the Government to spend half of the long-term investment returns generated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Temasek Holdings and GIC, the three entities tasked to manage and invest the reserves.

Some, such as Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin, call for more of the investment returns to be used.

After all, only 50 per cent can be used now, and there is room to tweak the formula, he said.

Dr Chua believes this can be done without eroding Singapore's savings, as long as enough of the investment returns are ploughed back for the principal sum to grow at the same rate as nominal GDP.

If the reserves are meant for a rainy day, is not the rainy season here, others wonder.

But even using up to 50 per cent of the returns is not uncontroversial. Before the NIRC was put in place in 2009, only half of the net investment income of the reserves - which excludes capital gains - could be drawn upon.

During earlier debates, the Government had warned of the slippery slope of touching more of the returns from investment, saying it could lead to endless demands to do more and spend more. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, when he was prime minister, described the reserves as Singapore's golden goose. Killing the golden goose to get at its meat would be to the country's detriment, he said.

Others say the Government could also review the way it uses revenue from land sales, by allowing a portion of it to go towards funding big development projects such as Changi Airport's Terminal 5.

Under current laws, proceeds from land sales must be locked away as reserves, a unique feature of Singapore's Budget. But past reserves can be used to fund land-related projects such as land reclamation and land acquisition as this is seen as converting the reserves from financial assets to state land.

Dr Chua points out that Singapore's conservative system of budgeting means a Budget deficit here is not really considered one under the International Monetary Fund rules. If proceeds from land sales were included in the operating revenue, Singapore is deemed to run surpluses.

But those against the move to unlock the funds point to Hong Kong as a counter example. With land sales going directly towards the government's operating revenue, there is pressure for land to be priced higher - a hidden tax - to meet spending needs, and this has driven property prices in the special administrative region sky high.

LKYSPP's Professor Tan contends that "taking more money to spend without making more money is not very good". He argues that the question should not be about what proportion of returns on investing the reserves to spend, but how to aim for better profits.

"The big reserves we have built up are a blessing from the earlier generations. Without them, we will be crying now. We should think of whether GIC can generate better investment returns instead," he said.

GIC's 20-year annualised real rate of return was 3.7 per cent for the year ended March 31, down from the previous year's 4 per cent.

Ms Indranee said the funds play a key role in maintaining confidence in the Singapore dollar and acting as a buffer in the event of a crisis.

Though the full size of Singapore's financial reserves is never revealed for strategic reasons, it is estimated at more than $1 trillion.

"It would be easy to spend the reserves, because then you don't have to do anything right?" she said.

She added that it is a delicate balance that the Government is trying to strike in drawing the line at using 50 per cent of the projected returns on investment. "You use a portion of the expected returns, but you don't dip into your principal and do away with your nest egg," she said. "That, taken as a whole, actually reflects our value system which is resilience, hard work... It is also the story that each generation tries to hand over something to the next generation, each generation plans ahead for the future."

Others note that with the NIRC having tripled in the past 10 years, it already makes up a substantial proportion of revenue.

For the first time, the reserves component overtook corporate tax collections as the single largest contributor to government coffers last year. It made up 17.3 per cent of operating revenue - up from just 5.6 per cent in 2007, while corporate taxes, typically the biggest chunk, comprised 16.3 per cent.

Drawing more from it could result in a less diverse revenue stream, which may leave Singapore more susceptible to investment fluctuations, they said.

In the end, determining how much to use is more an art than a science, said Dr Chua. Ultimately, it is about balancing the needs of the current and future generations.

He is of the view that future generations of Singaporeans will probably be better educated and be in a better place to take care of themselves, compared with ageing baby boomers.

To him, some philosophical question are worth re-examining as Singapore's population continues to age: "How much reserves do we really need, and is it really necessary to have such a big sum? Which generation are we saving for?"

When will the tax hike be?

Since the tax hike is impending, when then might it kick in?

Ms Indranee said that the Government is still working on the "when".

But some of those reading the tea leaves are glimpsing a hint in comments by PM Lee, along with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who spoke on the matter in 2015. Both have said the Government has enough money for its current term, which will last until the end of the decade.

This has led some to speculate that while the announcement for the hike may be made by the next Budget, it will likely take effect only after the next general election.

This also gives the Government time to plan ahead "well before the time comes" and explain to Singaporeans what the money is needed for and how it will be spent to benefit everyone, as PM Lee said had to be done.

Those predicting a goods and services tax hike believe it could be announced first, with the increases staggered over a few years, as it was done in the past when GST was first introduced.

Mr Low Hwee Chua, regional managing partner for tax at Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, said Singapore's GST at 7 per cent is still considered low, compared with the rates in Australia (10 per cent) and New Zealand (15 per cent), and has room to go up to a potential ceiling of about 10 per cent.

If this were so, the Government may need to give retailers and businesses a lead time of at least a year from the date of announcement to prepare. Even when it raised income taxes in the past, the Government announced it first and then implemented it later. This was the case when the most recent round of income tax increases was announced during the 2015 Budget, but implemented this year.

Some have ascribed political motives to the move, such as Workers' Party assistant secretary-general and Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh.

In a Facebook post, he linked the increase in taxes to the PAP's leadership transition.

"Raising taxes before a new PAP prime minister takes office would allow the new leader to start on a relatively 'clean slate', preserving his political capital," he said, adding that PM Lee had said he would hand over to the next generation of leaders after the next general election due by 2021.

If he is right, this would mean the tax hikes would have to be announced and take effect sooner rather than later, for the political sting to be taken out for the future government.

Ms Indranee disagrees with Mr Singh's "underlying suggestion that it is being done for purely political purposes", and reiterated that taxes are being raised because of increased spending. Declining to be drawn into discussing the timing, she said: "Both PM Lee and DPM Tharman have explained that we have enough revenue for the current term of government. The question is what you do going ahead."


There will always be needs that the Government will have to step in to provide, but we should not cast the net so wide that it is spread out too thinly.

NOMINATED MP RANDOLPH TAN, who feels government spending can and should be slashed in some areas.


You use a portion of the expected returns, but you don't dip into your principal and do away with your nest egg. That, taken as a whole, actually reflects our value system which is resilience, hard work... It is also the story that each generation tries to hand over something to the next generation, each generation plans ahead for the future.

SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE AND LAW INDRANEE RAJAH, on the delicate balance that the Government is trying to strike in drawing the line at using 50 per cent of the projected returns on investment.

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

Jurong Town Corporation (Amendment) Act 2017 - Jurong Town Corporation (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 664 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: PP v Ong Say Kiat [2017] SGHC 221 (observations on criminal revisionary and appellate jurisdictions and criminal appeal procedure)

Supreme Court Note
02 Nov 2017

The High Court has made some observations on its criminal revisionary and appellate jurisdictions and the criminal appeal procedure. In this case, the respondent pleaded guilty on 4 December 2014 to a single charge of theft in dwelling with common intention under s 380 read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed). On 31 December 2014, the District Judge sentenced the respondent to five years’ corrective training (“CT”). Criminal Revision No 7 of 2017 (“CR 7”) was filed by the Prosecution on 4 May 2017. By it, the Prosecution sought to persuade the court to exercise its revisionary powers to, inter alia, set aside the sentence of five years’ CT that had earlier been imposed on the respondent and impose, in its place, a sentence of at least nine months’ imprisonment backdated to the date of the respondent’s remand. This was based primarily on the decision in Sim Yeow Kee v Public Prosecutor and another appeal [2016] 5 SLR 936 (“Sim Yeow Kee”). However, when the matter was heard on 20 July 2017, the Prosecution applied to withdraw CR 7.

The High Court granted the Prosecution leave to withdraw CR 7. However, the court held that the present case called for the exercise of the court’s appellate jurisdiction. The thresholds for the exercise of the court’s revisionary jurisdiction, on the one hand, and its appellate jurisdiction, on the other, were plainly different. There were ample grounds for appellate intervention in the present case. The factual and legal substratum that underlay the new sentencing approach to CT that was laid down in Sim Yeow Kee was already existent at the time of the respondent’s sentencing. Seen from this perspective, and notwithstanding the then-prevailing jurisprudence, the sentence of five years’ CT that had earlier been imposed on the respondent was wrong in law and manifestly excessive. Moreover, the Prosecution did not contest that an appeal brought by the respondent should be allowed.

In addition, the High Court held that its appellate jurisdiction could be exercised at the hearing on 20 July 2017. The court granted the respondent leave to appeal out of time. There was nothing which precluded an application for an extension of time to appeal being brought by way of an oral application, at least in exceptional circumstances such as the present. Furthermore, the respondent should be granted an extension of time to appeal against the