24 June 2017
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Republic lauded for efforts to help troubled firms

Straits Times
23 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Singapore's efforts to be positioned as a major restructuring and insolvency hub received a boost in London on Wednesday when it was named the Most Improved Jurisdiction, fending off the likes of Germany, India and other nominees at an international awards event.

The inaugural award by the Global Restructuring Review (GRR) recognised recent ground-breaking legislative changes made by Singapore to its debt restructuring framework, resulting in a hybrid regime that incorporates the best features of the world's leading regimes, said the Law Ministry yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the recognition was significant because "we are positioning Singapore as a restructuring centre in Asia and it is the first time we have won these awards".

She added on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for Maxwell Chambers Suites: "In the past few years, we've seen many companies which have had difficulties. There's Swiber, there's Ezra, there's Hanjin Shipping. There's clearly a need in Asia for a place where such companies can be restructured, and Singapore has positioned itself to be such a place."

GRR is a daily information service providing cross-border insolvency and restructuring news, features and events.

Singapore also received the award for Most Important Overall Development, for the guidelines on cross-border insolvency matters that were drawn up and released by the Judicial Insolvency Network (JIN).

The JIN, made up of judges from 10 jurisdictions, including the Singapore Supreme Court, met in Singapore last year to discuss and draw up the guidelines.

Two Singapore High Court decisions were also nominated for Most Important Recognition Decision and Cross Border Cooperation in a Specific Insolvency or Restructuring Matter.

The inaugural GRR Awards celebrate the most important firms, cases and marketplace developments in cross-border restructuring and insolvency, said the ministry.

In awarding Singapore the Most Improved Jurisdiction prize, accepted by Justice Kannan Ramesh at the event, the organisers noted that the Republic had made changes to its Companies Act relating to restructuring and insolvency. It had also introduced refinements to its scheme of arrangement incorporating elements from abroad.

The Law Ministry thanked all local and international contributors who had made the results possible. and said it "looks forward to extending these strong partnerships as we continue to strengthen Singapore as a centre for international debt restructuring in Asia".


In the past few years, we've seen many companies which have had difficulties. There's Swiber, there's Ezra, there's Hanjin Shipping. There's clearly a need in Asia for a place where such companies can be restructured, and Singapore has positioned itself to be such a place.


Additional reporting by Prisca Ang

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Ochroid Trading Ltd and another v Chua Siok Lui (trading as VIE Import & Export) and another - [2017] SGHC 56

In brief: Contract, Building & construction, Landlord & tenant

23 Jun 2017

Singapore law firm in global top 30

Straits Times
23 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

WongPartnership became the only Singapore firm ranked on the Global Restructuring Review's (GRR) global top 30 law firms list for insolvency and restructuring.

Called the GRR30, these firms top a list of 100 firms identified by GRR in its guide to the world's best cross-border practices "as a safe pair of hands for carrying out insolvency and restructuring work with an international dimension".

WongPartnership, the only national firm from Asia in the top 30, was selected based on its track record, value of current cross-border restructuring and insolvency cases and the number of such active matters handled in the last two years.

The Singapore giant was also nominated for two other awards at the GRR Awards dinner held in London on Wednesday.

Mr Manoj Pillay Sandrasegara, the joint head of the firm's restructuring and insolvency practice who attended the London event, said: "The innovative legislative amendments by our Government has been a game changer in strengthening Singapore's ability to help troubled companies in the region rehabilitate effectively."

He said the firm was honoured by the international recognition of its practice, which he said was on the forefront of developments shaping Singapore's restructuring and insolvency laws. "For this, we thank our valued clients who continue to entrust to us, their most complex and important cross-border insolvency matters."

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TYU v TYV - [2017] SGHCF 08

New end-user statement format for strategic goods permits in Singapore

22 Jun 2017

Strong take-up drives expansion at Maxwell Chambers

Business Times
23 Jun 2017
Lee Meixian

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) on Thursday announced that 65 per cent of the new office space at 28 Maxwell Road has already been taken up even before refurbishment works begin.

To meet the strong leasing demand, the ministry will build a second annexe block to add 3,500 square feet (sq ft) of office space, on top of the 120,000 sq ft expansion that was originally planned.

The whole development has also been renamed Maxwell Chambers Suites to reflect its new role as an integral part of Singapore's dispute resolution ecosystem, Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance, said in her keynote address at the groundbreaking ceremony.

When completed in 2019, Maxwell Chambers Suites will also provide a 24-hour public thoroughfare to allow easier pedestrian access between Tanjong Pagar MRT station and the Chinatown area.

In all, Maxwell Chambers Suites will provide about 50 new offices over four floors for international dispute resolution institutions, arbitration chambers, law firms and ancillary legal services.

Existing tenants have also decided to expand their floor plates, with The Arbitration Chambers and One Essex Court more than doubling the floor space of their offices.

MinLaw in January this year said it would be taking over the conserved building at 28 Maxwell Road, where the Red Dot Traffic Building once stood, for the expansion of Maxwell Chambers.

This is in line with the ministry's plans to take dispute resolution work in Singapore up another notch. It has identified investor-state dispute settlement as a new growth area for dispute resolution work in Singapore.

This refers to resolving investment disputes between foreign investors and host states. For example, if an investor put his money in a highway project, and the host government did something to impede the construction of the infrastructure, this matter would require arbitration to resolve. Such work typically involves complex and high-stake cases.

As at June 2017, around 10 investment arbitration hearings were held or are going to be held in Singapore this year, double the number in 2013.

Ms Rajah said: "Locally, we already have expertise in this area. A couple of our senior counsels, Mr Andre Yeap and Mr Alvin Yeo, have already been involved in cases like these, and there are others as well who have been advising...

"There are also international practitioners in the space who are doing it elsewhere at the moment. We would like to attract them to come here and do their arbitrations here. And with the expansion of Maxwell Chambers Suites, it will be a very conducive environment for investor-state arbitration," she told reporters.

Maxwell Chambers is the second most preferred hearing centre in the world for arbitration, after the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

At the event, Philip Jeyaretnam, chairman of Maxwell Chambers, also described the genesis of the idea - how it first occurred to him that the former Red Dot building could become an extension to the existing Maxwell Chambers.

While walking around the Red Dot building one day, he ventured up to the upper floors and was struck by the two courtyards and clustering of small offices around them.

"To me, this strongly evoked the warrens and courtyards of legal London. Small offices clustered around open spaces fit the instincts of barristers and advocates who need their own offices to prepare for cases and write opinions, while having opportunities to interact with their peers including over meals and, dare one say, drinks. Think of the buzzing beehives of the Inns of Court."

The building at that time, however, was being used by design-type firms and many units were unoccupied.

It seemed to him that the design companies felt cramped by the small spaces rather than liberated. He became convinced that the building would be much better suited to lawyers than designers.

In the bigger picture, Maxwell Chambers Suites is expanding alongside a wave of other new projects in the vicinity, including Frasers Tower, Tanjong Pagar Centre, OUE Downtown Gallery, as well as the redevelopment of the CPF building by an Ascendas-Singbridge consortium.

All this is part of the government's effort to transform Tanjong Pagar. When completed, these developments together will create 300,000 square metres (sq m) of office space, 60,000 sq m of retail and F&B offerings, 1,200 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 homes.

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Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Upgrading Works) (Home Improvement Programme) (No. 4) Order 2017 (S 324 of 2017)

[IND] India: Foreign Investment Promotion Board abolished

22 Jun 2017

S'pore and Japan in competition law tie-up

Straits Times
23 Jun 2017
Lee Xin En

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has signed an agreement with its Japanese counterpart to increase cross-border enforcement of competition laws.

This marks the first cooperation agreement formalised between the CCS and a foreign competition authority.

The move will allow the two parties to deepen cooperation through mutual notification of enforcement activities.

It will also allow for the exchange of information between the CCS and the Japan Fair Trade Commission , and help them to coordinate in enforcing cases of mutual interest.

CCS chief executive Toh Han Li said the Japanese body has a track record of taking vigorous enforcement against international cartels.

He added that the agreement "will strengthen both authorities' efforts to tackle cases which are increasingly complex and taking on a cross-border dimension".

"The memorandum of cooperation will further help CCS not only to impose more consistent and effective sanctions or remedies, but also to provide businesses with greater regulatory certainty."

The CCS was set up under the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2005 to investigate allegedly anticompetitive activity and impose remedies, directions and financial penalties where appropriate.

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Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Public Service (Special and Senior Personnel Boards) (Amendment No. 4) Order 2017 (S 323 of 2017)

Extension and refinement of the aircraft leasing scheme in Singapore

21 Jun 2017

Geylang plot action a wake-up call for property owners, buyers: Experts

23 Jun 2017
Tan Weizhen

With the authorities recently affirming the policy stance that no compensation will be awarded to residential property owners upon lease expiry, private home buyers and sellers will soon need to brace themselves for a reality check.

Over the coming decade, thousands of condominium or apartment unit owners here, for example, will find themselves sitting on properties with leases shorter than 50 years — making these properties highly undesirable, going by current buyer sentiments.

On Tuesday, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) confirmed that, as a general policy, there will be no compensation for the owners of the 191 private terrace houses at Geylang Lorong 3 — a 2ha piece of land that will become the first residential plot to be returned to the state upon the expiry of its lease in 2020. Apart from Geylang Lorong 3, there are no other 60-year private residential leases issued by the state.

The next major private housing estate affected by lease expiry will be Fuyong Estate in 2046, according to the SLA.

When its comes to condominiums and mixed-use developments, there are 13 projects in Singapore — built between 1972 and 1977 —with leases that will run out in less than 60 years. In other words, by 2027, they have less than 50 years of lease left — the point at which private property values in general would plummet, property experts said.

Across the island, there are 48 such 99-year lease developments that are currently more than 30 years old, the youngest of which — the 21-unit Cardiff Court and the 116-unit Katong Park Towers — were built in 1987, based on Urban Redevelopment Authority data compiled by associate professor Sing Tien Foo from the Department of Real Estate at the National University of Singapore School of Design and Environment.

Some of the oldest developments include the 288-unit People’s Park Complex (built in 1972), as well as the 752-unit Neptune Court and the 280-unit Pearl Bank Apartment which were completed in 1975 and 1976, respectively.

As remaining tenures get shorter, property sellers have to lower their asking prices, and buyers will find it harder to get loans from banks. For a young country such as Singapore, the situation where a glut of private residential units with relatively short leases will come onto the market in the coming years is unprecedented, said the experts.

While Singapore is also facing a situation where the leases of public flats will start to run out, the impact on the private residential market could be more keenly felt, given that private property purchases are seen by many as a form of investment, and prospective buyers are less keen on units with low resale value.

Owners of private homes with dwindling leases have limited options — they can either rent out the units, or typically sell at a loss. The best scenario is a collective sale, but such an opportunity may not always be available. Pearl Bank, for instance, has undergone three en-bloc sale attempts in 2007, 2008 and 2011, but all failed.

Finance professional Brandon Huang, 37, grew up in Pearl Bank, and his parents still live there. He felt that far from being assets, properties with leases that are running out could become a liability. “My parents want en-bloc sale, of course. The property is really old, the lease is running down, making it less easy to finance for prospective buyers,” he said.

The experts reiterated that in a land-scarce country such as Singapore, there will always be demand for residential properties. And if sellers are realistic about their asking price, there will be takers — just as second-hand cars with only a few years left on their Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) are still able to find willing buyers.

Assoc Prof Sing said: “There will be a segment of buyers who don’t have a large sum of money upfront, or don’t wish to take up a big mortgage. And paying S$300,000 for a place with 10 years left, for instance, could be a viable option.” He added: “There is no investment potential ... (but) it is just like paying for COE, which runs out after 10 years, and that’s it ... or buying cars with just two to three years left, but you’re able to get it cheap.”

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, reiterated that as long as sellers are realistic about the asking price, they will be able to offload their properties — no matter how short the leases are.

Renting out the homes is another viable option. “As long as the properties are of good quality and location, homeowners in Singapore will always be able to rent them out,” said Mr Alfred Chia, chief executive of financial advisory firm SingCapital.

As a cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong’s property market has similarities with Singapore’s. Over there, there are concerns over a lease “cliff”, which the local government is still figuring out how to deal with.

In Hong Kong, the leases of virtually all land will expire in 2047. This was after the government renewed all the leases for 50 years when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.

“They don’t have freehold residential or commercial properties available. So, the lease expiry will affect everyone at about the same time,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of Research & Consultancy Department at SLP International Property Consultants.

Singapore buyers and sellers will have to adapt to the market, just like the Hong Kongers have done, the experts noted. For one, buyers here need to adjust their mindset and see property purchases as less of an investment.

Mr Chia said: “Property value in Singapore ... will not appreciate as much as it did in the past. Homeowners should aim to pay off their housing loans before they are 60 or 65 years old.

“Then, they can focus on building their retirement funds, and even have options such as renting out their rooms, or downsizing (their homes).”

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Supreme Court of Judicature Act - Rules of Court (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2017 (S 322 of 2017)

MAS proposes regulations for provision of Digital Advisory Services

21 Jun 2017

Fintech can help banks with stiffer compliance

Business Times
23 Jun 2017
Jamie Lee

For a match, swipe right.

That used to apply only to online matchmaking apps such as Tinder, but banks can tap this similar method for its clients to network in a new way, as they apply more financial technology (fintech) for a competitive edge.

HSBC has one such example with its latest service known as Connections Hub. It offers Singapore clients here a chance to interact with potential overseas partners who are already part of the international bank's network.

HSBC's business customers in Singapore, Canada, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, the UK and the US can now sign up for the new service. The digital platform, said HSBC, allows the bank's customers to make use of HSBC's global network to connect with trusted buyers and sellers around the world. HSBC's customers create a business profile to represent their brand, and an automated search engine will fish out potential buyers and sellers. Users can then send a private message to their target business partners via the platform.

The service in itself is meant to make relationship building among banking customers more efficient through the use of technology.

And indeed, while Asian banks in Singapore typically host annual informal meals among clients - usually around Chinese New Year - to help clients network, technology can help customers reach out to potential partners in a different location and timezone, but with a common goal to make more money.

But what's also interesting is that banks are now leveraging off the heightened regulatory scrutiny to ensure that HSBC customers are matching up to other HSBC customers that have also been under the same regulatory radar. Indeed, HSBC had noted that this "exclusive global networking platform" brings together customers that have gone through the same due diligence checks and vetting.

Compliance costs would vary from bank to bank, but suffice to say, they have been a headache for banks, and are not expected to go away.

OCBC's CEO Samuel Tsien said late last year that compliance-related expenses have risen by 35 per cent in each of the past three years. The bank also expects this as the "guiding pace" for growth in such expenses in the coming years.

Even as there are brightening prospects for the global economy - with several analysts ruling out a trade war at this point - cautious banks are chasing up top-tier corporate customers that are either large and diversified, or backed by healthy sovereigns. That competition is likely to make it difficult for banks to pass on all of the compliance costs to their customers at this point.

But such a service from HSBC may raise the value that customers would get from sticking with the bank. If a bank can't cut regulatory costs fully for more profit - though some banks are said to be shedding compliance staff already - it would have to grow by boosting the top line.

Some observers would even argue that having clients matchmake themselves may keep clients out of internal turf wars among local units of a global bank, as bankers from the same bank can also fight over the same global client that has businesses in many parts of the world.

The escalating compliance costs also explain the pressing need for fintech to be applied by banks in the area of regulation. Citi recently concluded in Singapore its global demo day challenge for fintechs, with an aim of finding fintechs that "promote integrity, accountability and transparency in the public sector and beyond".

The awards went to fintechs that mainly offered stronger security and identity features, as well as those that offered ways to detect financial crime through anomalous behaviour sussed out through data analysis.

To be sure, fintech firms have also used digital platforms to try to profit from matchmaking services. For example, Finquest offers a subscription service in Singapore and Hong Kong to matchmake private equity investors and M&A advisers with mid-sized Asian companies.

But the difference lies in that Finquest does not do due diligence on the companies. Investors can engage M&A advisers such as lawyers and bankers from several boutique firms to ensure that the deals are sound.

If done right, a networking service from a global bank such as HSBC can trump such fintech services that do not wash out friction and inefficiency posed by stiffer due diligence.

HSBC said this service could especially help SMEs in Singapore expand their markets beyond their home turf, citing numbers that showed last year some 37,000 internationally focused Singapore companies - 80 per cent of them SMEs - approached IE Singapore for help in understanding overseas markets and to connect to the right business partners.

What's to be said then is that even in the flurry of bad news for financial firms - nearly 10 years after the crisis - they still have some fighting spirit left in them. It also explains why fintechs would increasingly chummy up to banks. Banks are likely now to be acquiring their technology, rather than compete directly against fintech firms, which while nimble, still lack scale.

No doubt, fintechs can still challenge banks, but they would be foolhardy to write them off today.

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Small Claims Tribunals Act - Small Claims Tribunals (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 321 of 2017)

[IND] Masala Bonds: RBI revises norms on Minimum Maturity, All-in Cost and Permitted Investors

20 Jun 2017

Special ministerial committees ensure national interest prevails: Tharman

Business Times
23 Jun 2017
Lee U-Wen

They help ministers assess difficult choices before these come to Cabinet

The practice of setting up special ministerial committees began many years ago and this is how the government ensures that important issues are given in-depth attention, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Thursday.

Commenting on the Oxley Road saga for the first time, he said these committees also ensure that the government is not one that "operates in silos", and that the national interest prevails even where there are valid sectoral or private interests.

At the centre of the dispute involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two younger siblings is what should happen to the 38 Oxley Road bungalow that belonged to their late father.

In a lengthy statement last week, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang accused their elder brother of abusing his powers to prevent the demolition of the house.

One key issue is the removal and subsequent re-insertion of a clause in the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's will, which stated his wish that his home be demolished after his death.

Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang also questioned the need for the government to set up a ministerial committee - comprising ministers such as K Shanmugam, Grace Fu and Lawrence Wong - to study options for the house.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Tharman noted that Singapore has "never got it perfect" and the government of the day has had its share of policies that have turned out "quite wrong" at different points in the country's history.

"But we have a system of preserving the rule of law, and of policy-making that balances public against private interests, and the long term against the short term. That's still a rarity in the world, and is at the core of how Singapore has succeeded," he said.

When it comes to ministerial committees, Mr Tharman said the options on a particular issue are weighed up by the ministers involved before the Cabinet makes it decisions and takes collective responsibility.

He revealed that committees are formed to look at a whole range of issues, and they help the ministers think through difficult choices in government before they come to Cabinet, and to canvas views outside when appropriate.

Mr Tharman said he chairs several of these committees himself, in particular those that concern social or economic issues. Over the past month, he has met with five different committees set up to develop policies on key issues.

He noted how some committees could sit for a few months, while there are others that stay engaged for years to discuss areas such as foreign worker policies, and how to fund healthcare and retirement needs.

Mr Tharman cited an example of a ministerial committee on Changi East Developments that has been active since 2014. This group coordinates plans for Singapore's airport expansion, its manpower and security needs, the relocation of Paya Lebar airbase, industrial opportunities, land transport provisions, and housing development.

"It brings several ministers together, supported by their civil servants, to find the best balance between different demands and plan our options for 10, 30 and 50 years ahead. That's how long-term our planning has to be," said Mr Tharman.

He called on Singaporeans to "have confidence" despite the ongoing family dispute involving the Lee siblings.

"We have a system of governance that Lee Kuan Yew and his team built, and it isn't going away. You can count on PM Lee and all of us in his team for that," he said.

"You can count on the fourth generation leaders to keep to a system that upholds the laws of the land, prioritises the common good and looks to the long term, never thinking the government has got everything right, but always wanting to do right for Singapore. And count on Singaporeans to ensure the government sticks to those principles, and to play our part collectively to keep Singapore united and inclusive."

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Undesirable Publications Act - Undesirable Publications (Prohibition) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 320 of 2017)

Criteria for removal of liquidators

20 Jun 2017

Watchdog penalises firm for data breach

Straits Times
22 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Staff negligence at DataPost led to leaks of two persons' personal financial information

The Personal Data Protection Commission imposed a $3,000 financial penalty on DataPost, a business printing and mailing solutions provider, for a data breach that led to leaks of personal financial information.

The commission, which probed the case, said the sensitive nature of the data was an aggravating factor. But it was mitigated by the small scale of the breach as personal data belonging to only two persons was disclosed to a single recipient.

"The data breach could have been avoided if DPL (DataPost) had taken some simple additional measures," said the commission in decision grounds issued on Tuesday.

In a statement to The Straits Times yesterday, the firm said: "Since the incident, we have enforced measures to tighten the procedures. The incident happened in May 2016, (and was) caused by negligence of a staff member.

"We acknowledged the outcome of the case and as a responsible company, we take this very seriously."

DataPost was tasked to print and mail out financial statements relating to a bank's Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) to its customers. But one customer received two additional statements belonging to two other bank customers along with her own SRS statement last June.

Data disclosed in the statements comprised names, addresses, cash balances and details of asset holdings.

At DataPost, the SRS statements were printed on A3 sheets, as formatted, and an enveloping machine was used to cut the statements and insert them individually into their respective mailer envelopes.

The firm's internal investigations showed that human error by the duty operator caused the breach.

The operator had manually checked the first envelope generated by the test run but mistakenly concluded that three statements contained in the first envelope belonged to the same person when they actually belonged to three different persons.

The statements had been placed in the same envelope due to an "operating peculiarity" but he had moved the envelope from the reject bin to the main bin which meant two additional layers of checks were bypassed.

The commission found the processes DataPost had in place "did not meet the reasonable standards expected of it" and directed the company to review its relevant internal working procedures, among other things.

DataPost said yesterday that it will adopt the commission's recommendations to review its procedures, staff training and data protection policies.

It added: "We are committed to constantly reviewing our procedures and working with our customers to prevent such incidents from happening."

The commission found the processes DataPost had in place "did not meet the reasonable standards expected of it"and directed the company to review its relevant internal working procedures, among other things.

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DataPost Pte Ltd [2017] SGPDPC 10

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 29) Notification 2017 (S 319 of 2017)

MOF issues consultation paper on proposed changes to Goods and Service Tax Act

20 Jun 2017

Old Supreme Court does justice to its artistic calling

Straits Times
22 Jun 2017
Aaron Chan

From places of worship and educational institutions to the former residences of prominent figures, 72 buildings have been gazetted as national monuments

The impressive grey colonial building with its imposing giant columns and distinctive 65m tall copper-clad dome has been transformed from the highest Singapore court to the repository of the Republic's best art.

Now, instead of accused persons walking into the Supreme Court to be dispensed justice, visitors amble in to enjoy the ambience of classical architecture and the largest public collection of modern Singapore and South-east Asian art .

The former Supreme Court houses the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) together with the adjacent former City Hall.

The court started out within the Old Parliament House and former Empress Place building (now the Asian Civilisations Museum).

In 1939, the Supreme Court moved into its St Andrew's Road premises, which was built at a cost of 1.75 million Straits dollars.

Buried beneath its foundation stone is a time capsule, to be opened in the year 3000, containing six Singaporean newspapers dated March 31, 1937, and a handful of coins of the Straits Settlements.

In modern times, the court has seen the highest-profile cases in local history, including the Adrian Lim case, where a medium killed two children in Toa Payoh, and the "body parts murder", where tourist John Martin Scripps killed a stranger he had met at Changi Airport.

Mr S. Kathiarasan, 69, a senior assistant director of the legal directorate, who has worked at the Supreme Court for 38 years, recalled: "The 'Adrian Lim' and 'body parts murder' cases drew particularly large numbers of people. We had to issue passes and manage the huge crowds that turned up to witness the hearings."

Mrs May Hui was 28 years old when she sat in at the Adrian Lim trial, and the passing of the death sentence left her "utterly shocked". She vowed never to set foot in the courts again. But more than three decades later, the 63-year-old NGS guide now shares her experiences with visitors.

Lawyer Jonathan Tan, 56, remembers litigating shipping law cases at the building.

"It was a very stately and grand-looking building," he said. "Not just visually but also olfactory - you could smell the lacquered wood that lined the courtrooms."

He compares it with the current Supreme Court building, which he said is a lot more clinical.

National University of Singapore professor Kevin Tan, 55, who specialises in Singapore's legal history, also remembers doing research in the court's Rotunda Library in the 1980s.

"The building was intimidating. And if one were to step into the building, they could immediately sense that justice was meted out (here)."

But there were lighter moments, too. During office breaks, the staff turned the building's airwell into a de facto lounge.

"We would head there for our lunch breaks, sitting around playing chess or carrom," said Mr Kathiarasan. "There was also a makeshift badminton court there!"

Inspired by the Old Bailey in London, the former Supreme Court features impressive Corinthian and Ionic columns, a tympanum, and the dome.

Beyond these classical elements, the building, designed by Frank Dorrington Ward, also showcased some major architectural innovations of its time. "Shanghai Plaster" - a composition of sand, cement, and crushed granite often mistaken for quarried stone - clads the building's exterior. Cheap, durable and easy to maintain, the material was chosen to keep within the building's tight budget.

Inside the building, faux marble tiles, locally made from rubber, lined the corridors to not only give the foyer an Art Deco effect, but also to help dampen the noise from human traffic.

But, perhaps, the biggest innovation was a series of concealed passageways that led prisoners from their holding cells directly to the courtrooms' docks. This was to keep them away from the public eye and media flurry.

In 2005, the Supreme Court moved next door to its current air-conditioned complex and, six years later, a $530 million restoration and construction effort commenced, converting the two civic district buildings into a single arts venue.

Spearheaded by French architectural practice studioMilou and CPG Consultants, it saw the courtrooms transformed into art galleries, and the holding cells and passageways turned into office space. The old Rotunda Library now showcases research materials used by curators to develop the National Gallery's South-east Asia exhibition.

Mr Jean Francois Milou, managing director at studioMilou, said that careful attention was paid.

"Given the historic, symbolic and aesthetic importance of these rooms, the main challenge was to find a balanced approach between preserving their historical feel and features, while integrating them within the wider scheme of a contemporary art gallery," he said.

Visitors can still feel the "solemn" atmosphere of this edifice, said Mrs Hui. So, whenever she conducts her tours, she is sure to set the scene of the space, hoping to put visitors in a "happy mood".

"I am so proud and happy with this building, and want to share it with everyone," she said.

"I want people to see beyond its facade, the transformation from the Supreme Court to the Gallery, and be touched by the building's many stories."

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Vocational Licence for Bus Conductors and Drivers — Exemption) Order 2017 (S 318 of 2017)

Trusts over shares - Rights of trustees and beneficiaries

19 Jun 2017

New rules mooted for travel agencies

Straits Times
22 Jun 2017
Lim Min Zhang & Revathi Valluvar

Move to protect public by raising penalties and beefing up the investigative powers of authorities

To protect consumers from errant travel agencies, including those which close down abruptly, the Government is proposing a number of changes to regulations governing travel agents.

These include heavier penalties for those carrying out unlicensed activities, more investigative powers for authorities and stricter requirements concerning proof of financial sustainability. For example, a banker's guarantee will no longer be accepted when applying for a licence.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann said in a statement yesterday: "The majority of our travel agents are professional and conduct their businesses responsibly. But as the travel industry transforms and consumer expectations evolve, we need to update the regulatory framework to safeguard the interests of consumers and also ensure that the business environment allows travel agents to innovate and grow."

There are a total of 1,200 licensed travel agents in Singapore. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said it received 607 complaints against travel agents last year, making it the 10th most complained about industry.

Just last month, an established agency, Misa Travel, shut down abruptly. Customers were left with about $28,000 worth of unfulfilled packages.

Under the recommendations, new licence applicants will no longer have the option to provide a banker's guarantee in lieu of the $100,000 net worth requirement.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), explained that a banker's guarantee does not provide assurance that the travel agent is financially sustainable, and does not provide any direct recourse in the event the agency goes bust.

MTI and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are also proposing heavier penalties for those found guilty of carrying out unlicensed travel agent activities. They want the maximum fine per contravention to go up from $10,000 to $25,000.

Under the proposal, STB will also get more investigative powers, such as the authority to take photographs, audio and video recordings that may serve as evidence of wrongdoing.

To reduce the period that consumers are exposed to risk when dealing with potentially errant agents, the ministry is also planning to reduce the time that agencies are given to produce a defence if accused of wrongdoing from 21 days to 14 days.

It added that it may soon also become mandatory by law for travel agents to inform travellers about travel insurance options and keep a record of this.

Mr Ang Eu Khoon, 50, managing director of San's Tours and Car Rental, said: "It's good to have the industry standards spelt out explicitly so that there will be fewer unlicensed tour guides that damage the industry's reputation. This is especially important when other countries in the region have also started cleaning up their act."

Mr Michael Chiam, 56, senior lecturer on tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "It is a step in the right direction. The spirit of the changes to this Act is to uphold the norms in the industry, some of which are already being practised by the established players."

He said that touting and accepting payments via bank accounts, which are some of the other proposed legislation under the new Act, are both rare occurrences in the industry.

Executive director of Case Loy York Jiun, said that while it supports the move to strengthen consumer protection measures, more could be done.

"We would like to reiterate our call for travel agents to look into insuring their tour packages so that all consumers are covered."

More competition - and innovation - expected

Proposed regulatory changes to the travel industry may foster a more pro-business environment, but not all welcome them.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is proposing a new restricted travel agent licence with a lower requirement of $50,000 in paid-up capital, for agents which sell local tours that include transport, but come without accommodation.

However, firms offering tours within Singapore without "passenger-carrying conveyance", such as those offering walking or cycling tours, will no longer need a travel agent licence.

Said Mr Ng Boon Kheng, who owns Singapore City Explorers, a small agency which runs walking and cycling tours: "If anyone can just set up a website and run a walking or cycling tour without a licence, then where's the accountability? It's just going to be easier for people to scam tourists."

He said he started off selling tour packages without a travel agent licence and was told by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) that what he was doing so was akin to being a travel agent, for which he needed a licence.

He then applied for a tour agent licence 1½ years ago, which required him to have proof that he had $100,000 in the bank.

"After all the effort that I have gone through, now it seems like it was all for nothing."

STB's travel agent licence webpage says a registered business must have a minimum paid-up capital of $100,000 and a net worth of the same amount but the fee to be paid to STB for the licence is $300.

But not all share such a pessimistic view.

Mr Clifford Neo, outbound chairman of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said: "The proposed legislation will promote young entrepreneurs to come into the trade, which will bring in new travel ideas with the lower barriers of entry."

Senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Michael Chiam, 56, said the changes are not just a boon for tourists, but also for retirees and students here who might want to offer their own tours part time.

A representative at Dynasty Travel said that while the proposed changes may increase direct competition, it may also bring about opportunities and new innovations."We are willing to work with the new start-ups that may come about because of these amendments so that together we can provide more innovative services."

The proposed amendments are a result of 17 discussion sessions with more than 180 participants from the travel industry, including the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), and Case. The public consultation period, which started yesterday, will end on July 12. More information may be viewed at http://reach.gov.sg, and feedback sent to mti_feedback@mti.gov.sg.


Some key proposed changes to create a pro-business environment include:

A new tiered licensing regime. Businesses that sell tours without "passenger-carrying conveyance", such as walking or bicycle tours, do not need a travel agent licence. Those offering tours with transport but without accommodation can apply for a licence with a lower paid-up capital requirement of $50,000, compared with $100,000 for a full licence.

Travel agencies would not have to purchase fidelity insurance as this does not provide direct recourse to consumers but is more for the agency's own protection.

Travel agencies will be allowed to provide pro-rated refunds in cases where some travel products have already been consumed.

Plans to protect consumers and give regulators more power include:

A "show cause" period of 14 days, instead of 21 days. Travel agents issued with a notice of suspension or revocation have a shorter time to explain why they should be allowed to retain their licence.

The additional licensing condition (ALC), implemented in 2015, will become law. The ALC requires travel agencies to inform customers to consider buying insurance that covers travel agency insolvency and record their decisions.

The Singapore Tourism Board will gain more ainvestigative powers, such as to collect evidence from third parties, take photographs, and gather audio and video recording of those suspected of errant behaviour.

The maximum fine for unlicensed travel agent activities will be increased from $10,000 to $25,000.

Travel agents will no longer have the option to provide a banker's guarantee in place of meeting the $100,000 net worth requirement to obtain a licence.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Temporary Private Hire Cars — Exemption) Order 2017 (S 317 of 2017)

IMDA issues public consultation paper on the review of the Code of Practice for Info-Communication Facilities in Buildings (COPIF)

19 Jun 2017

Singapore inks agreements on tax-information exchange

Business Times
22 Jun 2017
Michelle Quah

Singapore inked two agreements in the Netherlands on Wednesday, signifying that it has moved a step further in its commitment to automatically exchange tax information with other jurisdictions, under global efforts to address issues such as tax evasion and tax avoidance.

The two agreements, known as Multilateral Competent Authority Agreements (MCAAs), will facilitate the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), which Singapore has agreed to implement next year under the internationally agreed framework known as the common reporting standard (CRS).

The MCAAs cover:

AEOI under the CRS; and

the Exchange of Country-by-Country (CbC) Reports.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF), which made the announcement, said these agreements reaffirm Singapore's commitment to international standards on tax cooperation.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes have mounted global efforts to bring about transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, in order to address risks to tax compliance, such as tax evasion.

With AEOI under the CRS, the taxman will be able to get information, through financial institutions, of account holders who are tax residents of jurisdictions with which Singapore has agreed to exchange tax information.

CbC reports, on the other hand, are aimed at enhancing transparency for tax administrations by giving them the information they need to assess risks related to transfer pricing and other forms of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), wherein profits are artificially moved to low or no-tax locations to avoid tax.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said of the signings: "As a business and financial hub, Singapore has earned a high level of trust and confidence. We take our commitment to international standards on tax cooperation seriously. Signing both MCAAs will enable Singapore to implement the international standards with our bilateral AEOI partners in an effective and efficient way."

The MCAAs have gained recognition as multilateral framework agreements for bilateral cooperation on AEOI. They enable a signatory to the agreements to enter into AEOI bilaterally with another signatory on a mutual-consent basis.

With the signing of the MCAAs, MOF said, Singapore will continue to abide by the principles for establishing bilateral AEOI relationships for both CRS and CbC; this means the AEOI partner must have the safeguards needed to ensure the confidentiality of information exchanged and prevent its unauthorised use, and that there is full reciprocity with the AEOI partner in terms of information exchanged.

In the case of the CRS, the MOF said, Singapore will also want to ensure a level playing field among all major financial centres. It added that Singapore will consider engaging in automatic exchange of financial account information with regional jurisdictions which have the safeguards to ensure the confidentiality of information exchanged, and have similar agreements in place with relevant financial centres, including Hong Kong and Switzerland.

In the case of CbC, signing the MCAA will enable Singapore to efficiently establish a wide network of exchange relationships for the automatic exchange of CbC Reports, it said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) assistant managing director for Development and International Leong Sing Chiong said: "MAS welcomes the greater tax transparency and cooperation the CRS represents. Financial institutions in Singapore have been putting in place the systems necessary to implement the CRS in 2018. This higher standard will provide a sound environment for sustained growth of the private banking industry and enable Singapore to remain a clean and trusted financial centre."

Both agreements were signed by Singapore's deputy commissioner for International, Investigation and Indirect Taxes Group of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras), Chia-Tern Huey Min.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Chauffeured Private Hire Cars — Exemption) Order 2017 (S 316 of 2017)

Re-affirming the high threshold for “Unconscionability” in the context of resisting payment for on-demand bonds

16 Jun 2017

Nam Cheong tumbles to five-year low on US$10m claims from OCBC

Business Times
22 Jun 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

Shares in Nam Cheong fell to a five-year low after it emerged from a trading halt on Wednesday, following news released overnight of a writ of summons issued on OCBC Bank's claims against the listed offshore and marine (O&M) group and its subsidiary.

Nam Cheong's share price dived to a five-year low of 1.6 Singapore cents, paring gains from its last spike in late May, before recovering some ground to hit an intra-day high of 2.2 Singapore cents. It closed at 2.1 Singapore cents on Wednesday, down 0.6 Singapore cent.

Over 17.6 million shares changed hands, compared to a three-month average trading volume of over 5.3 million shares.

The group said after Tuesday's trading hours that it and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Nam Cheong International (NCI), had received a writ of summons and statement of claim filed by OCBC in the High Court of Labuan, Malaysia.

OCBC is claiming against NCI as a borrower and its parent group as a guarantor of over US$10 million owed as at April 30 under a credit facility extended by the bank.

This flew in the face of market speculation about the group nearing a debt restructuring deal with its senior lenders, which bolstered its share price.

On May 25, Nam Cheong's share price closed at a one-month high of 2.9 Singapore cents. This was despite the fact that in its May 24 response to an SGX query, the group said that no definitive agreements were on the table with its principal lenders.

The Business Times understands that Nam Cheong had also sounded out holders of its S$90 million notes about the possibility of convening an informal meeting.

Observers consider this a preamble to a consent solicitation exercise to defer principal repayment of the notes and seek any necessary waiver of financial covenants.

Nam Cheong faces time pressure, though, to restructure its balance sheet considering that the S$90 million notes principal will mature this August.

Based on OCBC Credit Research's calculation, the group generated just RM5.1 million (S$1.65 million) in Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) in the first quarter, which fell short of covering RM6.1 million in interest expense.

In addition, Nam Cheong saw its operating cash outflow widen to RM69.9 million for Q1 compared to RM10.3 million in Q4 FY16, Nick Wong of OCBC Credit Research noted.

Such financial woes are common among listed O&M counters facing the heat from a protracted industry downturn. But for Nam Cheong, one other factor stands in the way of securing a ticket to ride the wave to a sector-wide recovery.

The group had leaned on a "build-to-stock" shipbuilding business model for the bulk of its revenue during the last industry upswing. This involved tapping third-party shipyards to build ships to stock on a speculative basis before they were sold to shipowners.

Drawing on broad-sector references, Pareto Securities Pte Ltd's chief executive David Palmer warned that when taken to the extreme, this business model "can cause major problems when buyers for the ships disappear.

"Build-to-stock is neither appropriate for good and bad markets," he argued.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Self-Drive Private Hire Cars — Exemption) Order 2017 (S 315 of 2017)

New measures to enhance corporate rescue and debt restructuring framework in Singapore effective from 23 May 2017

16 Jun 2017

Oxley Road dispute: Cabinet cannot avoid responsibility on matters of public interest, says DPM Teo

22 Jun 2017
Kenneth Cheng

Responding to questions on the need for a Ministerial Committee to consider options for 38 Oxley Road, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday (June 21) the Cabinet cannot avoid responsibility on matters of public interest, and due process is needed. He added that setting up such a committee is “part of normal Cabinet working processes”, noting that even company boards form committees to examine issues.

Weighing in on the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings for a second time, Mr Teo also noted that the differences of views over the Lee family’s home did not arise because of the ministerial committee, which he chairs.

“We still hope that differences of views on private matters can be resolved within the family,” Mr Teo said in a statement. “But ultimately, the Cabinet of the day and its ministers cannot avoid taking responsibility for making the required decisions on matters where the public interest is involved, and due process is required. Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself understood this and would have expected the Government to do so,” he added.

Mr Teo’s latest remarks were in response to a commentary published in The Straits Times yesterday. The writer, the paper’s editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang, suggested disbanding the committee as part of an agreement between PM Lee and his siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. Another possibility, Mr Han added, is to let the Founders’ Memorial Committee decide on the fate of the Oxley Road house, the birthplace of the ruling People’s Action Party and where founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had lived since 1945 until his death.

The Founders’ Memorial Committee was set up in 2015 to look into how best to honour Singapore’s pioneer generation of leaders.

Mr Teo, however, said the Cabinet cannot “outsource decision-making”. 

“Ultimately, it is the government of the day which has to be responsible for making a decision on the property, as this is where the powers reside under the law, specifically the Preservation of Monuments Act and the Planning Act in this case … It is therefore incumbent on the Cabinet to consider and decide on the issues,” he added.

But this “does not preclude public consultations or the involvement of some Memorial Committee at an appropriate time”, Mr Teo said.

The public dispute between the Lee siblings over the fate of their family home has escalated sharply over the past week. Besides disagreeing with PM Lee on their late father’s wishes for the house, as expressed in his will, Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had also criticised the setting up of the Ministerial Committee.

They alleged that the committee was set up to allow PM Lee to “get (his) way” with regard to the house. They also slammed the committee as “shadowy” and said they had been kept in the dark about its membership.

In his first remarks on the issue on Saturday, Mr Teo said there was nothing secretive about the committee. Disclosing its membership, he had said the committee’s interest in the late Mr Lee’s will is “confined to the light that it sheds on his wishes for the house”.

Reiterating this on Wednesday, he wrote: “Whoever makes a recommendation, the public or some Memorial Committee, and when the Cabinet eventually makes a decision, (the late) Mr Lee’s thinking is an important factor which we would all want to take into account.”

Mr Teo said it was “only proper” that the committee sought the siblings’ views to grasp the late Mr Lee’s thinking on the matter. “Indeed, the committee had to, since the siblings themselves told us they had different views and challenged each other’s interpretations of Mr Lee’s wishes.”

Saying that all views had been  given “voluntarily”, including those in the form of statutory declarations, Mr Teo added: “This process was conducted through correspondence, and out of the public eye until it was brought out onto a public platform.”

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licences) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 314 of 2017)

Singapore High Court considers application for pre-action discovery and interrogatories for potential claim in malicious falsehood against online news site operator and its sources

15 Jun 2017

Defamation suit by rifle association starts

Straits Times
21 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

It is suing gun club president for remarks made after shooting centre was closed

The Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) weighed in on recent discussions about fake news in kicking off its defamation suit against the Singapore Gun Club (SGC) supremo Michael Vaz Lorrain in the High Court yesterday.

SRA is seeking damages claiming he defamed it in remarks made after the National Shooting Centre in Old Choa Chu Kang Road was closed in February last year following a police probe.

Mr Vaz, who is president of both SGC and national body Singapore Shooting Association, vigorously denied the claims and urged the court to look at the context in which the words were used.

Drew & Napier lawyer Wendell Wong, in the opening remarks for SRA yesterday, said the "potential to cause harm and damage to a person or an organisation's reputation due to fake news is unparalleled".

"SRA, with over 155 years of history in Singapore's shooting fraternity, finds itself in such a position in the present case," he added, pointing to the "widespread connectivity and ease of communication" online.

SRA alleged that Mr Vaz published two defamatory statements last year, the first circulated to SGC members via e-mail and the second on the SGC website, both of which were substantially similar.

Mr Vaz's lawyer Anthony Lee from Bih Li & Lee countered that the words used "in their natural and ordinary meaning" did not mean or were capable of bearing the meanings imputed in SRA's defamation claim.

He said that the words did not refer to any improper conduct by SRA or blamed SRA "entirely" for the closure of the National Shooting Centre.

SportSG - the national sports governing body - had closed the shooting centre following an arms audit by the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department at the armouries of the SGC and the SRA. The police also seized a number of arms due to serious licensing irregularities.

Mr Vaz's lawyers pleaded defences of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege, if the words are found to be defamatory as alleged.

SRA chairman Eng Fook Hoong, Mr Vincent Pinto, executive director of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Mr Bayarsaikhan Munkhuu, secretary-general of the Mongolian Practical Shooting Federation, took the stand in court yesterday.

Hearing before Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau continues today.


The potential to cause harm and damage to a person or an organisation's reputation due to fake news is unparalleled. SRA, with over 155 years of history in Singapore's shooting fraternity, finds itself in such a position in the present case.

MR WENDELL WONG, Drew & Napier lawyer, in the opening remarks for SRA yesterday.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Vocational Licences and Conduct of Drivers, Conductors, Trishaw Riders and Passengers) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 313 of 2017)

Singapore's bold new restructuring laws take effect

15 Jun 2017

Govt taking back 191 homes in Geylang when lease ends

Straits Times
21 Jun 2017
Ng Jun Sen

There will be no extension; private terraced houses must be vacated by end-2020

In a first for residential properties in Singapore, 191 private terraced houses in Geylang Lorong 3 will be returned to the state when their leases run out at the end of 2020, with no extension allowed.

For the 33 home owners who are still residing there, time is running out. They will have to hand back vacant units to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) when their leases run out in 31/2 years, with no compensation.

Each of the 191 units will be assigned a dedicated SLA officer who will be the home owners' point of contact with the authorities, the SLA said in a statement yesterday.

Yesterday morning, 16 SLA officers went knocking on doors of the houses, which were sold to residents on a 60-year lease term in 1960, to introduce themselves to the owners and guide them through the process.

The last transaction, in December 2015, was for an 854 sq ft unit that cost $88,000.

Only 33 units are owner-occupied. The remaining units are used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers when the homes' original owners moved out over the years.

Owners will have to remove all their belongings and terminate their utilities and services. They will also have to pay all outstanding bills, said the SLA.

This is the first time that a residential plot of land will reach the end of its lease.

Unlike land acquisition by the Government, where compensation is given for the remaining lease, Geylang Lorong 3 residents will not get any since the lease will have run out in 2020, said the Law Ministry's deputy secretary Han Kok Juan.

The 2ha plot of land in Geylang Lorong 3 will be earmarked for future public housing, but the SLA did not give a timeline for when the redevelopment process will start or be completed.

SLA's chief executive Tan Boon Khai said: "As a general policy, upon lease expiry, the state land and the property will revert back to the Government. In this case, there are exciting plans to rejuvenate the Kallang area, and this site will be slated for public housing."

SLA said owner-occupants will not be left without options for alternative housing.

Owners can buy a Housing Board flat or private property if they do not already have alternative housing. They can also choose to rent a home.

The Straits Times reported on the impending lease expiry at Geylang Lorong 3 in April, with several residents expressing their concern that they will have no place to relocate to.

One resident told reporters yesterday that she only learnt about the lease expiry issue from the ST report.

Said Madam Tan Whay Seok, 69, who works as a hawker nearby: "We are now very anxious because we don't know where to go after this. Recently, we spent a lot of money on my husband's leg surgery, so we do not have a lot of savings left.

"I now hope that we can be allowed to live nearby."

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 312 of 2017)

MAS issues consultation paper on “Proposed Amendments to Regulatory Requirements in relation to Credit Loss Provisioning”

14 Jun 2017

Fewer losses in shipping industry but challenges remain

Business Times
21 Jun 2017
David Hughes

Marine insurer Allianz says crew negligence and inadequate vessel maintenance are increasing areas of concern, as economic pressures challenge budgets

Marine insurers have as good a perspective as any on the health of the shipping industry, for the very good reason that they have to pay up when things go wrong.

So it is worth paying attention when major insurer Allianz says that, while shipping losses continue to decline, a "perfect storm" of regulation, cost savings and cybersecurity looms.

The Allianz Safety & Shipping Review 2017 says that 85 ships (of over 100 gross tonnage) were lost worldwide in 2016, which was down 50 per cent compared to 10 years earlier. That is good news. The not so good news for The Business Times readers is that South China and South-east Asian waters are the top loss locations, although the East Mediterranean replaces the British Isles as the top incident hotspot.

The insurer says that crew negligence and inadequate vessel maintenance are increasing areas of concern, as economic pressures challenge budgets.

An apparent positive for the insurer is that "new navigational and monitoring technologies could help reduce the impact of human error, which has resulted in US$1.6 billion in losses in five years". "However, over-reliance brings risks," Allianz cautions.

Staying with a positive theme for a moment, Allianz says that the decline in shipping losses has largely been driven by development of a more robust safety environment by shipowners. That has got to be right. A mention of the term 'safety management system' is less likely to be met with baffled silence compared to 10 years ago.

Let's not get carried away though. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty's (AGCS) global product leader of hull & marine liabilities, Baptiste Ossena says: "While the long-term downward loss trend is encouraging, there can be no room for complacency. The shipping sector is being supported by a number of interconnected risks at a time of inherent economic challenges."

He notes that environmental scrutiny is increasing, with record fines for vessel pollution. Having new ballast water management rules that come into force in 2017 is a good thing, but the cost of complying with these could have a significant impact on already-stressed shippers. Political risk is increasing, with activity in hotspots such as Yemen and the South China Sea having the potential to affect vessel routes. The threat of offshore cyberattacks is also significant. "A 'perfect storm' of increasing regulatory pressure combined with narrowing margins and new risks is gathering," says Mr Ossena.

The insurer also remarks that standards remain an issue in some parts of Asia with bad weather, poor maintenance, weak enforcement of regulations and overcrowding contributing to losses.

The collapse of one of the world's largest shipping companies, Hanjin Shipping, over the past year exposed the perilous state of some parts of the sector. Bankruptcies are rising and when debt levels are high and earnings are low, shipowners often look to make cost savings on maintenance budgets, training and crew levels, all of which can lead to accidents.

"Crew negligence and inadequate vessel maintenance are two potential areas of increasing risk, particularly if shipowners opt to recruit crew with less experience and training, or choose to stretch maintenance work to the longest possible interval in order to save money," says Duncan Southcott, global head of marine claims at AGCS.

However, the issue of over-reliance on technology is ongoing and incidents continue to result, particularly around navigation.

Allianz notes: "Autonomous shipping could be operating on fixed regional routes in the near future." 'Autonomous' means unmanned, or at least with nobody on the bridge taking decisions. With a huge dose of understating, it notes: "Safety considerations will be crucial to development with concerns about collisions and challenges around regulatory and liability issues."

Am I alone in thinking unmanned bridges are beyond crazy? Why aren't all the liability insurers simply saying the idea is madness? No insurer ought to touch 'autonomous shipping' with a bargepole.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2017 (S 311 of 2017)

Medical Negligence - The new legal test in Singapore to determine the standard of a doctor’s duty in advising his patient: A case study of Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38

14 Jun 2017

Workers' Party 'concerned' about allegations against PM

Business Times
21 Jun 2017
Lee U-Wen

Opposition party's MPs file questions relating to abuse of power accusations for July 3 Parliament sitting

The opposition Workers' Party (WP) has expressed concern over the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two younger siblings over their father's Oxley Road house.

In its first remarks on the ongoing saga, the WP suggested that the family resolve the issues surrounding the property privately or in court.

The party wrote in its Facebook page: "We are concerned only with the allegations of abuse of power and the harm these have caused to confidence in Singapore and our political institutions."

Ahead of the upcoming parliament sitting on July 3, six of the WP's Members of Parliament (MPs) have filed questions that they hope will "help clear the air" on the allegations.

PM Lee is due to deliver a ministerial statement that day to refute the many charges levelled against him by his two younger siblings, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang.

In a short address to the nation on Monday, PM Lee urged all MPs in the House, including those not from the ruling People's Action Party, to examine the issues thoroughly and question him and his Cabinet colleagues.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim will ask about the rules to ensure that ministers and senior public office-holders with "personal or pecuniary interests in the subject-matter of government decisions" do not influence or participate in the related deliberations and decision-making.

Pritam Singh, the party's assistant secretary-general, intends to ask PM Lee whether the government would consent to a resolution to convene a special select committee of parliament comprising members of all parties.

This committee would have "public hearings that are broadcast 'live' to look into allegations of abuse of power" by the prime minister made by members of his family, so as to allow his accusers to present all the relevant evidence to parliament.

Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao has two questions, one of which is when a a minister or political appointee should go to court to defend his or her reputation, and when he or she should refrain from private litigation and seek instead to address such allegations publicly, such as in parliament.

Non-constituency MP Leon Perera wants to know the circumstances under which ministerial committees set up without public knowledge are convened to address issues, and the number of such committees that currently exist.

It was revealed last week that Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had set up and now chairs an internal ministerial committee to study the options for the 38 Oxley Road home.

Also weighing in on the matter is former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock, who said that parliament was "not the right place" to settle family disputes.

He wrote on his Facebook page: "It is an institution to make laws and debate national issues.

"Family disputes should be settled in courts. In parliament, MPs have no details of the case and only hear PM telling his side of the case. Wrong platform."

Another opposition party, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), issued a statement on Tuesday calling for a Committee of Inquiry to be set up to study the dispute.

"It must be reiterated that the saga goes well beyond a private family quarrel and crosses into the realm which involves matters at the very heart of transparent and accountable governance.

"It is in this light that the SDP urges PM Lee to do the right thing and convene a genuinely impartial hearing to get to the bottom of the incident and, in so doing, reform our nation's governing process."

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

Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2017 - Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 310 of 2017)

Singapore Court of Appeal endorses validity of an asymmetric dispute resolution clause

13 Jun 2017

SGX inks 4 MOUs with industry partners to boost capital access

Straits Times
21 Jun 2017
Marissa Lee

The spate of tie-ups between the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and various industry partners - with more to come - are being forged to act on recommendations of the Government's Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), a senior SGX official said yesterday.

The SGX has been on a signing spree, inking four memorandums of understanding (MOUs) since March with an equity crowdfunding platform, PwC's Venture Hub, the infocomm regulator and A*Star's commercialisation unit.

The goal of these tie-ups is to bolster Singapore's start-up ecosystem by boosting access to growth capital. Mr Mohamed Nasser Ismail, who heads SGX's equity capital market for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), shed more light on the moves yesterday.

He told a gathering of reporters and Catalist sponsors: "The CFE has recommended the establishment of a private market... Certain exchanges have positioned themselves as Series B exchanges - is that where we want to be?"

Start-ups that reach a more mature level and have previously raised seed capital and an earlier "Series A" round of funding, proceed to launch a Series B funding round to further build the company.

While they often turn to venture capital and other private funds for the cash, some stock exchanges have stepped in as a platform for such fund-raising efforts.

"We think there are other solutions to that. One of the ways we think that we can be useful is to... play a role in preparing these companies in the right way, which may or may not necessarily mean that they need to go to IPO... These MOUs are designed for that," Mr Nasser added. A couple more MOUs are "in the works", he said.

The SGX is not ruling out the idea of a third board where shares of private companies could be traded. "We are working with some of you, in terms of thinking about how and when and if we should have a private exchange in Singapore," Mr Nasser told yesterday's gathering.

In February, the CFE, led by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, released a 109-page report that was a broad-brush plan for Singapore's economic future.

It suggested establishing "a more structured approach for enterprises that had raised capital in the private space to move into the public market" and "creating a private placement platform to better connect Asian SMEs to investors".

A week after the CFE report wrote that dual-class share structures should be permitted in Singapore, the SGX launched a consultation to give the dual-class shares issue another look.

To be sure, the SGX's increasing interest in the private markets also arises from the fact that that is where the action is. Mr Nasser said: "Exchanges worldwide are being disrupted."

But the SGX also used yesterday's bi-annual SGX Catalist Forum to share some encouraging data. Market participation on the Catalist board has risen over the year, giving Singapore's second board a one-year average daily traded value of close to $40 million, up 42 per cent from a year ago.

Participation from institutional investors has also risen, with institutional ownership of Catalist companies recording growth of almost two times since 2010.

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

Active Mobility Act 2017 - Active Mobility Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 309 of 2017)

Amendments on laws on Insolvency and Debt Restructuring come into force

13 Jun 2017

Couple lose $20m suit against UBS for 'unauthorised trades'

Straits Times
20 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

This is their second loss in 2 months - $21m suit against another bank was rejected earlier

An Indonesian couple have failed in their $20 million High Court claim against a bank for alleged unauthorised transactions, their second loss in two months after an earlier $21 million suit against another bank was dismissed.

Mr Lucas, who goes by only one name, and his wife, Madam Lenny Halim Liem, were the beneficial owners of Asia-American Investments Group, which had sued UBS AG (Singapore Branch) and adviser Amy Tee.

The firm claimed the bank had purchased accumulators in various shares, including Bank of China, Singapore Petroleum Corporation and Keppel Corp, for their account over eight months from March 2007 without their prior approval.

The accumulator, or discounted share purchase programme, is a financial product that lets investors buy shares at a market discount.

If the price rises by more than a certain percentage, the contract ends and the investor takes a profit. But if the market price falls below the discount price, the investor would be required to continue buying at the same price, which would now be at a premium above the market price.

The company, through lawyer Peter Gabriel and two others, argued that the bank had breached a warranty in their contract by not getting prior approval for the transactions from the authorised representatives, Mr Lucas and Madam Lenny.

But the bank, defended by a team of lawyers led by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull, countered, among other things, that it had a mandate to act on the investor's oral instructions, regardless of any subsequent written confirmation.

Client adviser Amy Tee had testified that due to the time sensitivity of the market, written instructions were not expected when executing such trades.

High Court Justice Quentin Loh found the couple had failed to make out their case that when they opened the account in May 2006, Ms Tee had told them she would act only on their prior written approval.

"On the contrary, the evidence shows otherwise," added Justice Loh in judgment grounds issued last week, finding the accumulator deals to be authorised.

The judge found Madam Lenny's evidence to be unreliable and self-serving.

Mr Lucas was even more unreliable in his evidence, said Justice Loh, noting he was an experienced trial lawyer.

The couple were also authorised signatories of First Asia Capital Investments, which in April had failed in a $21 million suit against Societe Generale Bank & Trust.

Both were among the last lawsuits from the 2008 financial crisis fallout involving losses from share accumulator deals.

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

Arms and Explosives Act - Arms and Explosives (Commemorative Artillery Shell Casing — Exemption from Section 13) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 308 of 2017)

Clarifying and possible changes to the operation of Singapore’s Statutory Work Injury Compensation Scheme: Case Update of MST Ruma Khatun v T & Zee Engineering Pte Ltd and another [2017] SGHC 115

12 Jun 2017

Feedback sought on proposed changes to Income Tax Act

Business Times
20 Jun 2017
Claire Huang

The Ministry of Finance is seeking feedback from June 19 to July 10 on the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act, following a periodic review of the income tax system.

The draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 was announced earlier this year in the 2017 Budget statement, the ministry said on Monday.

To help companies cope with the economic uncertainty and continue restructuring, a key change suggested was to enhance and extend the corporate income tax rebate for year of assessment 2017 (YA17) and 2018.

For YA17, the corporate income tax rebate cap has been raised to S$25,000 from S$20,000. It would be extended to YA18 but at a reduced rate of 20 per cent of tax payable, capped at S$10,000.

Another proposal was for every tax resident to receive a 20 per cent personal income tax rebate capped at S$500 for YA17.

Tax deduction for payments under cost sharing agreements for research and development (R&D) projects has also been liberalised with the enhancement of the 75 per cent safe harbour rule announced in Budget 2017.

Taxpayers would be able to claim tax deduction for the full cost sharing agreement payments without having to provide a breakdown of the expenditure covered by the cost sharing agreements.

The proposed Bill also includes an amendment to strengthen the transfer pricing regime and introduce a mandatory transfer pricing documentation (TPD) requirement.

To this end, the mandatory TPD requirement would only apply to companies with turnover of more than S$10 million and significant related party transactions so as to ease compliance burden for smaller businesses.

The ministry said that most companies would not be affected as this change would only be relevant to fewer than 5 per cent of all businesses, many of which have already been maintaining TPD.

Besides these changes, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 sets out 25 other refinements to existing tax policies and tax administration, including changes to third-party voluntary contributions to the Medisave accounts of private sector employees and the self-employed.

The ministry said: "With effect from Jan 1, 2018, the maximum amount that an employer can contribute to his employee's Medisave account that is not treated as income of the employee under the Additional Medisave Contribution Scheme will be raised from S$1,500 to S$2,730 per year. There will be an increase in the tax deduction allowable to the employer for these contributions from S$1,500 to S$2,730 per year."

It also said that the maximum tax exemption that a self-employed person can receive on contributions to his Medisave account by an eligible company he works with will be increased from S$1,500 to S$2,730 per year. The maximum tax deduction allowable to an eligible company for its contributions to the self-employed person's Medisave account will also be increased from S$1,500 to S$2,730 per year. All other conditions for granting tax benefits in respect of such voluntary contributions remain unchanged.

Another tweak under the amended Bill was to enable the Minister for Finance to implement Singapore's obligations under the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which Singapore signed on June 7 this year.

The ministry said that the public can access the detailed consultation documents for the draft Bill on its website (www.mof.gov.sg) and the Reach consultation portal (www.reach.gov.sg). Written comments can be sent to the ministry's Tax Policy Directorate (100 High Street #10-01, The Treasury, Singapore 179464) or preferably via e-mail to pc_itabill@mof.gov.sg.

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 28) Notification 2017 (S 307 of 2017)

Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill 2017 passed in Parliament: Scope of design protection broadened

12 Jun 2017

Give priority to respecting a person's will: Forum

Straits Times
20 Jun 2017

Facebook is the vogue media for reaching the masses. Like it or not, it is used for fighting any cause, private or public (Time to reflect, and seek the common good; June 17).

The Lee family dispute is currently aired publicly and watched internationally.

The drama is intriguing only because of the characters involved - the founding father of Singapore, an incumbent Prime Minister who is his son, and some members of the present Cabinet.

Stories pertaining to wills are mostly of the same ilk - dissatisfaction over unequal distributions, disagreement on the will's execution, and suspicion about its preparation.

This ongoing feud is a disagreement over whether to demolish Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house or preserve it.

Such tussles and allegations are usually contested in court.

It is no secret that legal issues are better handled by lawyers and judges than politicians.

While the intention to preserve the house and site for heritage purposes is noble, respect for a man's will should rank above all options.

Mr Lee had stated publicly that he wanted his house demolished after his death.

If a great man has no attachment to brick and mortar, let no mortal being override his wishes.

George Kuan

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Companies Act - Companies (Prescribed Companies and Entities) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 306 of 2017)

MAS issues first consultation paper on proposed regulations following amendments introduced by Securities and Futures (Amendment) Act 2017

09 Jun 2017

PM Lee lifts party whip for parliamentary session on allegations

Business Times
20 Jun 2017
Lee U-Wen

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has apologised for the ongoing family dispute involving him and his two younger siblings, admitting that the episode has affected Singapore's reputation and Singaporeans' confidence in the government.

In a statement to the nation that was also recorded on video, he announced that he will deliver a ministerial statement when Parliament sits again on July 3 to "refute the charges" levelled against him by his siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang.

In a rare move, PM Lee, who is also the secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), has instructed that the PAP party whip be lifted that day.

He said that all members of Parliament will have the opportunity to raise questions for themselves and their constituents.

PM Lee urged all MPs, including those who are not from the PAP, to examine the issues thoroughly and question him and his Cabinet colleagues "vigorously".

"Over the last week, Singaporeans have been disturbed and confused by news of the private dispute between my siblings and me," he said.

"I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore's reputation and Singaporeans' confidence in the government.

"As your Prime Minister, I apologise to you for this."

As the eldest of the three children of the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, PM Lee said it grieved him to think of the anguish this incident would have caused his parents if they were both still alive.

The saga began in the wee hours of last Wednesday morning when Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang posted a lengthy statement on their Facebook pages declaring they had "lost confidence" in PM Lee and do not trust him as a brother or a leader.

The two siblings also claimed they feared the use of the organs of state against the both of them, as well as Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife Suet Fern.

The main issue in the siblings' statement was about the 38 Oxley Road home that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had lived in, and whether it should be demolished (in accordance with his wishes) or preserved.

The dispute, which carried on in a series of exchanges over Facebook and other public statements, began when PM Lee was on overseas leave for a week. He returned to Singapore last Saturday.

In his statement on Monday, the Prime Minister said that he "had done everything possible" to avoid this state of affairs.

"My father left the property at 38 Oxley Road to me as part of my equal share of his estate, but my siblings were not happy about this. I tried to deal with their unhappiness privately," he said.

He spoke of how his offer to transfer the home to Dr Lee for a nominal amount of S$1 failed, and that he later sold the property to Mr Lee Hsien Yang at a "fair market valuation". PM Lee also donated all his proceeds to charity.

"I had hoped that this would satisfy them. There should be no reason for any further quarrel since I no longer own the house and I do not take part in any government decisions on the house," said PM Lee.

"However, my siblings have decided to go out and make serious allegations publicly. For example, they say that I am using my position as Prime Minister to influence the ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean," he added.

This committee was set up to discuss options for the house and their implications. These include looking into the historical and heritage significance of the house, as well as to consider Mr Lee Kuan Yew's thinking and wishes in relation to it.

The allegations by his two siblings, PM Lee stressed, go beyond private and personal matters, and extend to the conduct of his office and the integrity of the government.

"Much as I would like to move on, and end a most unhappy experience for Singaporeans, these baseless accusations against the government cannot be left unanswered. They must be and will be dealt with openly and refuted," he said.

PM Lee hoped that this "full, public airing" in parliament will dispel any doubts that have been planted, and strengthen confidence in Singapore's institutions and the system of government.

He assured all Singaporeans that this matter would not distract him and the rest of the Cabinet from their responsibility to govern Singapore, and to deal with more important national issues, including the pressing economic and security challenges that the country faces.

"As public servants, my ministers and I will always protect the integrity of our institutions, and uphold the strict standards separating private affairs from our public duties," said PM Lee.

"We are determined to repair the damage that has been done to Singapore. We will continue to lead our nation and serve you to the best of our ability."

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (International Air Transport Association) (Exemption) Order 2017 (S 305 of 2017)

Landmark decision on criminal liability of 'money mule' company nominee directors

09 Jun 2017

Shanmugam: Law to be introduced next year to combat fake news

Business Times
20 Jun 2017
Judith Tan

Singapore faces issues such as misinformation exploiting racial and religious fault lines, and rumours that confuse and promote distrust

Rumour mongers beware.

A new law to fight fake news will be introduced next year and the government will be consulting stakeholders on the issue in the second half of this year.

Revealing this in his keynote address on Monday at a conference on the issue, Singapore's Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said the government has to maintain a strong climate of trust, and be able to counter misinformation spread online.

He said the authorities must be equipped to deal with current challenges and that society, the media and Internet companies also have a role to play.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the conference titled Keep It Real: Truth And Trust In The Media.

There are limited remedies to deal with falsehoods under current laws, the minister had told Parliament in April when he announced a review to tackle the problem then.

Mr Shanmugam told participants at the conference on Monday that an earlier survey showed more than nine in 10 Singaporeans supported stronger laws to ensure fake news is removed or corrected.

Misinformation, he said, is more serious now than before, and is an "easy and effective" way to advance agendas.

Members of the public and of civil society, therefore, have to help foster a culture where the truth is protected, and that is why media literacy is extremely important - so people can spot fake news and deal with it, he said.

He added that there are teams in Germany and the United Kingdom to study what those countries are doing on that front. For instance, Germany is considering laws that would require social networks to take down various types of "unlawful content".

The media plays an important role in being a trusted source of news, while companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter also "bear a significant responsibility" in tackling misinformation, and some of these firms have given their voluntary commitment to remove reported hate speech within 24 hours but this may not be enough, Mr Shanmugam said.

He added that the government cannot merely rely on the standards of media companies as the negative impact of false narratives is amplified by "echo chambers" online.

He said Singapore has been "particularly vulnerable" to foreign influences harnessing fake news for their own ends. The country also faces issues such as misinformation exploiting racial and religious fault lines, and rumours on social media like WhatsApp that confuse and promote distrust.

"If the distrust becomes deep-rooted, people will have serious doubts about the institutions, about leadership, about governance," said Mr Shanmugam.

Tripti Lochan, CEO, SEA & India of VML, said: "Brands must be proactive about protecting themselves against fake news because of the negative impact this would have on brand image.

"Being in a position of vulnerability means they cannot rest on their laurels even with the new legislation in place.

"Trust is integral to the relationships that brands and consumers share, and is one of the most important factors contributing towards building customer loyalty. Fake news would mean an erosion of consumer trust at a time when consumer trust is already not at its strongest."

At a doorstop on Monday, Mr Shanmugam told reporters what the new laws should do: "We know what the end point should be: to delegitimise fake news, help people identify what is and what is not fake news, and to deal with the perpetrators of fake news."

When asked why wait till 2018 to introduce the law, a spokesman for MinLaw said that with digital technology and social media, the effects of misinformation have become more potent than before.

"Recent events around the world have demonstrated the serious harm that online misinformation can do, and how it is often driven by agendas that are against the public interest.

"The government's aim is to ensure we are equipped to deal with the new digital reality in the long term. We do not intend to react with short-term measures."

Adding that the problem of online fake news is "complex and does not lend itself to simple solutions", finding an effective one requires "a thorough understanding of how misinformation is spread online, the motivations for creating and circulating misinformation, and the impact of misinformation on what people believe".

"It will also require the support and cooperation of all the stakeholders involved to ensure that the Internet is kept a safe place for people to stay informed and connected across the world. We therefore need to do a careful and comprehensive review, working closely with relevant stakeholders to develop solutions," said the spokesman.

The two-day conference at the new Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Law Building on Armenian street was organised by The Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), in partnership with the Canadian High Commission, Facebook, Google, German political organisation Konrad Adenauer Foundation, National Library Board and SMU.

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Co-operative Societies Act - Co-operative Societies (Exemption under Section 97) Order 2017 (S 304 of 2017)

Parliament introduces Bill to amend Monetary Authority of Singapore Act: Enhancing resolution regime for financial institutions in Singapore

08 Jun 2017

More local law firms willing to take in trainees, but without pay

Business Times
19 Jun 2017
Claudia Chong

This comes amid glut in law graduates in Singapore; unpaid trainees are often grads who read law overseas

Following the glut of law graduates in Singapore, more local law firms are taking in practice trainees who are unable to secure placements elsewhere - on the condition that they do not receive an honorarium during their stint.

Both foreign and local law graduates are required to complete a six-month practice training contract at a Singapore law practice before being called to the Bar.

Senior partner Tan Chong Huat told The Business Times that his firm, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, typically has different schemes for the practice trainees that it takes in.

Trainees in the first scheme are those that the firm intends to retain - "mature students" or those with a "very good track record". Trainees in the second scheme have their pay varied and have not been identified for retention. The last scheme comprises trainees who were unable to find a place at other law firms to complete their training.

"They come around and say, 'Can you offer us a place here?' Mostly these will be business associates' referrals," said Mr Tan. "So we take them on and they might just have no pay."

Honorariums for training contracts can range from S$800 to S$1,600 a month, according to a listing on the Law Society of Singapore website.

Another senior partner practising at a large local law firm said that for the past two years, his firm has taken in one or two such trainees per year. But these arrangements are kept private between the trainee and the management to avoid stigmatisation, and the trainees perform the standard rotation work and are exposed to the same kinds of cases as ordinary trainees, he said.

These unpaid trainees are often graduates who read law overseas; returning overseas graduates might face difficulties securing a training contract if they had not previously interned at law firms here.

"How we, as a firm, hire trainees nowadays is nearly always through (structured) internships. We very seldom hire trainees through direct applications," said the senior partner, who spoke to BT on condition of anonymity.

Students reading law at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) are encouraged to pursue internships during semester breaks. While NUS Law does not make internships mandatory for students, SMU requires undergraduates undergoing its bachelor of laws programme to complete 10 weeks of internship with either a law firm or a legal department, or a combination of both.

The issue of the glut of lawyers here has become a hotly debated topic in recent years. While the number of students accepted yearly by NUS and SMU's law schools has remained fairly constant, the annual number of returning overseas law graduates rose from around 210 in 2011 to around 310 in 2015, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in response to queries from BT.

The increase in students reading law overseas prompted MinLaw in 2015 to axe eight UK universities from the list of foreign universities approved for graduate admission to the Singapore Bar. The move was implemented from Academic Year 2016/17 onwards; there are now 11 UK universities on the list.

In the meantime, it appears that returning graduates will continue to struggle to get a training contract placement. Statistics from MinLaw show that from 2011 to 2015, around 70 per cent of overseas-trained graduates secured training contracts, compared to around 90 per cent of local graduates.

In response, the Singapore Institute of Legal Education in December 2015 made changes to the number of practice trainees that a senior practitioner can supervise, easing the quota from two to four.

"There has been an influx of law graduates in the past few years and not enough training places to absorb them all," said Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing director of TSMP Law Corporation. "Firms that previously did not take in trainees have started doing so, partly to do their bit for law graduates who cannot otherwise get contracts."

Small-sized firm Exodus Law Corporation typically has two to four trainees working with it at any given time, though the firm's managing director Daniel Xu said that it does not need more than two trainees.

The firm gives its trainees an allowance of S$300 to S$500 a month to cover their basic expenses, depending on the applicant's previous work experience.

"I am not paying the best allowance in town. I am one of the lowest among the rest, but I can't afford more," said Mr Xu. "As far as I'm concerned . . . I'm doing a form of National Service - providing these graduates with an opportunity to complete their training so that they can go on and become lawyers in the near future."

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

Registered Designs (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 29 of 2017)

Narrower protection for compilations: where creativity trumps effort

08 Jun 2017

Insurance for doctors here not required by law

Straits Times
19 Jun 2017
Salma Khalik

Patient settles for less than half the cost of medical bills over surgery gone awry as surgeon was uninsured for procedure

A man who went for surgery found out when the procedure went awry that doctors in Singapore are not required by law to be insured.

All public-sector doctors are insured and backed by the hospital, but the same is not true in the private sector.

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) told The Straits Times that while the law allows it "to require that doctors take out and maintain insurance when applying for the grant or renewal of their practising certificates", it has not "exercised this at present".

When asked what happens to patients when things go wrong, the SMC spokesman said the majority of doctors do insure themselves. Patients can also claim from the doctor or clinic "unless the doctor is bankrupt and not covered by his employer".

This was almost the case facing Mr Loh Yuen Chun, 59. The doctor owns the clinic and does not have much money. So the patient ended up settling for less than half the cost of his medical bills.

Obese and diabetic, he thought he had found the perfect solution to tackle both problems at once. He said he was assured by the doctor that bariatric surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach so a person feels full with far less food, would also cure him of his diabetes.

The procedure and recovery was supposed to take only two days. Instead, Mr Loh almost died and spent more than two months in hospital, with most of the time in intensive care. He even needed a hole in his throat to help him breathe. This has since been closed up.

On the advice of his lawyer Kuah Boon Theng of Legal Clinic, Mr Loh settled for $200,000 for the pain he suffered, and a public apology from the doctor, which was published in The Straits Times and two Chinese dailies last month.

Even then, Mr Loh has received only $100,000 so far. He will get the rest in $3,000 monthly instalments over 33 months starting end-August, with $1,000 in the 34th month.

Mr S. Selvaraj of Myint Soe & Selvaraj, the doctor's lawyer, said that given his client's circumstances, he did not charge for his time.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Loh said he was not covered by private insurance and had to borrow money to pay his bills. He was very upset that the doctor did not have insurance, so winning the case might cost him more money than settling. He was surprised that such insurance is not a requirement here.

The doctor told The Straits Times that he was insured as a surgeon with the London-based Medical Protection Society.

He claimed not to have known that bariatric surgery required another $10,000 a year in premiums. He has since raised his coverage.

For Mr Loh, then 53, it all started in November 2011 when he went to see the surgeon at Paragon Medical Tower. The doctor recommended the procedure to Mr Loh, who then had a body mass index of 36, putting him in the obese range.

This was done on Dec 2 at Gleneagles Hospital. That was when a straightforward operation turned into a nightmare.

Within days of his surgery, he had pain in the abdomen, a racing heart beat, chest pain, breathlessness, a drop in blood pressure, and blood clots coming through the tube leading from his nose to his stomach. A scan found that he was leaking fluid internally at the surgical site.

On Dec 6, the surgeon tried to repair it through keyhole surgery. This failed and he had to open up the abdomen to stop the leak.

But Mr Loh did not recover. Instead, on the morning of Dec 12, a significant amount of greenish fluid leaked from the wound.

The surgeon then operated a third time. By then, damage was done to his organs, he had septic shock, breathing difficulties and his racing heart almost caused a heart attack.

His condition did not improve and by Dec 24, blood from the operation site was again coming through the tube in his nose. His family asked to transfer him to Singapore General Hospital.

All this while, he needed mechanical aid to breathe. On Dec 29 at SGH, a hole was created in his throat to help him breathe. He was operated on twice at SGH before he was discharged on Feb 20, 2012 for continued home rehabilitation.

He said since then, his health has been poor and he is still diabetic.

On the advice of his lawyer Kuah Boon Theng of Legal Clinic, Mr Loh settled for $200,000 for the pain he suffered, and a public apology from the doctor, which was published in The Straits Times and two Chinese dailies last month.

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

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Sembawang (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment No. 2) By-laws 2017 (S 303 of 2017)

PDPC update on anonymisation and healthcare

07 Jun 2017

IHC given court approval to amend pleadings in Crest lawsuits

Business Times
19 Jun 2017

The High Court has granted medical property developer International Healthway Corporation's (IHC) applications to amend its pleadings in two lawsuits, the company said in a Singapore Exchange filing late on Friday night.

The lawsuits pertain to ongoing action against Crest Funds and Crest Receivers.

In one of the suits, co-founders Fan Kow Hin and Andrew Aathar have been added as defendants.

The company has also discontinued the action against the Crest Receivers, upon the Crest Receivers' confirmation that they would abide by any order made by the court.

With respect to the progress of sale of the Australian properties, there are no material developments thus far since its last update.

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

Sale of Food Act - Food (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2017

Policy considerations when interpreting tax statutes: Zhao Hui Fang v Commissioner of Stamp Duties [2017] SGHC 105

07 Jun 2017

SMU law don defamed 3 at condo's AGM

Straits Times
18 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Gao Shu Chao ordered to pay $120,000 in total damages

A Singapore Management University law professor was ordered to pay $120,000 in total damages after defaming three people during an annual general meeting of the management corporation (MC) of Duchess Residences in the Bukit Timah area.

The trio who sued Prof Gao Shu Chao for defamatory remarks comprised MC chairman Tan Kok Quan, who is a Senior Counsel and has been a director of several banks and public-listed companies, Mr Kuah Kok Kim, chairman of public-listed MTQ Corporation, and Mr Gn Hiang Meng, a deputy president of the UOL Group before retirement and now an independent director on several public-listed boards including Haw Par Corporation.

The Sunday Times understands that the defamatory remarks affecting the three office bearers relate to information about monies received from owners at 13 sub-divided lots and the relevant accounts.

At the time the comments were made from the floor on March 4 last year, Mr Kuah was serving as the MC's treasurer and Mr Gn, as the secretary. Prof Gao was a resident and unit owner.

In assessing damages, District Judge Chiah Kok Khun factored in Prof Gao's standing. "As an associate professor, the words spoken by him carried more weight than if they were spoken by someone not schooled in the law," he said in judgment grounds released on Friday.

There was a group of about 16, including other unit owners and staff of the managing agent, at the AGM.

The plaintiffs' lawyers, Mr Raymond Wong and Ms Os Agarwal, argued that Prof Gao refused to apologise even when offered opportunities to retract the words he used.

Prof Gao, who defended himself in court, did not dispute that the words were uttered but denied they were defamatory. He also counter-sued the plaintiffs for breach of statutory duty, among other things.

District Judge Chiah found his "improper" motive in speaking up at the AGM was to avoid paying a special levy that had been approved and that other owners had already paid. "The defendant had used the occasion of the 4th AGM to question and pressure the council into withdrawing its claim against him for the special levy," said District Judge Chiah, adding that it amounted to "express malice".

The judge, who found defamation was established in the case, ruled that "in totality", a sum of $40,000 in damages for each of the plaintiffs, which included $10,000 in aggravated damages, would be appropriate.

The judge said the harm caused by the "sting of the defamation" was moderated by the fact that the three plaintiffs were impacted as a group and not as individuals. It followed the quantum of damages awarded was also correspondingly lowered.

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

Remote Gambling Act 2014 - Remote Gambling (Exemption) (No. 2) Order 2017 (S 301 of 2017)

Surplus in insolvency: Key observations from the UK Supreme Court’s “Waterfall I” decision – A Singapore perspective

06 Jun 2017

Will may be challenged after grant of probate, say lawyers

Straits Times
17 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

But they say special reasons are needed if six-month timeframe has elapsed

Can you challenge the validity of a will after probate has been granted?

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's younger son, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, maintains that his father's will - which is at the centre of a dispute between him and his older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - is "final and legally binding" as no challenge was lodged.

Lawyers whom The Straits Times spoke to said that six months, as spelt out in the Wills Act, is a guideline, but a challenge beyond that is possible depending on the reasons.

"If it's after the six months, you have got to give special reasons and it is at the court's discretion," said Dr G. Raman, a veteran probate lawyer.

This is the legal process of probate, when the concerned parties prove in court that a will is a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased.

Probate for the late Mr Lee's will was granted on Oct 6, 2015.

Lawyers suggest that if new evidence surfaces, it is still possible to mount a challenge.

WongPartnership lawyer Sim Bock Eng cited the example where a subsequent will of the testator surfaces, or where there is fraud or other reasons.

The will has become a focal point of the dispute between the siblings after PM Lee, in a summary of his statutory declaration made public on Thursday, raised serious doubts about whether his father was properly and independently advised on the contents of his last will before he signed it.

On why he did not challenge it earlier, PM Lee said he had hoped to settle the matter within the family.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang, however, maintained that the will is "final and legally binding" as PM Lee raised no legal challenge in court and should not use a ministerial committee to try and do so now. He was referring to the committee that has been tasked to look into options for the late Mr Lee's home at 38, Oxley Road.

Paragraph seven of the last will is the main sticking point. It relates to the late founding prime minister's wish to have the Oxley Road home demolished immediately after his death, or after his daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, moves out.

PM Lee said this clause had been removed from two earlier versions of the will and reinstated in the final one under "troubling circumstances".

He added that the clause was now being used by his siblings to claim their father was firm in his wish that the house be demolished, and that he was not prepared to accept its preservation or contemplate options short of demolition.

Another issue raised by PM Lee was a possible conflict of interest with Mrs Lee Suet Fern's involvement in any preparation of the will in which her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, was a beneficiary.

According to lawyers, there is no absolute prohibition against a law firm using its lawyers to attest a will where a member of the firm is related to the testator.

Ms Sim said that although there is a practice direction that discourages doing such work, "it is not uncommon to have staff of a firm asking for assistance in this regard".

Dr Raman added: "There is no prohibition, but it is not prudent to witness or attest to the will when there is a relationship."

Ms Sim explained that there is good reason for this - it ensures that the will reflects the testamentary intent of the testator and that he or she is not under the undue influence of a family member.

PM Lee also noted that the lawyers who witnessed the will signed by his father had spent 15 minutes at the house, and said they "plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the last will and not to advise him".

Lawyers pointed to a 2009 case in which the Court of Appeal underlined the serious professional responsibilities that lawyers must "uncompromisingly observe and discharge".

Among other things, the court reminded lawyers to "confirm with the testator, prior to the execution of the will, that the contents of the will as drafted accurately express the latter's intention".

The court had further explained that the lawyer concerned should also "conscientiously seek to avoid being in any situation where a potential conflict of interest may appear to exist. If the solicitor might be perceived as anything less than a completely independent adviser to the testator, he ought not, as a matter of good practice, to be involved in the explanation, the interpretation and the execution of the will".

As to how long it takes to settle such matters, veteran lawyer V. Ramakrishnan said it can be very short or protracted, "depending on the circumstances of the case".

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

Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 26 of 2017)

ECJ decision creates potential issues for EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

06 Jun 2017

Lee Suet Fern no longer law firm's Singapore head

Straits Times
17 Jun 2017
Grace Leong

Global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has said that Mrs Lee Suet Fern, the managing partner of its combined practice in Singapore, has stepped down from that role.

But Mrs Lee - the wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang - will continue to play a key role in its global strategy from offices here and in Hong Kong.

The couple said earlier this week that they are preparing to leave Singapore - but have not said where they intend to live.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for the firm in Washington said yesterday that "the firm does not anticipate any material change in our Singapore team or practice".

She added that Mrs Lee will "continue to spend a significant amount of time in Singapore as well as travel to Hong Kong, as she already does in support of her strong client relationships there, and as head of our international leadership team".

Morgan Lewis & Bockius merged in 2015 with Stamford Law - founded by Mrs Lee - and became Morgan Lewis Stamford, a Singapore law practice where the partners are concurrent partners of the global firm. Mrs Lee, a top corporate lawyer, then became managing partner of the combined practice here.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Ng Joo Khin, Mrs Lee's deputy and a Morgan Lewis Stamford partner, has been made office managing partner as part of a long-planned transition, which allows Mrs Lee to keep a key role in its global strategy.

Mrs Lee remains on the advisory board of Morgan Lewis & Bockius and will continue to be the head of the international leadership team. The team is made up of, in part, office managing partners of Morgan Lewis' international offices worldwide. Sources said Mrs Lee will be based in the Singapore and Hong Kong offices.

On Wednesday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang issued a statement with his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, saying they felt closely monitored and feared the use of state organs against them. The dispute centres on the house of their late father - former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew - at 38, Oxley Road.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised questions over Mrs Lee's role and that of her law firm in preparing the last will of the late Mr Lee. Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said that Stamford Law did not draft Mr Lee's final will.

The Straits Times understands that Morgan Lewis said it "stands by that account, and notes that no objections had previously been made to the final will, or the provision about demolition of the house, which was a well-known wish of Mr Lee Kuan Yew".

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

Merchant Shipping (Wreck Removal) Act 2017 (Act 25 of 2017)

Sentence lowered in novel case of Director Liability for company’s money laundering

05 Jun 2017

Lee Hsien Yang says wife's firm did not draft will

Straits Times
17 Jun 2017
Charissa Yong

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will was not drafted by the law firm of his daughter-in-law Lee Suet Fern, said his younger son Lee Hsien Yang yesterday afternoon.

He added that his wife's firm, Stamford Law Corporation - now known as Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC - did not draft any of his father's wills.

"The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee&Lee," he said, referring to the sequence of events surrounding the final will. Ms Kwa is his cousin and managing partner at Lee&Lee, the firm his parents had co-founded.

But when contacted last night, Ms Kwa told The Straits Times: "I did not prepare the last will."

She declined to comment further.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had three posts on Facebook throughout the day in response to a statement issued the night before by his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on the dispute between the Lee siblings over their father's house at 38, Oxley Road.

In the statement issued through his lawyers, PM Lee had said their father's final will was made in troubling circumstances, and asked if there was a conflict of interest when Mrs Lee helped prepare it since her husband Lee Hsien Yang stood to gain from the removal of his sister Lee Wei Ling's extra share in the will.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said the will's seventh paragraph, in which his father stated he wanted his house to be demolished after his death, "was drafted at LKY's (Lee Kuan Yew's) direction".

It was "put into language by Lee Suet Fern, his daughter-in-law, and when he was satisfied, he asked Kim Li to insert it into his will", said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

He did not explain how this clause, drafted earlier for previous versions of the will but subsequently deleted, came to be reinstated in the final will.

His account was at odds with that given by PM Lee in his statutory declaration made to a ministerial committee. PM Lee has questioned why the clause was in the final will when it was not in the fifth and sixth will.

He also said he had "grave concerns" over the way in which the final will came to be made, and the role played by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.

PM Lee detailed the e-mail exchanges his brother and sister-in-law had with Mr Lee on the evening of Dec 16, 2013, and wondered at the haste with which they had moved to get changes made to the will, rather than waiting for these to be done by Ms Kwa, who had worked on the earlier wills.

He pointed to the possible conflict of interest of Mrs Lee's involvement in this process, when her husband stood to gain from the changes made.

PM Lee also asked why his sister-in-law said at the reading of the last will in April 2015 that the late Mr Lee asked her to prepare the will, but she got a lawyer from her law firm to do so instead as she did not want to get personally involved.

The lawyer was Mr Ng Joo Khin, who was present at the reading of the last will on April 12, 2015, after Mr Lee died.

PM Lee had asked who instructed Mr Ng on the last will. His brother Lee Hsien Yang replied: "The estate of LKY instructed Stamford Law to extract probate. Ng Joo Khin's role in that was to read the will to the beneficiaries." To extract probate is to have the will recognised as final and legally binding.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee are executors of their father's estate. He said in a Facebook post yesterday morning that he and his sister made similar points on Feb 28 this year to a ministerial committee set up to look into options for 38, Oxley Road.

"LHL's secret committee ignored it," he added.

In another Facebook post in the evening, he said that "this secret committee is entirely uninterested in exploring options for the house, instead focusing solely on challenging the validity of the demolition clause in LKY's will".

He said that "personal family disputes" were matters for the family courts, not a ministerial committee, and his father's wish to demolish the house was well-known.


I did not prepare the last will.

MS KWA KIM LI, managing partner of Lee&Lee, in response last night to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's statement that she had drafted the last will, and not the law firm of his wife.

We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences: Chok Tong

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, commenting on the Lee family dispute in a post on his MParader Facebook page last night:

"Singapore has prevailed through crises and adversity. We are a hardy people, built our family and nation from humble beginnings. What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew's children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are. We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences.

Whatever damage Singapore may suffer, wilfully inflicted or otherwise, I know Singaporeans will not lie meek. We will not be dragged down by a family's petty disputes. We will always look forward, to fight real battles and create a better future for ourselves and our children."

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

Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material) Act 2017 (Act 27 of 2017)

Implying terms of due diligence and when time is of the essence in construction contracts: A case study of CAA Technologies Pte Ltd v Newcon Builders Pte Ltd [2016] SGHC 246

05 Jun 2017

Some condo laws prevail over data protection needs

Straits Times
17 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Info on home owners that is publicly available can be displayed on voter lists

When it comes to protecting your personal data, there is a limit to what owners can do if their personal information is available to the public and the management at their private estate chooses to display it.

This emerged after unit owners at three private estates took issue with their individual management corporations (MCs) and managing agents displaying their personal information, including addresses, on notice boards and a website which can be accessed by many others.

All three cases were brought to the Personal Data Protection Commission, which issued a consolidated decision on Monday because of a few identical issues involved.

The commission said the managing agents and MCs were covered by the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA), which authorises and requires the names of people entitled to vote at a general meeting to be displayed.

This is because other laws like BMSMA prevail over data protection obligations under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA).

The commission acknowledged that the BMSMA did not note that residents' unit numbers and voting shares may be disclosed in voter lists, along with other details.

But it said that as such data was publicly available, it can be disclosed without obtaining consent or notification, as in this case. The commission said such data can be found in the strata roll generally available to the public, and there are few restrictions under BMSMA when it comes to accessing the strata roll.

The issue came to light after the management of condos Prive in Punggol, The Mornington in St Michael's Road and Seletaris in Sembawang displayed owners' names, unit numbers and voting shares via voter lists. The commission received the complaints last year.

Three Prive residents had complained that the managing agent had posted copies of the voter list containing their details on notice boards and the Prive EC Web portal, without notifying residents or getting their consent.

At Mornington, a resident took issue with the management corporation for leaving a voter list with their details on the publicly accessible notice board for about two months, which was allegedly longer than necessary after the council meeting was held.

And at Seletaris, a unit owner questioned the need for multiple display of the data on at least two notice boards and for keeping it there for an "unnecessarily long period of time" of two days. He also complained that the data was used without consent or notice.

Under the PDPA, disclosure required notifying and obtaining the consent of the affected parties. But the BMSMA trumps protection of personal data. And this applies even to minutes of meetings.

The commission said it is "implicit" that a full and accurate recording of the meeting can contain relevant personal data. But "this position should not be construed to mean that MCs and managing agents may include personal data of their residents without restriction".

The commission stressed that any data recorded in such minutes should be necessary to the proceedings, and if not, the commission may take appropriate enforcement action. It also said keeping the voter list on display for two months was "not so unreasonably long".

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

Merchant Shipping Act - Merchant Shipping (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 300 of 2017)

Public consultation on 5G mobile services

02 Jun 2017

M. Ravi's legal challenge against EP dismissed

Straits Times
16 Jun 2017
Charissa Yong

High Court judge finds human rights lawyer has no legal standing to bring challenge

A constitutional challenge to the elected presidency mounted by human rights lawyer M. Ravi was dismissed by a High Court judge yesterday.

Justice See Kee Oon found that Mr Ravi had no legal standing to bring the challenge.

The judge also found that recent changes to the elected presidency, as well as the entire scheme itself, which Mr Ravi had said were unconstitutional, had been validly passed and were legally effective.

Therefore, they did not contravene the Constitution.

On Facebook, Mr Ravi wrote that he was ordered to pay legal costs of $6,000, as well as reimburse the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) about $2,000 for their cost of filing court documents.

Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair represented the AGC in the case, which was heard behind closed doors.

Mr Ravi, a non-practising lawyer who brought the case as a private citizen, argued that the entire elected presidency scheme set up in 1991 was unconstitutional.

He argued that the criteria which people must meet to run for president deprive citizens of their right to stand for public office.

He also contended that the changes to the elected presidency to ensure minority representation, which Parliament approved last November, discriminate on the grounds of ethnicity.

But Justice See found that Mr Ravi did not have the legal standing to bring the challenge as he did not meet at least one of the three criteria for a private citizen to mount a challenge relating to public law.

The three criteria are: He must have personal interest in the matter, he must prove there are special damages to him and there must be serious illegality going on.

Mr Ravi has a week - until June 22 - to file an appeal.

He had previously said on Facebook that he would appeal if he lost.

Earlier in the day, the court also dismissed three applications filed by Mr Ravi.

The first application was to disqualify Mr Nair, a retired People's Action Party (PAP) MP who has since left the party, from arguing the case. Mr Ravi contended that Mr Nair was partisan, and had a conflict of interest between representing the people and representing the PAP-led Government.

The second was to have the case heard in open court.

The third was to adjourn the hearing to a later date, pending another legal challenge related to the Constitution that he filed, Mr Ravi wrote on Facebook.

On Facebook, Mr Ravi wrote that he was ordered to pay legal costs of $6,000, as well as reimburse the Attorney-General's Chambers about $2,000 for their cost of filing court documents.

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Markets) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 299 of 2017)

The Singapore High Court clarifies the scope of adjudication review: The decision in Ang Cheng Guan Construction Pte Ltd v Corporate Residence Pte Ltd

02 Jun 2017

PM questions the role of brother, wife in making of final will

Straits Times
16 Jun 2017
Charissa Yong

Document differed markedly from its previous version, which did not have a clause on demolition of Oxley Road house

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised questions about the role of his brother Hsien Yang and sister-in-law, lawyer Lee Suet Fern, in preparing the seventh and final version of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will, in a lengthy statement issued by his lawyers on Thursday (June 15) night.

The document differed markedly from its previous version, in that it gave equal shares of their father's estate to all three of his children.

This was a reversal of a decision that the late Mr Lee had made in his second-last will, in which Dr Lee Wei Ling, his only daughter, was given an extra share of the estate.

The other key difference was the inclusion of a clause stating that the late Mr Lee wanted his house at 38, Oxley Road demolished after his death.

The clause had been in the first, second, third and fourth wills, but was not in the fifth and sixth ones.

In his statement, PM Lee quoted e-mails exchanged by his family members, and recounted the series of events that "led him to be very troubled by the circumstances surrounding the last will".

He also disclosed his sister Wei Ling once held "grave suspicions" that the removal of her extra share of the estate was "instigated" by her brother Hsien Yang and his wife.

PM Lee said his father changed his mind on giving Wei Ling an extra share after discussions with Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.

Unlike all the previous wills, the final one was not prepared by their cousin, Ms Kwa Kim Li, a lawyer at Lee & Lee, the firm co-founded by the late Mr Lee and his wife Kwa Geok Choo.

Instead, it had been prepared by lawyers from Mrs Lee's law firm.

This happened after Ms Kwa was removed from an email list regarding the last will on Dec 16, 2013, by Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

He told his father he could not get in touch with Ms Kwa and believed she was away.

He also said he thought it was not wise to wait for her to return and suggested having lawyers from his wife's law firm, including a partner of the firm, prepare the will and witness the signing.

On Thursday (June 15), PM Lee questioned the decision, saying that it was unclear what efforts his brother had made to get in touch with Ms Kwa.

Ms Kwa had also said to Mrs Lee that she did not receive an email sent by her immediately before being removed by her husband from the email chain.

PM Lee said it was not clear why his brother thought there was an urgency to the signing of the last will.

"It is however interesting that he suggested that his wife, clearly an interested party, and her partners would prepare the new will," he said.

He also cited emails showing that in the space of 41 minutes at night, Mrs Lee had seen to the preparation of the new will and had one of her colleagues to be on standby to get it signed by the late Mr Lee.

The next morning, he signed the final will in the presence of two lawyers from Mrs Lee's law firm, then called Stamford Law Corporation. It is now known as now Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC.

PM Lee noted that the two lawyers, Mr Bernard Lui and Ms Elizabeth Kong, were present at his father's house for "15 minutes only, including the time for logging into and out from the property".

"They plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the last will and not to advise him," he said.

Neither he nor his sister were copied in the emails on the last will.

PM Lee also questioned the re-insertion of the demolition clause into the final will, when the change the late Mr Lee had wanted only concerned the share of the house which Dr Lee was to get.

He also recounted how he went to look up old family emails, after he and his brother disagreed over whether the house should be immediately demolished during the reading of the last will.

At PM Lee's request, his brother forwarded him copies of other emails which had nothing to do with the last will.

But PM Lee said his brother "cut out and did not send me the incriminating exchanges in the email chain that followed".

These deleted parts showed Mr Lee Hsien Yang's and his wife's involvement in the making of the last will in December 2013.

PM Lee said that he continued to have grave concerns about the events surrounding the last will.

He also said he was not aware of any facts that suggested his father was informed or advised about all the changes that were made when he signed the last will.

"In fact, there is no evidence that Mr Lee even knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into the last will," added PM Lee.

In his statement, he listed a series of questions he had, including whether his father gave specific instructions to re-insert the demolition clause in the last will, and if so to whom.

He also asked about what role Mrs Lee played in the preparation and signing of the last will, and whether she, her fellow lawyers, and her law firm had a conflict of interest.

Said PM Lee: "Without proper and complete answers to these questions, the serious doubts about whether Mr Lee was properly and independently advised on the contents of the last will before he signed it cannot be cleared."


The Demolition Clause in the Last Will is now being used by Dr Lee Wei Ling ("LWL") and Mr Lee Hsien Yang ("LHY") to claim that Mr Lee was firm in his wish that the house at 38, Oxley Road (the "House") be demolished, and that he was not prepared to accept its preservation or contemplate options short of demolition. There is no basis for these claims, not least because of the deeply troubling circumstances concerning the making of the Last Will...

LSF's (Lee Suet Fern's) e-mail distinctly and clearly gave Mr Lee the impression that the new will would change only the division of shares, with the result that each child would have an equal share, just like in the First Will. Yet, the Last Will that LSF and her law firm prepared and got Mr Lee to sign went beyond that. Significantly, they re-inserted the Demolition Clause, even though that clause does not appear to have been discussed at the time of the making of the Last Will and had in fact been removed by Mr Lee from his immediately prior two wills (the Fifth and Sixth Wills)...

My concerns are heightened by what appears to be a conflict of interest: LSF was involved in the preparation and/or signing of the Last Will, while her husband, LHY, was a beneficiary under the Last Will and stood to gain by the removal of LWL's extra share in the Estate under the Last Will.

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Clearing Facilities) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 298 of 2017)

Arbitration at your option: So long as you have agreed to it: A case study of Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd v Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd [2017] SGCA 32

01 Jun 2017

Noble stock sinks as ex-CEO sues founder for HK$450m

Business Times
15 Jun 2017
Hoe Pei Shan

Yusuf Alireza, who did not name Noble as a defendant, alleges shares due to him were not transferred

SINGAPORE mainboard-listed Noble Group's stock sank on Wednesday as news broke of a lawsuit filed by former CEO Yusuf Alireza against company founder and chairman emeritus Richard Elman over HK$450 million (S$79.2 million) in shares related to alleged contract breaches.

Mr Alireza, who was appointed CEO in 2012 but abruptly left the Hong Kong-based embattled commodity trader in May 2016, filed the suit with Hong Kong's High Court, according to a Bloomberg report published on Wednesday.

Noble is not named as a defendant in the writ of summons, which mainly lays out claims against Mr Elman, the trader's largest shareholder with an 18.5 per cent stake.

According to the writ, Mr Elman gave Mr Alireza six months' notice of termination after the latter raised "concerns over the future viability" of Noble Group and made various recommendations in May 2016.

Mr Alireza claims he had a deal that would have seen him receive about 63.9 million fully-paid shares in Noble for starting work at the company, and an additional 52.3 million shares when his employment was terminated, but alleges those shares have not been transferred.

When contacted by The Business Times on Wednesday, Mr Elman's Hong Kong office said he would not be able to respond before press time.

Noble Group's stock fell 6.2 per cent to close at 30.5 Singapore cents, near the lowest since 2000.

The trader's shares have collapsed 83 per cent over the past year, extending the company's troubles since antagonist outfit Iceberg Research first raised questions about Noble's accounting methods in February 2015.

Iceberg's initial report accused Noble of having inflated its bottom line through over-bullish price projections, claims which Noble rejected and dismissed as work of a disgruntled ex-employee.

But the trader has since been hit by a series of setbacks, including significant losses, a collapse in its securities, downgrades to its credit rating and uncertainty over its ability to fund its debt.

Last year, Noble tried to reset its business with the sale of its US energy solutions unit after Mr Alireza left, an exit from European power and gas and a reduction in its metals business.

The company's market value has slumped to just over S$400 million from more than US$10 billion at the end of 2010.

Amid what appeared to be a worsening crisis, Mr Elman stepped down from his position as executive chairman last month, citing the need to make "changes to the board to ensure that it is 'fit for purpose' to oversee our emerging slimmer business profile".

Less than two weeks later, Reuters reported that Sinochem International Corporation was no longer pursuing an investment in Noble due to concerns over the finances and business outlook of the loss-making commodity trader, quoting three sources familiar with the matter.

Mr Alireza's lawsuit, which also names Fleet Overseas (New Zealand) Ltd as a defendant, is the second suit from a former Noble CEO. His predecessor, Ricardo Leiman, filed a lawsuit in Singapore five years ago over claims that US$12.9 million in bonus and rights to 67.7 million restricted shares and options in a trust had been wrongly withheld.

Noble has said that Mr Leiman was not owed compensation because he had been in discussions to set up a rival business while still on a US$350,000-a-year advisory contract with Noble.

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

Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Act 2017 - Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 297 of 2017)

Technology, Media and Telecommunications Regional Update

01 Jun 2017

Actor Edmund Chen and consultant sue each other over defamation claims

Straits Times
15 Jun 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Working relationship goes awry after Edmund Chen hires her to promote and sell a book

A popular local actor and a woman who worked with his company are now locked in defamation claims against each other.

Local celebrity Edmund Chen, 56, has accused public relations and marketing consultant Karen Ho Kai Lun of sending defamatory WhatsApp messages to at least 11 people, including his business clients, between February and April.

The actor, who is known as Mr Tan Kai Yuan in court papers, is director of event production company Asiatainment.

Ms Ho, 30, is accusing him of defaming her via Facebook posts.

According to court documents obtained by The Straits Times, Mr Tan felt Ms Ho allegedly defamed him after she was told they would no longer be working together.

He is claiming damages for libel from Ms Ho and filed the case against her on April 28.

Ms Ho is accusing him of repeatedly publishing comments she alleged were defamatory to her on his Facebook page in April.

She is also claiming damages and filed the case against him on May 17.

The court documents for both parties do not specify the amounts each is seeking.

Mr Tan is represented by lawyers Samuel Seow Theng Beng and Shaun Marc Lew from Samuel Seow Law Corporation.

His amended statement of claim dated May 4 states that Mr Tan is the author and illustrator of a book titled My Little Red Dot.

The claim says: "In or about (September last year, Asiatainment) agreed to engage (Ms Ho) for her services to promote and sell (the book) on behalf of the company in exchange for valuable consideration." But the company subsequently took issue with how Ms Ho represented herself to third parties when promoting and selling the book.

On Feb 14 this year, Mr Tan told her that they would no longer be working together from the following day. The claim states: "At all material times, (Ms Ho) was never an employee of (Asiatainment) and no notice period was therefore necessary." It also says that after this, she allegedly sent out the WhatsApp messages which Mr Tan claims were defamatory.

Mr Tan's claim stated that he came across as having "acted irresponsibly" and was "avoiding" his company's clients.

Ms Ho is represented by lawyer Nicolas Tang Tze Hao from Farallon Law. Her statement of claim states that Mr Tan posted alleged defamatory remarks against her on Facebook on four occasions between April 11 and 21.

Her claim states that some of the words on his Facebook post made it seem that she was a criminal and a cheat. The claim goes on to say: "At the relevant times, Facebook had millions of users, all of whom had free and open access to the words.

"It can be inferred that a large and unquantifiable number of users in Singapore and around the world read the articles."

Her claim also states that the words were republished on other platforms such as the national press and on various websites.

She then demanded, through her lawyers, that he publish an apology on his Facebook page, and several newspapers are to be alerted to the posting. The cases are pending.

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

Merchant Shipping (Wreck Removal) Act 2017 - Merchant Shipping (Wreck Removal) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 296 of 2017)

Foreign bank mergers, universal succession and the Singapore Banking Act: Jacob Agam and another v BNP Paribas SA [2017] SGCA(I) 01

SLW Commentary
31 May 2017

Watchdog: Pink Dot ads have not breached code

Straits Times
15 Jun 2017
Tan Tam Mei

Asas explains request to remove tagline after its move sparks debate online

Singapore's advertising watchdog yesterday clarified that Pink Dot advertisements at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard have not breached its code, specifically the section dealing with family values.

Instead, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) requested the tagline "Supporting the freedom to love" on the banners to be removed as advertisements in public spaces should be "prepared with a sense of responsibility to public sentiments" and avoid contributing to "heightened public sensitivities".

Asas also explained it made the request after receiving feedback on the ads. Meanwhile, the organisers of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rally said there are no plans to change the ads.

Asas' explanation came after its request last Thursday for Pink Dot and Cathay to remove the tagline ignited debate online.

The ads for the annual LGBT rally are up on the front door panels and along an escalator inside the mall, and had drawn complaints from a Facebook group which is opposed to the event.

In a statement yesterday, Asas' chairman, Professor Tan Sze Wee, said the council makes decisions through a vote when it receives feedback on advertisements.

He added that Asas had received public feedback on the Pink Dot advertisements, but it could not disclose the source of any feedback it receives.

Prof Tan said: "Members will have one vote, and all decisions will be (made) by a simple majority of the members present. In the event that the votes are divided, the chairman will have a casting vote.

"Any member of Asas who has a vested interest in a dispute must immediately declare that interest and be absent from all deliberations."

Asas had voted after receiving feedback on the Pink Dot advertisements and concluded it did not breach the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (Scap), and made the suggestion for the tagline to be removed.

The advertising watchdog, which comes under the Consumers Association of Singapore, was set up to promote ethical advertising while reflecting community standards. There are currently 27 council members who are appointed by their respective organisations, representing industry players such as advertising agencies, media owners and government agencies.

It is able to rule on disputes and can issue sanctions on advertisers or agencies who breach the code by withholding advertising space or time, and withdrawing trading privileges through its members.

Asas can also name errant advertisers and refer matters to Case for action under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act when it encounters recalcitrant advertisers who make false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims.

In 2015, Asas ordered eatery OverEasy Orchard at Liat Towers to remove an ad that was deemed indecent and in breach of the Scap. The ad that featured three scantily clad women exposing their buttocks and the tagline "Seriously sexy buns. Two are better than one. Smack that, Aug 2015" was taken down soon after.

When contacted yesterday, Pink Dot organisers said that Asas had not reached out to them and reiterated that they were open to having a "frank discussion" on the matter.

A Cathay spokesman had earlier said it was not in the position to decide on the removal of the tagline as ownership of the ad belonged to Pink Dot.

Asas' explanation came after its request last Thursday for Pink Dot and Cathay to remove the tagline ignited debate online. The ads for the annual LGBT rally are up on the front door panels and along an escalator inside the mall, and had drawn complaints from a Facebook group which is opposed to the event.

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

Protected Areas and Protected Places Act - Protected Places (No. 3) Order 2017 (S 295 of 2017)

E-commerce businesses: Valuation beyond the horizon

31 May 2017

Home of former PM Lee Kuan Yew at centre of dispute

Straits Times
15 Jun 2017
Royston Sim

A long-running question over what to do with the home of the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at 38, Oxley Road has come into focus again after two of his children, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, issued a statement on the matter yesterday.

In their statement, they reiterated their father's wish that the house be demolished upon his death.

The two siblings, who are joint executors and trustees of their father's estate, also said that their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and his wife Ho Ching had opposed this wish as "the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital".

The issue of the house made the news back in 2015, several weeks after Mr Lee Kuan Yew died at the age of 91 on March 23 that year.

On April 12, 2015, Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang stated publicly that the late Mr Lee had asked for his house to be demolished after his death, and asked Singaporeans to respect this wish.

In his will, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said that the house should either be demolished immediately after his death or after Dr Lee moves out of it.

If demolition is made impossible owing to changes in the law, rules or regulations, it was the late Mr Lee's wish that the house should not be open to anyone except his children, their families and descendants.

There had been calls after his death to turn the pre-war bungalow, which he had lived in since the 1940s, into a museum or heritage site.

PM Lee told Parliament at a sitting on April 13, 2015 that Mr Lee Kuan Yew knew about calls from the public to turn his Oxley Road home into a museum and a memorial to him, but was adamant that the house should be demolished after his death.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew had written formally to the Cabinet at least twice to put his wishes on record, PM Lee said.

The first time was soon after his wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, died in October 2010, and the second time was after he stepped down from the Cabinet in May 2011.

In his statement delivered in Parliament, PM Lee said that his father's position on 38, Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and added that Singaporeans should respect his wishes.

PM Lee explained that his father was averse to the idea of preserving his home as he had seen too many houses of famous people "kept frozen in time... as a monument with people tramping in and out", and they invariably "become shabby".

The Prime Minister also said that a decision on the fate of the house was not required yet as his sister, Dr Lee, continued to live there.

Three MPs had tabled questions on ways to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew during that Parliament sitting in April.

PM Lee replied that decisions on how best to honour the late Mr Lee should not be rushed into so soon after his death.

He also told Parliament that he had asked Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang to head a committee to conceptualise a Founders' Memorial that honours not just Mr Lee but also his core team, including Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S. Rajaratnam, Mr Othman Wok, Mr Hon Sui Sen and Mr Lim Kim San.

The 15-member Founders' Memorial committee began work on how to honour Singapore's first generation of political leaders in June 2015.

Since then, it has made recommendations on two possible sites for the memorial: Fort Canning Park and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay. A final decision on the site has not been made.

In December 2015, PM Lee and his two siblings said in a joint statement that they hoped the state would honour their late father's wishes regarding the house.

It also announced that PM Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had each agreed to donate half the value of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road house to eight charities, in honour of their father.

The December 2015 statement also stated that PM Lee has recused himself from all government decisions involving the Oxley Road house.

In their statement issued yesterday, Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang revealed that the house was bequeathed to PM Lee, but he sold it to Mr Lee Hsien Yang in late 2015. The brothers also agreed on the donations to charities.

In the statement, Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang said they were disappointed when National Development Minister Lawrence Wong wrote to them in July last year to inform them that a ministerial committee had been set up to consider options for 38, Oxley Road and their implications.

An online poll released in December 2015 by Hong Kong- based market research firm YouGov had found that a majority of those surveyed supported demolishing the house.

Of the 1,000 people it polled, 77 per cent said they backed Mr Lee's wish, while 15 per cent wanted the house preserved.

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

Protected Areas and Protected Places Act - Protected Places (No. 2) Order 2017 (S 294 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38 (applicable tests for standard of care in medical negligence)

Supreme Court Note
31 May 2017

The Appellant, who had previously been diagnosed with a tumour in his lungs, underwent certain diagnostic scans which detected lesions in the head and body of his pancreas. There was some uncertainty as to whether the lesions were cancerous. On the advice of his surgeon (the First Respondent), and with input from other doctors associated with the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (the Second Respondent), the Appellant then underwent a surgical procedure, known as the Whipple procedure, which removed parts of his pancreas and other parts of his digestive tract. The Whipple procedure gave rise to post-operative complications which required further surgeries to treat. Moreover, the lesions turned out not to be cancerous. The Appellant sued the Respondents for, among other things, not adequately advising him as to the uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis and the alternatives to the Whipple procedure. The High Court dismissed the Appellant’s claims, finding that there had been no breach of the applicable standards of care.

The principal legal issue in this appeal was whether to retain the traditional test for medical negligence as applying to all aspects of a doctor’s duty. That test was the Bolam test (set out in Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 582), which looked to whether there was a body of other doctors who considered the defendant doctor’s course of action to be acceptable, even if there were other doctors who would disagree. The Bolam test was subject to the Bolitho addendum (set out in Bolitho v City and Hackney Health Authority [1998] AC 232), which allowed the court to disregard the opinion of medical experts if it could (on limited grounds) be said to be illogical. The Appellant argued that the test set out in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11 (“Montgomery”) should apply to advice, while the Respondents argued in favour of retaining the status quo. In addition to the submissions of the parties, the Attorney-General’s Chambers also made submissions (substantially aligned with those of the Respondents), as the Attorney-General considered that the appeal raised an issue of public importance.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and upheld the High Court’s finding that the applicable standards of care had been satisfied. However, the Court also took the view that the traditional test was no longer suited to assessing a doctor’s duty to advise, as it gave insufficient regard to the principle of patient autonomy, which had come to be recognised as fundamental.

The Court therefore laid down a new test applicable to the standard of care only with regard to advice, which is a modified version of the Montgomery test. The modified test is a three-stage inquiry: first, was the information material either from the perspective of a reasonable patient in the particular patient’s position, or from the perspective of the particular patient for individual-specific reasons of which the doctor knew or should have known; second, was the doctor aware of that information, and if not, was he negligent (under his duty of diagnosis) in not obtaining or having it; and third, if both prior questions are answered affirmatively, was there justification for withholding the information?

On the facts, the Court found that some of the information allegedly withheld was material but had in fact been adequately communicated, and some of the other information, which was in fact withheld, was not material. As for the diagnosis and treatment, the Court found that both had been satisfactory under the Bolam test read with the Bolitho addendum.

The Court also made observations on issues including the nature of the relationship between the general professional standard of care and the specific tests which applied in different contexts; the need for judges to apply the Bolitho addendum scrupulously but with circumspection; and the dynamic interplay between the three aspects of a doctor’s duty (diagnosis, advice and treatment).

On the Bolam test and the Bolitho addendum, and their relationship to the general professional standard of care: see Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38 at paras 53–64, 76, and 100–112.

On the different aspects of a doctor’s duty: see Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38 at paras 89–98.

On the reasons for adopting a new test with regard to advice: see Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38 at paras 113–125.

On the modified Montgomery test: see Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38 para 68 (on a precursor to the Montgomery test) and paras 126–153.

To view the judgment, click <here>.

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

Double-edged court ruling in three-year child custody tussle

Straits Times
14 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

After a three-year tussle over child custody, an unwed couple who split on their wedding day will have to live with a double-edged decision by a Hong Kong court.

The judge shifted existing care and control of the girl from the Australian father to the Singaporean mother but turned down her application to relocate here.

"The main obstacle to a shared or joint care and control order at this stage is the complete lack of trust and respect, the high conflict and lack of collaboration and compromise between the parties," said Hong Kong High Court Judge Bebe Pui Ying Chu.

"The fact remains the litigation between the parties is now in its third year, mediation had failed, the parties had to go through a five-day trial and litigation is ongoing with financial matters not resolved. All this speaks for itself," said the judge in decision grounds released in Hong Kong on Monday.

The Australian insurance country manager, 38, and the Singaporean psychologist, 35, met in the Chinese city in 2010, started cohabiting in 2012, and had the baby in May 2013. But the Hong Kong permanent residents quarrelled on their big day, June 21, 2014, and cancelled the wedding.

Two days later, the mother left with the baby for Singapore. The father applied in Hong Kong for custody, care and control of the girl and also for her to be returned and made a ward of the court. The city's court made an interim order on access and made the girl a ward.

The mother subsequently started custody proceedings here. The father came here to stay the court proceedings in favour of Hong Kong, which High Court Judicial Commissioner Debbie Ong allowed in February 2015, ruling it was the appropriate forum.

In May 2015, the father obtained a Hong Kong order which ruled the couple would have joint custody but care and control was given to him. Mother and child returned to Hong Kong in March last year.

By then, the father had wedded a Hong Kong-based fitness trainer and both have a son. It also emerged the mother has a partner.

At issue in the recent Hong Kong hearing was who should have care and control, whether mother and daughter should be allowed to relocate to Singapore, and whether the girl should be de-warded.

The judge accepted that the mother's bid to relocate to Singapore was "genuine and not motivated by some selfish desire to exclude the father from the child's life".

But she held it best at this stage for the girl to remain in Hong Kong, given uncertainties in relocation, including the mother's relationship with her current partner.

The judge said, after " weighing up the factors", that the mother, being the primary caregiver, be granted sole care and control, with regular access for the father, who will have the girl stay with him every other weekend and on Father's Day, among other things.

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

Protected Areas and Protected Places Act - Protected Places Order 2017 (S 293 of 2017)

Latest IP developments: Limited extent of copyright protection over directories – Global Yellow Pages v Promedia; Innovation fund for IP infrastructure; IPOS HMD Circular No. 3/2017

30 May 2017

True Fitness' unpaid Thai staff turn to court

Straits Times
14 Jun 2017
Tan Hui Yee

Singapore-based fitness chain closed ops last week; spokesman says staff will be paid

At least five employees of True Fitness in Thailand have filed complaints with the kingdom's labour court over unpaid wages after the chain's sudden closure last week.

According to some of the employees, the amount owed in salaries and commissions is estimated to total several million baht.

The Singapore-based fitness chain abruptly shut its Thai and Malaysian operations last week, citing challenging business circumstances and the unwillingness of landlords to allow other operators to take over its business.

But it appears to have left in its trail dozens of unpaid employees, some of whom are now in increasingly desperate circumstances.

"Some of the lower-level staff, like those working at the reception, cannot get into their (rental) apartments because they can't pay their landlords," Mr Nonvaris Sappasiriyohin, one of its senior employees, told The Straits Times. "Right now, they are very confused, and don't know what to do."

Mr Nonvaris said he has not been paid since April.

"They did not tell us anything," another senior employee, who has worked with the company for over a decade, said just before filing her complaint at Bangkok's Central Labour Court yesterday.

True opened its first outlet in Thailand in 2006. Its two gyms - in Bangkok's Exchange Tower and in Esplanade Ngamwongwan-Khae Rai, just outside the capital - have some 7,000 members, she said.

Contacted in Singapore, a True Group spokesman told The Straits Times that it has made arrangements to cover all outstanding salaries "and hope this can be paid out this week or early next week".

"Business in Thailand over the past two years has proved to be challenging," said the spokesman, citing social disturbances caused by flooding, terror attacks and military interventions. "The local consumer market is still struggling."

True Group's businesses in Singapore, Taiwan and China were subsidising the losses in Thailand, she said. "Before we could arrange for the business to be restructured and funded, we were shut down by the landlords, leaving us with little time to make the necessary arrangements to keep the business going. With our offices shut, we have not been able to make any payments to anyone."

She stressed: "All will be paid in full once we can get our office open to make the payments this week."

As for compensation for the sudden termination of employment, she said: "We are looking into what we can do but we have also suffered due to the abrupt closure."

True Group, set up in Singapore 13 years ago by chief executive Patrick Wee, touts itself as one of Asia's largest fitness and wellness groups. It sealed a partnership agreement with China-based Tongfang Kontafarma Holdings last month, and maintains that the closures in Thailand and Malaysia will not affect its expansion plans in Singapore, China and Taiwan.

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

Protected Areas and Protected Places Act - Protected Places (Consolidation) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 292 of 2017)

Amendments to Companies Act aim to transform Singapore into debt restructuring hub

30 May 2017

Lawyers are keeping up with the times: Voices

13 Jun 2017

I am perturbed by the letter “Make legal services more accessible and affordable to clients” (June 7), and write in defence of lawyers. As we do owe a duty of care to clients and the court, we discharge it honourably.

We strive to do our best and to hold the Bar in esteem. Yes, the times and the legal landscape are changing, and technology is advancing, so the demands on lawyers are escalating. And we are keeping up.

Gone are the days of snail mail and giving lawyers a breather from responding to clients’ instructions, which we now receive via email and WhatsApp/text messages. We are always under pressure to meet court deadlines and clients’ needs.

Nevertheless, many lawyers and law firms have been providing information on their services, writing articles and posting on their blogs.

My firm’s website outlines services and areas of practice, with just enough information on the law for the public, and our blogs about divorce, criminal law, probate and estate matters expand on the law and its process.

We keep the laws and information on our website and blogs current. We have also developed mobile applications providing information to the public.

I must add that there is information readily available on the websites of the Supreme Court, State Courts, Family Justice Courts, Legal Aid Bureau and the Law Society of Singapore for public awareness.

The Community Justice Centre provides access to counsel by capping the cost of a basic legal package; further, there are 54 free legal clinics in Singapore for the public to approach.

For many lawyers and firms, the first consultation is free; subsequent meetings are chargeable. If a potential client is, however, seeking an opinion on an agreement or contract papers at the first meeting, surely that cannot be free.

I myself waive consultation charges if my services are engaged on the same day, and I believe that many lawyers do the same.

The public should not be sent the wrong message. Lawyers do their utmost to serve the needs of potential clients too.

Gloria James-Civetta

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 27) Notification 2017 (S 291 of 2017)

Court of Appeal considers asymmetric arbitration agreement

29 May 2017

Condos, owners tussle over fixtures

Straits Times
13 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Strata Titles Board hears cases involving trellises, balcony grilles

One condo home owner wanted to install "invisible" grilles at his balcony as a safety precaution because he has young children.

A group of 22 home owners at another condo wanted the trellises in their balconies to be covered. For some owners there, it was about preventing killer litter.

In both estates, their respective management corporations (MCs) said no. And when mediation talks failed to resolve the matter, the owners took their cases to the Strata Titles Board (STB).

The owners had some success. But in one case, STB also pointed out that the relevant law does not allow it to force the MC to allow owners exclusive use of common property.

The 22 owners of 12 units at Sunglade condo in Serangoon had applied to have their trellises covered; their MC rejected this. The trellises are part of the original design.

During mediation talks before STB in February, the MC and the owners of nine of these units, all located on the ground floor, agreed that by covering the trellises, safety would be improved by preventing killer litter.

In its decision grounds last month, STB said the spat with the nine units was settled following the mediation talks. However, it could not grant permission for the owners of the three units located on the 13th storey, the highest level.

The question STB grappled with: Would anchoring the coverings for the trellises to building walls be deemed as use of common property?

Lawyers Toh Kok Seng and Daniel Chen, who represented the owners, argued that the wall to be used was within the owners' lot and was not common property. The trellis would not be used in the installation of the coverings, they added.

The MC's lawyers Subir Singh Grewal and Jacqueline Teo countered that the wall was maintained by the MC and was common property, not open to exclusive use by owners.

STB, comprising deputy president F.G. Remedios and two board members, Dr Lim Lan Yuan and Mr Lawrence Ang, found that there would be exclusive use of common property if the trellises on the three 13th-storey units were covered.

In rejecting the applications for these owners last month, STB explained that "an order granted by the Board would equate to the Board ordering the (MC) to permit the applicants to have right to exclusive use of the common property for an unlimited period of time".

Separately, STB in March ordered the MC of a condo known as 19 Shelford Road to allow a unit owner to install "invisible" grilles at the balcony. This had to be done in accordance with the MC's proposed design, based on the design of the building facade.

The unit, on the top floor of a four-storey building, has a balcony with railings that have gaps of 20cm between each of three horizontal bars. The owner was concerned his two children aged below five would go through or over the railings and fall. He applied to STB last year to get the MC to agree to him installing "invisible" safety grilles.

STB - comprising Mr Alfonso Ang, Professor Teo Keang Sood and Mr Lim Peng Hong - overruled the MC, finding it did not provide the owner with "practical and feasible alternatives" when it refused the applicant's proposal for invisible grilles.

Law firm Lee & Lee, which represented the unit owner, said in a case update on its website that the STB decision "affirms the legal position that safety is paramount".

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

Protected Areas and Protected Places Act - Protected Areas (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 290 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: Global Yellow Pages Limited v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd and another matter [2017] SGCA 28 (Sections 27, 35, 200 Copyright Act)

Supreme Court Note
26 May 2017

This appeal involved a failed claim in copyright by a publisher of phone directories, Global Yellow Pages Limited (“GYP”), and its competitor, Promedia Directories Pte Ltd (“Promedia”).

GYP claimed that copyright subsisted in editions of its white pages, yellow pages, and online directories, as well as components thereof. GYP also claimed that Promedia had infringed its copyright by (among other things) taking, for its “temporary database”, the data from the yellow pages and reproducing the listings of the white pages and web pages from the online directory. This “temporary database” contained the data used to produce Promedia’s telephone directories. GYP contended that Promedia’s dealing was not fair and amounted to an infringement. GYP also appealed the trial judge’s finding that, its claim having failed, it was liable to Promedia for making groundless threats of copyright infringement against it.

Subsistence of copyright

The Court of Appeal held that copyright can subsist in a literary work only if there is an authorial creation that is causally connected with the engagement of the human intellect (meaning the application of intellectual effort, creativity, or the exercise of mental labour, skill or judgment). In the context of compilations, the compiler must exercise sufficient creativity in selecting or arranging the material to cloak that selection or arrangement with copyright. Ultimately, this is a nuanced inquiry of fact and degree. The selection of listings within each classification in GYP’s yellow pages directories was not creative; it really comprised exercises in fact discovery. Accordingly, no copyright subsisted in it. As for the listings within the white pages directories, the selection therein was not creative, but the narrow way in which it departed from the alphabetical arrangement sufficed to attract a very thin copyright.

The Court of Appeal observed that the appropriation of data or facts representing the fruit of an investment, even if commercially immoral, lies outside the purview of copyright law. Instead, it is more properly protected by a sui generis database right, which Parliament consciously decided not to introduce. The court should not adopt a lower standard of creativity in the case of factual compilations in comparison to other authors’ works to provide such protection. In any event, database creators can use contract to protect themselves.

Fair dealing

The Court of Appeal observed that the fair dealing provisions were meant to safeguard the interests of the public within a framework of strong, effective copyright protection. Whether a dealing was fair under s 35(2) of the Copyright Act is necessarily fact-sensitive and one of fact and impression having regard to all the circumstances. In particular:

The purpose and character of the dealing will be assessed against that of the original work. The inquiry is shaped by what attracted copyright and what was done with that aspect of the work. Generally, the fact that the original and infringing works share the same purpose or the fact that a dealing was driven by commercial exploitation tends to weigh against a finding of fair dealing.

The nature of the work,such as its value, or how close it is to the core of intended copyright protection, will be considered. Thus, a dealing is less likely to be fair if the original work is fiction-based or unpublished.

The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work is assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The effect of the use on the potential market for the value of the copyrighted work weighs against fair dealing where the defendant’s conduct, if “unrestricted and widespread”, adversely and substantially impacts the potential market for the original work (and its derivative works).

The possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price weighs against fair dealing. It entails two inquiries: whether the defendant made reasonable investigations into such a possibility and, if it was so possible, whether he attempted to obtain the work.

The last two factors are premised on the notion that the market for the plaintiff’s work should not be usurped by the defendant without compensation.

Although Promedia appeared to have infringed copyright in GYP’s white pages directory listings by scanning or photocopying them into its temporary database, that thin copyright stemmed in the first place from the arrangement of listings. Promedia’s dealing was thus, at best, incidental to commercial research. The arrangement of the listings was of no consequence to Promedia, who wanted only the information in the listings. The scanned or photocopied listings were never publicly distributed. Promedia would not have usurped the potential market for GYP’s works, and there was no point in seeking a licence from GYP because all Promedia wanted was facts, which were not copyrightable.

Groundless threat of copyright infringement

The Court of Appeal reiterated that relief under s 200(1) of the Copyright Act is discretionary and fact-dependent. It found that GYP’s letters of demand did not amount to groundless threats. Although the threats here were less specific and particularised than in other cases, this was simply because the work in suit were iterative works with many components and sub-components in which different copyrights might independently exist. In any case, seemingly overbroad threats do not necessarily mean that the threat is groundless. Whether a claim is justifiable turns on the objective strength of the legal position underpinning the threat; this is a sliding-scale approach. The “clear binding authority” standard adopted by the High Court would have potentially rendered every threat in penumbral cases unjustifiable and might discourage even incremental changes to the law.

On subsistence of copyright, see Global Yellow Pages Limited v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd and another matter [2017] SGCA 28 at paras 24 and 27–35.

On fair dealing, see Global Yellow Pages Limited v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd and another matter [2017] SGCA 28 at paras 74–86.

On groundless threat of copyright infringement, see Global Yellow Pages Limited v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd and another matter [2017] SGCA 28 at paras 105–109.

To view the judgment, click <here>.

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

First woman held under ISA for pro-ISIS activities

Straits Times
13 Jun 2017
Danson Cheong

22-year-old Singaporean was infant care assistant and wanted to be 'martyr's widow'

A 22-year-old Singaporean who planned to travel to Syria with her child has become the first female here to be detained for radicalism.

Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari was not planning any attack here, but she had visions of becoming a "martyr's widow" for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). She was detained earlier this month under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Izzah was a contract infant care assistant with a PCF Sparkletots Preschool, which is run by the PAP Community Foundation, and worked with infants aged between two months and 18 months old.

But she was also becoming deeply radicalised - a process that started in 2013. From 2014, she started to actively post and share pro-ISIS material online.

"Several of her social media platforms were taken down by administrators because of the pro-ISIS content," said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Her parents, both freelance Quranic teachers, and her sister got to know of her radical views in 2015. They tried to dissuade her but did not alert the authorities.

Instead, when Izzah was being investigated, "important evidence was destroyed by a family member relating to her plans to join ISIS", said the MHA.

This was done to minimise the seriousness of her acts. The authorities are looking into taking action against this family member.

The MHA has pointed out in recent weeks that sharing information about an individual who is becoming radicalised could prevent a terrorist act - and help the person too.

"In Izzah's case, her family members did not bring her to the attention of the authorities when she was younger and could have potentially been turned back from the path of radicalisation," the MHA said.

As matters turned out, her radicalisation grew over time. She developed a wide network of foreign online contacts, including ISIS militants and their supporters, some of whom have since died fighting in Syria. Izzah also supported ISIS' use of violence.

Since 2015, she had been looking for an ISIS supporter to marry and settle down with in Syria with her young child. She believed that, if her husband died fighting, her status as a "martyr's widow" would help her marry another ISIS fighter easily.

"She also said that she was prepared to undergo military training and engage in armed combat to defend ISIS if called upon by the terrorist group to do so," said the MHA.

She boasted to a contact in April that the authorities here had not detected her. She was detained barely two months after that.

Last year, another woman, Dian Faezah Ismail, was placed under a Restriction Order after her husband was detained for being radicalised. But Dian herself was not detained and just had her movements and activities curtailed.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said it was important to seek help early from the religious authorities in cases of radicalisation.

"We are not here to condemn the individual. We condemn the act but we want to save the individual. We want to help him or her, who has gone astray. We want to bring him or her back to the straight path," said Dr Yaacob in a video posted on Facebook.

Acting Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean called on all communities to remain united and support the efforts of security agencies.

"While we are not immune from an attack, we must not let those who advocate or seek to commit acts of violent extremism divide us," he said in a Facebook post.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Foreign Income of Approved Container Investment Enterprise) Order 2017 (S 289 of 2017)

EU Court thwarts prompt ratification of EU Singapore Free Trade Agreement

26 May 2017

Should CFOs have a seat on the board?

Business Times
12 Jun 2017
Irving Low

Companies should weigh the pros and cons, including having stronger financial oversight against board independence

IN the current era of heightened risk and increased regulation, the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) has never been more important.

CFOs with strong financial knowledge and experience can be the difference between a high-performing company and an average one. CFOs are taking on more roles within the company - overseeing mergers and acquisitions, digitisation and cybersecurity. In organisations that do not have one, CFOs are now often acting as de facto chief risk officers.

With the more roles that CFOs are taking on within their companies, one natural question to ask is this: Should they also sit on the board?

The benefits

The first and most obvious reason why the CFO should be on the company's board is that they are primarily responsible for the financial statements of the company, a key document that a company produces on a regular basis for investors and the general public.

The board approves the financial statements, which means that the members are liable for any issues that may arise. There have been cases where directors were found to be in breach of their duties for failing to notice errors in the company's accounts.

A case in point is Centro Property in Australia where the directors relied on the finance team and the external auditors, but the court nevertheless convicted them for not exercising the degree of care and diligence required when reviewing the financial statements. In this case, having the CFO on the board may be useful to ensure that he (or she) is held directly accountable as a director for the accounts that he was responsible for producing.

In 2013, the Singapore government said that it was studying ways to make CFOs and chief executive officers (CEOs) liable for the accuracy of financial statements, regardless of whether they are on the board or not. But so far, no legislation has been enacted on this front.

There is also stronger financial oversight with the CFO on the board. A 2010 study by academics from Northwestern University of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq showed that those with a CFO as an executive director tended to have a lower incidence of material weaknesses in their financial statements.

Apart from the CEO, the CFO probably has the clearest oversight of the company, its operations and its strategy. If he can help contribute to the company's business strategy and play a crucial role in big decisions such as major mergers and acquisitions, then having a CFO on the board becomes a significant advantage.

The downside

So far, the number of companies with their CFOs on the board is small. According to a 2012 study by executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, just 19 CFOs of the Fortune 500 companies sit on their boards. This was down from 37 in 2005.

In Singapore, less than one per cent of the companies listed on the Singapore Exchange have their CFOs siting on the board.

The reluctance of more companies to appoint their CFOs to the board could point to a few issues.

The most problematic of these is that of board independence. The key role of the board is to lead and control the company, and part of this role is to oversee management and ensure the company is run in the best interests of shareholders and other stakeholders.

The Singapore Code of Corporate Governance (the Code) recommends that while executive directors can be part of the board, the Code limits their number and requires a minimum proportion of independent directors.

Most of the time, the CEO already sits on the board, and acts as the main representative of the management on the board. Placing another executive director, such as the CFO, on the board could end up diluting the independence of the board.

Similarly, the audit committee, whose role has expanded in recent years, may find it difficult to function independently with the presence of the CFO on the board. The role of the audit committee includes overseeing the financial statements of the company and implicit in this role is overseeing and evaluating the CFO's performance.

In any case, when faced with important decisions that require sound financial analysis, CFOs can always be called up to sit in at select board meetings to provide counsel. He or she does not need to be part of the board to fulfil this important role.

At the same time, it is also common for companies to appoint former CFOs to their boards, including their own former CFOs. This combines both the knowledge and experience of having a finance chief as a non-executive director but takes away the conflict of interest inherent in appointing a current CFO as a director.

Should CFOs sit on boards? There is no clear answer except that companies who are considering appointing their CFO to the board will have to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of such a decision.

The writer is a member of the Governing Council of the Singapore Institute of Directors

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

Retirement and Re-employment (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 5 of 2017)

Re-examining purpose clauses and Quistclose trusts

26 May 2017

Whistle-blowers protected under law: Forum

Straits Times
12 Jun 2017

We thank Mr Francis Cheng for his letter (Improve protection for whistle-blowers; June 8).

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) appreciates all feedback, and works with the public to safeguard Singapore's integrity.

We note that Mr Cheng made several suggestions to improve whistle-blower protection, including having a dedicated whistle-blower protection law.

We would like to clarify that under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), there are provisions that safeguard the identity of informers whose information led to the investigation and prosecution of any offences under the Act.

Furthermore, all witnesses, including informants, are protected from potential retaliation or intimidation under the provisions of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).

Any such harassment, as alluded to by Mr Cheng, should be reported to the authorities.

The PCA also guards against malicious complaints, whereby the complainant can be prosecuted for knowingly giving or causing to be given, any false or misleading information to the CPIB.

This is to prevent the misuse of our criminal justice system by those who would make malicious complaints against innocent parties for their own purposes.

We assure Mr Cheng that these incidents are few.

A complainant who provided information that was subsequently verified to be inaccurate, but did so with no malicious intent, would not be taken to task.

Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. The CPIB takes a serious view of all complaints or information which may expose any offence under the PCA, and continues to combat corruption through swift, sure and firm, but fair, action.

All complaints, including anonymous ones, will be carefully evaluated so as to ascertain whether a criminal investigation under the PCA is warranted.

The CPIB strongly encourages members of the public to report any suspected corrupt practices in person, as based on our experience, complaints lodged in person are the most effective mode of reporting.

Clare Tan (Ms)

Senior Assistant Director (Corporate Relations)

Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (International Tax Compliance Agreements) (Competent Authority Agreements) (No. 3) Order 2017 (S 288 of 2017)

Protecting personal data in outsourcing agreements ­ what we can learn from a recent case

25 May 2017

Fund-raising appeals on social media under scrutiny

Straits Times
12 Jun 2017
Janice Tai

The authorities on lookout for misrepresentations, with some online campaigns raising up to six-figure sums

The authorities have made it clear that they will be keeping a close watch on social media and other platforms that facilitate donations, to prevent misrepresentation of claims or monies being used.

This comes at a time when individual appeals online - especially those with heart-rending circumstances presented through compelling narratives - have managed to garner six-figure sums in donations.

Recently, single mother Vivian Pan made an appeal on her Facebook page to raise money for another single mother, who was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. Ms Pan is now being investigated by both the Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) and the police.

Some netizens became suspicious of her fund-raising appeal after their offers of groceries were rejected, and the bank account given for cash donations was said to be hers instead of that of the cancer patient, Ms Tang Zhi Ling, 33.

The COC told The Straits Times that it received feedback about the case and is currently investigating the matter. Police said reports have been lodged and investigations are ongoing.

"We are encouraged to see concerned members of the public stepping up to help others with their time and resources," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

"However, we would also advise them to exercise due diligence and care in verifying the accuracy of reported accounts before committing significant resources, as there have been cases where reported accounts, including on social media, have not been complete or fully accurate."

Campaigns that struck a chord

Individual fund-raising appeals online that have garnered significant donations:


Ms Tam Chek Ming, 46, appealed for funds for immunotherapy after she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. She took her appeal to crowdfunding website Give.asia in April.

The single mother said she needed to fight the disease to stay alive for a few more years for her five-year-old son.

Her story was accompanied by an eight-minute YouTube video interview.

Ms Tam said she had sold off everything that she could sell in her two-room flat, and also skipped her meals so her son could have proper meals.

The post raised $771,962 from 7,419 people.


On April 19, Ms Eileen Cheong's father had a heart attack during a family trip to Tokyo to celebrate her mother's cancer remission.

Her father was placed on mechanical support in a hospital in Japan, but it was not clear how long he would stay in a coma. Insurers informed the family that it was "unlikely to have a successful claim as his collapse was attributable to a pre-existing heart condition".

So Ms Cheong, 25, turned to Give.asia to raise money to take him home. The Internet delivered and $239,047 was raised by 3,029 people.

Mr Cheong was medically evacuated back to Singapore but died shortly after.


Teo Pei Shan was a teenager trapped in a toddler's body due to a rare disease.

Last year, while she was fighting for her life in the intensive care unit, her father - the family's sole breadwinner - could not drive his taxi to earn money as he had injured his ankle. Rare Disorders Society shared her story on Giving.sg.

Donations started streaming in but Pei Shan died on July 19, two weeks shy of her 18th birthday. The appeal ended on July 21 with $26,300 raised.

The MSF said it has been providing "factual clarifications" on some reported cases of vulnerable persons on the MSF Singapore Facebook page or in response to media queries.

For instance, there was a crowdfunding campaign online to raise money for a 20-year-old who had to be the breadwinner for 13 family members.

When The New Paper reported on the family's plight last month, the MSF clarified that the family had been receiving its assistance for the past 51/2 years.

The family also gets cash assistance from ComCare, along with help for utilities and rental bills, though it still struggles.

The COC said fund-raising appeals conducted online are still regulated under the Charities Regulations 2012 if the fund-raising appeals target the community in Singapore.

This means fund-raisers need to fulfil certain obligations such as disclosing clear and accurate information to donors about the beneficiary and the purpose of the donation, the proper use of donations, as well as keeping proper records of donations received and disbursed.

The COC had previously issued restriction and prohibition orders to stop or limit fund-raising activities conducted by organisations and individuals because the activities were deemed improper.

Anyone who flouts the fund-raising laws can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to 12 months or both.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Authorisation of Use) (No. 3) Notification 2017 (S 287 of 2017)

SGX announces establishment of Singapore Exchange Regulation Pte. Ltd. (SGX RegCo)

25 May 2017

ADV: Choose to study law with Birmingham City University!

Singapore Law Watch
12 Jun 2017

Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 24 of 2017)

Company Fined S$90,000 under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for Workplace Safety Lapses

24 May 2017

Know your rights as an investor

Straits Times
11 Jun 2017
Lorna Tan

Retail investors should be aware of their rights and choose appropriate advisers who meet their needs and uphold certain professional standards.

This is the advice of the CFA Institute, which has identified 10 basic rights every investor should expect from a financial services professional.

Mr Daryl Liew, co-chair of the Advocacy Committee at CFA Singapore, said: "As investors consider hiring professional help, they should know their rights and what to demand of their financial advisers. What factors should you look out for, and what questions should you ask?"

Here is the CFA's Statement of Investor Rights, which should be used to underpin the questions you can and should ask your advisers.

When engaging the services of financial professionals and organisations, I have the right to...

1. Honest, competent and ethical conduct that complies with applicable law

• Is your practice governed by an ethical or professional code of standards, and may I have a copy?

• Are you and your firm familiar with and willing to abide by the Statement of Investor Rights?

2. Independent and objective advice and assistance based on informed analysis, prudent judgment and diligent effort

• Who will be working on my portfolio, and what are their credentials and experiences?

• What happens to my portfolio if you or members of the team leave the firm?

• Can you provide me with examples of the analysis and process you perform to arrive at investment decisions?

3. My financial interests taking precedence over those of the professional and the organisation

• What regulatory standard, if any, governs our relationship?

• Are you a fiduciary, and would our relationship be held to a fiduciary standard?

• How do you decide which investments to recommend? Are you free to recommend investments sponsored or managed by other firms?

4. Fair treatment with respect to other clients

• What policies are in place to make sure clients receive fair treatment relative to each other?

• How do you ensure clients have appropriate access to products and investment opportunities?

• How do you make sure clients receive adequate support and customer service, especially during a crisis?

5. Disclosure of any existing or potential conflicts of interest in providing products or services to me

• What is your process for identifying and communicating conflicts of interest?

• How are conflicts of interest addressed and mitigated, and can you share an example?

6. An understanding of my circumstances so that any advice provided is suitable and based on my financial objectives and constraints

• How do you get to know your clients and assess their financial needs and goals?

• How do you determine whether recommended products and services are appropriate for my portfolio and can help me achieve my financial goals?

• Will you provide me with a written personal financial plan designated to fulfil my financial needs and goals?

7. Clear, accurate, complete and timely communications that use plain language and are presented in a format that conveys the information effectively

• What means of communication (for example, e-mail, phone, and so on) do you use, and how often should I expect to hear from you?

• How often will we meet in person?

• Can you provide examples of reports, performance statements and other types of communication I may receive from you?

8. An explanation of all fees and costs charged to me and information showing these expenses to be fair and reasonable

• On what basis are you compensated: fee only, fee-based, commission, percentage of assets under management, fixed or flat fee?

• How are these fees calculated, billed and collected?

• Could the proposed fee arrangements lead to conflicts of interest?

9. Confidentiality of my information

• What is your privacy policy for client information?

• How can you certify that my financial and personal information is secure?

• Have you ever had information lost or stolen? If so, how was the situation resolved?

10. Appropriate and complete records to support any work done on my behalf

• How long will my records be retained at your firm, and can I request them at any time?

• Does the firm claim compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards? (The GIPS is a set of standardised, industry-wide ethical principles that guide investment firms on how to calculate and present results to prospective clients.)

Lorna Tan

•For more information, visit http://cfa.is/rights

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

Parliamentary Elections Act - Parliamentary Elections (Prescribed Date) Order 2017 (S 286 of 2017)

International debt restructuring In Asia

24 May 2017

Court orders alleged match-fixer's property, assets frozen

Straits Times
10 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Ruling follows CPIB report showing accused had amassed $3.8m in 'unexplained wealth'

An alleged match-fixer will not be able to profit from his four properties or deal with cash in three bank accounts after a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) report found he had amassed $3.8 million in unexplained wealth over six years.

The High Court issued the order against Rajendar Prasad Rai, 43, placing a charge on the properties and preventing him from disposing of the cash, after a three-day hearing.

Rai is being investigated for possible offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).

He has a separate match-fixing case currently in the State Courts.

Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu explained the decision to restrain Rai from disposing of the funds from his four properties and three UOB accounts in judgment grounds issued last week.

He said the State did have "indirect proof" of Rai's "unexplained wealth" of $3,811,127 held between January 2009 and September 2015, which is "likely to be derived from his criminal conduct".

The Public Prosecutor had applied for the order based on the CPIB report analysing concealed income in relation to Rai's financial affairs.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng said the methodology used to compute the relevant sums was based on established practice used here and in the United States.

Rai, whose criminal activities were suspected to have begun in 2009, worked for only about seven months up to February 2009, and his flight attendant wife stopped working in 2002. He paid income tax totalling some $20,000 for 2013 and 2015.

The 17-page report also factored in the couple's rental income from all their properties and Rai's winnings from Singapore Pools of $546,840 and $790,830 from bets of $279,000 and $362,500 in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

The analysis included his alleged inheritance of $1 million cash from his late father and a unit in Chancery Court in his name, as well as the couple's living expenses.

Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan and lawyer Jason Lim, in defending Rai, challenged the report, arguing that the court must be satisfied that the benefits had been derived by Rai from drug dealing or from criminal conduct. He contended this requirement was missing in Rai's case, who, he told the court, was a "very successful punter".

The defence also countered with an accounting expert's report against the CPIB analysis and the judge noted the criticisms were "not unfounded".

But "leaving aside the dispute between the parties vis-a-vis the methodology used to calculate (Rai's) assets and liabilities, the court cannot overlook the fact that a person of (Rai)'s reasonably modest means and who of late (with his wife) was not gainfully employed, possessed wealth far in excess of his known means and sources of income", said Judge Lai.

The judge ruled that the court had to take a "pragmatic approach" and found that even if Rai's unexplained wealth of $3.8m was discounted by $1 million, the remaining balance called for credible, documented explanations and his submissions "could not/did not reduce this figure to zero".

Judge Lai added Rai had been charged with match-fixing in September 2015 and the trial took place about 18 months later.

"If (Mr Rai) will indeed be charged under the CDSA, it was incumbent on the (Public Prosecutor) to do so promptly out of fairness to the defendant and in the interests of justice," said Judge Lai.

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 26) Notification 2017 (S 285 of 2017)

PDPC revises anonymisation guidelines and updates healthcare sector guidelines

24 May 2017

Woman takes credit firm to court over admin fees on loans

Straits Times
09 Jun 2017
Selina Lum

69-year-old borrowed $128k and repaid $212k, moneylender says she still owes $136k

A businesswoman who borrowed $128,000 from a licensed moneylender has repaid nearly $212,000, but is facing legal demands from the credit company, which says she still owes about $136,000.

Ms Ang Ai Tee, 69, has gone to court to set aside the statutory demand - a precursor to bankruptcy proceedings - served on her by the moneylender, Resource Credit.

Her lawyer, Mr Lee Ee Yang, argued that the case concerns "egregious" acts by the moneylender to pressure his client into repeatedly renewing her loan. She had to pay a 10 per cent "administrative fee" each time she renewed the loan.

Out of the $211,856 that has been paid, $150,800 were for these administrative fees, which ballooned over the span of a year. The rest comprised interest, late interest and late fees.

Singapore's moneylending regulatory regime was strengthened in October 2015 to protect borrowers. Among other things, interest and late fees were capped at 4 per cent a month and moneylenders were allowed to charge an upfront administrative fee of no more than 10 per cent of the principal.

After the rules were implemented, moneylenders began offering short-term loans, charging borrowers administrative fees repeatedly to roll over the existing loan.

The Registry of Moneylenders issued directions last year and this year to denounce such practices.

In Ms Ang's case, she began borrowing sums of between $30,000 and $60,000 from Resource Credit from January 2015.

After the new rules kicked in, she said she was persuaded to take up another loan for $50,000, repayable the next day.

When she could not pay up, Mr Lee said she was pressured into "renewing" the loan, paying 13.92 per cent of the loan each time - 10 per cent in administrative fees for the "new" loan and interest of 3.92 per cent on the "old" loan.

Between October 2015 and September last year, she renewed the loan 16 times, out of which the principal was increased three times.

When she did not pay to renew the loan on October 2015, Resource Credit served a statutory demand on her. Ms Ang applied to set it aside. Her case was dismissed by a senior assistant registrar, and she then appealed to the High Court.

Mr Lee argued that administrative fees are not allowed under the Moneylenders Act. Hence, the money she paid as administrative fees should be set off against the outstanding principal and interest.

Resource Credit, represented by Mr Ting Chi Yen, argued that each of the loans was legally and properly granted. The moneylender's case is that the administrative fee represents its acceptance of risk for that month. So when a loan is refinanced for a fresh period of time, it takes on a fresh risk.

The court's decision is pending.

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 25) Notification 2017 (S 284 of 2017)

Liability of an Organisation for Data Protection Breaches Committed by ANY person “in the Course of Employment”

23 May 2017

Discerning the line when it comes to non-executive directors' duty of care

Business Times
09 Jun 2017
Julie Ly Huan

Non-executive directors (NEDs) owe a duty of care to the company to which they are appointed. In recent years, they have attracted greater scrutiny because of the increasing importance of their roles as watchdogs to monitor the conduct of management. Unfortunately, this has brought with it more litigation where NEDs have been sued for breaching their duty of care.

What responsibilities come under this duty of care? And what considerations - for example, risk versus reward - should prospective or incumbent NEDs take into account? Given that the NED typically has principal commitments outside the company, the dilemma is knowing how closely to monitor the activities of the company to properly discharge his or her duty. A recent legal case may help shed some light on this.

Late in December, the Singapore High Court had to rule on whether two nominee directors (a category of non-executive director) had breached their duty of care. It was undisputed that the two directors had not been aware of the terms of the company's business contracts and had not supervised its delegates. Notwithstanding this, the court ruled that they had not breached their duty of care.

While this judgement may be reassuring to NEDs, there are other cases where NEDs have been found guilty. Hence, the implications of this judgement on the duty of care should be seen in a broader context.

Unlike executive directors, NEDs do not have responsibilities for the day-to-day operations of the company. However, they are still required under the Companies Act to discharge a duty of care to the company.

Be that as it may, when applying this duty to any one director, Singapore's courts have shown an appreciation of the myriad functions that different directors perform. Indeed, while the statute does apply a broad sweep of general principles, it is in the spirit of the law that the courts have discretion to decide how one statutory provision should be applied in order to be fair in each individual case.

In December's High Court case, the two defendants were each the sole director of a company which was specifically set up to purchase and own merchant shipping vessels. Both directors were appointed solely to fulfil the regulatory requirement of having a Singapore resident director; real control lay with three other individuals who represented the shareholders and who had been granted powers of attorney (POA holders) to conduct the companies' business.

When the companies breached an agreement for the purchase of vessels, the seller sued the companies leading to their liquidation. The liquidator then sued the defendants, the two NEDs, alleging they had breached their duty of care as they were unaware of the terms of the agreement, and had delegated every function relating to the agreement to the POA holders without supervising them.

At the outset, the court noted that it is common practice to appoint persons as nominee directors solely to fulfil the resident director requirement, while business decisions are typically left to other more qualified persons. The court added that while "this does not mean that the defendants are relieved of their duties of care . . . it does impact the extent to which they are expected to be informed of the companies' affairs".

Applying that approach, the court concluded that it was entirely reasonable for the defendants to have left all matters pertaining to the purchase agreement to the POA holders. The defendants had not breached their duty of care.

This case can be compared with the saga surrounding Airocean Group Limited some years ago, where legal proceedings were instituted against the company's directors. Among them was the case of Ong Chow Hong, an independent director (a category of NEDs) who was convicted of breaching his duty of care because he neglected to review an announcement that the company made in response to an SGX query. Ong had instead relied on his co-director, a lawyer, to review the announcement.


Ong was convicted in the State Courts and, when he appealed against his sentence, not only did he fail - the High Court increased his sentence. In the 2011 High Court judgement, the court stated that "each director of a listed company has a solemn and non-delegable duty of due diligence to ensure compliance with market rules and practices". The court's strict approach in Ong's case has been lauded as setting the right standards for NEDs although his conviction was technically set aside in 2014 for other unrelated reasons.

Faced with these two contrasting cases, what should an incumbent or prospective NED do? Based on these two cases, there are at least two lessons that can be drawn. First, every NED is subject to a duty of care. However, the Singapore courts take a pragmatic view of the reality of the situation by looking carefully at the role that each NED has been given.

Second, the standard of care expected varies according to the nature of the activity. If it is about business decision-making, the standard of care expected may be lower, justifiably because the NED is not as familiar with the business of the company compared to management.

However, if it is about ensuring that the company complies with rules and regulations, the standard of care expected is higher. This is consistent with the corporate governance principle that independent directors fulfil an important role as watchdogs to ensure regulatory compliance. Hence, in this type of activity, the NED must watch out with more vigilance, probe deeper to the best of his ability and exercise his own independent judgement.

At the end of the day, NEDs cannot expect the Companies Act to prescribe all the different situations they may face and how they should act in each of them. Such an approach would be too rigid and constrained.

Nonetheless, by carefully monitoring court judgements, it is possible to draw specific principles to follow and see with greater clarity what is expected of them. Keeping abreast of case law developments is therefore vital. This will go a long way in helping NEDs perform their roles without undue fear of being sued for breaching their duty of care.

The writer is a senior lecturer in the Department of Strategy & Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. The opinions expressed do not represent the views and opinions of NUS.

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

The Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Act 2017 - The Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) (Transfer Date) Notification 2017 (S 283 of 2017)

Testamentary capacity to do a will

23 May 2017

S'pore not safe from cybercrime: Expert

Straits Times
09 Jun 2017
Tan Tam Mei

Many cases of cyber bank robbery, e-mail hits and ransomware attacks not reported

Singapore is not exempt from three "mega trends" - cyber bank robbery, ransomware attacks and business e-mail compromise attacks - that have plagued the cybercrime world in the last year, said the executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI).

However, many of these cases go unreported, said Mr Noboru Nakatani, one of Interpol's leading experts on cybercrime and security. He spoke to The Straits Times yesterday on the sidelines of a media roundtable ahead of the Interpol World 2017 event next month.

The IGCI represents the collective efforts of the organisation's 190 member countries to come together and pool resources to bring down cybercrime syndicates.

He said: "There's under-reporting because it's quite embarrassing. (But if) a bank robbery takes place on the street, (companies) will 100 per cent go to the police; this is not necessarily the same for cyber bank robbery. Sometimes the cybercrimes are not given sufficient attention."

This comes against the backdrop of the global proliferation of cyber attacks and, most recently, the WannaCry ransomware last month that affected digital signs in some malls and some computers here, with even greater fallout overseas.

PwC's 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey showed cybercrime incidents targeting Singapore-based companies have spiked from 15 per cent in 2014 to 43 per cent last year, becoming the second-most prevalent economic crime here.

Dr M. van Staalduinen, innovation manager for Dark Web, cybercrime and cyber security at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, was also part of the roundtable.

He said: "I see (WannaCry) as an excellent awareness campaign... The world is now awake, this is a global issue... It shows the vulnerability of our society."

Mr Nakatani stressed the need for collaboration between international law agencies, governments and the private sector: "Sometimes, we do not share information because of bureaucracy or competition, then we lose (the) competitive edge to compete with criminals. They do things fast, and we try to catch up."

He added that cybercrime yields high rewards at a low risk, and this could mean that terrorists might turn to it to finance their activities.

10,000 to attend Interpol World

Interpol World 2017 will see more than 10,000 participants - from international law enforcement agencies, government bodies, academia and security companies - get together at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The event will also feature the Interpol World Congress from July 4 to 6, which will have more than 40 speakers from the public and private sectors address three tracks: cybercrime, safe cities and identity management.

The other element is the Interpol World Exhibition from July 5 to 7, which will feature more than 300 companies presenting the latest solutions and technologies for public safety, biometrics, investigations and cybercrime.

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

The Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Act 2017 - The Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 282 of 2017)

Regulations issued under Trustees Act to enhance transparency and control of Singapore trusts

23 May 2017

Singapore seeks pipeline of bankable projects in region

Business Times
08 Jun 2017
Lynette Khoo

Infrastructure projects need to be bankable so funding will come from sources other than banks: Lawrence Wong

Under its drive to be an infrastructure hub for Asia, Singapore is looking to increase the number of "bankable" infrastructure projects in the region.

The infrastructure needs of the region are huge, but there are not enough bankable projects to attract commercial financing, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Wednesday.

"Our first priority must be to get more projects bankable. Once we do that, we have more bankable projects to attract sources of funding beyond just bank-based finance.

"In today's situation, the banks are quite comfortable and happy to lend. But with Basel rules tightening and more constraints on credit, especially if interest rates go up, we will need to look out for other sources of funding," he said.

Singapore is doing just that, including for projects arising from China's Belt and Road initiative.

Besides getting more banks to raise infrastructure bonds, another option that Singapore is studying is to have take-up facilities where projects financed by banks that have reached brownfield stage can be funded by other institutional funds and insurance companies; this frees up bank capital to finance new projects.

Mr Wong, in his keynote speech at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia-Pacific Summit, said that Singapore can play a useful role as an infrastructure hub for South-east Asia, or even the broader Asian region.

Having accumulated expertise and experience in urban and infrastructure planning in its past 50 years of rapid urbanisation, the Republic can help others develop their own long-term urban masterplans and implement infrastructure projects.

The country is now home to high-quality professional services, including project advisory, consultancy, project financing, dispute resolution and legal services - all of which are necessary to bring infrastructure projects into being.

Mr Wong noted that multilateral banks like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the World Bank have mechanisms to minimise the risk in infrastructural projects.

Project structuring is also critical and Singapore-based banks and companies that provide project advisory here can help improve the project structure.

Some 60 per cent of projects in South-east Asia are now financed through Singapore-based banks, thanks to Singapore's high concentration of banks that undertake project financing and the range of services from legal to arbitration and professional services.

Almost all AIIB projects use arbitration clauses with Singapore as the seat of arbitration.

The Asian Development Bank has estimated that developing Asia will need US$1.7 trillion a year in infrastructure until 2030 to meet its growth momentum, tackle poverty and respond to climate change.

With the region now investing only about US$900 billion annually, a significant shortfall stands to be plugged.

But Mr Wong observed that cities everywhere often find their need for big - and sometimes, even bold - infrastructure initiatives facing opposition.

This opposition can come from the "not-in-my-backyard" mindset, resistance by various interest groups or government budget constraints.

Singapore, however, is investing significantly in new infrastructure to stay competitive. The pipeline of major projects include the doubling of the capacity of its airport and seaport, enhancing land connectivity through the high-speed rail from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and the Rapid Transit System from Johor Bahru to Singapore; new growth centres, such as the new business district in Jurong and the northern clusters in Woodlands and Punggol are also being developed.

For residential precinct Kampong Bugis, Singapore is experimenting with the master-developer concept; this entails allowing a private-sector developer to plan for a large land parcel, as opposed to carving out the precinct and putting out individual sites for sale. By doing this, the government hopes that the master-developer will take on a long-term commitment to the project.

In response to a question from the audience on whether there will be higher costs to be borne by the master-developer, which in turn may be passed down to end-users, he replied that he does not foresee higher costs; in fact, potential cost savings arising from economies of scale stand to be reaped.

On Wednesday, the minister also witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), which is under the ambit of the Ministry of National Development, and global non-profit institute ULI to renew their commitment in research collaboration.

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

Employment of Foreign Manpower Act - Employment of Foreign Manpower (Levy) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 281 of 2017)

Easing the criteria for the EntrePass Scheme

22 May 2017

Jail for brains behind biggest fake casino chip scam

08 Jun 2017

The mastermind behind the largest counterfeit casino chip scam here, which caused Marina Bay Sands (MBS) casino to suffer about S$1.29 million in losses, was sentenced to 88 months’ jail on Wednesday (June 7).

After a 14-day trial, Toh Hock Thiam, 55, was convicted of 13 counts of engaging in a conspiracy with three others to exchange counterfeit chips for cash at the MBS casino.

Another 161 similar charges under the Casino Control Act and one charge under the Immigration Act were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that between the evening of Nov 22, 2015, and the early hours of the following day, a total of 1,291 counterfeit casino chips — with a face value of S$1,000 each — were exchanged for cash at the MBS casino.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Asoka Markandu said the counterfeit chips were of such high quality that no one noticed they were fake until a cashier noticed a slight discolouration in one of the chips. Police investigations revealed that a syndicate was behind the scam, he added.

DPP Markandu noted that Toh was the mastermind as he had introduced the chips to Chia Wei Tien, one of the co-accused, and instructed the latter to recruit runners. “These runners were directed by Chia, based on instructions given by Toh, on how to go about carrying out the exchange of these counterfeit chips at MBS without raising alarm or being detected by MBS cashiers,” the DPP said.

Chia had recruited 16 runners. Toh also roped in his close friend Seow Piak Long to distribute the counterfeit chips and collect the cash from Chia. A total of 420 fake chips, worth about S$420,000, were traced to Toh.

Chia was sentenced to five years’ jail, while Seow was given one year in prison.

In urging the court to impose a jail term of not less than seven-and-a-half years, DPP Markandu cited several aggravating factors, including how Toh was the mastermind who coordinated the exchange of the counterfeit chips, and directly recruited Seow and Chia for the scam.

The losses suffered by MBS were also significant, including the “unquantifiable losses” that saw the casino’s surveillance team review CCTV footage, disruption to gaming activities when the S$1,000-denominated cash chips were recalled for a review.

Toh had also taken active steps to evade detection, such as illegally crossing the border into Malaysia after withdrawing all the money in his bank account. No restitution has been made, added DPP Markandu.

In meting out the sentence, the district judge said the offences were premeditated and well-planned. He also noted that the evidence from the trial showed the pivotal role Toh played in the scam.

Several cases of counterfeit casino cash chip scams have come to light in recent years, following the opening of two casinos in Singapore in 2010. In that year, for example, four people agreed to act as runners for a transnational counterfeit casino chip syndicate to convert 48 counterfeit S$1,000 chips into genuine ones of smaller denominations before exchanging them for cash.

Another case in 2011 saw several runners for a transnational syndicate placing bets using fake chips, each with a face value of S$1,000. The genuine chips that they won were exchanged for cash. A total of 287 counterfeit chips were seized.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Women’s Charter - Women’s Charter (Registration of Marriages) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 280 of 2017)

Singapore High Court rules that banks’ security interests over goods survive commingling

22 May 2017

Improve protection for whistle-blowers: Forum

Straits Times
08 Jun 2017

To encourage more people to blow the whistle on corruption, the law must do more to protect them (Singapore must stay corruption-free to succeed: PM Lee; ST Online, June 6).

In 2014, a man who blew the whistle on a crime ended up being harassed after the court case was over because his name, identity card number and address were allegedly included in an open-court document used in the case.

Cases like this make people hesitate to report and appear as witnesses in court.

Warnings that people who give false and misleading information will be jailed and/or fined also discourage whistle-blowing.

It is the duty of the court and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau to protect whistle-blowers.

Perhaps the court could consider allowing informants to testify anonymously via video.

The process of investigating corruption is not a short one.

During the process, a dedicated whistle-blower protection law should apply to both public and private sector whistle-blowers.

Having strong legislation instead of ad-hoc protection will encourage more reporting.

Whistle-blowers can also be rewarded for the risks they take, once a conviction takes place.

After all, they put their jobs and reputation at stake to blow the whistle.

The fear of financial consequences for themselves and their families can lead to a culture of silence and a continuation of immoral corporate behaviour. Financial incentives can remove this fear.

No country is immune to corruption, but an inclusive and highly transparent culture in public and private institutions makes it easier to hold politicians or companies responsible for irregularities.

Francis Cheng

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

Supreme Court of Judicature Act - Supreme Court (Presidential Elections) (Application for Avoidance of Election) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 279 of 2017)

Why you may want to consider mediation

19 May 2017

Singapore signs instrument on tax treaty-related measures

Business Times
08 Jun 2017
Jacquelyn Cheok

Singapore on Wednesday signed the multilateral instrument that is aimed at facilitating the implementation of tax treaty-related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting.

It was signed in Paris by Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for the ministries of Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry. The instrument is known as the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.

"This will be the first signing ceremony for the multilateral instrument, with over 60 jurisdictions signing it," Singapore's Ministry of Finance said, addding that Singapore continues to build on its commitment to the principle behind the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. That is, profits should be attributable to the jurisdiction where the substantial economic activities giving rise to the profits are conducted.

Commenting on the signing, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said: "(This) allows Singapore to swiftly update its wide network of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) to internationally agreed standards."

Singapore is among the earliest non-OECD, non-G20 jurisdictions to have joined the Inclusive Framework on BEPS in June 2016. It had participated in the Ad Hoc Group formed under the aegis of the OECD and G20 to develop the multilateral instrument, the negotiation of which was concluded on Nov 24, 2016.

Signatories to the multilateral instrument can update their DTAs to incorporate the tax treaty-related measures, without the need to re-negotiate each DTA.

Measures include BEPS minimum standards on preventing treaty abuse and enhancing dispute resolution.

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

Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act 2014 - Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act (Amendment of Schedule) Order 2017 (S 278 of 2017)

Not waiting until the 18th hole: Resisting forum shopping effectively with the anti-suit injunction

19 May 2017

Future-proofing Singapore for the robotic age

Business Times
08 Jun 2017
Johan de Villiers

The rise of automation and robots, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is usually viewed in one of two ways: either it will lead to mass unemployment in an increasing winner-takes-all market; or it will create effortless growth where time and wealth are redistributed as mankind reaps the benefits of its mechanical workforce.

Both visions are extreme, and they ignore the real synergies that can be created when a progressive government and a thriving private sector work in tandem. This fertile middle ground is where Singapore wants its future businesses and industries to grow.

In his May Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was precise when he identified what Singapore needs to do to continue to prosper. Helping businesses create new jobs, placing displaced workers in alternative roles and training workers to grow in their jobs are vital policies if we are all to meet the changing landscape of the 21st century.

While automation and artificial intelligence can provoke both admiration and anxiety in equal measure, citizens should not fear change but embrace the opportunities presented. Automation is not a zero-sum game. Research by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the leading international authority on robots, states that countries with the highest robot density, (the average number of robots deployed in a country per 10,000 factory workers), ie Japan, the US Korea & Germany also have the lowest unemployment rates.

Technology will create new industries and jobs, and the key is agility, flexibility and openness to change.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - a wave of technological advancements that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies and industries - is ushering in big changes to how people work and the skills they need to succeed.

There will be an impact on the workforce. However, the impact will not be a shortage of jobs, but rather a shortage of the skills needed to capitalise on our digital tool-box.

Whilst digital innovation will be driven by the private sector and primarily by millennials, government policy can support the drive significantly by focusing on producing a talented workforce of the future, ready for the innovation economy. Education systems will have to respond to changes by shifting away from knowledge-transfer to models that promote learnability (as well as re-learnability) and creative thinking.

We also have to look at those already in the workforce, our mid-career employees, so that we can optimise their experience and knowledge, and complement this with the benefits that digitalisation affords.


Take for example, SkillsFuture, which functions as much as a national reskilling platform as it is a strong and loud signal that the Singapore government is already on the case, looking ahead, investing and securing the future of the economy, and importantly, ensuring that its people are central to that.

Complementing this is the Ministry of Manpower's initiative to set up a tripartite workgroup in partnership with the labour union and businesses to study the issues faced by workers in the "gig" economy, to address the very real concerns of income security and retirement financing, while the Committee on the Future Economy, which ABB participated in, makes clear what needs to be done: strengthen the nexus between acquisition and utilisation of skills so that the industry can promptly employ the skills obtained and further develop them.

The ethos of these point to a government committed to getting the fundamentals right - and already actively engaging in long-term planning for the demands of the future economy.

But we cannot expect the government to face this challenge alone. As business leaders, we have a critical and bigger role to play in identifying trends and skills gaps so that curricula and approaches can be adapted accordingly. This is already done on several levels, through industry engagements with educational institutions, labour unions and the government, but must deepen further.

Is this new for Singapore? Hardly. Given that over the last 50 years, Singapore has learnt the art of reinvention, time and time again. Our values of education, resilience and adaptability means we have a strong tradition of never resting on one's laurels and being open to questioning fundamentals - values to help us future-proof Singapore whatever comes our way.

The writer is country managing director of ABB in Singapore.

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

Public Order Act - Public Order (Exempt Assemblies and Processions) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 277 of 2017)

Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Diversity Action Committee sets higher targets for women’s representation on boards: 20% by 2020, 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030

19 May 2017

MAS proposes moves to support growth of robo advisory firms

Business Times
08 Jun 2017
Genevieve Cua

It suggests that such firms be given concessions, but calls for safeguards; it aims to widen investor choice and access to low-cost investment advice

Low-cost, efficient portfolios for retail investors willing to take the digital or robo advisory route could soon become more widespread.

More than a handful of digital advisory firms have already obtained licences as financial advisers or fund managers. Based on initial indications, portfolio fees are a fraction of those charged by unit trusts and investment-linked insurance funds.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has proposed to facilitate the offering of digital advisory services, while still adhering to the regulatory framework that governs financial advisors and fund managers.

Based on the consultation paper it released on Wednesday, digital advisory firms will not be separately licensed. Instead, they will be offered significant concessions; it has been proposed that digital advisers who go the fund-management route and target retail investors be exempted from meeting the track record and minimum assets under management (AUM) requirements.

Traditional fund managers who cater to retail investors need to have AUM of S$1 billion and a five-year corporate track record in order to earn a licence to provide full capital-markets services (CMS).

However, digital advisory firms must comply with some safeguards. One is that portfolios must be diversified and comprise non-complex assets. Another is that the firms must have key management staff with relevant collective experience in fund management and technology. They must also undertake an independent audit of the business within a year of operation.

Digital advisers who operate as licensed financial advisers will also be allowed to execute investment transactions and rebalance client portfolios in collective-investment schemes without the need for an additional licence under the Securities and Futures Act.

Non-digital advisers will also be exempted from this.

Digital advisers can also seek exemption from the requirement under the Financial Advisers Act to collect the full suite of information on clients' financial circumstances, such as details of their income level, subject to a number of safeguards.

These safeguards include the provision of advice only on exchange-traded funds (ETFs), controls to filter out unsuitable clients and identify inconsistent responses, and the provision of a risk-disclosure statement that alerts clients to the limitations of the advice.

In a statement, MAS said that it has received "indications of interest" from new entities seeking to offer digital advisory services to retail investors, and that the proposals seek to support innovation in financial services by recognising the unique characteristics of digital platforms.

"The availability of digital advisory services will widen investor choice to low-cost investment advice."

Existing licensees do not need to obtain MAS approval to offer digital services. OCBC recently announced its plan to launch a robo advisory service in partnership with WeInvest, targeted at accredited investors.

MAS said technology risks such as erroneous algorithms and cyber threats must be managed. It has set out expectations on the governance and management oversight to be adopted by digital advisers, including the need for a robust framework to govern the design, testing and monitoring of algorithms. The public consultation ends on July 7.

Varun Mittal, EY Asean fintech leader, said robo advisory has the potential to reach client segments under-served by financial institutions. "In light of all advantages, one also needs to be cautious of implications of reliance on machines, which are ultimately designed and controlled by humans, to keep the interests of investors at the highest priority."

Ow Tai Zhi, chief executive of Autowealth, was heartened, in particular, by the greenlight given to rebalance clients' portfolios and the waiver of a corporate track record requirement. "Most fintech companies are start-ups. If we don't have a licence, how would we be able to bring innovative technology to benefit people?"

Autowealth started offering its digital service to early adopters in the second quarter of last year. 2016.These investors had to invest a minimum of S$30,000, but now that it is able to cater to retail investors, the minimum investment size has been brought down to S$3,000. In the last 12 months, the average investment performance was 9.9 per cent net of fees. The annual portfolio fee is 0.5 per cent.

The firm's engine takes a rules-based approach, emphasising diversification across asset classes, geographies and industries. The underlying instruments are ETFs.

Said Mr Ow: "We estimate that the annual management and front-end fees of unit trusts are probably around 2 per cent per annum, which goes to fund managers and sales people. Digital advisory capitalises on technology to replace processes that are costly, such as financial middlemen, and pass on the savings to investors."

Stashaway has received a CMS licence and expects to begin to offer its services within a few weeks. The firm's co-founder and chief executive Michele Ferrario said "a few thousand" people are on Stashaway's waitlist. The firm does not set any minimum investment amount. Annual fees start at 0.8 per cent for a total investment of S$25,000. This dials down to just 0.2 per cent for amounts above S$1 million. "Our product services the needs of those who are just starting out and have not saved much so far, as well as more sophisticated investors who can put together a few hundred thousand or a couple of million dollars, and appreciate the sophistication of our framework and low fees." Stashaway portfolios will be invested in ETFs.

Mr Ferrario said the objective is to try to whittle down Singaporeans' exposure to cash. "Rather than compete with banks, we provide a different value proposition. We hope to make it easier for Singaporeans to take a more proactive approach to their savings."

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

Public Order Act - Public Order (Composition of Offences) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 276 of 2017)

SGX amends Listing Rules effective 31 March 2017 for electronic transmission of documents to shareholders and alignment with Companies Act

18 May 2017

Levelling the legal landscape for surveyors

Business Times
07 Jun 2017
David Hughes

The ASG/ITIC 10 addresses the imbalance between owners' and surveyors' responsibilities typically encountered under existing indemnity agreements

Surveyors play a hugely important role in ensuring the safety of the world fleet. They have a tough job to do.

There are, of course, different types of surveyor, or sometimes the same surveyor doing different things. Surveyors supervise bunkerings and check cargo loading and inspect damage but the most vital and, crucially, they assess the general condition of the vessel and its watertight integrity. In other words, they often perform, on behalf of a flag state or classification society, an assessment of the ship's seaworthiness. That is a very big responsibility.

Unfortunately, things can go wrong. Ships can sink, sometimes very quickly if there is a structural failure, or suffer severe damage when the power of the sea overwhelms the ability of the ship to resist it. That is when lives can be lost and massive financial losses can be incurred.

When disaster strikes, everybody will be asking why. And, human nature being what it is, the next question is very likely to be: "Who is to blame?" Then the surveyor's professional judgement is likely to be subject to intense scrutiny.

So, unsurprisingly, a marine surveyor needs liability insurance and one of the providers of such insurance is the mutual insurer International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC).

ITIC says that surveyors are invariably asked to sign a waiver and indemnity by the master of a vessel before they are given approval to board. Such documents will frequently stipulate that surveyors must waive all rights to make a claim against the owner and the vessel in respect of any personal injury or loss of or damage to their equipment which they suffer, even if it is caused by the fault of the owner. Conversely, surveyors are also asked to indemnify the owner if any of the vessel's crew suffer death or personal injury, or if there is any loss or damage to the vessel itself or its equipment. Occasionally, the indemnity will even extend as far as claims made against the owner by third parties.

Mark Brattman, ITIC legal director, says: "These waivers and indemnities are usually presented to surveyors as they are climbing aboard the vessel. Surveyors therefore do not have a realistic opportunity to read such documents and invariably just sign them, in order to gain access to the vessel to perform their jobs."

In other words, the pressure and responsibility is heaped on from the beginning. ITIC does not say so, but other pressures can come to bear on the surveyor too. He may have to make judgement calls when the master is himself under pressure from the owner to keep the ship sailing on schedule. Stopping a vessel even for a short time is an expensive business.

Signing indemnities

Returning to the indemnities a surveyor must sign, Mr Brattman says: "ITIC has seen many owner-produced wordings over the years, all of them unfavourable to the surveyor. The Admiralty Solicitors Group (ASG) had a wording which was a significant improvement on the owner-produced documents, but ITIC felt that this could be made more balanced. With the agreement and cooperation of the ASG, a new wording, the ASG/ITIC 10 has been produced.

Now, ITIC and the ASG have launched a new surveyors' indemnity wording designed to address the imbalance between owners' and surveyors' responsibilities typically encountered under existing indemnity agreements.

Mr Brattman says: "Both ITIC and ASG agree that the new wording represents a far more equitable apportionment of liability when surveyors are asked to attend a vessel, whether by a P&I club (mutual insurer) on behalf of an owner or by charterers, cargo interests or insurers."

Meanwhile, ITIC has cited an example of what can go wrong. It has reimbursed a marine surveyor accused of negligence by the owner of a ferry which sustained significant machinery damage while being towed to a shipyard. The ferry, which operated in North American waters, was due to be towed to a shipyard to undergo a refit. A marine surveyor was engaged by the shipyard to undertake a "fit for tow" survey and to provide a certificate of approval confirming that the towage arrangements between the tug and the ferry were satisfactory.

The surveyor completed his survey and issued the certificate of approval. Three days later, however, the ferry took on water during the course of the tow and sustained considerable damage to its main machinery compartment. The owner of the vessel brought proceedings against the shipyard, the tug company and the marine surveyor for repair costs of US$750,000. The owner alleged that the surveyor had been negligent in confirming that all watertight openings were closed, whereas expert evidence suggested that water had entered the vessel via open air vents. The surveyor maintained that these air vents were a rarity, that it was outside the scope of the survey to inspect them, and that liability should fall on the company undertaking the tow.

ITIC says that mediation proceedings took place at which the owner acknowledged contributory negligence on its part and agreed to reduce its claim to US$500,000. All three defendants, including the marine surveyor, contributed to a settlement in this amount. Apart from anything, the case shows why a surveyor needs good insurance.

Let's hope the the new agreement makes the surveyor's lot a slightly happier one.

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

Public Order Act - Public Order (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 275 of 2017)

Public Consultation on Draft GST Guide on Customer Accounting for Prescribed Goods

18 May 2017

Make legal services more accessible and affordable to clients: Voices

07 Jun 2017

The legal fraternity must embrace advances in information technology as a continuing process, with no let-up, to enhance the performance of lawyers, paralegals and legal executives (“S’pore must keep its laws up-to-date to stay competitive: PM Lee”; May 30).

Online libraries of the judgments of our courts, as well as those in the United Kingdom and Australia, would promote quick comparative research and evaluation, and would assist lawyers greatly in the preparation of work undertaken for clients.

A lawyer’s first duty is to the court, but his clients deserve respect too. The latter put their fate and faith in the hands of their lawyers, who must be mindful of this responsibility and work diligently in their clients’ interests.

I suggest that a website giving initial information on legal issues, criminal and civil, be set up, managed and maintained by the Law Society or the Academy of Law.

Anyone can then get a feel of how his or her case may proceed, without having to pay a lawyer just to find out the legal process or how to handle an issue.

The site should create awareness of probable legal fees — and where fee scales are available, these must be uploaded as a guide — and also provide sentencing precedents for common criminal offences and a listing of all law firms here.

I believe that potential clients who visit a law firm should not be charged for the first consultation, but if a fee is requested, then it should be no more than S$500 regardless of the duration of the meeting.

Of course lawyers can limit it to one hour, if they prefer, but the objective is to make legal service affordable for clients’ initial understanding of their matter, so that they can make good decisions on how to move ahead.

More can then come forward to get the advice needed and not be deterred by legal fees, usually charged by the hour, even for the first consultation.

Lawyers are not the same as businessmen and have a higher calling: To serve our judicial system and their clients. They must readily appreciate that so as to do the right thing by the courts and their clients.

Prem Singh

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Order Act - Public Order (Election Meetings) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 274 of 2017)

How will pro-business President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda impact business in France and the EU?

18 May 2017

Half of Singapore charities weak in risk management: Report

07 Jun 2017

About one in two, or 50.9 per cent, of the charities and institutions of a public character (IPCs) here do not have a defined policy or way to manage risk, or are unsure if such a policy exists.

In this area, the top three challenges they face are a lack of experience or expertise in risk management (79.3 per cent), human resources to carry out risk-management activities (70.3 per cent), and financial resources to put in place risk-management practices (59 per cent).

These are the findings of a survey conducted by the Charity Council, audit firm KPMG in Singapore, and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School.

The report, released on Tuesday (June 6), places these charities and institutions under the “emergent” stage when it comes to their attitudes towards risk management.

Also launched on Tuesday was a new Enterprise Risk Management Toolkit to guide them towards a more robust system of risk management, and to provide practical insights and best practices.

Both the report and toolkit will be made available online for free.

Apart from this, training programmes and workshops are being organised to support charities in adopting the recommendations in the toolkit.

Mr Gerard Ee, chairman of the Charity Council, said at the launch that good risk management is “part and parcel of good stewardship, and serves to protect the interest of the beneficiaries, employees and volunteers”.

Senior lecturer Susan See Tho, from the Department of Accounting at NUS Business School, said that more has to be done by charities “to set the tone and inculcate a stronger risk governance culture throughout all levels of staff and management”.

“Education will play a vital role in enabling charity-sector employees to better understand the benefits of risk management, so that they are motivated and empowered in making it a priority in their day-to-day work,” she said.

In recent years, steps have been taken to improve the corporate capabilities and governance among voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), such as the Corporate Development Funding Scheme rolled out in 2015.

Under the scheme, each VWO would be awarded S$150,000 to S$300,000 a year to hire three to five qualified professionals in finance, information technology and human resources to help it comply with corporate governance requirements.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Order Act - Public Order (Election Meetings in Presidential Elections) Regulations 2017 (S 273 of 2017)

Whither punishment and deterrence in contract law? Examining the rejection of punitive damages and its implications on the penalty rule

17 May 2017

Parent sues school over confiscated mobile phone

Straits Times
07 Jun 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Should a school hang on to a confiscated phone for three months?

This issue has reached the courts after a parent felt that the penalty was too harsh. The parent is suing a secondary school principal for damages, but has not succeeded in getting the school to return the phone.

The parent's request to have the phone returned immediately was turned down by District Judge Clement Julien Tan. The judge ruled that the principal was justified in holding on to the phone, as the school rules had made it clear that any student caught using a phone during school hours will have it confiscated for at least three months.

The boy met the principal on March 21 and admitted that he had used an iPhone 7 during school hours on March 8. It was confiscated and the SIM card returned along with a receipt stating that it could be retrieved in three months' time.

Later in the evening of March 21, the parent wrote to the principal to say that the phone was his and he wanted it back.

He added that "a three-month confiscation is disproportionate to the offence", and his son had assured him that he would not break the rule on phone use again.

Failing to get a reply, he took the principal of the well-known secondary school to court.

The father, represented by lawyer Andrew Hanam, is claiming that retaining the phone amounts to the tort of conversion - which involves denying a person's rights to his property. He asked the court to get the school to return the phone while the case is being decided.

The principal's lawyer Alfonso Ang said that the claim is "frivolous and vexatious", and pointed out that the principal is responsible for overseeing student discipline based on regulations.

He also highlighted that the parent and son had both been told that the use of phones was banned.

District Judge Tan, who heard the application on April 28, said the principal was simply following the rules. He also rejected the parent's contention that he, personally, is not bound by the school rules as there is no contract between him and the principal.

"Such a position is , in my view, untenable," said the judge, in dismissing the application. The parent, he pointed out in judgment grounds obtained by The Straits Times yesterday, knew about the rules on phone use and if he had an issue with it, "could have enrolled his son in another school".

The judge added that the father had not " established any special circumstances in the present case" to enable the interim injunction to succeed. He also pointed out that having the phoned returned early defeats the school's rule.

"I accept that there may be a risk that until the matter is fully and finally disposed of, the school may be faced with demands from parents or guardians for the return of confiscated phones. This may also send a wrong signal to the students that they can use their mobile phones during school hours with impunity, thus rendering the phone rule otiose (ineffective), however temporarily this might be so."

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

Parliamentary Elections Act - Parliamentary Elections (Electronic Applications) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 272 of 2017)

CCS conducts market study on supply of formula milk

17 May 2017

Twin brothers get jail, caning for assault

Straits Times
07 Jun 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Two brothers who are twins will each serve the same amount of time behind bars and receive the same number of strokes of the cane for attacking a man at a dormitory.

Indian nationals Lakshmanan and Raman Pothiyappan, 24, were each jailed for five months and ordered to receive three strokes of the cane yesterday.

The construction workers pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt to their fellow countryman and colleague, Mr Thevvan Velayutham, 41.

They committed the offence at a Shaw Road dormitory near Upper Paya Lebar Road on Oct 29 last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Soh Weiqi said Mr Thevvan, who is also a construction worker, was sitting in the front porch of the dormitory at around 10.20am that day when the two brothers started punching and kicking him.

Lakshmanan, who had consumed alcohol shortly before the attack, also threw a chair at Mr Thevvan and it struck his head and body.

DPP Soh said: "Raman had informed that the victim and Lakshmanan were not on good terms, and that he had joined in the assault to support his brother."

Court papers did not reveal what sparked the attack.

Other workers who witnessed the incident managed to break up the scuffle.

But about 45 minutes later, Lakshmanan suddenly rushed towards Mr Thevvan and kicked him again.

His brother followed suit and also rained blows on their victim.

The other workers intervened for the second time and police arrived at the scene at around 11.15am.

Mr Thevvan later went to Changi General Hospital, where he was found to have injuries, including a broken nose and a fracture near an eye.

DPP Soh told District Judge Samuel Chua that the victim has since fully recovered from his injuries.

Stressing that Mr Thevvan had to fend himself against two men, she urged the judge to sentence the brothers, who were unrepresented, to at least five months' jail with caning.

Before handing out the sentence, Judge Chua told the brothers: "The injuries were severe... Such offences will not be tolerated in Singapore."

For causing grievous hurt, each attacker could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.

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

Parliamentary Elections Act - Parliamentary Elections (Registration of Overseas Electors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 271 of 2017)

Recognition of foreign office-holders: How far does it go?

SLW Commentary
17 May 2017

All S'poreans play role in fight against corruption: PM

Straits Times
07 Jun 2017
Danson Cheong

He urges everyone to do their best to protect legacy of clean system

Singaporeans play an important part in ensuring that corruption does not become a social norm, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

While the courts, the Government and public servants need to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity, the people must also actively reject corruption to prevent the scourge from taking root here, he added.

"Our founding leaders left us a clean system, built up over more than half a century. It is a legacy that we can be proud of, and we should do our utmost to protect it," he said at the official opening of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau's (CPIB) Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre in Whitley Road.

The centre, which has been running since Jan 9, is another location where people can complain in person about corruption. Previously, they had to do it at the CPIB headquarters in Lengkok Bahru.

Reiterating Singapore's zero-tolerance approach towards corruption, Mr Lee said a clean system, which is necessary for the country's success, is not a natural state of affairs.

"We have a system that works, and we must keep it that way," he added.

This is unlike many countries, where corruption is accepted as the "natural state of affairs" and is impossible to eradicate, he said.

Singaporeans demand and expect a clean system, and do not condone giving or accepting bribes, said Mr Lee, noting that they also trust that the law will be applied transparently and fairly to all.

"People believe that they can make it because they work hard, not because they have special connections or are paying extra 'fees', and that is the way things should be."

He said that Singapore also has a professional public service that is paid "fair and realistic wages" benchmarked against the private sector. This, he added, reduces the temptation to accept bribes.

Elections in Singapore also do not cost a lot of money, unlike in other countries, where clean candidates and political parties stand no chance of being elected if they do not have the resources, he said.

Turning to the new CPIB centre, Mr Lee said it shows that the Government treats complaints about corruption seriously.

He called on people who know or suspect corrupt behaviour to report it, pointing out that many successful investigations arise from such tip-offs.

"We will investigate any complaint on corruption thoroughly," he said.

The number of corruption cases fell 11 per cent last year from the year before, hitting a 32-year low - with the CPIB investigating 118 cases.

Singapore was ranked the seventh least corrupt country in the world last year by graft watchdog Transparency International.

After touring the centre, Mr Lee presented prizes to students who won a short-story writing competition organised by the CPIB.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Corwin Pek, 17, one of the award winners, said: "Not many Singaporeans know how the CPIB works, and this gallery will help people get a better understanding of it."

The centre also houses a heritage gallery, where visitors can view artefacts about old cases and learn of the CPIB's history through quizzes played on interactive screens.

CPIB director Wong Hong Kuan said it creates "an accessible space for the public to report and learn about corruption".


Number of corruption cases investigated by the CPIB last year - a 32-year low.

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Presidential Elections Act - Presidential Elections (Excluded Election Advertising) Notification 2017 (S 270 of 2017)

MAS to introduce Green Bond Grant scheme to incentivise issuance of green bonds

17 May 2017

Lawyer says sorry for statements

Straits Times
06 Jun 2017
Charissa Yong

Critic of death penalty had cast aspersions on officials after drug-trafficker client was hanged

Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam apologised to the court and the public yesterday for making statements about the execution of a drug trafficker that were in contempt of court.

The 41-year-old had represented Singaporean Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, 31, who was found guilty of trafficking in heroin and was hanged at Changi Prison on May 19 after exhausting all avenues of appeal.

On the same day, Mr Thuraisingam criticised the death penalty and Singapore's legal system in a post on his Facebook page that has since been taken down.

In the post, he implied that ministers, judges and lawyers have, because of financial gain, turned a blind eye to what he deemed as "cruel and unjust" death penalty laws.

On Monday, he wrote on Facebook that he unconditionally apologised for making the statements and unequivocally withdrew them.

Said Mr Thuraisingam: "There is no basis for me to have insinuated that judges have subordinated their judicial duty to financial greed or that they are more concerned, or preoccupied, with acquiring financial wealth and material goods which causes them to turn a blind eye to the injustice of the law they apply."

Mr Thuraisingam, who is an outspoken critic of the death penalty, told The Straits Times that he was told by the Attorney-General's Chambers and the Law Society that his original post was in contempt of court.

He said: "I agree. I have made a mistake. I have therefore apologised and withdrawn my statements."

He added that he was not asked to apologise or to take down his post.

Over the years, he has represented accused people facing the gallows on a pro bono basis under the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (Lasco).

He received the Lasco Award last year for his commitment and service to the scheme.

His client, Ridzuan, had been found guilty of trafficking 72.5g of pure heroin in 2013.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, those convicted of trafficking more than 15g of diamorphine can be sentenced to death.

Ridzuan had filed an appeal and also sought a court review in 2014 of the decision by the Public Prosecutor not to grant him a certificate of substantive assistance, which would have made him eligible for a life sentence. He also took his case to the Court of Appeal for the third time by way of a criminal motion.

He was unsuccessful on all three attempts. He was also unsuccessful in his bid for clemency from the President.

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Presidential Elections Act - Presidential Elections (Composition of Offences) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 269 of 2017)

Withdrawal from Investment Treaties: An omen for waning investor protection in the AsiaPacific region?

16 May 2017

Looking back on S'pore's law scene

Straits Times
06 Jun 2017

As the Law Society turns 50 this year, top lawyers talk about the most memorable cases they have handled. Senior law correspondent K.C. Vijayan reports.

The latest issue of the Law Gazette gives the reader a front-row view of the last 50 years of Singapore's rich legal history, as told by the lawyers involved in some of the cases.

The special edition of the magazine is one of the highlights as the Law Society marks its Jubilee year with a host of events spread over this year.

Senior Counsel (SC) Lok Vi Ming, who chairs the 50th anniversary celebrations committee, said: "It is important that we celebrate the contributions of the men and women who quietly, but faithfully and generously, make time to teach, train and encourage young lawyers to love and respect the practice of law."

Several senior lawyers shared their experiences and views in the issue, as well as their most memorable cases. Fortis Law Corporation lawyer Patrick Tan, for instance, talked about how he had defended a man who "probably became the first known person in Singaporean history to get charged for trespassing onto the island of Pedra Branca". He recalled that the case happened in 2008, at about the time that Singapore and Malaysia were contesting ownership of the island at the International Court of Justice.

His Singaporean client, Mr Roger Lee, 39, was living in Batam at the time and wanted to return here.

"But he was broke, so he hired a boatman on a one-way trip. The plan was for the sampan to loiter... and wait for the Singapore Navy or Police Coast Guard to spot them, rescue my client and fetch him back to Singapore," said Mr Tan.

But the weather turned bad and the boatman got impatient, which meant the client had no choice but to land on Pedra Branca. He was arrested by the guards for criminal trespass, convicted and jailed for six weeks. "I did my best and mitigated for my client," said Mr Tan.

Veteran lawyer Malathi Das recalled the seven Law Society presidents she had worked with - Mr Chandra Mohan Nair, SC George Lim, SC R. Pala Krishnan, Mrs Arfat Selvam, SC Philip Jeyaretnam, SC Michael Hwang and SC Wong Meng Meng. She noted, for instance, that the late Pala Krishnan could persuade a person "by the sheer force of his personality". "People just could not refuse Pala because no excuse would work," she said.

She added that serving under the different presidents was a study in leadership that had "a tremendous influence" over her own leadership style.

In his message in the issue, Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran flagged three critical challenges - time-based charges, technology and talent. He said: "The backward look before the forward gaze is particularly apt."


It is important that we celebrate the contributions of the men and women who quietly, but faithfully and generously make time to teach, train and encourage young lawyers to love and respect the practice of law.

SENIOR COUNSEL LOK VI MING, who chairs the 50th anniversary celebrations committee.

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Presidential Elections Act - Presidential Elections (Posters and Banners) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 268 of 2017)

MAS proposes framework for Singapore Variable Capital Companies for collective investment schemes

16 May 2017

$1,400 car sale dispute in 1973 became a landmark case

Straits Times
06 Jun 2017

For emeritus lawyer Michael Hwang, fighting a case involving only $1,400 in 1973 through three courts holds special meaning.

Dr Hwang's client, a second-hand car dealer who sold an eight-year-old BMW to a Royal Air Force officer, took the buyer to court for rejecting the car after about two weeks' use.

The buyer, a Mr Kerr, had given his client a post-dated cheque for March 1, 1970, for $1,400 but stopped payment on Feb 28, claiming the car was not roadworthy due to some mechanical problems.

Dr Hwang's client sued and won in the District Court for $1,400 and costs, but lost when Mr Kerr appealed to the High Court, which ruled the car was not roadworthy.

The client insisted on a further appeal to the top court presided by then Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin. Dr Hwang, a Senior Counsel, said he was "fearful the Court would reprimand me for bringing such a trivial case to the Court of Appeal".

Instead, the court heard him out "quietly" and ruled for his client, holding the defects complained of were to be expected of a second-hand vintage car.

"The case was a landmark in the law of the sale of a second-hand vehicle," said Dr Hwang, who was a former judicial commissioner.

He explained that if the car was not rejected after two weeks, the buyer would be deemed to have accepted the car unless defects making the car unroadworthy were not discoverable within the two weeks.

"The case represents my first positive contribution to the case law of Singapore and is a memory I will always treasure," he said.

Dr Hwang is also a former Law Society president. He runs his own firm here and is a non-resident Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

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Presidential Elections Act - Presidential Elections (Voting) Regulations 2017 (S 267 of 2017)

Time to Do Right by Databases

SLW Commentary
16 May 2017

Doctors are not expected to mind-read: Forum