21 April 2018
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The limits of competition policy

Straits Times
20 Apr 2018
Kenneth Khoo

CCCS isn't the only regulator in the ride-hailing market. While it looks into competition issues, other policy considerations can be taken care of by the sectoral regulator, LTA

Much ink has been spilled on how regulators should address the competition concerns raised by Uber's proposed sale of its South-east Asian business to rival Grab.

Recently, some commentators have commended the interim measures taken by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to ensure that the market remains open and contestable while CCCS completes its investigations, while others question their effectiveness.

Less attention has been paid to the difficulties the CCCS faces in assessing the competitive effects of the proposed merger between Uber and Grab. Putting aside the difficulties associated with defining the relevant market, this is no easy task.

Under the Competition Act, the CCCS will have to examine whether the merger would result in a "substantial lessening of competition" if it were allowed to proceed. Like all competition authorities around the world, CCCS does not have the benefit of hindsight; and it will have to come up with hypothetical, probabilistic assessments as to what would happen if the merger were to take place.

Nevertheless, this analysis is not conducted in the abstract; it has to be made in reference to a benchmark where the merger does not take place. Known as a "counterfactual" analysis, a competition authority usually compares the levels of competition in this hypothetical situation with pre-existing levels of competition (the counterfactual benchmark) in determining whether a merger should be countenanced under competition law.

In a given typical merger considered by competition authorities, the counterfactual benchmark used is simply the status quo. However, this form of analysis is not suitable for the Grab-Uber merger.

After all, Uber plans to exit the South-east Asian ride-hailing market after experiencing substantial losses, and is likely to do so regardless of the CCCS' final decision. The status quo is no longer the appropriate benchmark for comparison, as pre-existing conditions of competition between Uber and Grab would not prevail, whether or not the merger is prohibited.

A second complication follows from the possibility that the pre-existing conditions of competition between Uber and Grab are unsustainable in the long run. With numerous discount codes on top of already low fares, it is no surprise that Uber has been said to have lost almost US$200 million (S$262 million) a year in its battle with Grab for riders.

Thus, even if Uber had decided not to leave the market, it is unlikely that strong price competition between Uber and Grab in the ride-hailing market would have continued indefinitely.

If the historical pricing strategies of both firms are to be interpreted as costly bids for market dominance, an argument could be made that both firms would be forced to soften this price competition - by reducing promotions, and raising prices to riders - if they want to coexist in the market in a sustainable manner long term.

But when would prices increase to their sustainable levels? And to what levels would they rebound?

With historical pricing being of little relevance to future sustainable levels of pricing, modern industrial economics gives us few clear-cut predictions as to how long-run pricing will pan out. Again, CCCS faces major difficulties in defining the appropriate counterfactual benchmark.

Given the difficulties in assessing the competitive effects of the proposed merger, how best might the CCCS proceed to safeguard consumers' interests?

Given the rapid developments in the ride-hailing market, it is anyone's guess how market conditions will actually evolve over time. What regulators can do for consumers is to ensure that market conditions are favourable for competition to develop. This would explain the CCCS' interim measures thus far that require Grab to maintain and not raise its pre-merger pricing for rides and commissions for drivers, a move that protects consumers' ride prices and drivers' earnings.

The other measures are to prevent Grab from tying drivers down exclusively to its platform, and to prevent "Uber's operational data from being used by Grab to enhance its market position". Both these measures aim to reduce barriers to entry for future new entrants to the market.

But whatever CCCS does can only provide the conditions for contestability; it cannot ensure the realisation of robust competition. This might explain why the conversation so far has largely focused on maintaining the contestability and competitive structure of the ride-hailing market.

This brings us to another more fundamental observation on the limits of competition policy in achieving certain policy outcomes.

Commentators have suggested that the proposed merger between Uber and Grab has raised numerous competition concerns. But the mere existence of these concerns that adversely affect consumers and drivers alike does not necessarily warrant the intervention of competition law.

There is a general consensus among legislators, jurists and practitioners that it would be impracticable for competition law to prohibit rational responses to the structure of the market.

While it may be optimal for both drivers and riders to have Uber continue its operations in Singapore, it is not within the remit of competition law to stop Uber from making a calculated business decision to exit the market.

As early as last year, Mr Toh Han Li, the current chief executive of CCCS, raised the notion that in certain situations, "players in the market may not have infringed the law, but there are some features in that market which are not making it work as well as it should be".

The regulatory framework of competition policy encompasses all markets, but the CCCS cannot be expected to step in every time a market does not "work as well as it should". It is probably more apt to leave other policy considerations that are industry-specific to sectoral regulators.

Competition is not the only important consideration in the market for ride-hailing services; regulators have to address concerns of general affordability while also maintaining standards of public safety and security for both drivers and consumers.

In any case, our sectoral regulators have never been shy to step in to intervene in the market when they have deemed it expedient to do so - the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has already suggested more aggressive forms of regulation in the form of licensing regimes or even price regulation that would balance such countervailing objectives.

The CCCS, in other words, is not the only regulator at play in the ride-hailing market. If LTA's licensing regime or other such regulatory solutions come into force, it is clear a post-merger Grab would still face constraints in its market behaviour vis-a-vis both drivers and consumers.


The regulatory framework of competition policy encompasses all markets, but the CCCS cannot be expected to step in every time a market does not "work as well as it should". It is probably more apt to leave other policy considerations that are industry-specific to sectoral regulators.


• Kenneth Khoo is Sheridan Fellow at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, with research interests in the hybrid areas where law and economics intersect, such as law and economics, empirical (quantitative) legal studies, and in competition law/antitrust issues.

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Court of Appeal Upholds Setting Aside of Arbitral Award

Judgments
16 Mar 2018

China to impose anti-dumping measures on synthetic rubber imported from S'pore, US, EU

Business Times
20 Apr 2018
Chia Yan Min

Rubber duties could hit global firms operating synthetic rubber facilities in Singapore

China will impose temporary anti-dumping measures on a certain type of synthetic rubber imported from the United States, the European Union and Singapore, its commerce ministry said on Thursday.

The measures will be effective from April 20, the ministry added.

An anti-dumping duty is a tariff imposed on foreign imports believed to be priced below fair market value.

The measures are based on preliminary findings from an anti-dumping investigation the Chinese authorities launched in August 2017.

China's Ministry of Commerce said producers from the three regions were selling halogenated butyl rubber at a discount to appropriate prices, hurting China's domestic industry.

Halogenated butyl rubber, also called halobutyl rubber, provides the barrier layer in vehicle tyres to maintain air pressure without the need for tubes.

A spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said the government is following developments closely and engaging with Chinese authorities as well as affected companies.

Stakeholders can submit written representations to the Chinese authorities within 10 days of the announcement.

China's Ministry of Commerce will hold a hearing on the anti-dumping investigations on May 3, MTI added.

The rubber duties could hit global firms operating synthetic rubber facilities in Singapore.

German petrochemical giant Lanxess opened a 400 million euro butyl rubber plant on Jurong Island in 2013. The 150,000 sq m plant was the largest investment in the company's history, and its first venture in Singapore.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil has been building a new halobutyl rubber facility at its petrochemical complex on Jurong Island, which will add production capacity of 140,000 tons per annum.

An ExxonMobil spokesman said the group is "carefully studying the preliminary findings and will continue our cooperation with the relevant authorities".

"ExxonMobil and its affiliates are committed to operating ethically, responsibly and in full compliance with the laws, rules and regulations of all countries that are applicable to the business," the spokesman added.

Lanxess did not respond to queries by press time.

China's latest move comes amid an escalating trade dispute with the US. Most analysts believe the two sides will eventually reach a compromise and avoid a full-blown trade war.

Earlier this week, the US banned American companies from selling parts to Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE for seven years, while China on Tuesday announced hefty anti-dumping tariffs on imports of US sorghum.

China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that local businesses were "substantially damaged" by American sorghum imports.

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

Sand and Granite Quarries Act - Sand and Granite Quarries (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 200 of 2018)

Singapore Court of Appeal: Claims from Other Contracts Cannot Be Set Off in an Adjudication

Judgments
15 Mar 2018

Discussion on new genetics-linked tech welcome

Straits Times
20 Apr 2018
Linette Lai

Bioethics panel mulling over technology to help babies avoid inheriting serious defects

The Bioethics Advisory Committee has to consider the dilemmas associated with a new technology which allows a child to be born without serious genetic defects, but with three genetic parents.

Mitochondrial genome replacement technology involves combining the genetic material (DNA) of a couple - who would otherwise be unlikely to have healthy children of their own - with that of a female egg donor.

That would mean the child would have the genetic make-up of three people, although the donor's contribution would account for less than 1 per cent of the child's DNA.

Even though the technology is still in its early stages, Singapore needs to start a conversation about it, said former senior district judge Richard Magnus, who leads the committee.

"Singapore needs to be able to do good science; ethical science," he said. "We want to be able to provide and get ready a framework of legal, ethical and social principles with regard to the science of it."

Formed in 2000, the committee makes recommendations to the Government on the regulation of human biomedical research. It has launched a public consultation to discuss the issues related to the treatment. The public consultation starts today and ends on June 15.

Most inherited DNA is found in the nucleus of human cells. However, some is also found in structures outside the nucleus, which are known as mitochondria.

This mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from a baby's mother, and as far as scientists are aware, do not affect a person's physical or personality traits. Abnormalities in this type of DNA can cause serious problems, as mitochondria produce energy that cells need to function.

Most healthy people have a certain amount of abnormal mitochondrial DNA. However, because a randomly selected portion is passed on, a child may end up with a large amount of abnormal DNA.

These typically affect the heart and nervous system, and can contribute to epilepsy, blindness, deafness and some form of mental deficiency.

In severe cases, it can involve multiple organs, and lead to an early death.

The technology aims to solve this problem by combining nuclear DNA from a woman who is at risk of passing on such a disorder, with the healthy mitochondrial DNA found in a donor's egg.

Britain was the first country to legalise this technology in 2015. However, the technique is so new that no formal clinical trials have been conducted among humans yet.

Since 2016, three babies have been born - one in Mexico and two in Ukraine - using this technology, but their current health status is unknown.

In Singapore, research involving human eggs and embryos is restricted under the Human Biomedical Research Act.

However, the committee is relooking the issue in the light of recent scientific advancements and their potential to help prevent serious mitochondrial disorders.

The committee will talk to scientists, doctors, members of institutional ethics review boards and representatives from religious organisations to get their views on the topic.

It will also be holding a public dialogue on April 28 at the National Library, between 2pm and 4pm.

Those interested in attending the session can contact the committee at bioethics_singapore@moh.gov.sg.


STARTING A CONVERSATION

Singapore needs to be able to do good science; ethical science. We want to be able to provide and get ready a framework of legal, ethical and social principles with regard to the science of it.

MR RICHARD MAGNUS, who leads the Bioethics Advisory Committee, about mitochondrial genome replacement technology.


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Public Order Act - Public Order (32nd ASEAN Summit) Notification 2018 (S 199 of 2018)

URA seeks feedback on proposed changes to Sale of Commercial Properties Act and Rules, and new anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism requirements on developers

Legislation
15 Mar 2018

Role of in-house lawyers must evolve, says judge

Straits Times
19 Apr 2018
Grace Leong

General counsel will have to give strategic business advice as well as legal advice

Nearly one in five general counsel in Singapore harbours ambitions of becoming a chief executive or chief operating officer, a new study has found. But many in the profession may have to reinvent themselves to rise further.

Judge of Appeal Steven Chong yesterday gave in-house counsel pointers on what they need to do in their evolving role, while not losing sight of certain core issues.

Only 18 per cent of general counsel say they are doing work that has "greatest strategic value to their business", although 52 per cent expect to be doing such work within five years.

To meet boardroom expectations, a mindset shift is needed, Justice Chong said at an event unveiling a study of local general counsel by the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and global law firm CMS. The study involved 40 of 200 general counsel or heads of legal departments.

Among other things, in-house counsel must be prepared to evolve beyond their traditional role of providing just legal advice to giving strategic business advice as well, noted Justice Chong, who heads the Singapore Academy of Law's professional affairs committee.

With businesses becoming more sophisticated and regulations growing in complexity, corporations find themselves operating in an "uncertain space where acceptable and unacceptable corporate behaviour seem to shade into one another".

"This has driven corporations to involve their in-house lawyers more directly in the implementation of business decisions so that risks are properly identified and managed," he said.

Further, general counsel's role is not only to influence management, but also to determine the direction, values, and culture of the business.

The study found that some 60 per cent of those surveyed felt their influence in the boardroom was strong, and 18 per cent very strong, compared with 5 per cent who considered it to be weak.

"Measuring lawyers' contribution is still an issue with management. They struggle to grade us," said Ms Rose Kong, head of legal for Royal Golden Eagle Group.

While in-house lawyers continue to shoulder more responsibilities, including managing litigation regulation, compliance and contracts, they must "never compromise on their core identity as keeper of the corporate conscience", Justice Chong said.

In-house counsel must always be mindful of the tension inherent in their role as gatekeeper and strategic adviser to the company. And whenever the two roles are "in seeming conflict, the former must prevail", he added.

It is also critical for in-house lawyers to develop knowledge of different national laws as the region undergoes economic integration through proposed trade agreements that could lead to even more multinational companies setting up regional bases in Singapore.

Justice Chong stressed that "technological competence is not merely an optional extra but a vital component in a lawyer's make up".

He cited a Ministry of Law note that found that only 9 per cent of local small and medium law firms interviewed as part of a consultancy study use technologically enabled tools.

"In other words, an astounding 91 per cent do not! These numbers are certainly a source of great concern," he added.


18%

Of general counsel surveyed said they are doing work that has "greatest strategic value to their business".

60%

Felt their influence in the boardroom was strong, and 18 per cent very strong, compared with 5 per cent who considered it to be weak.

9%

Of local small and medium law firms use technologically enabled tools, according to a Ministry of Law note. Judge of Appeal Steven Chong said this was a concern.

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Public Order Act - Public Order (32nd ASEAN Summit) Declaration 2018 (S 198 of 2018)

Singapore Court of Appeal holds directors of insolvent family-owned shipping company stripped assets to evade creditors under guise of a fictitious “restructuring plan”

Judgments
15 Mar 2018

Court orders more than $1.5m to be confiscated

Straits Times
19 Apr 2018
Lydia Lam

Sentenced to nine months' jail in 2013 for storing more than 307 cartons of contraband cigarettes, Tan Hock Chwee also had cash, a luxury watch and bank deposits confiscated from him then.

Now, the 68-year-old has been issued a confiscation order for more than $1.5 million by the High Court after a further probe - $800,000 of which had been used to buy a terrace house, and the rest coming from the increase in value of the house.

After Tan was sentenced in 2013, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) found that he had "significant wealth that could not be satisfactorily accounted for".

In a joint statement with the police and Singapore Customs, the CAD said it established that Tan had accumulated $875,288.70 of unexplained wealth between Jan 1, 2009, and July 25, 2012. He used part of this to buy a terrace house in 2010 which subsequently experienced a capital gain of around $700,000.

"This capital gain is also regarded as part of Tan's benefits from criminal conduct," said the agencies.

Anyone who is convicted of a serious offence under the Second Schedule of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act can have the benefits derived by him from criminal conduct confiscated.

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Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act - Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Tax Free World Association Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference 2018) (Exemption) Order 2018 (S 197 of 2018)

Budget 2018: Analysis of major tax changes

Business
14 Mar 2018

Man charged with causing hurt to MP, criminal trespass

Straits Times
19 Apr 2018
Cheryl Tee

A man was charged yesterday with voluntarily causing hurt to Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng during a Meet-the-People Session in Clementi.

Mohammad Ameen Mohamed Maideen, 32, is also accused of criminal trespass.

Ameen entered a first-floor unit at Block 334 Clementi Avenue 2 at around 10.10pm on Monday, the court heard.

He grabbed Dr Tan forcefully around the neck, slammed him backwards against the wall and punched him multiple times, according to court documents.

Ameen, who is now remanded at the Institute of Mental Health, will be back in court on May 10, said District Judge Adam Nakhoda.

Dr Tan gave an account of the incident in a Facebook post on Tuesday, writing that a young man had rushed into the interview area during the session and started hitting him.

"I was with another resident, and suddenly found myself being hit and fell to the ground," he wrote, adding that the attacker was quickly restrained by residents and volunteers. Dr Tan suffered bruises on his arm and abrasions on his neck.

After a check-up at the National University Hospital, Dr Tan said he returned to the session to continue writing appeal letters for residents, including for his alleged attacker.

"Police are investigating. But whatever the outcome under the law, I hope he can get back on track and will try to help him do so," he said.

If convicted of voluntarily causing hurt, Ameen could be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both. A criminal trespass conviction can bring a jail term of up to three months, fines of up to $1,500 or both.

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Vocational Licence for Bus Conductors and Drivers — Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2018 (S 196 of 2018)

Five likely key themes in Public Policy developments in Singapore in 2018

Business
14 Mar 2018

Mr Bean's foray into local food sours

Straits Times
19 Apr 2018
Jan Lee

Fans of yong tau foo say the chilli sauce can make or break the dish.

This, together with the ingredients and cooking methods, is at the heart of a legal food fight between a popular yong tau foo food shop in Tiong Bahru and operators of the Mr Bean chain.

The people behind Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu shop in Eng Hoon Street claim the chilli sauce, ingredients and cooking methods as their trade secret.

After setting up a joint venture, the Mr Bean chain started selling yong tau foo at its outlets using the Tiong Bahru shop's recipes.

But then things turned sour. Now the shop's operators - Mr Yeo Kee and Ms Yen Fan Ching - want a court injunction to stop the Mr Bean chain from using and disclosing their trade secrets.

They have named Mr Loh Jwee Poh and Mr Koh Thiam Soon of Bean United, Mr Simon Lim of Super Bean, Bean United and the joint venture - 118 Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu - as defendants.

Super Bean operates the Mr Bean chain while Bean United was set up by the company which owns the Mr Bean chain to facilitate the joint venture.

Mr Yeo and Ms Yen went into the joint venture with Bean United in 2015. As part of the agreement, Ms Yen became one of the shareholders of 118 Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu while Mr Yeo held the trademark of Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu, which he secured that same year.

Among other things, the deal meant Mr Bean would be allowed to sell yong tau foo using the pair's recipes at Mr Bean outlets.

But things went bad from December 2015.

After an initial $30,000 investment, Ms Yen says she was told the joint venture was profitable and to pump in another $90,000 to expand the business.

But Ms Yen claims she was not given substantive updates and was later told the business was making losses. She further claims that she was told she was personally liable for the losses.

She and Mr Yeo both claim the defendants knew they could not understand English well and did not have prior experience in joint ventures.

She is suing to get the $120,000 back.

As for Mr Yeo, he claims Bean United withheld royalty and technical fees meant to be paid to him. He says this was done because he did not sign over the master licence to Bean United.

The master licence would have given Bean United the rights to sell products using the Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu brand name.

He is demanding a true and full account of royalty and technical fees, and damages owed. He also wants an injunction to stop Bean United from using and disclosing Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Hu's trade secrets.

He claims that Mr Bean outlets were still selling his yong tau foo after the joint venture was terminated in April last year.

The defendants say Ms Yen and Mr Yeo are not entitled to any such claims.

Among other things, the defendants also deny Ms Yen's claims that the joint venture had initially exceeded profit expectations. The case has yet to be heard in court.

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Budget 2018: Key highlights from a Public Policy perspective

Business
14 Mar 2018

Passenger-facing cameras: Encrypt recordings and restrict access

Straits Times
19 Apr 2018
Irene Tham

Rules are needed to safeguard passenger privacy if cab and private-hire car drivers are allowed to install in-facing cameras

Singapore's privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), caused a minor furore on Monday last week when it said cab and private-hire car drivers can use passenger-facing video cameras as a way to deter fare cheats and abusive passengers.

That bit of information was contained in its new guidelines on in-vehicle recording by transport service providers.

The National Taxi Association has lobbied for at least three years to have such in-facing cameras in taxis to protect cabbies.With privacy issues being raised in more recent months, the PDPC came up with guidelines to require transport service providers to display a prominent notice about the use of passenger-facing video cameras. It also wants transport service providers to have adequate security measures to protect consumers' personal data or risk fines of up to $1 million under the Personal Data Protection Act.

Commuters were quick to respond with more privacy concerns such as whether drivers can access the recorded footage and how long the data can be kept.

"Just as drivers are guarded against random passengers, the drivers are also complete strangers to us. How can I be sure that my footage is in the right hands? " said Mrs Sakura Yin, 44, a housewife.

"We are aware that people take photographs of children and work with trafficking syndicates overseas," she added.

But as it turns out, the PDPC might have been jumping the gun a little.

This is because the Land Transport Authority (LTA) that regulates transport service providers has not firmed up its rules on such in-facing cameras.

For example, it is looking into whether the driver or transport service provider is the one who should be responsible for such cameras' installation and footage, and who is authorised to access and view such video.

In the interim, at least one thing is clear: It is an offence to install or use an inward-facing camera in any public service vehicle without the LTA's approval. First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both.

Commuters can relax for now.

But when the rules are set, what might a reasonable regime look like for regulating such in-facing camera use? Here's a look at what might work, drawing from other countries' experiences.

SANCTIONED EQUIPMENT, AUTHORISED ACCESS

In Queensland, Australia, the Department of Transport and Main Roads needs to approve the equipment for use in personalised transport vehicles including taxis and limousines.

A similar rule is also adopted by New Zealand's Transport Agency.

In Queensland, all images and audio files must be encrypted. If the camera system has removable storage drives such as SD cards, they must be fastened within the system cabinet by specialised security screws that prohibit easy access.

The two regulators also require the installed camera systems to be certified independently by registered third parties to ensure compliance with these official specifications.

Access is tightly controlled so that the drivers cannot download or view the recordings independently. For instance, in Queensland, access to video footage can be triggered only when a valid complaint is made to the local authorities. After a report is filed and an application made to retrieve the video, an approved third party then downloads the recordings from the in-vehicle camera system. Investigations into driver assault, passenger molestation or fare evasion are then done by the Queensland Police Service.

Video recordings cannot be stored indefinitely. Technical specifications laid out by the Queensland and New Zealand transport authorities require the certified camera systems to store about 168 hours, or seven days, of video before the oldest data is overwritten by new recordings. Because of the storage cap, drivers and passengers are advised to lodge complaints as soon as an incident has occurred to allow for time to retrieve the recorded information in the cameras.

In the same way, Singapore's authorities can appoint vendors to manage camera data download, store the data securely in the cloud and restrict access to it.

Lawyer Gilbert Leong, a senior partner at Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, said it will be easier to manage and enforce personal data protection if the Singapore authorities outsource equipment installation and data storage and retrieval to a vendor.

"Live streaming of encrypted content can be done to a central, secure server," he said.

Unlike Singapore's PDPC, Hong Kong's privacy watchdog, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, specifies that the in-vehicle camera storage system has to be encrypted. In Hong Kong, the rule is that such recorded content can be kept for up to one month, and can be accessed only after gaining consent from the Association of Taxi Industry Development, formed by taxi firm owners and involving 5,000 cabs.

The LTA should also require all recordings to be encrypted and ensure drivers do not have the security keys to access the footage.

NOTIFICATION PROCESS

People should be adequately notified that they are being filmed before they get into a hailed cab.

Singapore's privacy watchdog, however, does not prescribe the manner in which transport service providers should notify consumers about the use of passenger-facing video cameras. Having a standard notice might be desirable.

A common sign is easier to spot. For instance, Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads requires notification signs to be 10cm by 4cm in size, and placed at each door of the vehicle and in another place within the vehicle so passengers can readily see the sign.

The message is standardised too: "Security cameras are fitted. You will be photographed and conversations will be recorded. Image and audio recordings may be used for authorised purposes under passenger transport legislation, including by police for law enforcement. For more information: www.tmr.qld.gov.au."

Singapore's LTA could mandate a standard sign for cab drivers to display. The authority could also require ride-hailing apps such as Grab to include a feature that flags the cars fitted with these cameras so consumers can cancel the ride if they object to being recorded.

PRIVATE-HIRE CARS

There is no precedent for regulating the use of passenger-facing cameras in Uber or Grab cars in Australia, New Zealand or Hong Kong.

For one thing, moves last year in Queensland, Australia, to mandate the installation of passenger-and driver-facing cameras in Uber cars failed.

Drivers of private-hire cars, such as those on Uber, are less likely to be assaulted than drivers of taxis hailed along the road by commuters. This is because passengers are known individuals when they book an Uber ride and can be identified easily for any wrongdoing.

While the LTA is not likely to mandate that all cab and private-hire car drivers in Singapore install these cameras like in Queensland, it also does not make sense for the authority to have separate rules for cab and private-hire car drivers like what is happening in Queensland.

Here is perhaps where the LTA can break new ground.

In-vehicle recording is not a new concept in Singapore - buses and trains have them. The difference is that big groups of people are recorded at a time in the bus or train, and the audio recorded is diffused. In a private car or cab, that recording focuses on one or just a few individuals, raising the intrusion level.

It is not likely that the LTA will go the way of Queensland to make it mandatory for cabs or private-hire cars to install passenger-facing cameras. But as its permission is needed before any such camera is installed, it is in a powerful position to come up with rules that protect drivers' interests while safeguarding passengers' concerns.

It should spell out minimum standards required before it will grant approval for such cameras to be installed. These standards should apply to both cabs and private cars for hire:

• Insist on recordings being encrypted, ensuring that drivers have no access unless the access is granted by local authorities.

• Insist on those recordings being stored securely for a specified length of time, such as not more than a week.

• Restrict access so recordings are viewed by authorised people only when needed for law enforcement or complaint management, and cannot be accessed for casual viewing.

• Determine who has to pay for the service and apply it to both cab and private-hire car drivers.

• Require both cab companies and ride-hailing apps such as Grab to include a feature that flags the cars fitted with such cameras, so consumers can cancel the ride if they object to being recorded.

Having a set of standard, and sensible, rules could level the playing field and go a long way to protect consumers.

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MediShield Life Scheme Act 2015 - MediShield Life Scheme (Premium Recovery) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 194 of 2018)

PDPC releases new Guide to Basic Data Anonymisation techniques

Business
13 Mar 2018

Law firm MD fined $10K for failing to flag suspicious deal

Straits Times
18 Apr 2018
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Though aware China client's money for house deal was likely ill-gotten, she did not report it

A Singapore law firm director decided to find out more about a "high net worth client" who was buying a house in Sentosa Cove - and discovered she was linked to one of China's biggest Ponzi schemes, involving $10.8 billion.

But Kang Bee Leng, 56, failed to notify the authorities that a sum of almost $5.5 million involved in the purchase could have stemmed from criminal activities.

The managing director of Sterling Law Corp was fined $10,000 yesterday, after pleading guilty to the offence last month. If one has reason to suspect that a property deal is connected to criminal conduct, one is legally obliged to alert the authorities about it.

In October 2015, real estate agent Tan Yen Hsi, 37, referred the purchase of a $23.8 million Lakeshore View property to Kang to carry out the conveyancing work.

The buyer was Zhang Min, former president of Yucheng International Holdings, whose firm launched her country's largest online peer-to-peer lender Ezubao.

To find out more about Zhang, the lawyer conducted online checks on the Chinese national and found out that the Yucheng Group purportedly provided financial services in China and Hong Kong.

Zhang had paid $5,481,180 for items such as conveyance fees to Kang's firm and stamp duties between October and November 2015. However, Kang was unable to contact her on Jan 12, 2016 - a day before the scheduled completion of the property purchase. The lawyer alerted Tan, who told her that, according to online news reports, Zhang had been detained by the Chinese authorities.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting said: "The accused then did her own online searches to verify this and found news articles to the effect that Yucheng Group was under investigation for fraud in relation to its online peer-to-peer lending platform, and that several suspects had been detained by the Chinese authorities since December 2015."

Some time in March or April 2016, Kang came across news articles in The Straits Times and The Business Times stating that the Ezubao platform was a Ponzi scheme.

"Despite the accused's suspicion that the monies used by Zhang Min for the property purchase could have been derived from the Ponzi scheme, she did not file an STR (suspicious transaction report)," said DPP Ng.

Zhang and 24 others had reportedly been sentenced to between three and 15 years' jail in Beijing over her involvement in financial fraud. The court heard that the property purchase transaction was not completed as the remaining sum was left unpaid.

Tan appeared in court in November last year, after he also allegedly failed to report the suspicious property deal to the authorities. The pre-trial conference for his case will be held on April 26. The Straits Times understands that Tan is no longer a real estate agent.

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Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act 2018 - Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2018 (S 193 of 2018)

Infrastructure Protection Act: The New Regulatory Framework for Security-by-Design

Legislation
13 Mar 2018

Engineering firm loses appeal, fine raised instead

Straits Times
18 Apr 2018
Esther Koh

An engineering company which appealed against its conviction and sentence for a fatal workplace accident had its fine increased instead.

Five workers from Sterling Engineering were installing a steel sliding gate at a Bartley Road worksite on Sept 2, 2014 when the 1,500kg frame toppled, killing a 41-year-old Bangladeshi worker.

The Straits Times reported at the time that the worker was known to friends as Khorim.

In July last year, Sterling Engineering was fined $280,000 under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to "take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees".

It appealed against the ruling on the grounds that the design of the gate - which it asserted was the main cause of the accident - was not under the company's control.

The prosecution also filed an appeal to increase the fine.

Both appeals were presented before Justice Aedit Abdullah on April 9 this year.

The judge maintained that it is the company's responsibility, as supplier and installer, to ensure safety at the workplace.

While Sterling Engineering might not have been able to do anything about the design of the gate, it ultimately failed to meet the standards necessary for risk assessment and safety measures during the installation, said the judge.

The High Court dismissed the company's appeal and increased its fine to $330,000, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday.

Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said the company had a duty to identify all safety risks and implement the appropriate control measures.

"The company did neither and a worker needlessly lost his life."


While Sterling Engineering might not have been able to do anything about the design of the gate, it ultimately failed to meet the standards necessary for risk assessment and safety measures during the installation, said the judge.

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

Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2018 (Act 12 of 2018)

Singapore to offer better protections for gig economy workers

Business
13 Mar 2018

China Sports files for judicial management in S'pore High Court

Business Times
18 Apr 2018
Wong Kai Yi

Sportswear maker China Sports International has applied to the Singapore High Court on April 16 to have the company placed under judicial management (JM), it announced late on the same day.

The company, which manufactures sports fashion apparel accessories under the Yeli brand in China, has proposed the appointment of Andrew Grimmett and Lim Loo Khoon of Deloitte & Touche LLP as joint and several judicial managers to manage the company's affairs, business and property during the JM period.

A separate application was also filed on the same day for the appointment of the two individuals above as the interim joint and several judicial managers pending the hearing of the JM application.

The Court has yet to fix the date for the hearing of the application.

On March 20 this year, the company announced that it might be involved in past or ongoing lawsuits which were not previously disclosed.

At the time, the board was seeking further information from chief executive Lin Shao Xiong and will make further announcements when there are material developments.

Its shares have been suspended since Dec 4, 2017, after it requested a voluntary suspension until the commencement of an audit process.

The company failed to convene its annual general meeting for FY17, which led to concern from independent directors. China Sports had sought, but was unable to get, an extension of time.

The company also said in December last year that it had received a statutory demand from the legal advisors of RHT Corporate Advisory Pte Ltd for S$50,839.25 in unpaid fees, and that if it failed to repay the amount within three weeks from Dec 15, RHT would be entitled to commence winding-up proceedings against the company.

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

Immigration Act - Immigration (Exemption from Singapore Visa) (Amendment) Order 2018 (S 192 of 2018)

MAS encourages financial institutions to use technology to enhance customer on-boarding experience

Business
12 Mar 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
18 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Compulsory Education Act - Compulsory Education (Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2018 (S 191 of 2018)

Parliament passes Cybersecurity Bill: Protecting critical information infrastructure against cybersecurity threats

Legislation
12 Mar 2018

ADV: Enter the STEP Private Client Awards 2018/19

Singapore Law Watch
18 Apr 2018
STEP UK

Compulsory Education Act - Compulsory Education (National Primary Schools) Regulations 2018 (S 190 of 2018)

Singapore High Court holds that claim to sole beneficial ownership of shares in a company does not give rise to a caveatable interest over registered land owned by the company

Judgments
12 Mar 2018

Prudential sues ex-exec over resignations

Straits Times
17 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

Insurer alleges he made remarks on several occasions that led to 230 agents and leaders leaving for rival firm

The first litigation fallout from a dispute over alleged mass poaching of agents has surfaced in the High Court, with life insurer Prudential Assurance suing its former senior financial services manager, Mr Peter Tan Shou Yi.

The Singapore company is accusing Mr Tan, 53, of getting more than 230 agents and agency leaders to quit and move to rival insurer Aviva Financial Advisers.

Mr Tan, while working at Prudential, had been in charge of a group known as Peter Tan Organisation (PTO), which had about 500 agents and agency leaders.

Prudential claims Mr Tan made various representations and remarks to them on various occasions in May and June 2016 that allegedly caused them to leave.

It added that they left when he was still contracted as an agent and agency leader of Prudential.

Mr Tan, represented by lawyers from TSMP Corporation led by Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi, is contesting the claims.

Meanwhile, a preliminary issue on audio recordings of the alleged soliciting of the agents has come before the court.

Prudential's lawyers from Rajah & Tann, led by Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, had sought to ascertain from Mr Tan if he was the person speaking in the recordings and following objections, this became an issue for the court to decide.

The recordings were allegedly his discussions with Prudential agents and agency leaders at certain meetings, during which he is said to have asked them to leave the firm. Mr Tan's lawyers are challenging the authenticity of the recordings, among other things.

Their arguments were heard by High Court assistant registrar Justin Yeo, who gave his judgment grounds last week. Mr Yeo said he accepted that the recordings' authenticity will be fiercely fought at the trial but the fact that it is in dispute is "not of itself a bar" for the question sought in the interrogatories to be answered by Mr Tan.

" What he has to do is to respond factually, to the best of his knowledge... For instance, if he honestly believes the voice to be his but that his speech had been manipulated to misrepresent what had actually transpired, it is open to him to qualify his response accordingly."

Interrogatories are questions raised that can significantly reduce costs and help in the fair disposal of the matter.

Mr Yeo, however, disallowed a set of secondary queries Prudential wanted Mr Tan to answer. He ruled that they were not necessary at this stage or to save costs.

SC Thio yesterday said his team is studying the judgment grounds when asked if he would appeal.

Mr Tan, who holds five professional degrees and qualifications, has more than 20 companies across Asia, according to his website.

He also, among other things, started a $1 million PTO Endowment Fund at the School of Economics in Singapore Management University for needy students, as well as supported the Yellow Ribbon Project by helping offenders in Changi Prison learn basic skills in logistics management.

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Environmental Protection and Management Act - Environmental Protection and Management (Vehicular Emissions) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 189 of 2018)

CCS proposes guidance note for airline alliance agreements

Business
09 Mar 2018

URA proposes safeguards for short-term home stays

Straits Times
17 Apr 2018
Rachel Au-Yong

80% consent rule and 90-day annual rental cap among suggestions for condominiums

Airbnb-style home-sharing is one step closer to becoming legal here, even as observers said the rules governing short-term stays proposed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will present a barrier too high for many to cross.

The URA outlined a list of safeguards in a long-awaited public consultation on short-term accommodation yesterday, making it clear it intends to closely regulate the practice.

"We think it is possible to allow (them) in private residential properties, but subject to appropriate regulation and safeguards," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong wrote in a Facebook post yesterday, adding that the Government studied the matter for some time.

It proposed a new category of short-term accommodation for private residential properties, which existing developments can adopt if they have the owners' consent and are registered as such.

For condominiums governed by management committees, the URA is proposing that owners holding on to at least 80 per cent of the share value agree to the change of use. This is similar to the threshold for most properties seeking to sell en bloc.

In addition, the URA said it would consider the impact of such short-term stays on the surrounding community. Condos, which have management committees and localised security measures, are more likely to be considered favourably for a change of use, especially if they are located in mixed-use areas like commercial centres or business parks, or sites with good traffic infrastructure.

But it said most landed estates were unlikely to be approved for such stays because they are mostly located in areas with relatively quiet and narrow roads, and have no governance structures.

Even for condos that pass the 80 per cent threshold, the authority wants to cap the annual rental at 90 days and have a maximum occupancy of six people per unit. The URA is also proposing that hosts register with the regulator and provide a record of guest details for each stay.

The URA also said management committees can "put in place additional measures to manage potential disamenity", such as introducing by-laws with a lower rental cap than the proposed 90 days, or requiring home-sharing owners to pay additional maintenance fees for common areas and facilities.

Platform operators like Airbnb and HomeAway could also be made to comply with a list of rules, including vetting postings and keeping track of the rental duration.

The move received mixed reactions from home owners and experts, with some observers telling The Straits Times that the rules - especially the collective sale-like threshold - may mean most condos will reject such stays.

Airbnb said it is "committed to reasonable solutions" and welcomed the chance to give feedback.

The consultation ends on May 31.

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

Public Utilities (Amendment) Act 2018 (Act 11 of 2018)

CCS clears proposed joint venture to offer commercial flight training

Business
09 Mar 2018

Legal sector gets future-ready

Straits Times
17 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

The Community Justice Centre's launch last week of an online help centre for litigants-in-person - those who are not represented by a lawyer - is in harmony with the push to make Singapore a smart nation.

It will help the man in the street keep pace with how digital technology is changing the way we work and live. "By harnessing technology to improve your operational efficiency, you are delivering better services to litigants-in-person," Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said at its launch.

The "self-help e-Web" - given the acronym SHeW - guides users to put together basic court documents, and appears to be the latest in the legal sector's digital drive to deliver smart services.

Earlier this month, the Singapore Academy of Law and Corp Agency organised the multi-dimensional Techlaw.Fest 2018, where nearly 500 industry players gathered to address the challenges from technological disruption in legal services.

Separately, Singapore's world leader in arbitration facilities and services, Maxwell Chambers, launched the "Smart Maxwell" initiative, which, according to Ms Rajah, "will take hearing facilities into the digital age and redefine for users and practitioners what a truly world-class hearing experience means".

These efforts are part of an ongoing push to transform the legal sector in the digital era.

Mr Ronald DeKoven, chief executive of myLawyer, a global network of lawyers platformed on an app aimed at revolutionising practice, said 2018 promises to be a breakout year. "This is why myLawyer released its global app in Singapore this month."

Said Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran: "A smart nation needs smart lawyers. The legal industry must future-ready itself to remain relevant in an evolving and complex landscape. We have already started adopting technology-enabling productivity tools, innovation software and artificial intelligence, but we still have some distance to go on our tech journey."

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Personal Data Protection Act 2012 - Personal Data Protection (Statutory Bodies) (Amendment) Notification 2018 (S 188 of 2018)

CCS clears proposed acquisition of shares relating to supply of instant coffee mixes and instant milk tea mixes for in-home sales in Singapore

Business
09 Mar 2018

Malaysian to be charged with helping in ex-City Harvest leader's alleged escape bid

Straits Times
16 Apr 2018

A Malaysian man who had allegedly helped in former City Harvest Church leader Chew Eng Han's alleged bid to leave Singapore will be charged today.

The Singapore Police Force said in a statement yesterday that Tan Kim Ho, 42, was arrested in Malaysia based on a warrant of arrest issued by the Singapore State Courts.

The Royal Malaysia Police had helped in the arrest, a police spokesman said. Local police took Tan into custody last Saturday.

Chew, who is currently in jail for misusing church funds, was nabbed on a motorised sampan during his alleged attempt to escape on Feb 21.

The father of two was arrested at sea with a boatman. About $5,000 in cash, as well as fishing equipment, was also found with them.

Besides Tan, two other men - Malaysian freelance driver Khoo Kea Leng, 45, and boatman Tan Poh Teck, 53 - had been arrested for helping Chew.

Chew was charged on Feb 22 with leaving Singapore for Malaysia from a Pulau Ubin jetty, which is not an authorised point of departure.

On March 1, he began his jail term of three years and four months for his role in the misuse of funds case.

Khoo was sentenced to six months' jail last Thursday after he had pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy with Chew to help him leave Singapore from an unauthorised point of departure.

The pre-trial conference for the cases involving Chew and Tan Poh Teck will take place on May 3.


3

Number of men nabbed for assisting Chew Eng Han in his alleged bid to leave Singapore.

Aw Cheng Wei

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Private Hire Car Booking Service Operator) Rules 2018 (S 187 of 2018)

Malaysia and Singapore to set up stock market trading link

Commonwealth
08 Mar 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
16 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Fire Safety Act - Fire Safety (Petroleum and Flammable Materials) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 186 of 2018)

SGX issues consultation paper seeking feedback on proposed amendments to Listing Rules for mineral, oil and gas companies

Business
08 Mar 2018

Keppel O&M wants EIG's 2nd suit dismissed

Straits Times
14 Apr 2018
Grace Leong

It says losses by investors in oil giant's unit were not due to its kickback payments

Keppel Offshore & Marine (O&M) is trying to get the United States federal court to dismiss a second lawsuit brought by a US fund manager to recover US$221 million (S$290 million) in lost investments.

In defence papers filed on March 30, the Keppel Corp unit said EIG Management "offered no facts to support proof of intent" by Keppel O&M to defraud investors of their investment in Brazilian oil giant Petrobras unit Sete Brasil, which went bust after Brazil's biggest corruption scandal was exposed in 2014.

EIG filed its second suit in February under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (Rico) Act, after its first case was dismissed in April last year.

But the latest suit "does not allege a meeting, conversation, event or document showing an agreement among the conspirators to defraud the investors", Keppel O&M said.

Also, the investors' losses were the "result of material false statements and omissions in investor materials made... by Petrobras and Sete, not kickback payments Keppel made to obtain six drillship contracts with Sete," Keppel O&M said.

EIG had alleged that Keppel O&M authorised bribes, from 2001 to 2011, of about US$40 million to Petrobras and Brazil's Workers' Party to secure seven contracts worth US$4 billion. From 2012 to 2014, Keppel allegedly authorised US$14.4 million of bribes to secure six drillship contracts with Sete.

But Keppel O&M argued that EIG had not proven its investors' money was used to underwrite kickbacks by Keppel. The offshore marine unit also disputed allegations that its bribery and money laundering would have continued at least to next year but for the Brazilian government's investigation.

"The only Sete-related payments alleged in the complaint were made between September 2013 through 2014, a period of less than two years," Keppel O&M pointed out.

EIG, in a response filed on April 4, called Keppel a "member of a criminal organisation that conspired to and did carry out a long-running bribery and kickback scheme... in violation of the Rico Act".

It said the overall objective of the conspiracy was to carry out the bribery and kickback scheme via Sete, and a necessary part of that scheme was to solicit investment funds through fraudulent means. When Brazilian prosecutors discovered this scheme, "Sete collapsed into bankruptcy, and EIG's investment in Sete evaporated", EIG said.

Keppel's admission that it committed violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when it reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice in late December "constitutes admissions that it conspired to and did commit the Rico acts of Travel Act violations and money laundering", EIG added. "Keppel, as it admitted in the DPA (deferred prosecution agreement), routed bribes through New York City banks with the intent to promote and conceal its unlawful activity," it said.

The global settlement in late December with the US, Brazil and Singapore related to US$55 million in bribes paid by Keppel O&M from 2001 to 2014 to officials at Petrobras and the Workers' Party to secure 13 contracts with Petrobras and Sete.

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Electricity Act - Electricity (Electrical Installations) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 185 of 2018)

Journals Online: Equity and Opportunism in the Law of Contract: A Case Study in Fusion by Diffusion

Business
08 Mar 2018

Judge acquits man of assaulting condo neighbour

Straits Times
14 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

A judge acquitted a condo resident charged with assaulting another, ruling that the force he used was not criminal but in self-defence.

District Judge Eddy Tham also said that even if he was wrong in his judgment, the harm caused was so minor as to brook no offence.

"I found that, based on the principle... as encoded in Section 95 of the Penal Code, the harm caused is so minuscule or slight that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain of such harm," he added in judgment grounds on Monday.

The accused, condo resident Chan Siew Yin, 53, had admitted to thrusting a wooden stick at fellow resident Lee Gek Leng and kicking him with his right leg, as shown by video footage at the trial.

The spat occurred on June 25, 2016, just before 10pm outside the third-floor unit of a Jalan Loyang Besar condo block where Mr Chan lived and where Mr Lee, who lived directly below on the ground floor, had gone to confront him - allegedly for littering outside his flat and for shouting abuse at Mr Lee's wife and mother.

Video footage taken by Mr Chan's son showed Mr Chan facing Mr Lee through an open door with a thick plastic sheet separating them. Mr Lee stood outside while Mr Chan was inside, holding a stick that he thrust at his neighbour.

Mr Lee challenged him to come out. As the spat escalated, he entered the house, charged at Mr Chan and grabbed the stick.

Police arriving shortly after found Mr Lee pinned down by Mr Chan on a sofa and both shouting at each other. Police seized the stick and broke up the pair.

The court noted the charge was based on what had happened outside Mr Chan's door and not inside.

Mr Chan, defended by lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Teo Sher Min and Chooi Jing Yen, pointed to past run-ins between the duo.

These began in 2010 when Mr Chan suspected that Mr Lee had splashed black paint on his front door and the lift lobby area. Among other things, screen grabs showed Mr Lee throwing balls of newspaper from inside a lift to the outside of Mr Chan's unit, which he said he did out of anger and revenge.

Mr Chan recounted these incidents to show his frame of mind when his neighbour came to confront him at the door.

The judge found Mr Chan's action to be a reasonable response to Mr Lee, who was spewing Hokkien vulgarities and "advancing menacingly" towards him.

The judge said Mr Lee was clearly the aggressor at that stage and Mr Chan was "merely exercising his right of self-defence to prevent someone unwelcome from illegally trespassing his home".

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors Andre Chong and Rachel Tan, argued that Mr Chan wanted to escalate the situation when he opened the door and held out the stick, when he ought to have kept the door shut, as he had already called the police.

The district judge disagreed, holding that the numerous past incidents Mr Chan experienced meant he had a genuine fear Mr Lee would cause harm to his property, if allowed to remain at the front door.

"As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, meaning it is easy to know what the right thing to do is after something has happened," he said.

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Consumer Protection (Trade Descriptions and Safety Requirements) Act - Consumer Protection (Consumer Goods Safety Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 184 of 2018)

Singapore updates transfer pricing guidelines emphasizing compliance, introducing penalty regime

Legislation
07 Mar 2018

Self-representing in court? Shew is here to help

Straits Times
14 Apr 2018
Lee Wen-Yi

When Sheila was 33, her husband died from cancer, leaving her the sole breadwinner for her mother, sick grandmother and two children.

When her grandmother's health turned for the worse and died in 2016, Sheila (not her real name) struggled with the medical bills and funeral costs, and misappropriated funds in an attempt to pay off her debts.

Last year, she was charged in court but did not have the money to hire a lawyer. She was eventually represented by one under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, which helped reduce her jail term from five months to three.

But Sheila was worried about how her family would cope. This was where the Community Justice Centre (CJC) played a key role by providing assistance to tide her family over during that period.

Now 44 and released after a month for good behaviour, she has found a job as a cashier and is able to support her family. "I was broken down but CJC gave me courage," she said, recounting the support and encouragement she received.

Sheila is one of the thousands of people who have benefited from the non-governmental organisation (NGO), which provides non-legal assistance such as interim financial support and food vouchers, in collaboration with organisations such as Comcare, and makes referrals to social service agencies for longer-term support.

CJC also dispenses basic legal advice on-site at the State and Supreme Courts through its On-Site Legal Advice Scheme.

Yesterday, the NGO took its activities one step further, launching a new resource to help people who are representing themselves in court, or litigants-in-person, during its fifth-anniversary dinner at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Self-Help eWeb (Shew) features an automated court document assembler (ACDA), which guides users through key court procedures in areas such as bankruptcy, and helps generate the appropriate application form based on answers to a few basic questions.

Other modules now available in the ACDA are deputyship and mitigation pleas. Shew also has a chatbot that gives basic legal information for certain matters.

In addition, the system uses business intelligence to try and analyse the trends of legal issues, which guides decisions on future programmes, said Mr Leonard Lee, CJC's executive director.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah said at yesterday's launch: "Shew is in line with the national push towards becoming a Smart Nation. By harnessing technology to improve your operational efficiency, you are delivering better services to litigants-in-person."

CJC, which began in 2012, has grown its outreach from fewer than 10,000 in its first year to 17,000 court users last year.

The NGO, run by a team of just 15 members, relies largely on about 600 to 700 volunteers and looks for innovative ways to expedite and improve its services. Shew is one such example.

"Due to budgetary constraints, we cannot hire a lot of people and while we have strong support from volunteers, we need to actively leverage technology for us to be effective, to strengthen our capacity and fulfil our mission," Mr Lee said.

More than $600,000 was raised by the NGO in conjunction with the dinner yesterday, including a charity golf tournament.

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Supreme Court of Judicature Act - Rules of Court (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2018 (S 183 of 2018)

Just Announced – 5 March: Employment Act to be Broadened to Cover More Employees

Legislation
07 Mar 2018

MAS to allow for 'modest and gradual' rise of Singdollar in first policy tightening in 6 years

Straits Times
13 Apr 2018
Vivien Shiao

Singapore's central bank on Friday (April 13) opted to tighten its Singdollar policy as expected, slightly increasing the slope of the Singdollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER) policy band to allow for "modest and gradual" appreciation.

The width of the policy band and the level at which it is centred will be unchanged.

This is a shift away from the neutral policy stance of zero per cent appreciation of the S$NEER band - a position that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has maintained since April 2016. It is also the first time the MAS has tightened monetary policy since April 2012.

The move to normalise the exchange rate policy was widely expected by economists, on the back of a strengthening economy, improved labour statistics, and rising inflation.

The MAS manages the exchange rate against a trade-weighted basket of currencies of major trade partners. The Singdollar is allowed to float within an undisclosed S$NEER band that can be adjusted when monetary policy is reviewed at biannual meetings in April and October.

In its April bi-annual monetary policy statement (MPS), the MAS said: "The Singapore economy has evolved as envisaged since the October 2017 policy review, and should continue on a steady expansion path in 2018. However, an escalation of the US-China trade dispute remains possible, and if it occurs, will have significant consequences for global trade."

Upward pressures on core inflation are expected to persist over the course of this year and beyond, underpinned by an improving labour market. For 2018, core inflation is projected to come in within the upper half of the 1-2 per cent forecast range.

As such, the decision to slightly increase the slope of the S$NEER from zero per cent previously, is "consistent with a modest and gradual appreciation path of the S$NEER policy band that will ensure medium-term price stability", said the MAS.

"The measured adjustment to the policy stance takes into account the uncertainty in macroeconomic outcomes presented by ongoing trade tensions," said the MAS.

Since October 2017, the S$NEER has appreciated in the upper half of the policy band, apart from a brief period of decline in early 2018. This development reflected, in part, broad-based US dollar weakness and depreciation in a number of regional currencies against the SGD.

On Friday, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry released advanced estimates indicating that the economy expanded 4.3 per cent in the first three months of 2018 on the back of strong manufacturing growth.

The year-on-year rise was in line with economist expectations of 4.3 per cent growth, and beat the 3.6 per cent expansion in the final quarter of 2017.

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Weights and Measures Act - Weights and Measures (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 182 of 2018)

Navigating Collective Sales - Important Considerations

Business
07 Mar 2018

Disciplinary actions require a due process: SGX RegCo

Business Times
13 Apr 2018
Angela Tan

There is no lack of will or ability on the part of Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) to carry out its task of policing the 745 listed firms with a combined market value of S$1 trillion while protecting investors.

In its latest Regulator's Column, the regulator assures the market that it has a range of regulatory tools at its disposal to enforce the Listing Rules and Trading Rules.

It also has a wide range of disciplinary sanctions to deal with relevant persons who have breached the rules. Relevant persons comprise the issuer, its directors, executive officers, and issue managers, and for a company listed on Catalist, its sponsors and registered professionals.

"Some of these are pre-emptive or imposed within a relatively short time-span to put the company on immediate notice to safeguard shareholders' interest, while signalling to investors that rule breaches might have occurred and to factor this into their decision-making.

"Other tools involve processes that may take more time such as a formal investigation and the convening of a hearing before the independent disciplinary and/or appeals committees,'' Tan Boon Gin, chief executive officer of SGX RegCo said.

Upon detecting material concerns in an issuer, SGX RegCo may use its tools to alert the market, contain the situation or ensure accountability of all relevant persons.

"Regardless of how and when each of these tools is deployed, they have the common objective of reminding relevant persons of their duties and obligations to the market and the investing public,'' Mr Tan said.

In alerting the market, SGX RegCo may pose disclosure queries - either privately or publicly on SGXNet - to seek clarification on inconsistencies or information gaps. However, a company must publish its response to a private query via SGXNet when the information is material to the price discovery process or would enable investors to make an informed decision. "Trade with Caution" (TWC) announcements may also be issued to warn the public of irregularities and concerns.

To contain certain risks and prevent them from escalating, the regulator may issue a Notice of Compliance. These must be made public for the establishment of "a fair, orderly and transparent market if necessary", or to enforce compliance by a stipulated deadline.

"We may call upon the authorities to intervene where a company blatantly disregards or persistently doesn't cooperate in complying with our Notices, and if the situation is urgent,'' Mr Tan said.

Nine Notices have been issued since they were introduced in October 2015. Seven of these - two to Datapulse Technology, two to YuuZoo Corporation, and one each to Noble Group, Midas Holdings and Emerging Towns & Cities - were public and two private.

In ensuring accountability, SGX RegCo may take disciplinary action against a breach of the Listing Rules or Trading Rules.

Mr Tan said: "Disciplinary actions require a due process; in keeping with the rule of law, we do not carry out summary justice."

He added that a formal investigation must be conducted and the relevant person given an opportunity to respond and to be heard.

"This will occur either in writing (known as a show cause process) or a full hearing before our independent disciplinary committees and/or appeals committees when we seek the imposition of heavier penalties such as bans or fines."

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Competition Act - Competition (Composition of Offences) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 181 of 2018)

Developments in International Arbitration, Construction & Projects in 2017

Judgments
06 Mar 2018

SGX RegCo's tools to keep the investing game clean

Business Times
13 Apr 2018
Tan Boon Gin

They are used as a reminder to market participants of their duties and obligations to the market and the investing public

When a company is listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), it is obliged to comply with the listing rules.

Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) has various regulatory tools to enforce them. A wide range of disciplinary sanctions are also available to deal with relevant persons who have breached the rules. "Relevant persons" comprise the issuer, its directors, executive officers and issue managers, and where a company is listed on Catalist, its sponsors and registered professionals.

Participants granted access to SGX markets are similarly expected to comply with the trading rules.

Unusual trading activities by any participant won't be left unaddressed when detected. Upon detecting material concerns in an issuer, SGX RegCo may use its regulatory tools to:

Alert the market so that investors and shareholders can make informed decisions;
Contain the situation by highlighting or managing immediate risks to shareholders' interests; and
Ensure accountability of all relevant persons, either through SGX RegCo's disciplinary powers or by referral to the relevant authorities.

ALERTING THE MARKET

Disclosure query

We will pose disclosure queries to relevant persons when a company fails to disclose all material information or has disclosed information which is incomplete or unclear. These queries may seek clarification by highlighting inconsistencies or gaps in the information disclosed, and require the relevant persons to make the necessary corrections. They may also require the issuer to substantiate information disclosed in announcements (such as financial results).

Disclosure queries may be communicated privately or published via SGXNet. The company will be required to publish its response to a private query via SGXNet when such information is material to the price discovery process or would enable investors to make an informed decision.

Trade with Caution

We may also issue a "Trade with Caution" (TWC) announcement to immediately warn the investing public of irregular price or volume movements where we have reason to suspect that a false market exists, and that the market is not operating on a fair, orderly and transparent basis.

Further, there can be no reliable price discovery where an issuer fails to disclose material information in an accurate, complete and timely manner. Such situations raise concerns on whether investors can buy or sell securities on an informed basis. When issuing a TWC announcement, we will provide details of the irregularities we have detected and our specific concerns.

CONTAINING THE SITUATION

Notice of Compliance

SGX RegCo may exercise its administrative powers by issuing a Notice of Compliance. Nine such notices have been issued since they were introduced in October 2015 as part of initiatives to strengthen our ability to enforce the listing rules.

Seven of these - to Datapulse Technology (twice), YuuZoo Corporation (twice), Noble Group, Midas Holdings and Emerging Towns & Cities - were public and two were private.

The notice contains requirements imposed on relevant persons that must be complied with. The requirements are definitive and calibrated to address the circumstances of each case.

For instance, a Notice of Compliance may be proactive in nature to contain certain risks and stop them from materialising into actual harm, or escalating into more serious breaches. And where developments suggest something or someone is preventing independent directors from carrying out their duties to safeguard investors' interest, we may take steps to remove the obstacle by issuing a notice.

Other requirements a notice may impose include the appointment of a third-party professional to review internal controls or an independent financial adviser to advise minority shareholders, the provision of specified disclosures to the market, or any other requirements which we consider appropriate. A notice may also convey our objection to the appointment of certain directors.

We will require the Notice of Compliance to be made public for the establishment of a fair, orderly and transparent market if necessary. In making this decision, we will consider, among other factors:

    • Whether the risk has an immediate bearing on the decision-making of the investing public;
    • The level of urgency in alerting the public of the risk and of SGX RegCo's measures to contain such risks; and
    • Whether disclosure of the risk and SGX RegCo's measures provide transparency of the basis for our Notice of Compliance to the market.

Other factors such as the compliance track record and risk profile of the company receiving the Notice of Compliance, or the transactions contemplated, will also be relevant. We will also consider whether the publication of the notice is necessary to direct a company that has been tardy or demonstrates resistance in complying with our requirements, and to do so by the stipulated deadline.

A failure to comply with the requirements SGX RegCo imposes is deemed a contravention of the listing rules. We may call upon the authorities to intervene where a company blatantly disregards or persistently doesn't cooperate in complying with our notices, and if the situation is urgent.

ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY

The exercise of SGX RegCo's administrative powers in a particular case doesn't preclude it from subsequently pursuing disciplinary action against a relevant person for a breach of the listing rules or trading rules. Disciplinary actions require a due process; in keeping with the rule of law, we do not carry out summary justice.

A formal investigation must be conducted and the relevant person given an opportunity to respond and be heard. This will occur either in writing (known as a show-cause process) or a full hearing before our independent disciplinary committees and/or appeals committees when we seek the imposition of heavier penalties such as bans or fines.

Issue managers are included as relevant persons in our rules. Should breaches suggest concerns about the quality of due diligence since the original listing of the company, we have the powers to suspend the issue manager or to impose conditions on the work they can do.

Auditors and lawyers may not be relevant persons, but we refer them to their regulatory bodies for disciplinary action where necessary. Opinions, reports or work done by other professionals which are of concern to us are also referred to their regulatory bodies for action.

SGX RegCo has a range of regulatory tools at its disposal to enforce the listing rules and trading rules.

Some of these are pre-emptive or imposed within a relatively short time-span to put the company on immediate notice to safeguard shareholders' interest, while signalling to investors that rule breaches might have occurred and to factor this into their decision-making.

Other tools involve processes that may take more time such as a formal investigation and the convening of a hearing before the independent disciplinary and/or appeals Committees.

Regardless of how and when each of these tools is deployed, they have the common objective of reminding relevant persons of their duties and obligations to the market and the investing public.

The writer is chief executive of SGX RegCo. This is SGX's latest Regulator's Column, published on Friday.

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

Competition Act - Competition (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 180 of 2018)

Steel and another (Appellants) v NRAM Limited (formerly NRAM Plc) (Respondent) (Scotland) [2018] UKSC 13 (on appeal from [2016] CSIH 11)

Judgments
06 Mar 2018

Dual class listings are a 'go' - but alone won't give SGX its edge

Business Times
13 Apr 2018
Angela Tan

Allowing companies with dual class share (DCS) structures to list on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is just one of the many factors needed to make Singapore more competitive against its equally progressive regional peers in attracting blockbuster initial public offers (IPOs), experts say.

Farhana Siddiqui, partner at Withers KhattarWong, said attracting quality listings is a function of many factors. These include the exchange's understanding of an IPO aspirant's business, the flexibility of rules to accommodate different businesses, investor education, analyst coverage and experience, as well as the quality of institutional investors.

"The mere fact of allowing dual class listings isn't going to make the SGX competitive enough. However, given that Hong Kong is also allowing it means that if we do not allow dual class listings, we will definitely not be more competitive,'' Ms Siddiqui told The Business Times.

For Singapore, the missed opportunity of hosting Manchester United's listing in 2012 drove the government to undertake a comprehensive review of Singapore's Companies Act. This was endorsed by Parliament in 2014, paving the way for the listing of companies with DCS structures, which gives certain shareholders, typically founders, more voting power.

But experts say in considering where to list, companies look at a variety of factors such as the investor base and business knowledge, proximity to investor base, listing costs, ongoing costs and compliance requirements, among others.

"So definitely, we need to look at these elements in competing jurisdictions and ensure SGX doesn't lag behind," she said.

Tham Tuck Seng, Capital Markets Leader at PwC in Singapore, believes that the size of an exchange does play a part in attracting unicorns - privately held startup companies with valuations of US$1 billion or more.

"New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Hongkong Exchange (HKEx) are large exchanges and their annual IPO funds raised are often 10 times the size of SGX and hence naturally, many large issuers will consider them as their preferred listing destination."

To attract unicorn listings, it is inevitable that SGX continues to innovate and keep up with market needs. This includes accommodating DCS listings.

Ms Siddiqui said: "There needs to be a deeper re-look at how to attract quality listings, particularly from around the region.

"The new companies setting up in Singapore and raising series funding tend to be in the tech space including fintech. Having ease of set up and creating more opportunities and incentives for investment in these sectors ought to create greater possibility of such companies seeking a listing here.''

Mr Tham feels that SGX's proposed DCS listing framework and safeguards are reasonable and flexible enough to attract some new economy stocks here.

"The success of the DCS structure lies in the types of companies that are admitted for a DCS listing. We want to see strong technology and innovative elements, which also includes biotech and life sciences, in the proposed DCS listings. To identify and admit this type of suitable candidates requires a lot of judgement by SGX and the listing professionals. This is a process which has to be fine tuned over time,'' he said.

Ms Siddiqui said: "The pleasing thing about SGX's proposed framework is that it addresses the risks rather than being prescriptive.''

Whether the proposed rules to prevent entrenchment and expropriation are sufficient will depend on how they are effected in practice, but features on automatic conversion of owner's shares to ordinary shares and having a tenor for shares with multi-voting rights are good parameters for early days.

"The rules need to be flexible to adapt to rapidly changing economies and industry needs,'' she said.

Compared to HKEx, SGX's proposed requirements are more flexible.

Mr Tham said: "For example, SGX doesn't require a specific market capitalisation test, (just mainboard entry criteria), no requirement of sophisticated investor participation and no separate set up of a compliance committee.

"Yet, the important ones are there to protect the one-vote shareholders. The proposed safeguards are very much in line with the exchanges in the US, Canada and Europe.''

Ultimately, he said, SGX's proposed framework reflects a delicate balancing act by the regulator to have sufficient safeguards without over-burdening and risking being unattractive to DCS listing aspirants.

So far, companies in the region, particularly those with family holdings, are actively watching this development.

Ms Siddiqui said: "We are regularly getting queries from our clients around the region on when SGX is going to allow DCS listings. What is particularly of note is that this interest is coming from companies which have shied away from listing.''

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

Goods and Services Tax Act - Goods and Services Tax (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 179 of 2018)

Bilateral investment treaties: rebalancing between ‘the West’ and ‘the rest’

Commonwealth
06 Mar 2018

Driver jailed for role in alleged escape bid by City Harvest man

Straits Times
13 Apr 2018
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

A Malaysian freelance driver was given six months' jail yesterday for helping former City Harvest Church (CHC) leader Chew Eng Han in his alleged Feb 21 escape bid.

Khoo Kea Leng, 45, had pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy with Chew to help him leave Singapore from an unauthorised point of departure.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vincent Ong said the two first met last October and Chew, 57, asked Khoo if he could transport him illegally to Johor Baru. Khoo declined but offered to check with a friend's uncle from Malaysia who might be able to. Khoo asked Chew for a prepayment and was given $200.

DPP Ong said: "The day after they met, the accused told Chew that he could arrange for Chew to leave Singapore with Chew hiding in the boot of a car and quoted a sum of $18,000 for the arrangement. Chew declined the proposal as it was too expensive but continued to remain in contact with the accused."

Chew called Khoo again on Feb 20 with the same request. Khoo contacted his Malaysian friend, Tan Kim Ho, 42, also known as Rayson, who replied that he knew somebody who could perform the task.

Khoo told Chew and they agreed on a price of $12,000, to be equally divided among Khoo, the boatman and Tan, who is still at large. Chew met Khoo later that day near Block 75 Marine Drive and gave him $8,000. Khoo told him to hand the other $4,000 to the boatman who would take him to Malaysia. Khoo then went to Johor Baru and gave Tan $4,000.

At around 10pm, Singaporean fish farm owner Tan Poh Teck, 53, got a call from a man known as "Lao Bai", who told him to pick Chew up at Changi Village the next day. Tan Poh Teck was told to transport Chew to the waters off Pulau Ubin where Chew would board Lao Bai's boat for Malaysia. Tan Poh Teck was promised $1,000.

On Feb 21 at around 7am, Chew was picked up from his home by his older brother, Chew Eng Soon, 61, who took him to Changi Village. Tan Poh Teck then phoned Chew and asked him to meet at Pulau Ubin instead as police craft had been spotted patrolling the area. Chew took a bumboat to the island before boarding Tan Poh Teck's boat from its main jetty. The pair were travelling east when Police Coast Guard officers caught them just minutes later.

Chew was charged on Feb 22 with leaving Singapore for Malaysia from the jetty, which is not an authorised point of departure. On March 1, he began his jail term of three years and four months for his role in the misuse of millions of dollars in church funds.

The pre-trial conference for the cases involving Chew and Tan Poh Teck will take place on May 3. Chew's brother has not been charged in court.

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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Private Street Works) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 178 of 2018)

Investor-state dispute settlement in the age of Trump

Commonwealth
05 Mar 2018

Merger or market-sharing agreement?

Straits Times
13 Apr 2018
Burton Ong

The Grab-Uber merger has implications for competition law and long-term commuting behaviour, and deserve careful scrutiny, say two experts

Now that the Grab-Uber deal is being carefully scrutinised by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, there is immense public interest in whether, realistically, anything can be done to prevent the market from being monopolised by the reduction in the number of private vehicle ride-hailing service providers from two to one.

This may well depend on how the competition authority chooses to characterise the conduct of the parties, raising interesting legal and policy questions about the intersection between Sections 34 and 54 of the Competition Act.

While many may have described the Grab-Uber deal as a "merger" between these market players, closer scrutiny of the factual details that have emerged may suggest that this may not the most accurate way of understanding the nature of this transaction and that it might be better understood as a market-sharing agreement.

Section 54 of the Competition Act prohibits mergers that have resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market in Singapore.

Mergers are defined in the Act as occurring when two previously independent undertakings become one single undertaking; when one undertaking acquires direct or indirect control over another undertaking; or when an undertaking acquires ownership of another undertaking's assets, thereby placing the former in a position to replace the latter in the business that the latter was engaged in before the acquisition.

In the case of the Grab-Uber deal, what exactly does Grab acquire from Uber in exchange for 27.5 per cent of Grab's shares? The transaction has been described by industry watchers as "asset light" because the deal does not entail Grab's acquisition of Uber's vehicles, which are owned by Uber's Lion City Rentals.

Neither does it cover Uber's employees or contracts with Uber drivers. It may or may not cover any of Uber's algorithms - but this is unlikely, given that such trade secrets are of immense strategic value in the other markets outside South-east Asia where Uber will continue to operate.

It may include Uber's customer data, but the value of this asset is not going to be very significant if we assume that most of Uber's customers have already installed Grab's application on their mobile devices, submitting their phone numbers and other personal data through their interactions with Grab. There is no merger of the Uber and Grab mobile apps, and it appears that Grab does not get any rights to use any of the intellectual property rights protecting the Uber brand. Uber simply vanishes from the market.

In the light of the above, even if this were a "merger" that the competition authority was prepared to block for violating the Section 54 prohibition, the remaining market player would continue to reap the economic benefits of the absence of its only serious market rival in the "post-merger" market.

Short of compelling Uber to re-enter the market and resurrect its business operations, it would appear that unwinding this "merger" would do little to rectify the anti-competitive effects of this transaction. New market entrants might try to enter the market, but it seems highly unlikely that they will be in a position to offer a serious competitive challenge to Grab. Any aspiring market entrant would have to be prepared to burn heaps of cash to get drivers and passengers to switch service providers. The relatively small size of the Singapore market, the availability of reliable public transport options and the extensive land transport regulatory framework should make potential competitors think thrice before going up against the incredibly well-funded and well-established Grab.

Might it be more accurate to regard the Grab-Uber deal as a market-sharing agreement instead of a merger? In essence, should the deal be regarded, instead, as Grab "paying" for Uber's exit from the Singapore market with a substantial stake in Grab's business?

If so, then the competition authority has an additional legislative tool at its disposal to tackle the competition problems arising from the transaction.

Section 34 of the Competition Act prohibits agreements that have as their object or effect the prevention of competition. This prohibition would include agreements between competitors to divide up markets between themselves - whether on a 50 per cent to 50 per cent basis or a 100 per cent to 0 per cent basis. Market-sharing agreements are, in essence, agreements between competitors not to compete in each other's "designated" territories. They are specifically identified in the commission's guidelines as paradigm examples of anti-competitive agreements. Uber may be construed to have agreed not to compete with Grab in South-east Asia, while Grab may be construed to have agreed to stay out of other markets where Uber continues to operate in.

In Europe, pharmaceutical companies which manufacture brand-name versions of medicines have had heavy fines imposed upon them by competition authorities for striking deals with generic drug manufacturers to keep the latter out of the market. The proceedings that have been brought against Lundbeck and Servier, drug makers from Denmark and France, respectively, are illustrative of these so-called "pay-for-delay" agreements, where one party essentially agrees to compensate the other for not competing in the market, thereby allowing the former to maintain its position of market dominance and charge higher prices than it would have been able to if it had to face competition. Similarly, paying off one's competitor to exit the market might also be regarded as an anti-competitive agreement that attracts similar legal sanctions.

In Singapore, the competition authority has had plenty of experience levying fines on competitors that have engaged in price-fixing, bid-rigging, the sharing of sensitive price information as well as collusion with each other against a common rival to achieve their anti-competitive objectives. Perhaps the time has come to add a decision on market-sharing conduct to its repertoire?

It is submitted that a substance-over-form approach should be taken when evaluating the conduct of the parties in the Grab-Uber deal. That the parties failed to notify the competition authority of their "merger" before the deal was closed and implemented raises many questions about their underlying strategic motivations.

The challenge for our national competition authority and the competition authorities of all the other South-east Asian jurisdictions affected by the deal (most of which also have similar competition laws prohibiting anti-competitive agreements) is to provide a robust response to this bold, and slightly obvious, attempt to eliminate competition in the private vehicle ride-hailing market.


Burton Ong is Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Test) (Amendment) Rules 2018 (S 177 of 2018)

Healthcare Singapore February 2018

Business
05 Mar 2018

Website's dismissal of foreign meddling refuted by Acra

Straits Times
13 Apr 2018
Yuen Sin

The website New Naratif, run by historian Thum Ping Tjin and freelance journalist Kirsten Han, has dismissed suggestions that it is being used by foreigners to pursue a political activity in Singapore as "unfounded".

In a rejoinder last night, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra), however, said that New Naratif "clearly has a political agenda", and had also confirmed that it received a grant from an entity linked to American billionaire George Soros.

In fact, it added, New Naratif's statement highlighted that it has received subscription fees from over 420 members in 17 countries.

Acra said: "In other words, its political activities in Singapore would appear to be funded by a number of foreigners - not only foreign entities like OSF (Open Society Foundations), but also citizens of foreign countries."

The exchange of words comes a day after the authority said it had refused to register a company to be headed by Dr Thum and Ms Han, OSEA Pte Ltd, which aims to support New Naratif and run activities such as "Democracy Classroom" sessions.

This is because OSEA was to be a subsidiary of British-registered company OSEA UK, which had received a grant of US$75,000 (S$98,000) from Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), said Acra. FOSI is closely associated with OSF, which is founded by Mr Soros and has a history of being involved in various countries' politics, Acra added. "Singapore's politics should be for Singaporeans alone to determine," it said.

But New Naratif said yesterday that the grant from FOSI was awarded on the basis of the website's project concept and "does not impose any conditions beyond goals that we defined ourselves".

"FOSI and OSF do not have any involvement or input in New Naratif's editorial decisions or the day-to-day running of our start-up," it said.

New Naratif also added that it is substantially supported by revenue from members, who pay subscription fees of between US$52 and US$552 per year. It has over 420 members in 17 countries, and has also received numerous donations from individuals, it said.

To this, Acra said that even if it is true that FOSI or OSF - and possibly all of its foreign donors - are not involved in New Naratif's day-to-day running of the website, or its other activities, this "does not detract from the fact that the registration of OSEA Pte Ltd would amount to allowing a foreign entity or foreigners to fund and influence political activities in Singapore".

"This is contrary to Singapore's national interests," it reiterated.

It also refuted New Naratif's characterisation of its work as being "a platform for journalism, research, art or community building", saying that it is also known to have organised events such as workshops and "Democracy Classroom" sessions.

"New Naratif clearly has a political agenda," said Acra.

Ms Han told The Straits Times yesterday that she and Dr Thum are seeking legal advice and considering the best course of action to take. She said they wanted to register OSEA in Singapore "so that we can operate in accordance with Singapore's regulations".

Registering a company limits an owner's financial liability to the capital that he has paid up if it loses money, said corporate finance lawyer Perry Yuen, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons MPillay.

This means that the individuals behind it cannot be made bankrupt, unless factors like fraud are involved.

Corporate lawyer Robson Lee, a partner at global law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, said that registering as a company will also insulate discussions and meetings conducted by the organisation from being considered as unlawful assemblies.

Some of the options now available to OSEA include making an appeal to the Finance Minister within 30 days of Acra's decision or seeking a judicial review, said the law experts.

For an appeal to be successful, or to successfully register as a company on a new application, OSEA has to do more than simply return the FOSI grant, said Mr Lee. It will have to convince the minister or the registrar that it will not affect the national security and interests of Singapore, for instance.

Ms Stefanie Yuen Thio, a joint managing partner at TSMP Law Corporation, said:. "You may not receive (a foreign grant) today, but what is going to stop you from taking foreign money tomorrow, for example?"

There could also be the option of filing a judicial review, said Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan. To do this, OSEA has to show that the decision-making process behind Acra's rejection of its registration is flawed.

For instance, OSEA may have to prove that it is not a proxy for foreign influence. The Acra registrar would then have to reconsider the application based on the court's ruling, he said.

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

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade)) (Amendment) Notification 2018 (S 176 of 2018)

Piercing from Behind the Veil: Singapore High Court rejects attempt by company insider to pierce the corporate veil

Business
05 Mar 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
13 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry)) (Amendment) Notification 2018 (S 175 of 2018)

Journals Online: Construing a Treaty against State Parties’ Expressed Intentions?: Sanum Investments Ltd v Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic [2016] 5 SLR 536

Judgments
05 Mar 2018

Apex court upholds Jannie Chan's directorship

Straits Times
12 Apr 2018
Selina Lum

Her TYC Investment seat was automatically reinstated after bankruptcy set aside, it rules

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the reinstatement of prominent businesswoman Jannie Chan as a director of the family holding company she ran with her former husband.

The three-judge apex court agreed with an earlier High Court ruling that her directorship at TYC Investment, which holds shares in luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass, was automatically reinstated after her bankruptcy was set aside.

The original bankruptcy order is treated as not having been made when it is set aside on appeal, said the court.

During the hearing yesterday, Ms Chan insisted on addressing the judges, despite being told by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon that the court was not going to let her speak as she had not filed the court papers required by procedure.

He warned Ms Chan that he would instruct security to take her out if she did not obey the court. "There is a way we conduct ourselves in court," he told her sternly.

He had earlier told her to keep quiet when she cleared her throat loudly while Senior Counsel Edwin Tong was presenting arguments in TYC's appeal against her reinstatement. When the judges left the courtroom to deliberate, Ms Chan went up to Mr Tong several times and spoke to him tersely, alleging he had "misrepresented" her case.

"Don't expect me to sign your cheques," she said at one point.

After the court gave its decision, Ms Chan apologised to Chief Justice Menon.

TYC was set up in 1979 to hold shares in The Hour Glass and other family assets. Its co-founders, Ms Chan, 72, and Dr Henry Tay, 73, hold 44 per cent and 46 per cent of the voting rights respectively, and their three children share the remaining 10 per cent.

After they divorced in 2010, the couple agreed, among other things, that neither would sign a cheque on TYC's accounts unless the other had signed an approving voucher.

In September 2016, Ms Chan was made a bankrupt by a bank. She appealed against the bankruptcy order but subsequently reached a settlement with the bank. Her appeal was allowed and the bankruptcy order was set aside in December 2016.

TYC notified the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority that she had been disqualified as a director due to her bankruptcy. TYC filed a legal action, asking the court to allow another director to be appointed in light of the vacated directorship. Ms Chan in turn filed a counter-claim, asking the court to declare that she was still a director.

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

Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Act - Assignment of Functions to Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board (Cancellation) Notification 2018 (S 174 of 2018)

Journals Online: Singapore Academy of Law Distinguished Speaker Lecture 2017 – The Doctrine of Penalties in Modern Contract Law

Business
02 Mar 2018

Raffles Place protester gets jail and fine

Straits Times
12 Apr 2018
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

A Singaporean who held a one-man protest at Raffles Place was yesterday sentenced to a total jail term of six months and two weeks and fined $5,000.

Yan Jun, who used to work as a research assistant, was found guilty of three charges after a trial before District Judge Luke Tan last week.

One was for taking part in a public assembly without a permit outside Raffles Place MRT station at around noon on Feb 22. He was also found guilty of behaving in a disorderly manner for shouting at a police inspector and of refusing to leave the area despite being told to do so.

In sentencing Yan yesterday, Judge Tan said: " The accused has apparently shown no remorse whatsoever from the time of his offences, till he was brought to court, and even while his trial was conducted. His abhorrent behaviour has continued, and his disrespect towards persons and institutions of authority has remained unabated."

Yan was given four months' jail for disorderly behaviour, another 10 weeks' jail for refusing to leave the area, and fined $5,000 for holding a public assembly without a permit.

Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan said in his submissions that one of the placards Yan was holding called for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Justice Chao Hick Tin to resign over the Terrex detention incident.

In 2016, nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex infantry carriers were detained by the Hong Kong authorities, which said the company transporting the vehicles did not have the proper paperwork.

In an e-mail that Yan sent out on Feb 19, he claimed that the "Terrex detention issue is a carefully laid trap by the PAP (People's Action Party) Government to embarrass China by exposing to the world Singapore's military cooperation with Taiwan and by violating China's sovereignty".

DPP Kannan said that these were "wild-eyed allegations", adding: "The e-mail reveals not a shred of coherence or semblance of proof to substantiate the allegations."

The prosecution also said the Feb 22 public assembly was illegal as Yan had not applied for a permit.

In urging the court to sentence Yan to seven months' jail and to impose a $5,000 fine, DPP Kannan stressed that the 42-year-old had staged seven illegal protests in the past two years.

For behaving in a disorderly manner and for refusing to leave Raffles Place, Yan could have been jailed for up to a year on each charge.

The maximum sentence for taking part in a public assembly without a permit is a fine of $5,000.

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

Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Act - Singapore Productivity and Standards Board (Singapore Quality Mark) Certification (Revocation) Regulations 2018 (S 173 of 2018)

High Court considers scope of Court’s power to grant Third Party Releases in Schemes of Arrangement

Judgments
02 Mar 2018

Graft case: Ex-GM of town council claims trial

Straits Times
12 Apr 2018
Yasmine Yahya

Man who allegedly took bribes totalling $107k plans to contest all charges

The corruption case involving Ang Mo Kio Town Council's former general manager will go to trial, after he pleaded not guilty yesterday.

Wong Chee Meng, 58, also known as Victor Wong, faces 55 counts of corruptly accepting gratification from Chia Sin Lan, director of companies 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise, and Ms Yip Fong Yin, director of 19-NS2.

Wong was general manager and secretary of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council at the time the acts were allegedly committed.

The Straits Times understands that Wong plans to contest all the charges. Chia also pleaded not guilty yesterday. Chia and Wong are currently out on bail of $100,000 each. A pre-trial conference has been set for May 3.

Wong allegedly took bribes amounting to $107,000 from Chia and Ms Yip, in exchange for advancing the business interests of the companies with the town council, court documents show.

The alleged bribes include:

• Remittances to Wong's mistress in China worth $30,600;
• Restaurant bills worth $5,000;
• A $13,500 discount on a Toyota Corolla Altis that Wong bought;
• A spa treatment in Geylang that cost around $1,070;
• Stays at budget hotels Fragrance Hotel and Hotel 81, which cost about $35 and $30 respectively;
• Entertainment expenses of more than $40,000 at various KTV lounges and nightclubs;
• A job for Wong's daughter-in-law Le Thi Hien at the firm 4-Ever Engineering. Chia's company 19-ANC Enterprise paid $8,247.67 towards her salary between March and August 2016;
• Charges amounting to $2,527.76 for Wong's use of an M1 mobile phone line.

The alleged offences took place between December 2014 and September 2016.

Chia, 62, is accused of 54 counts of giving bribes to Wong. He also faces one count of abetment for allegedly conspiring with Ms Yip to bribe Wong by making arrangements for Wong to receive the $13,500 car purchase discount.

Chia's two companies face one charge each of corruption for conspiring to bribe Wong to advance their business interests with the town council.

According to the Building and Construction Authority's directory, both businesses are licensed builders and registered to carry out repair and redecoration works.

As general manager, Wong was the most senior executive in the town council.

His employer was CPG Facilities Management, the town council's managing agent. He was removed from duty after the town council received a complaint about him in September 2016 over the way he handled contracts and dealings in the town council.

He was later investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, and charges were brought last month.

The town council appointed a new general manager, Mr Ang Boon Peng, last April.

If convicted, Wong and Chia could be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for a maximum of seven years on each charge. The companies could each face a fine of up to $100,000 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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

International Enterprise Singapore Board Act - International Enterprise Singapore Board (Assignment of Functions) (Cancellation) Notification 2018 (S 172 of 2018)

Intellectual property arbitration: an emerging trend

Business
02 Mar 2018

South China Sea code 'should be binding'

Straits Times
12 Apr 2018
Goh Sui Noi

This will help manage crises and prevent conflict, say academics

The Code of Conduct (COC) being negotiated between China and Asean should be legally binding to a certain degree, a Chinese scholar on the South China Sea has said.

"I believe that the Code of Conduct as an upgraded version of the DOC should have some legally binding force," said Dr Wu Shicun, head of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a think-tank in southern Hainan province.

DOC refers to the Declaration on the Conduct Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002 between China and Asean.

It provides guidelines for behaviour in the disputed waters to prevent any escalation of tension.

Dr Wu said in the long run, a rules-based South China Sea order is in line with the interests of all parties, including China. It can solve the urgent issues of crisis management and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region.

However, he added: "The purpose of the COC is to provide a mechanism to manage maritime crises and should not address disputes over territory and maritime jurisdiction."

Dr Wu was speaking at a session on economic cooperation in the South China Sea on the last day of the annual Boao Forum on Asia that brings together government officials, academics and business leaders to discuss issues in Asia.

He later told The Straits Times that with the DOC not legally binding, Asean would not want a COC that was not binding in any way.

"A binding COC is in line with everyone's interest... if everyone obeys, then there will be order in the South China Sea," he added.

Also referring to the COC at the same session, Mr Jusuf Wanandi, senior fellow at Indonesia's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said "we are looking forward to a stronger, (legally) binding entity" that could prevent conflict and reduce tensions.

In his speech, Dr Wu noted that the situation in the South China Sea has calmed down following tensions in recent years as coastal states have shifted their focus from territorial and geopolitical disputes to the building of rules and mechanisms to manage disputes.

However, he added that negative aspects that could lead to a re-escalation of tensions still exist.

He proposed that apart from institution building - such as the COC - there should also be maritime cooperation to promote common development in the region. Among the projects he suggested were connectivity building, maritime tourism, and fish farming.

Mr Jusuf pointed out that cooperating with China on its Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure could bring about political stability and security in tandem with economic development.

However, Professor Paul Gewirtz from Yale Law School cautioned that the world was watching the South China Sea to see what kind of rising power China is going to be.

"Will China be an expansionist power? If so, it's going to be resisted strongly," he said.

He added that China had succeeded in changing the situation on the ground, giving it a strong hand. While China should consolidate its gains, it should refrain from further unilateral steps that would create tension and focus instead on cooperation that was reassuring.


KEEPING PEACE

The purpose of the COC is to provide a mechanism to manage maritime crises and should not address disputes over territory and maritime jurisdiction.

DR WU SHICUN, head of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a think-tank in southern Hainan province.

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Enterprise Singapore Board Act 2018 - Enterprise Singapore Board Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2018 (S 171 of 2018)

Third-party funding: beyond the traditional model

Business
02 Mar 2018

CAD orders Midas to hand over documents, staff details

Business Times
11 Apr 2018
Jamie Lee

Beleaguered railway-parts maker Midas Holdings - which is under investigation by Singapore authorities - on Tuesday said the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) has ordered the company to hand over financial documents, and a list of certain staff.

The documents include financial documents for the relevant companies in the group, as well as a detailed list of all persons who acted as the legal representative, general manager or financial controller of the relevant subsidiaries as well as specimen signatures of these individuals.

The CAD is also seeking all relevant IT equipment and corporate e-mails of these persons.

"The company has extended and will continue to extend its fullest cooperation to the CAD in its investigations and will make further announcements as and when there are further significant developments concerning this matter," the company said.

Midas in February said it uncovered several litigations, enforcement orders and court documents involving companies within the group.

These include an enforcement order filed against Jilin Midas Aluminium Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary in China, for a previously undisclosed liability of 30 million yuan (S$6.3 million).

Midas said this month that its board of directors will be travelling to China to meet the relevant subsidiaries this week to obtain relevant information, including cash validation, litigations and undisclosed subsidiaries. Midas is down to two executive directors, Tong Din Eu and Xu Wei Dong, and non-executive chairman Chan Soo Sen.

It said it did not receive "full cooperation" from the relevant staff in its Chinese subsidiaries Jilin Midas Aluminium Industries Co Ltd, Jilin Midas Light Alloy Co Ltd and Jilin Midas Investments Co Ltd.

Trading in shares of Midas remains suspended.

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

Charities Act - Charities (Accounts and Annual Report) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 170 of 2018)

Short-term home sharing in Singapore: is it here to stay?

Business
01 Mar 2018

Rewarding good corp governance is right move

Business Times
11 Apr 2018
Angela Tan

Earlier this month, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) joined other developed bourses in its move to reward listed companies with good corporate governance (CG) practices and compliance track records with accelerated approval for certain corporate actions.

Such companies will enjoy prioritised clearance for circulars, requests for waiver and applications for share placement. Selection for the SGX Fast Track programme will be based on a company's CG standards, compliance track record and quality of submissions.

Assessment of companies to be included or dropped from the programme will be subject to continuous review, with SGX Regulation (SGX Regco) reserving the right to make changes to the list.

The practice of rewarding good behaviour is not new. In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission gives out "well-known seasoned issuer" (WKSI) privileges, which gives firms the leeway to issue debt and equity securities to the public without having to jump through costly hurdles. Those who enjoy WKSI status do not need to notify the watchdog of the size of their proposed issuance programmes in advance; they also have the freedom to use simpler factual disclosure documents, and to use a dedicated website to showcase their wares.

Good CG practices should not be under-rated. The essence of good CG includes safeguarding the interests of stakeholders through transparency, accountability, trustworthiness and responsibility. It is incumbent on the board of directors to disclose how the principles subscribed to have been applied in practice. More than a checklist of dos and don'ts, it is an infrastructure of built-in checks and balances, not confined to the top layer of the corporate hierarchy, as governance and processes are intricately inter-linked.

So when a company actually invests time and effort on CG, it should be acknowledged. A company's position on the "honour roll" can also help investors in their portfolio selection, given that research has shown companies with good CG tend to outperform the market.

Offering carrots

It is just as important to have carrots, and not always sticks, to encourage companies to behave. By also offering carrots, SGX can build greater credibility with a market that has often complained about the regulator's heavy-handedness.

It is reassuring that admission to the SGX Fast Track list is objective, rather than subjective, and that there is no room for listed companies to manipulate their way into the list. Companies cannot apply to qualify; it is up to the regulator to decide who makes the cut.

From a glance at the inaugural list of 60 firms that have made it to the SGX Fast Track, it does seem that the regulator endorses the ranking of the Singapore Governance and Transparency Index or SGTI - a collaboration among CPA Australia, the National University of Singapore Business School's Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations, and the Singapore Institute of Directors, supported by The Business Times.

The compilation of the SGTI itself is pretty rigorous, with a 10-page checklist covering areas such as board responsibilities, rights of shareholders, engagement of stakeholders, accountability and audit, as well as disclosure and transparency. Clearly, SGX cross-checks such publicly-available indices and rankings with its internal compliance team before drawing up its own Fast Track list.

But what the SGX Regco gives, it can take away if there are any breaches. There is no room for temporary compliance.

The fact that the list is "subject to continuous review" suggests that just because a company makes the cut in a particular period of assessment doesn't guarantee it a spot every time.

On the flip side, companies with a chequered past should be able to redeem themselves and get on the list if they work hard to improve their CG practices. In the US, a company that loses its WKSI status may take as long as three years to be considered eligible to reclaim its status, depending on the infraction.

At the end of the day, in incentivising good CG practices and compliance, the regulator must ensure it doesn't create an exclusive club, stressed Adrian Chan, senior partner at Lee & Lee.

"It will be encouraging if the SGX can grow the list over time by admitting more companies if they qualify. I hope that there is no pre-conceived limit imposed on the number of companies that may make the list."

Indeed, the list should be one which all listed companies aspire to get on - and stay on.

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

Charities (Amendment) Act 2018 - Charities (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2018 (S 169 of 2018)

IP Newsletter February 2018

Judgments
01 Mar 2018

Communications Stop Order a big step to prevent information leaks

Business Times
11 Apr 2018

At the last parliament sitting in March before prorogation, the House passed the new Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Bill. First tabled by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in February, the legislation sparked much discussion for one of its key features - a Communications Stop Order (CSO) - that can be triggered during serious or emergency incidents such as a terrorist attack.

In a nutshell, the CSO - once activated - makes it illegal for people, even members of the media, to make, exhibit or communicate pictures or films of the incident location. They are also not allowed to communicate text or audio messages about the ongoing security operations in the area. The media outlets that are granted official access to incident areas can record and film the events for future use, such as for post-incident reporting.

It is understandable why the authorities have taken such measures to prevent the unnecessary spread of misinformation during a crisis situation. As Second Home Affairs Minister Josephine Teo pointed out during the debate on the Bill, "the best laid plans of the police can be thwarted by a stray tweet or social media live stream".

The MHA has made the right move to introduce the CSO as part of the police's powers, if only to prevent a repeat of what transpired during terror attacks overseas that jeopardised the safety of security forces who were responding to the attacks.

During the Mumbai attacks 10 years ago and the Paris supermarket attacks in 2015, a leak of crucial information to the terrorists - as the incident was unfolding - endangered the lives of both the police officers and members of the public as the terrorists were able to better anticipate the actions of security forces on the ground. Throughout the deadly mass shooting incident on the Las Vegas strip in 2017, the city's police department had to repeatedly urge the public not to live stream or share information such as the tactical positions of officers at the scene.

With almost everyone in Singapore owning a camera-equipped Internet-enabled phone these days, it is so easy to capture an image or type a text and share that content with thousands of other people instantly on numerous social media feeds or via online messaging apps. One can even say that it is already second nature for a person to whip out his phone and start recording videos or snapping photos whenever something interesting is happening, even though his safety might be at risk.

It is reasonable to expect that, in a major crisis, there will always be that demand for immediate information, be it from a media outlet or someone who wants to know if his loved ones are safe. While it is not possible for the CSO to completely eradicate the spread of sensitive information - whether accurate or false - the measure will go some way to at least reducing such instances, especially when the incident is still taking place.

There is a greater onus on the authorities, however, to act more quickly to disseminate the most updated and accurate information. The Singapore Police Force already has its various social media channels in place; and these should be as widely used as possible and give updates in a timely manner, as well as to debunk any false information that may already be making its rounds.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Pedestrian Crossings) (Amendment) Rules 2018 (S 168 of 2018)

MAS Consultation Paper on Draft Regulations for the Mandatory Trading of Derivatives Contracts

Business
01 Mar 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
11 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Public Utilities Act - Public Utilities (Prescribed Interest Rate for Late Financial Penalty) Regulations 2018 (S 167 of 2018)

Arbitrating international tax disputes: what next?

Business
28 Feb 2018

High Court dismisses bid for by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

Straits Times
10 Apr 2018
Yuen Sin

The High Court has dismissed a legal challenge that called for three MPs to vacate their spots in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, and for a by-election to be held.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) assistant treasurer Wong Souk Yee had made the application to the High Court after Madam Halimah Yacob resigned as an MP from the constituency to run in last September's presidential election.

Speaking after the ruling, SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said SDP is "very disappointed" with the ruling. The party will study the judgment and consult Dr Wong and lawyer Peter Low on whether to appeal.

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Chua Lee Ming said there is no legal provision for sitting MPs to be compelled to leave their seats, when one spot in their GRC is vacated.

He disagreed with Mr Low's claim that there is inconsistency between the Constitution and Section 24(2A) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Mr Low argued that if a by-election is not called, the Parliamentary Elections Act should be interpreted such that all MPs of the GRC have to leave their spots when one seat is left empty, or when no remaining MP is a minority candidate.

He cited Article 49(1) of the Constitution, which states that when "the seat of a member... has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the vacancy shall be filled by election".

But the judge, who heard the application in January, rejected Mr Low's reading of Article 49(1).

The Constitution does spell out - in Article 46(2) - the circumstances under which a seat becomes vacant, and none of them applies to the remaining MPs in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, he noted.

These circumstances include an MP giving up his Singapore citizenship or leaving the political party he represented at the election.

Justice Chua concluded that there is no legal basis to require the other MPs in the GRC to vacate their seats, adding that there is no inconsistency in the law.

"The applicant's argument is simply that because Article 49(1) has triggered a by-election in the present case, the remaining MPs must vacate their seats by resigning because otherwise a by-election cannot be held. In my view, this is a circuitous argument," he noted.

He also disagreed with Mr Low's view that a by-election must be held as voters have lost their right to be represented. It is the GRC team that represents the GRC, he said, and voters continue to be represented by the team, "albeit comprising one MP less".

The ruling preserves the legal status quo, which requires by-elections when single seats are vacated, but not when one MP in a GRC leaves the seat. In a GRC, by-elections are required only when all MPs vacate their seats.

This is the first time a legal challenge has been mounted to determine whether a by-election is mandatory when a seat has been vacated in a GRC. A previous challenge in 2012 involved a single seat.

The three remaining MPs in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC are National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, Mr Ong Teng Koon and Mr Alex Yam. MP Zaqy Mohamad from the nearby Chua Chu Kang GRC has taken on the role of grassroots adviser to the ward Madam Halimah had served in.

The PAP-held GRC was contested by SDP in the last General Election in 2015. PAP got 68.7 per cent of the vote against SDP's 31.3 per cent.

Although SDP pulled out of the legal challenge last November when the Attorney-General argued it had no standing in the issue, Dr Wong, who is a resident of the GRC, remained as sole plaintiff.

Yesterday, the court also ordered Dr Wong to pay the State costs of $10,764.35. Dr Wong was not in court for the ruling. Dr Tambyah and SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan were present.

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Public Utilities Act - Public Utilities (Reservoirs, Catchment Areas and Waterway) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 166 of 2018)

Summary dismissal gains ground: a welcome development for financial institutions

Business
28 Feb 2018

Competition watchdog to conduct studies to launch protection role

Business Times
10 Apr 2018

Singapore

SINGAPORE'S competition watchdog launched its new consumer protection role on Monday with the announcement of two market studies - on online travel booking and the transfer of personal data.

In one study, the renamed Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) will focus on the online booking of flight tickets and hotel accommodation in Singapore, given the growing popularity of the medium.

It will examine the types of commercial arrangements entered into between third-party online travel-booking platforms and service providers, and how they compete with each other.

The second is a joint study with the Personal Data Protection Commission to examine consumer protection, competition and personal data protection issues which may arise if a data portability requirement is introduced in Singapore.

Data portability enables consumers to request that data, such as photos and videos, they provide to a service provider be transferred to a competing provider that they switch to. Several jurisdictions overseas have provided for or are considering providing for such a right. This will foster competition among service providers by easing the process for consumers to switch, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon on Monday.

He announced the two studies at the launch of the watchdog's new role, at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Competition Commission of Singapore was renamed the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore on April 1, when it took over the enforcement of rules related to retailers who persist in unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).

Spring Singapore, which previously administered the Act, merged with trade agency International Enterprise Singapore on the same day to form Enterprise Singapore.

This new merged agency focuses on providing support for local businesses, while continuing to oversee regulations involving safety requirements for consumer goods.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) will remain the first point of contact for complaints against errant retailers.

CCCS chairman Aubeck Kam said at the launch that more than 70 per cent of such complaints handled by Case are successfully resolved through mediation, allowing disputes to be resolved without unnecessary cost.

Retailers who do not stop their unfair practices, however, such as making false claims, will be referred to the commission for investigation.

It is empowered to gather evidence against such businesses, file injunction applications against them and enforce compliance with injunction orders issued by the courts.

It will also work closely with the police so that cases involving criminal acts such as cheating are dealt with seamlessly, said Mr Kam, who is also Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Manpower.

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Sewerage and Drainage Act - Sewerage and Drainage (Sanitary Works) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 165 of 2018)

Singapore budget introduces GST on imported services, promotes nation’s roles as financial and innovation hub

Business
28 Feb 2018

New rules clear way for use of in-facing cams in cabs

Straits Times
10 Apr 2018
Irene Tham

Guidelines will help protect private-hire drivers and cabbies from abuse, fare cheats

Taxi and private-hire car drivers scored a victory against fare cheats and abusive passengers with the roll-out of new rules that allow drivers to insist on the use of inward-facing video cameras.

The rules, which kicked in yesterday, clarify the use of such cameras against the backdrop of privacy laws.

Passengers who do not want to be recorded can choose not to use the transport service, Singapore's privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission, said in its new advisory guidelines on in-vehicle recording by transport service providers.

The National Taxi Association had been lobbying for the use of inward-facing video cameras in taxis since 2015 to tackle unruly passengers and fare evaders.

Said the association's executive adviser, labour MP Ang Hin Kee: "The cameras will provide a greater sense of security, especially for female drivers, and help resolve disputes."

He holds the same position with the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, which represents the interests of Uber and Grab drivers.

While there has been no rule against the use of inward-facing cameras in private-hire vehicles and cabs, privacy laws have created some uncertainty.

The image or voice of a person constitutes personal data, and in 2016, the privacy watchdog started a series of closed-door consultations with taxi and private-hire driver associations, the Vehicle Rental Association, and taxi and car rental companies to address the use of such data.

After several months, the privacy watchdog, working closely with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), developed the guidelines.

LTA assured consumers that taxi and private-hire car drivers need to seek its approval before installing these inward-facing cameras. LTA requires safeguards to be in place. Transport service companies and drivers must also abide by the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), fully in force since July 2, 2014.

For instance, transport service providers must put in place adequate security measures to protect consumers' personal data or risk fines of up to $1 million under the PDPA.

The new advisories also require transport service providers to display a prominent notice about the use of inward-facing video cameras.

While commuters understand that drivers need protection - the Public Transport Council said there were 240 cases of fare evasion in 2015, up from 68 in 2012 - some are worried about privacy intrusion.

Teacher Jerena Tan, 30, said: "What if the driver takes videos of children or women, and uses the recording privately? "

Online bookstore owner Jiang Meiru, 36, added: "Although I use a nursing cover when nursing my baby in the cab, I will still feel uncomfortable with a camera."

Privacy advocate and engineer Ngiam Shih Tung, 51, said there must be rules that govern access to the videos, adding: "In the past, only one driver could see you. But now, there could be thousands of eyes."

ComfortDelGro had, in 2013, installed inward-facing cameras in the mobile data terminals in its taxis, but has since removed all the cameras. Said spokesman Tammy Tan: "We are currently reviewing the new guidelines and will work with our drivers to best look after their interests."

Mr Andrew Chan, head of GrabCar Singapore, welcomed the new guidelines. "(They) could also pave the way for new policy development to better protect the welfare of all our driver-partners and passengers, such as reducing instances of fare evasions," he said.


Passengers' rights

• Transport service providers must display a prominent notice to inform passengers that inward-facing video cameras are deployed, and to explain their purpose.

• Passengers who do not want to be recorded can choose not to use the transport service.

• Passengers can withdraw the consent for the use of the recording. Even so, privacy laws carry exceptions allowing the videos to be used in official investigations, including those conducted by transport operators to settle disputes between passengers and drivers.

• Drivers are not allowed to upload such videos on social media.

• Passengers can request to view or be given such recordings. The cost is borne by the transport company, but if the company deems it too expensive to retrieve the recording, it can refuse the request.

• Transport service providers must also have adequate security measures to protect consumers' personal data or risk fines of up to $1 million under the Personal Data Protection Act, fully in force since July 2, 2014.

Irene Tham

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Public Utilities Act - Public Utilities (Water Supply) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 164 of 2018)

The Singapore International Commercial Court considers when witnesses may give evidence by video link

Judgments
28 Feb 2018

Workers' Party Constitution amended in major update

Straits Times
09 Apr 2018

The Workers' Party (WP) has amended its Constitution in its first major update in six decades.

Cadres voted for changes that include inserting a call for "diverse representation" in its central executive council (CEC).

This replaces a clause stating that cadres must "keep in mind the need for genuine interracial cooperation and the representation of the workers" when electing its party leaders.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim had earlier told The Straits Times that the party has been "reasonably successful" in electing a multi-ethnic team of leaders, but party politics has traditionally been male-dominated, especially in the leadership.

Yesterday, she said that encouraging women to come on board has and continues to be a challenge.

She noted that the new CEC has just two women among its 14 members - herself and former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian. There was just one other woman - Ms Cheryl Loh - among the 23 candidates who contested.

"It's too few. We have to pull up our socks and give the men a challenge," said Ms Lim with a laugh.

The meeting also deleted references to "colonial exploitation" and "seeking unity of workers of Singapore" in the party's objectives. These were part of WP's founding belief that it would be a party exclusively for trade unionists. It has since widened its reach.

The WP Constitution had not undergone a major review since it was drafted in the 1950s.

A focus group and two open sessions were conducted on the changes, according to a report by outgoing party chief Low Thia Khiang that was circulated yesterday.

Ng Jun Sen

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Public Utilities Act - Public Utilities (Regulated Works and WSI Design Works) Regulations 2018 (S 163 of 2018)

FIDIC 2017 Update – Changes in contract administration and management

Business
27 Feb 2018

Pritam Singh elected unopposed as Workers' Party leader

Business Times
09 Apr 2018

Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh has been elected unopposed as the secretary-general of the Workers' Party, marking a smooth handover of power at Singapore's biggest opposition party.

Party sources said his was the only name nominated - to unanimous and rousing applause - during the WP party conference on Sunday when cadres elected their party chief.

Given that Chen Show Mao, 57, had challenged outgoing party leader Low Thia Khiang for the post unsuccessfully in 2016, there was speculation about whether he would do so again this time around.

But a contest did not materialise.

Party chairman Sylvia Lim, 53, was re-elected to her post unopposed, also to an enthusiastic reception.

The posts of secretary-general and chairman are elected separately.

The last time the WP saw a leadership transition was in 2001, when Mr Low was elected unopposed as party chief to succeed Mr J B Jeyaretnam.

Mr Singh, 41, had been tipped as the front runner for secretary-general ever since Mr Low, 61, surprised Singaporeans last November by announcing that he will be stepping down.

Though Mr Low has not spoken about what future role he will play in the party, many are expecting that he will stay on in its top decision-making body.

Any cadre who is at the meeting, and with a seconder, can be nominated for the other 12 seats on the central executive council. The 12 with the highest votes will be selected.

Cadres arrived at its new headquarters at the four-storey Teambuild Centre at 701 Geylang Road shortly before 2pm. Mr Low was all smiles, saying in Mandarin that he was in a good mood.

"Wah, so many people here. Looks like a general election," he quipped, when he saw the media scrum awaiting him.

Sunday's leadership change marks a new chapter for the WP.

Under Mr Low's charge over the past 17 years, the WP became Singapore's most successful opposition party since independence.

It made history when he led a team to victory in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election. It now has six MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament.

Eyes will be on to what extent Mr Singh, relatively inexperienced compared to Mr Low when he took the helm, can maintain WP's electoral performance. The next general election is due by 2021.

But for now, the first order of business for Mr Singh would be two-fold.

Mr Chen's 2016 challenge to Mr Low revealed fissures in the highly disciplined and secretive party. It turned out that Mr Chen's supporters, a group of older members, had been unhappy with Mr Low for purportedly favouring younger members when fielding election candidates.

It will now be up to Mr Singh to heal those rifts. It appears that the faction, which includes senior cadres, is willing to give him a chance by backing his nomination on Sunday.

Mr Singh will also have to contend with an ongoing lawsuit over the WP's Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's accounts.

The town council, through an independent panel, has sued the party's MPs, including Mr Low, Ms Lim and Mr Singh, for over more than S$33 million in improper payments. The case is expected to be set for trial this year.

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

Public Utilities Act - Public Utilities (Excluded Works) Order 2018 (S 162 of 2018)

Employment Law in Focus - Key Changes to Note in 2018

Business
27 Feb 2018

Retail giant Courts loses 'big box' trademark fight

Straits Times
07 Apr 2018
Selina Lum

High Court dismisses its appeal to remove trademark, which was registered in 2005 by Big Box mall operator

Furniture and electronics giant Courts has lost its legal fight to prevent a warehouse retail mall in Jurong from using the words "big box" as a trademark.

In a written judgment released on Thursday, the High Court dismissed an appeal by Courts to remove the trademark, which was registered in 2005 by the operator of the eight-storey Big Box mall.

Courts had argued that "big box" was not valid as a trademark, citing evidence that it is a generic term used globally to describe a physically large retail establishment.

However, Justice George Wei said evidence that the words are synonymous today with large retail or warehouse businesses did not necessarily mean that the words lacked distinctiveness at the date of the trademark application.

"Hindsight knowledge or analysis must be avoided," said the judge.

He noted that the case highlighted the difficulties that arise when a trademark is attacked many years after registration on the basis that it was invalid at the date of registration. He said it was understandable that Courts may face practical problems in obtaining evidence on whether the Singapore public, back in 2005, viewed "big box" as a trademark. Nevertheless, the burden lies on Courts to prove its case.

After analysing the evidence, he found that Courts had failed to show that "big box" was descriptive or generic at the time of application.

The decision, however, does not mean that other large retail stores could never use the words "big box" - the law provides a defence for genuine descriptive use.

Big Box Corp and Courts were two of the four businesses that took part in the warehouse retail scheme initiated by the Economic Development Board in 2004. The scheme was aimed at encouraging large retail outlets to be set up in areas designated for warehouse or industrial use.

In 2005, Big Box Corp registered "big box" as a trademark for services relating to the merchandising and distribution of goods. By 2008, construction for Big Box mall was under way and reported in the media, largely in the context of transformation plans for Jurong East. The mall opened in December 2014.

That month, Courts advertised its retail warehouse in Tampines as "Courts Big Box Megastore". The Tampines store was opened two years earlier, in December 2012.

In early 2015, Big Box sent a cease and desist letter to Courts, alleging that the advertisements had infringed its trademark.

Courts failed in an application to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore to invalidate the trademark. Courts, represented by Mr Melvin Pang and Mr Ong Eu Jin of Amica Law, appealed to the High Court. Big Box Corp was represented by Mr Alban Kang and Mr Just Wang of Bird & Bird ATMD.

Justice Wei noted that the Oxford Dictionary made clear the term was "North American informal". He said it was clear that in 2004, the big-box concept was new to the average Singapore consumer and, while some multinational retailers may have been familiar with the concept, he could not conclude that it has become a customary term.


Justice George Wei noted that the case highlighted the difficulties that arise when a trademark is attacked many years after registration on the basis that it was invalid at the date of registration.

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Public Utilities (Amendment) Act 2018 - Public Utilities (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2018 (S 161 of 2018)

Response to Feedback Received from the Public Consultation on PDPA Review

Business
27 Feb 2018

High Court upholds reformative training for 21-year-old cheat with history of ‘funny’ ideas

TODAY
07 Apr 2018
Wong Pei Ting

A 21-year-old cheat’s appeal for either a jail term or probation was dismissed on Friday (April 6) by a High Court judge, who upheld his sentence of reformative training.

Despite Tan Guan Quan’s pledge not to entertain “funny” ideas and re-offend, Justice Chan Seng Onn was not persuaded that he would change for the better without institutional help.

Incarceration would “remind you, when you start to think of funny ideas, to pull yourself back”, the judge told Tan, who has two previous brushes with the law and was on probation when he went on a cheating spree that landed him with 410 charges this time.

Between July 2015 and January 2016, he cheated 34 people of close to S$38,000. He placed “job” advertisements on online platforms such as Carousell and Facebook, offering to pay S$250 to those who replied “Y” to SMS messages sent to their mobile phones and sent over screenshots of the codes they received.

His victims did not know it, but Tan was actually using their post-paid Singtel phone lines to purchase gaming credits, and the SMS messages were to confirm that they wished to buy the credits.

He also failed to pay his victims for their efforts.

His other charges included unauthorised use of a 20-year-old’s Singtel account to purchase gaming credits in August 2015, and deceiving an 18-year-old two months later into paying him S$95 for 130,000 gaming credits that were never transferred.

Tan was arrested in Jan 2016 and, while under investigation, he stole a SIM card that was left unattended at a Singtel store in July 2016.

Tan told the court he initially committed the offences for thrills but later used the money to fund his diploma studies.

But Tan found himself caught in a lie on Friday when he sought a one-week adjournment for his sentence, saying he needed to settle his son’s school and living arrangements – Justice Chan pointed out that the school year had already started.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Haniza Abnass pointed out his lack of regard for the law and the escalation of his criminal activities over the years.

When he was 16, Tan conspired with a friend to steal SIM cards that were unattended at exhibition booths and dishonestly retained a stolen phone.

He was sentenced to 24 months of probation but about three months before completing the term, he was convicted of gaming in a public place and sentenced to 15 months’ probation.

For cheating, Tan could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 15) Notification 2018 (S 160 of 2018)

[GBR] Receivable Financing with a Prohibition Against Assignment – A Possibility?

Commonwealth
26 Feb 2018

Pedra Branca: ICJ to hear Malaysia's challenge in June

Straits Times
07 Apr 2018
Royston Sim

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in June for two cases brought by Malaysia on the sovereignty of the island of Pedra Branca.

In a statement yesterday, the United Nations top court said four days had been scheduled for the hearing of each case: June 11-13 and 18 for the first, and June 18-19 and 21-22 for the second.

In the first case, Malaysia wants the ICJ judgment made on May 23, 2008 to be overturned.

The court had ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, a decision that resolved a territorial dispute which began in 1979.

Malaysia has also filed a second request, seeking an interpretation of the 2008 judgment. Both hearings will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that Malaysia and Singapore have exchanged written submissions on both cases.

The small island of Pedra Branca - also known as Pulau Batu Puteh - houses the Horsburgh Lighthouse, and is located about 40km east of Singapore's main island.

Besides Pedra Branca, the ICJ had also ruled at the same time on the sovereignty over two other maritime features: the Middle Rocks and South Ledge, near Pedra Branca. It said Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia, but it did not make a definitive ruling on South Ledge, saying it belongs to whoever owns the territorial waters it sits in.

Malaysia's latest application to revise the 2008 judgment was filed on Feb 2 last year. It cited three new documents discovered in the British Archives to argue its point that Singapore's officials at the highest levels did not consider that Singapore had acquired sovereignty over Pedra Branca from Johor in the years following 1953.

In its 2008 judgment, the ICJ had considered correspondence from 1953 between Singapore's colonial officials and Johor as being of central importance.

Johor's top official had written in a 1953 letter that "the Johor government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca". The court found this showed that while Johor had the original title, "as of 1953, Johor understood that it did not have sovereignty over Pedra Branca".

Malaysia based its application on Article 61 of the ICJ's Statute, which states that an application to revise a judgment may be made when there is discovery of a fact which would be a "decisive factor" and was not known at the time of judgment.

Singapore filed its rebuttal on May 24 last year, contending that the documents Malaysia relied on do not satisfy the criteria under which it applied for a revision.

On June 30, Malaysia submitted another request asking the ICJ to declare the waters around Pedra Branca to be Malaysian waters - and, by extension, that South Ledge belongs to Malaysia.

On Oct 30 last year, Singapore filed its rebuttal to Malaysia's request for interpretation.

Singapore's legal team for the cases is helmed by four people.

Three were in the original 2007 team that argued the country's case: former deputy prime minister and law minister S. Jayakumar, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh and former chief justice Chan Sek Keong. The fourth is Attorney-General Lucien Wong.

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

Electricity Act - Electricity (Contestable Consumers) Regulations 2018 (S 159 of 2018)

Paving the way for third-party dispute resolution funding in Singapore

Legislation
26 Feb 2018

Competition watchdog gets new name, bigger role

Straits Times
07 Apr 2018
Tiffany Fumiko Tay

Ensuring that businesses here do not have an unfair advantage is but one of the roles of the newly renamed Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS).

As of April 1, the CCCS, which was previously called the Competition Commission of Singapore, has also taken over the enforcement of rules relating to retailers that persist in unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.

Spring Singapore, which previously administered the Act, merged with International Enterprise Singapore on the same day to form Enterprise Singapore.

The new agency focuses on providing support for local businesses, while continuing to oversee regulations involving safety requirements for consumer goods.

The CCCS said the Consumers Association of Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board will remain the first points of contact for complaints by local consumers and tourists, respectively.

Retailers that do not stop their unfair practices, such as making false claims, will be referred to the CCCS for investigation. The agency is empowered to gather evidence against such businesses, file injunction applications against them and enforce compliance with injunction orders issued by the courts.

"The complementary nature of competition and consumer protection work allows CCCS to better regulate and promote well-functioning markets," the agency said.

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Traffic Signs) (Amendment) Rules 2018 (S 158 of 2018)

Budget 2018 – Buyers Stamp Duty Changes

Business
26 Feb 2018

YuuZoo raided by police in SFA probe

Business Times
07 Apr 2018
Annabeth Leow

Seizure of documents, computer equipment comes on heels of CAD notice

Mainboard-listed YuuZoo Corporation's premises have been raided, and former management staff interviewed by the police, the company disclosed late on Thursday night.

The seizure of documents and computer equipment, which The Business Times understands took place on Monday, came on the heels of a notice from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD). Chairman and former chief executive Thomas Zilliacus, a Finn, has surrendered his passport upon instructions from the police.

Singapore Exchange Regulation, or SGX Regco, had said - also on Monday - that it had referred findings from an independent reviewer's draft report to the authorities over possible Securities and Futures Act (SFA) breaches by YuuZoo.

Ernst & Young Advisory was engaged last October to carry out an independent review of the online media company. It was to cover a range of issues, including former employees' allegations of wrongdoing, as well as queries by the bourse operator over certain financial items in 2016.

YuuZoo, which is under a trading suspension, said that the authorities have seized copies of various documents, such as records relating to franchises and to companies where YuuZoo had a stake. The material requested by the CAD covers the financial years 2013 to 2016, it added.

General ledgers of the company, its subsidiaries and associates, as well as corporate secretarial documents like management and board meeting minutes, have been taken, alongside hard disks and laptops.

Mr Zilliacus, who was CEO from 2013 to 2015, has had to hand over not just his passport but also all personal diaries, on top of e-mails and information technology hardware, both personal and corporate.

The CAD has also asked for "all relevant information technology equipment and corporate e-mails" from former chief finance officers Fred Lim and Michael Parker, former financial controller Thai Youn Fatt, former CEO James Sundram and former franchise management head Sebastian Zilliacus, Mr Thomas Zilliacus' nephew.

YuuZoo said on Thursday that both the Zilliacus uncle and nephew have been interviewed by the CAD. "The CAD has not disclosed to the company any further details on the abovementioned investigations; and as far as the company is aware, no arrests have been made in respect of the aforesaid investigations," it noted.

Asked on Friday to confirm that no arrests have yet been made in the CAD probe, a police spokesman would tell BT only that it was "inappropriate to comment at this juncture".

YuuZoo said in its Thursday announcement, signed by chief operating officer Mohandas, that "the company will cooperate fully with the CAD in its investigation and will make announcement as and when there are further significant developments with regard to this mater (sic)".

SGX suspended trading in YuuZoo's shares on March 19, over a separate set of queries. The move came after the company's auditors could not give their opinion on the "veracity and reasonableness" of some items in financial statements for the year to Dec 31, 2017 in time for the deadline under a notice of compliance. YuuZoo has been listed on the mainboard since 2014, after a reverse takeover.

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

Arms and Explosives Act - Arms and Explosives (Government Arms Exhibitions — Exemption from Section 13) Order 2018 (S 157 of 2018)

The validity of SOPA claims served early & waiver of jurisdictional objections

Judgments
23 Feb 2018

Govt looks to enhancing war on drug abuse: Shanmugam

Straits Times
07 Apr 2018
Selina Lum

The Government is studying how to enhance the Misuse of Drugs Act, including strengthening the rehabilitation process for drug abusers.

It will also look at ways to deal with abusers who commit crimes to feed their habit and to better equip enforcement agencies to deal with threats posed by the drug situation.

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam disclosed this yesterday at the inaugural Criminal Bar charity gala dinner in aid of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, organised by the Law Society's Criminal Practice Committee.

The fund provides financial support for rehabilitative services for ex-offenders, as well as support programmes for their family members.

The event, attended by more than 300 criminal lawyers and judges, raised more than $470,000.

"What we are dealing with tonight is the downstream, when people have gone in, how do we help them," said Mr Shanmugam.

He recounted how he was once told this was akin to picking up babies in the stream. "But someone is throwing them into the stream in the first place. What can we do to prevent them from being thrown into the stream?"

He also disclosed that an inter-agency committee was formed in January to drive national efforts to address issues of offending, reoffending and rehabilitation.

It involves the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Education, and councils and self-help groups such as Mendaki and Sinda.

He also said that of the concluded cases in 2016, for drug abusers below 21, seven in 10 were not sentenced to jail. For adult abusers, 45 per cent were not jailed.

He said the Government will come up with a system of differentiated rehabilitation programmes for low-risk, moderate-risk and high-risk abusers.

On rehabilitation in jail, he said the prisons are developing a model - used in Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain - that looks at the offender's reoffending risks, criminogenic needs and responsivity to change.

As for what happens after prison, Mr Shanmugam said he was "heartened" by the results of a public perception survey last year, in which 91 per cent said they were aware of the Yellow Ribbon Project's aims and two-thirds said they were willing to accept ex-offenders.

There are also programmes to support offenders' families, to ensure their children are channelled to the relevant welfare organisations and to prevent inter-generational offending, he added.

He noted that the two-year overall recidivism rate for the cohort of inmates released in 2015 was 25.9 per cent, "much lower" than other countries.

"To me, 25 per cent is still too high. We want to try and bring it down but that number has been very stubborn. Yellow Ribbon helps tremendously," said Mr Shanmugam, who also recounted stories of two offenders who succeeded in turning their lives around.


DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM

What we are dealing with tonight is the downstream, when people have gone in, how do we help them. But someone once told me, this is like picking up the babies in the stream, but someone is throwing them into the stream in the first place. What can we do to prevent them from being thrown into the stream?

MR K. SHANMUGAM, Minister for Law and Home Affairs, on drug abuse and rehabilitating drug offenders

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

Immigration (Amendment) Act 2018 - Immigration (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2018 (S 156 of 2018)

How Corporations Can Stay Vigilant Against Online Banking Fraud – Lessons from Recent Court Judgments

Judgments
23 Feb 2018

Criminal detention: Fine-tuning the scales of justice

Straits Times
06 Apr 2018
Tan Tam Mei

The law to detain criminal suspects is controversial, but given its nature, much care has also gone into ensuring that a right balance is struck between public order and safety and the detainee's rights

Enhancements to a 63-year-old law used to detain criminal suspects without trial were hotly debated in Parliament in February, but some questions remain.

Many MPs, including opposition Workers' Party (WP) MPs and two Nominated MPs who voted against the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Bill, saw the need for the particular law to swiftly deal with those who threaten Singapore's safety, peace and good order.

However, key questions raised during the debate centred on whether changes to the law - which requires Parliament's approval for extension every five years - have expanded or curtailed the minister's powers and introduced enough safeguards to maintain a balance between an accused's rights and preserving public order and safety.

Over the past month,The Straits Times sought out information from the Government, legal professionals and former criminal law detainees to answer some of the questions.

WHAT IS THE CLTPA?

The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) was introduced in 1955 when organised crime, especially secret societies and gangsterism, was rife here.

The law allows the authorities to detain and supervise criminal suspects without trial, and the orders are reviewed yearly.

The Act is traditionally used in situations where it is not possible to prosecute in court because witnesses are fearful or unwilling to testify. It has been used against secret societies, drug syndicates and in serious crimes that threaten "public safety, peace and good order".

There were 1,263 detainees held under the Act in 1988. In 2010, there were 317 detainees. But the number has fallen to 103 last year, compared with 109 in 2016 and 118 in 2015. Of last year's detainees, 86 were detained for secret society activities, 11 for unlicensed moneylending and five for drug trafficking.

The Government says the CLTPA is still relevant and vital to enable the police to act against ringleaders of major crimes where prosecutorial action might be challenging due to a lack of witnesses.

In a CLTPA case, the accused and defence lawyers are allowed to make representations during closed-door hearings with the advisory committees that review the case. However, unlike the usual open court proceedings, the witnesses will not be subject to open court trial or cross-examination.

Last year, the Act was used to cripple two gangs and ensure protection for witnesses, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam at the Bill's second reading in Parliament. It was the 14th time the Act has been extended. "Where we can, we move to the criminal justice system and use the CLTPA as sparingly as possible," he said then.

MINISTER'S POWERS?

A bone of contention during the parliamentary debate and in The Straits Times Forum pages was whether the changes expanded or curtailed the minister's powers.

A new clause clarifying that the minister's decision to detain or supervise a person - in the interest of public safety, peace and good order - is final has led some to conclude that his powers were expanded. But another enhancement - which introduces a prescribed list of offences under the ambit of the law - was cited by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a curtailment of the minister's powers, though some parliamentarians and observers disagreed.

WP MP Pritam Singh, a lawyer, had said in Parliament that the finality clause on the minister's decision would limit judicial review as it stops judges from probing into the facts of the case.

However, law professor Thio Li-ann of the National University of Singapore (NUS) explained that judicial review still applies despite the finality clause - something Mr Shanmugam had repeatedly given his assurance on.

Prof Thio said: "You can still go to court to challenge a CLTPA decision on administrative law grounds like bias and relevant considerations. This was the previous position and it continues now."

NUS law professor Jaclyn Neo also believes that the clause would not oust judicial review. She said the idea of a finality clause might make people jump, but the one in the CLTPA is different. "It merely states the minister's decision is final, but does not go on to state, as some other finality clauses have done, that the decision is not open to review or challenge in the courts."

Some also said that listing prescribed offences in the Act would expand the minister's powers. The list includes secret society activities, unlicensed moneylending, drug trafficking and those covered under the Organised Crime Act (OCA).

Speaking in Parliament, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said the OCA covers offences such as fraud and illegal gambling, which should not require detention without trial. She added the new CLTPA would also include transnational crimes, even though its intention is to target offences that threaten public safety, peace and order in Singapore.

Observers see this amendment in the light of the 2015 Court of Appeal's decision to free alleged Singaporean match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan. The court said it did not accept the Act's "loose or open-ended remit", and while Tan may have run an international match-fixing syndicate from Singapore, his activities did not threaten public safety, peace and good order here.

For a detention order to be made, the existing condition is that the minister must be satisfied that detention is necessary in the interests of "public safety, peace and good order" in Singapore.

A new clause in the CLTPA provides that he must also be satisfied the person is associated with a criminal activity on the list. MHA had earlier said the list "restricts" the minister's powers by clarifying the scope of crimes under the Act.

Said lawyer Amolat Singh: "It clarifies and addresses concerns about the arbitrariness (of the Act). It can be seen as the Government imposing limits on itself."

The new condition means the minister must now fulfil two requirements before the case is referred to an independent Criminal Law advisory committee within 28 days of the minister's order.

The committee reviews the case - and can agree or disagree with the minister's order - before making recommendations to the President who can confirm, cancel or vary the order, on the advice of the Cabinet.

The orders are reviewed annually by a different advisory committee.

In assessing an existing detention order, MHA said a "holistic assessment" is done. Among the things to be considered are the nature of the detainee's involvement in the crime and suitability for release.

SUFFICIENT SAFEGUARDS?

Another enhancement to the law to make the process more robust has seen sitting Judges of the Supreme Court chairing the advisory committees from last month.

The committees also include prominent private citizens, such as Justices of the Peace, former judges and senior lawyers.

The Straits Times understands that the hearings usually involve three committee members, along with the accused or detainee, and his or her lawyer. An MHA representative will also be there to present evidence. Evidence is scrutinised and decisions are made independently, said a person with knowledge of these sessions.

While falling detainee numbers might affirm that the law is wielded sparingly, a test of its robustness might be revealed in the number of times when the advisory committee has recommended against the minister's orders, said observers.

Responding to queries, MHA would only say that the committees agree with the minister's issuance of orders in a "vast majority of cases". In "almost all" the cases where the committee has recommended against detentions, the Government has accepted its advice, and imposed police supervision orders instead, the ministry added.

A RIGHT BALANCE?

But the notion of detention without trial continues to unsettle some, and the lack of details and sensitive nature of CLTPA cases do not help.

The Act is an exception to the rule of law and the person is put in a vulnerable position without the protections of an open trial, said Prof Thio.

She and other legal experts agreed that the question was not about the necessity of the law. Rather, the issue is about striking a careful balance between an individual's liberties and maintaining public safety, peace and good order.

The law fills a "lacuna" or gap in a situation where witnesses might be afraid to testify openly for fear of reprisals. Without it, the authorities may have no choice but to let an accused free as he cannot be detained, said Mr Singh.

"It may be a small price to pay, not charging them in open court for the greater good of society."

The particular law has always been seen as an "uneasy balance", said Prof Neo, adding that it is not surprising the new provisions have stirred debate.

The overarching fear is that the law can be subject to abuse and mistakes, said lawyer Dennis Chua, who has represented criminal law detainees. "There is nothing stated in the law that requires the advisory committee to go into detailed investigation of the evidence."

He said the Act lacks prescribed checks on the stages leading up to a detention order. He added that while the accused can apply for a judicial review of his case , the defence lawyer's "hands are tied" as no evidence of purported facts need to be produced by the prosecution to support their case. Observers said concerns may be assuaged with more information showing the effectiveness of the law and its rehabilitation programme.

Of the current criminal law detainees, 17 per cent have been detained more than once as of Jan 31 this year, said the MHA, without giving the year-on-year breakdown of repeat detainees.

Detention and supervision orders are reviewed annually. Detentions beyond 10 years are reviewed by the Criminal Law Review Board.

MHA said all but one of the repeat detainees have been detained for secret society involvement.It said a detainee's rehabilitation programme is based on risks and needs assessed upon admission, and not whether they are repeat detainees. The programme can include work, vocational training and religious counselling. Suitable detainees will attend psychological intervention courses to increase self-awareness of their offending ways and equip them with social skills.

Despite the controversy and concerns over the law, former detainee Teo Beng Kim, 39, said the six years of detention was key to turning his life around.

He was detained in 2007 for heading an unlicensed moneylending syndicate, which had then reaped him a $30,000 monthly income. To his knowledge, he faced two charges - one for running an unlicensed moneylending syndicate and another for gang affiliation.

As with all criminal law detainees, Mr Teo was detained without open court proceedings and was not formally sentenced.

He told The Straits Times, in an interview organised by the Singapore Prison Service:"There was no trial, but I did appear before a committee."

Every year, he would wait for the results of the advisory committee's review on whether he would be released. The good news came in March 2013.

"My six years in prison were meaningful, unlike my 10 years as a loan shark," said Mr Teo, now a social worker at HCSA Highpoint halfway house in Geylang. "Without the detention to turn my life around."


TURNED HIS LIFE AROUND

There was no trial, but I did appear before a committee... My six years in prison were meaningful, unlike my 10 years as a loan shark. Without the detention... I would have never had the chance to turn my life around.

FORMER DETAINEE TEO BENG KIM, who was detained in 2007 for heading an unlicensed moneylending syndicate. He was released in 2013.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Collection of Toll at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints) (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2018 (S 155 of 2018)

Journals Online: The Law Governing Arbitration Agreements: BCY v BCZ and Beyond

Judgments
22 Feb 2018

Tafep seen as toothless if not given legal powers to act

Straits Times
06 Apr 2018

Every employer must abide by the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, or have their applications for Employment Passes subject to scrutiny (Firms adopting unfair employment practices will be placed on watchlist; March 29).

This was according to a joint statement from Mrs Roslyn Ten of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and Ms Christine Loh from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM),

On the surface, this sounds like a positive step to address discriminatory action.

However, apart from limited provisions protecting older workers or women from being fired because of their age or pregnancy, there is still no legislation concerning workplace discrimination.

Our Government has long acknowledged that ageism is a problem in Singapore.

However, it has maintained that introducing anti-discriminatory laws could increase business costs and undermine our economic competitiveness.

Such an assertion does not appear to be accurate since the global competitiveness of nations with anti-discrimination laws, including the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlandsand Japan, remains relatively stable.

Both Tafep and MOM maintain that the prevalence of discriminatory actions against older workers remains low (Action taken in cases of workplace discrimination; March 12).

As long as there are no specific anti-discrimination laws in place, older workers affected by forced layoffs will consider making official complaints a waste of time.

This accounts for the decline in the number of age-related discrimination complaints reported in the past two years.

In a 2013 survey by Tafep, 98 per cent of employers claimed to value highly the knowledge and skills of seniors, and 71 per cent of respondents claimed that older employees do not cost more to hire.

In spite of such politically correct responses, nearly two-thirds of resident employees made redundant in 2015 were aged above 40.

Based on my decades of experience in the corporate world, ageism is widely practised by many employers who consider older workers to be more costly to hire andtougher to train. They would rather invest in training and development programmes for younger staff.

Without legal powers to take errant employers to task, Tafep is seen as a toothless organisation which merely advocates fairness in the workplace.

Aggrieved employees will tell us that such a subdued approach is an exercise in futility.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

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

Environmental Protection and Management Act - Environmental Protection and Management (Exemption) Order 2018 (S 154 of 2018)

Journals Online: Of Shifting Winds – Insured’s Pre-contractual Duty of Good Faith in Singapore

Business
22 Feb 2018

Information from 65k S'pore users in hands of Cambridge Analytica

Straits Times
06 Apr 2018
Lester Hio

Information from the accounts of more than 65,000 Facebook users in Singapore might have been "improperly shared" with data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, the social media giant said yesterday, as the total number of affected users nearly doubled beyond what was originally estimated.

It has also prompted Singapore's privacy watchdog to step in and look into the matter.

Facebook said in a statement yesterday that the information of 65,009 Facebook users here was likely affected in the growing data breach involving Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm which applies data mining and analysis to elections.

Facebook is now embroiled in a global scandal for its role in the breach, accused of not ensuring the security of its users' personal data. Cambridge Analytica is said to have exploited the data for commercial and political use.

Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer said in an update on Wednesday that the total number of people who had their information improperly obtained and shared is now estimated to be 87 million, 37 million more than its initial figure of 50 million people.

The bulk of the affected accounts belong to North American Facebook users, which currently stand at over 70 million accounts which had their data compromised.

The Philippines is next on the list, with 1.17 million affected users, followed by Indonesia with 1.09 million and Britain with 1.08 million.

Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) is looking into the matter, said a spokesman.

"PDPC is concerned that individuals in Singapore are affected. We are looking into the matter and are in close contact with Facebook," the spokesman added. "Facebook users are encouraged to review their privacy settings in order to control how their information is used or shared."

From Monday, Facebook will also notify users, through a link on their accounts, if they were among those who have had their information shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Mr Evan Dumas, regional director for South-East Asia at cyber-security firm Check Point, said that although the incident has reduced consumer trust in Facebook, people "continue to trade privacy for convenience".

"The reality is we haven't hit an inflection point where consumer confidence is low enough to affect change," he said.

And indeed, when asked about the effects of a campaign to get users to delete their accounts, Facebook chief Mark Zucker-berg said: "I don't think there has been any meaningful impact that we observed."

Similarly, Facebook users here also appear unfazed about the company's treatment of the issue. All 20 of the users The Straits Times spoke to yesterday said they would not delete their accounts despite the privacy controversy.

Student Wang Xi Yu, 19, said: "I would love to delete Facebook, but I can't because of how deeply embedded social media has become for us in society."


NOT SO EASY

I would love to delete Facebook, but I can't because of how deeply embedded social media has become for us in society.

STUDENT WANG XI YU

Additional reporting by Esther Koh and Lee Wen-Yi

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

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Reporting of Derivatives Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 153 of 2018)

Journals Online: Morally Blameless Wrongdoers and the Change of Position Defence

Business
22 Feb 2018

Make Asean infrastructure financing an asset class: Heng Swee Keat

Business Times
06 Apr 2018
Siow Li Sen

Group has to raise visibility of its investment opportunities and promote itself, says Heng

ASEAN finance ministers came together on Thursday to pitch their respective countries' infrastructure projects and the steps their governments have taken to cushion the risks for investors.

Led by Singapore's Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, they called for a collective effort which would be more efficient in meeting international investors' concerns.

Asean countries have been successful in tapping the private capital market for infrastructure financing, but it is time to step this up, said Mr Heng, who delivered the keynote speech at the World Bank Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit.

Last year, Indonesia's second biggest power-producer PT Paiton Energy's US$2 billion project finance bond attracted some US$9 billion orders.

"The opportunity set is large but much work is needed to mainstream Asean infrastructure financing as an asset class," he said.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that, for the 15 years between 2016 and 2030, Asean's infrastructure investment needs will total US$2.8 trillion, or US$184 billion a year.

Asean needs to increase the visibility of its investment opportunities and projects, he said.

"We need to showcase the good projects available in each country, as well as promote Asean as an investment bloc."

Asean's energy sector has 77 renewable-energy projects in hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, geographically spread out across the region.

This sector has tremendous opportunities, given that demand for electricity in Asean is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4 per cent a year from 2014 to 2025.

In transport, rapid urbanisation and increased mobility have raised demand for transport infrastructure and more efficient transport networks. There are 219 road and bridge projects in the pipeline in Asean.

Mr Heng said Asean has to improve the bankability of its infrastructure projects at the individual project level.

"The goal is to draw in private-sector participation on projects that provide reasonable returns with reduced project volatility," he said.

Where the expected revenue may not cover costs fully, governments can step in to increase the projects' bankability by providing co-funding, raising user charges or extracting additional funding from value created from the project.

Where there are sufficient revenues to cover cost but exposure to certain risks remain high, risk-mitigating measures such as government guarantees and credit enhancements can help reduce the risk premium.

Multilateral development banks can play a role too, said Mr Heng, citing the World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) managed co-lending portfolio programme. This programme facilitates the participation of institutional investors in infrastructure by allowing institutional investors to invest in infrastructure loans originated by the IFC with some first-loss protection, and to enjoy benefits of scale and diversification through investing on a portfolio basis.

Mr Heng also called for standardised documentation; appropriately drafted public-private partnership (PPP) contractual provisions will provide investors with greater assurance.

Singapore's Infrastructure Asia office, which will be launched this month, will harness the collective capabilities of public-sector agencies and private-sector firms, and partner with key stakeholders across the region to facilitate more project opportunities that meet Asia's infrastructure needs, he said.

One of its key initiatives will be to develop a multi-year capacity-building programme for regional government officials.

Brunei Minister of Finance II Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said his government has teamed up with the private sector to set up a holding company, operating it commercially to raise funds for the country's seaport, telco and transportation projects.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said her country has 245 projects in the pipeline costing US$327 billion, but that the government can cover under 20 per cent of the cost; another 20 per cent will come from state enterprises.

"The private participation is really necessary," she said.

The government has taken steps to allay investors' concerns on land acquisition risks, construction risks and government-policy risks, she said.

Ms Indrawati also said it is inefficient for a country's finance minister to contact each institutional investor and called for an Asean institution to showcase the region's infrastructure projects.

"I have to travel and be in Parliament, " she quipped to an appreciative audience.

Thailand's Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the country's law on PPP has been amended to make it more "promotional" and to allow for the fast-tracking of projects.

The previous PPP had focused on procedures, and some transactions used to take up to 24 months.

The revised PPP law also sets out certain returns for investors, he said. If the returns fall below target, the government will step in with subsidies; if they surpass expectations, there will be profit sharing, he said.

Thailand will also launch an infrastructure fund later this year, he said.

Surya Bagchi, Standard Chartered Bank global head, project and export finance said there is an increasing trend of private-sector investors interested in funding infrastructure projects.

"This ranges from commercial banks who are skilled in assessing projects during their construction phase to infrastructure and pension funds and insurance companies who prefer the long-term stable yields and good credit ratings of completed projects.

"In order to unlock the potential for private funding into infrastructure, projects in the region need to be structured to be bankable so that they can meet the credit-rating guidelines of the private sector," he said.

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

Money-changing and Remittance Businesses Act - Money-changing and Remittance Businesses (Exemption from Section 13) Notification 2018 (S 152 of 2018)

Journals Online: Reflections on s 2(2) of Singapore Evidence Act and Role of Common Law Rules of Evidence: New Discoveries on Intentions and Implications

Legislation
22 Feb 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
06 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Reporting of Derivatives Contracts) (Exemption) (Revocation) Regulations 2018 (S 151 of 2018)

Journals Online: Recent Developments Concerning Similar Fact Evidence in Singapore: Pushing Boundaries of Admissibility

Judgments
22 Feb 2018

Judge rules in favour of dead man's estate in tussle over $7m house

Straits Times
05 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

A tussle over a $7 million house in which the judge expressed suspicion that a 97-year-old widow had been coached to testify for one side ended in favour of the other.

The High Court ruled the Glasgow Road property, though registered in the name of the family company, belonged to the estate of one sibling, Mr Tan Tiong Luu, who had died in 2012. His widow had claimed the house, which Mr Tan Tiong Luu had bequeathed her in his will.

Mr Tan Tiong Luu's siblings, however, contended that their father had intended the house for all of them to share.

"This was a case in which documentation and objective evidence on both sides were lacking in many respects," Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau wrote in judgment grounds issued on Monday.

"In the end, after evaluating the evidence and considering parties' submissions, I came to accept the plaintiffs' version of events on the balance of probabilities."

The house had been bought in 1975 by the family's patriarch, Mr Tan Geok Chuan, for Mr Tan Tiong Luu. However, the patriarch had put the legal title in the company's name, Geok Hong Co, because he did not want Mr Tan Tiong Luu's wife, Madam Koh Ai Gek, to get a share should their marriage break down.

The patriarch had arranged this for Mr Tan Tiong Luu, the son who had stayed behind to help with the company's business, thus enabling his younger siblings to study abroad.

Mr Tan Tiong Luu played a key role in the company and drew a salary similar to his father's. He and his wife made major improvements to the house during the 40 years they lived there. They have three children.

In 2012, he contracted cancer. In the final fortnight of his life after a visit by some of his siblings, he became agitated, telling his children that his siblings had refused to return the property to him.

His father had died in 1990, and only his siblings who were fellow directors of the company could transfer the legal title to him. Nine days before he died, he made a statutory declaration of his version of events.

His wife argued it was known the house would go to Mr Tan Tiong Luu, pointing out that the company failed to claim ownership while they lived there.

The company countered that there was no credible evidence of Madam Koh's claims. Among other things, they argued the patriarch ensured each of the children had a similar share in ownership of the company's assets through shares.

The elder Tan had eight children, three of whom had died at the time of these proceedings.

The company called his widow, Madam Ong Bah Chee, 97, who testified he had bought the house not for Mr Tan Tiong Luu only, but for all her children to share.

The judge observed her "general incoherence and haziness" when on the witness stand, but noted she was "surprisingly clear, firm and adamant" that the property belonged and was meant for everyone in the company to share.

"Her evidence on the witness stand directly contradicted her own Affidavit-Evidence-in-Chief, and her behaviour made me strongly suspect that she had been coached and drilled to say certain things by the company's representatives," he said.

In assessing the evidence overall, he found the property was held on trust by the company for Mr Tan Tiong Luu, and ordered its return to the dead man's estate.

The company is appealing.

Madam Koh, when approached at the Glasgow Road house yesterday, referred the matter to her son, who declined comment.

The 9,708 sq ft dwelling is estimated to be worth more than $7 million.

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Approved Institutions) (Amendment) Notification 2018 (S 150 of 2018)

Journals Online: Shifting Paradigm of Investment by Charities

Business
21 Feb 2018

Dog owner's sentence increased after trial

Straits Times
05 Apr 2018
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Court had allowed her to retract original guilty plea and claim trial over abuse of 3 dogs

A dog owner who was sentenced to 10 days in jail two years ago for mistreating her pets had her sentence more than doubled yesterday after a court allowed her to retract her original guilty plea.

Chng Leng Khim, 45, claimed that the lawyer at her original hearing in February 2016 had pressured her into pleading guilty to animal mistreatment charges, saying she might be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health if she claimed trial. Chng was sentenced to 10 days' jail and fined $3,100.

In October that year, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon accepted the single mother's contention and a new hearing took place.

But after a 12-day trial, in January, District Judge Kessler Soh found the 45-year-old guilty of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to her dogs - a bull mastiff cross, poodle and chow chow - and three counts of owning them without licences.

He also convicted her of failing to comply with a demand by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to give a statement.

She has now been sentenced to four weeks' jail and fined $6,000.

Following the trial, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan said in his submissions that Chng and her three children moved out of their Paya Lebar home on June 11, 2013, after failing to pay their rent.

That same day, staff from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found the poodle near the home. It was emaciated and covered with ticks.

Two days later, Chng's landlady found the other two dogs in the unit and alerted the AVA. The animals were thin and infested with ticks.

On July 18, 2013, an AVA officer met Chng at Ang Mo Kio Police Division and passed her a letter, asking her to come to his office and make a statement. She failed to turn up and was arrested on June 30, 2015.

Chng, who was unrepresented, testified during the trial that she did not take the dogs to a vet as they did not have any health issues. She also claimed she had always attended to the animals and fed them well.

DPP Tan urged Judge Soh to sentence Chng to four weeks' jail and a fine of $6,000. He said: "The dogs were in very poor condition when they were found. They were... sickly and suffering. After Chng moved out, the chow chow and bull mastiff were in an environment where there was urine and faeces all over the floor, and which was unsuitable for them to be in."

The chow chow and poodle were rehomed, but the bull mastiff had to be euthanised.

Chng told the court yesterday that she intends to appeal against her conviction and sentence. She was offered bail of $10,000.

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Medifund Committees) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2018 (S 149 of 2018)

Journals Online: The New Additional Conveyance Duties Regime in the Stamp Duties Act

Legislation
21 Feb 2018

Protester back in court over CBD assembly

Straits Times
05 Apr 2018
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Less than a year after he was sent to jail for offences including holding a solo demonstration in Raffles Place, a Singaporean man was back in court yesterday for allegedly conducting a similar protest at the same spot in February this year.

Yan Jun, 42, is now accused of taking part in a public assembly without a permit outside Raffles Place MRT station at around noon on Feb 22.

The court heard that when confronted, he behaved in a disorderly manner by repeatedly shouting at Station Inspector Juherman Zaiton. He is also accused of refusing to leave the area when told do so.

Yan stood in the dock with his back facing District Judge Luke Tan on the first day of the trial yesterday. He refused to acknowledge many of the judge's questions and remained standing while prosecution witnesses gave their testimonies.

Station Insp Juherman told Judge Tan he went to Raffles Place with Inspector Siaw Kah Swee, and saw Yan holding a public assembly.

A video taken from Station Insp Juherman's body camera was played in court and it showed Yan holding placards while addressing the lunchtime crowd.

One of them bore a message directed at Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Justice Chao Hick Tin. It stated: "PM Lee and Justice Chao: resign over the Terrex conspiracy!"

In 2016 Hong Kong authorities detained nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex infantry carriers, saying the company transporting them did not have the proper paperwork.

Another placard read: "The opposition: Prove yourself."

The video showed Station Insp Juherman asking Yan to leave.

The officer also tried to give him a "move-on direction", containing a written warning that offenders who disobey the law under the Public Order Act can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.

The document also stated that Yan had to leave the area and stay away from it for 24 hours.

He refused to take the document and the policeman was seen placing it at Yan's feet. Yan was also heard telling the officers: "It's not the first time I protest here. Arrest me."

The officers arrested him after repeated warnings and he was taken to the Police Cantonment Complex.

Yan, who was unrepresented, also took the stand yesterday.

When Judge Tan asked him to testify, he replied: "My defence is police corruption." In a raised voice, he expressed doubts about the integrity of the police officers.

Judge Tan told Yan to stop when he repeatedly failed to address the incidents connected to his current charges. Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan told the court he will be giving his submissions today.

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

Medical Registration Act - Medical Registration (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 148 of 2018)

Journals Online: Evaluating the Current International Legal Framework Governing the Status of Refugees in light of Contemporary Refugee Crises – Making the Case for Granting Refugee Status to Persons Fleeing Generalised Violence

Commonwealth
21 Feb 2018

Dual class shares: there should be minimum market cap of S$500m at time of listing: Mailbag

Business Times
05 Apr 2018

The consultation paper on the listing framework for Dual Class Shares (DCS) structures recently issued by the Singapore Exchange contains important conditions which can help to protect investor interests.

For companies with DCS, the biggest risks for shareholders are the lack of say on the company's governance and the expropriation danger. Therefore, the main safeguards should be the protection of the public shareholders in these two areas.

The SGX paper proposes that three key board committees - Audit, Remuneration and Nominating - have a majority of independent directors (ID) and be chaired by an ID. In addition, the removal and appointment of any ID has to be on a one-share-one-vote basis. These two conditions, put together, will help to promote independent-mindedness among IDs as well as help ensure that these committees function more independently.

Assuming that under the one-share-one-vote structure, the DCS holders are in the minority, then it is the outside shareholders that have the biggest say in the appointment of these IDs and we should then expect that the IDs will have to safeguard the interests of ordinary shareholders as their appointments are determined by them.

Another important proposal is that there will be a sunset provision whereby in any sale or transfer of DCS, the DCS become ordinary shares. This can help to prevent DCS shareholders from getting a better deal on their shares than ordinary shareholders in a sale situation.

However, there is also a suggestion that a vote be taken on whether the DCS structure can continue after the sale. I would suggest that if this is going to be the case then the DCS holders should not be allowed to vote on the matter due to a conflict of interest.

In order to further protect ordinary shareholders, I suggest that a market capitalisation requirement be imposed on the DCS structure.

(SGX is currently proposing that DCS companies must meet SGX's main board entry criteria. The minimum S$300 million market capitalisation is just one of the three criteria. There are three alternative admission criteria... and the company needs only meet one of the three. For instance, if the company is able to have S$30 million pre-tax profit for the latest fiscal year with an operating track record of at least three years, then there is no requirement to meet the market capitalisation requirement.)

I would think that the very fact a DCS structure exists is to enable DCS holders to hold a small stake in the company while still having large voting rights. Therefore, the holders should still have a rather large "skin in the game" in terms of a high equity value. In other words, I believe that allowing a shareholder to have a controlling voting interest in a company while holding only $10 million or $20 million worth of equity is too low.

Rather, DCS holders should have at least $50 million, if not more, of equity at listing. Working backwards this translates to at least around $500 million or more of a listing market capitalisation for the company.

I feel that while the proposed safeguard conditions can help to protect ordinary shareholders, if my suggestions - particularly the imposition of a market capitalisation minimum of $500 million - can be included, it will go further in helping to balance the needs of DCS holders with those of ordinary shareholders.

Ang Hao Yao

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

Dangerous Fireworks Act - Dangerous Fireworks (Exemption) Notification 2018 (S 147 of 2018)

Journals Online: Sentencing Reform in Singapore: Are the Guidelines in England and Wales a Useful Model?

Commonwealth
21 Feb 2018

App to aid hearings at Maxwell Chambers

Straits Times
05 Apr 2018
Ilyda Chua

It allows users to check into hearing rooms, request secretarial services and order food

There is a mobile phone application for everything, and now one for dispute-resolution hearings in Singapore.

Not content with being the world's first integrated dispute-resolution complex, Maxwell Chambers is now gearing up to become the world's first smart hearing facility by the end of this year.

The app can be used as an electronic key to get through the turnstile, securely check into hearing rooms and offices, and make requests for secretarial services. It also gives users access to participating eateries in the area for food deliveries.

And for good measure, a robot named Max will deliver files and food within the building, which will incorporate other elements of smart technology.

In a demonstration of the technology's capacities, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah remotely ordered a roast chicken sandwich using the mobile app, which Max promptly delivered.

The technology will be rolled out as part of a "Smart Maxwell" initiative launched yesterday by Maxwell Chambers and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).

Ms Indranee said the initiative would leverage technology to "enhance convenience, comfort and security for users", and will generate more business opportunities for the legal industry in Singapore.

"Smart Maxwell is also in line with Singapore's Smart Nation effort," she added.

Smart technology will help speed up administrative and finance-related functions and boost productivity, potentially saving over $500,000 a year, said MinLaw.

It will be made available to tenants at no additional cost. However, if they prefer, tenants will be able to opt out of using the technology.

Jointly developed with local tech start-ups Habitap and Techmetics, the technology will also be extended to the adjacent Maxwell Chambers Suites, a 120,000 sq ft expansion that will be housed in the Red Dot Traffic Building when the building is completed next year.

As of now, tenancy figures for the new building remain unchanged from June 2017 at 65 per cent, said a MinLaw spokesman.

Maxwell Chambers houses a number of top firms involved in dispute resolution, which is offered as an alternative to litigation. Last year, a record number of 204 cases were heard at the complex. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre, a frequent user, saw 452 new cases involving some US$4.07 billion (S$5.55 billion) filed last year from parties in 58 countries.

Mr David Bateman, an international arbitrator at long-time tenant 39 Essex Chambers, said: "We require that kind of up-to-date technology in the building for our day-to-day work... but some early-stage wrinkles might need to be ironed out first."

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

Sale of Food Act - Food (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 146 of 2018)

MAS consults on proposed changes to anti-money laundering and countering of financing of terrorism requirements for money-changing and remittance businesses

Business
21 Feb 2018

Couple to pay tax on $16m profit from selling bungalows

Straits Times
04 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

They fail in court appeal to have profit from three properties declared as capital gains

A wealthy couple who made some $16 million from buying and selling three good class bungalows (GCBs) within six years will have the profits taxed as income earned.

The couple, whose names were redacted in court papers, had failed in their court appeal to have the profits declared as capital gains.

While capital gains are generally not taxable, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) will also determine if the sellers are in fact trading in properties by considering factors such as frequency of transactions and the holding period of the properties.

The couple, who own a construction company specialising in infrastructure projects, had purchased three GCBs all within 2km of each other.

In June 2005, they paid $5.4 million for one in Wilby Road and sold it nine months later for a gain of more than $580,000. They then bought a house in Brizay Park in October 2009 for $20.4 million and it was sold nine months later for a profit of more than $13.6 million.

In October 2010, they bought a house in Garlick Avenue for $18.7 million and sold it in January 2011 for $21.8 million, netting a profit of about $1.85 million.

The overall profits totalled $16,047,336. When they were hit with claims for income taxes owed, they took their case against the Comptroller of Income Tax to the Income Tax Board of Review, which last October rejected their appeal.

The couple then appealed to the High Court. Their lawyer Ong Sim Ho argued it was wrong for the taxman to have deemed the profits as taxable income.

He said the houses were initially bought as residential homes and the intention was not to make profits and use that as income. Therefore, any profits from resale should be seen as capital gain, and not income, said Mr Ong.

He added it did not matter that they did it three times in less than six years.

The Comptroller's counsel Lau Kai Lee countered that their conclusion was based on evidence provided by witnesses and each property transaction was considered on its own merits.

Justice Choo Han Teck noted in judgment grounds last week that the couple actually bought five landed properties between 1997 and 2012. They were still living in a West Coast Road house, which they bought in 1997, with their four children when they purchased the three GCBs.

They now live in Binjai Park.

They had claimed they bought the properties for family use but found them unsuitable after the purchase.

The judge said that of the five properties, the first was never sold while the three in dispute were turned over and never occupied by them.

"They moved into the Binjai property which was bought in June 2012 - but that was after the Comptroller had started asking questions in February 2012 concerning the previous three properties.

"All this while, and to date, the original home at West Coast remains theirs. This is the forest. The facts found by the Board are the trees," said Justice Choo in dismissing their case.


$580k
 
Gains realised in sale of good class bungalow in Wilby Road.
 
$13.6m
 
Profit from sale of good class bungalow in Brizay Park.
 
$1.85m
 
Profit from sale of good class bungalow in Garlick Avenue.
 
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Central Provident Fund Act - Central Provident Fund (Medisave Account Withdrawals) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S 145 of 2018)

Parliament passes Bill to amend Payment and Settlement Systems (Finality and Netting) Act to improve protection of payment and settlement systems

Legislation
20 Feb 2018

Court upholds acquittal of accused match-fixer

Straits Times
04 Apr 2018

A businessman accused of match-fixing walked out of court a free man yesterday after the High Court upheld his acquittal last year by a district court.

Mr Rajendar Prasad Rai, 44, was alleged to have conspired with his nephew, Mr Shree Manish Kalra, to fix the results of six matches played in Europe in 2013 and 2014.

Mr Manish, then 22, implicated Mr Rajendar and himself in statements to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in 2015.

But during Mr Rajendar's trial, he retracted the statements in court, claiming that he had lied to the authorities to "fix" his uncle.

In July last year, after a trial of more than 30 days, a district judge acquitted Mr Rajendar of all six match-fixing charges, finding reasonable doubt in the evidence of Mr Manish, who was the key witness.

The district judge noted that there was no independent and objective evidence that the six matches were indeed fixed as the prosecution had relied solely on Mr Manish's statements to paint Mr Rajendar as a match-fixer.

The duo were alleged to have fixed the results of the six friendly matches through picking specific match officials for the games.

However, there were no probes conducted into any of the matches and neither was any action taken against parties concerned nor was anyone called as witnesses.

Mr Manish was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal two months after he sought to retract his statements to the CPIB.

After Mr Rajendar was cleared of all charges, the prosecution appealed.

Yesterday, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng dismissed the appeal, saying there were insufficient grounds to overturn the district judge's decision.

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

Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act - Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) (Exemption from Prohibition against Dealing) Order 2018 (S 144 of 2018)

MAS issues revised Code on Collective Investment Schemes setting out rules for precious metals funds, new disclosure requirements for funds, operational changes for REITs

Business
20 Feb 2018

Two Airbnb hosts fined $60k each for illegal rentals

Straits Times
04 Apr 2018
Rachel Au-Yong

The former property agents earned at least $19,000 from four listings of their units in a Bukit Timah condo

Two men who provided Airbnb-style accommodation in a Bukit Timah condominium were each fined $60,000 yesterday - the first prosecutions under a new rule outlawing short-term rentals.

Former property agents Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Songliang, 34, admitted four charges in February and were fined $15,000 on each count.

This was the first case of prosecution for a breach of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) rules on short-term rentals that kicked in on May 15 last year.

The men earned at least $19,000 from four listings of their units at d'Leedon near Farrer Road over five weeks last year.

The prosecution had sought to fine each man $80,000, while the defendants hoped to pay a maximum fine of $20,000 each.

District Judge Kenneth Choo said that while a $80,000 fine was too excessive, there were several aggravating factors. The men were motivated by profit when they rented out these units on home-sharing portals like Airbnb and Homeaway.

They set up several companies that were used to rent out the four units for short-term stays.

As former real estate agents, they also should have known that short-term stays were illegal, he said.

The men have had their licences revoked.

Tan and Yao also took steps to avoid detection, including taking their guests to a completely different unit to evade suspicious security guards. After the guards had left, the guests were led to the correct unit.

But Judge Choo noted that the duo were first-time offenders, who pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, and cooperated fully with the authorities.

Ms Wong Soo Chih, the duo's lawyer, said her clients were satisfied with the outcome. They paid the fine on the spot yesterday.

But Ms Wong noted that her clients could have been sentenced prematurely, given an upcoming public consultation on home-sharing rules. "While ignorance of the law is no excuse, to the layman, it sounds like the authorities are open to home-sharing," she said.

The Government has said that a long-awaited consultation paper, that sets out a regulatory framework for short-term accommodation, will be released soon.

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum page on Monday, URA's group director for development control, Ms Goh Chin Chin, said that it would take some time to work through the consultation process and to amend legislation, if necessary.

In the meantime, home-sharing websites should "remind their users to comply with the existing laws" of a minimum stay of three months, she added.

A URA spokesman told The Straits Times that it will continue to investigate any feedback received on illegal short-term accommodation, and work with management corporations and management agents to gather evidence.

"If investigations reveal that illegal short-term accommodation was operated on a commercial scale or involved recalcitrant offenders, URA will proceed with prosecution. An example of such egregious cases is the one in court today," she said.

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

Monetary Authority of Singapore Act - Monetary Authority of Singapore (Safeguards for Compulsory Transfer of Business, and Exemption from Moratorium Provisions) Regulations 2018 (S 143 of 2018)

MAS issues circular on new implementation date of 1 January 2019 for insurance returns

Business
19 Feb 2018

M&O restructuring needs safe harbour

Business Times
04 Apr 2018
Ian Wallace, Christopher Frampton, Scott Greissman and Jonathan Olier

New laws have made Singapore more attractive for companies looking to restructure, but can it become the jurisdiction of choice for Asian debt restructurings?

The maritime and offshore (M&O) sector has endured almost a decade of distress since the global financial crisis. Overzealous ordering of newbuild vessels during the boom years, made available by cheap credit and the lure of increasing global demand, has left many sectors of the maritime industry over-saturated.

Following a study of 44 offshore supply vessel companies, global consulting firm AlixPartners predicted a significant number of insolvencies in South-east Asia in the next 12 to 18 months and highlighted the fact that the current vessel scrap rate is only around 13 per cent of what is required to combat the vessel glut.

Additionally, events in 2016 and 2017 have resulted in looming debt stacks in the face of dwindling cash flows across the sector, particularly in Singapore and Asia-Pacific in general, where the key M&O players have - for the most part - yet to face immediate refinancing pressure. In fact, Marine Money magazine has suggested that between six and eight M&O businesses based or headquartered in Singapore will be seeking a restructuring solution soon. However, there are complexities involved in M&O restructuring which need to be considered.

REDUCTION OF M&O EXPOSURE AND INTRICACIES OF BUSINESSES

Firstly, traditional shipping banks and lenders have been gradually reducing their M&O exposure, which may exacerbate liquidity issues for debtors. To a certain extent, alternative sources such as direct lending, funds seeking exposure to M&O debt, and equity have been able to meet the shortfall, as have banks and fund managers that were not historically active in the sector. These sources have aided a number of proactive debtors and may be able to do the same for others facing a refinancing in the short to medium term.

There has been some criticism that restructurings in the sector are only "sticking plasters" for the problem, rather than wholesale solutions. This is primarily due to the composition of the sector's principal creditors, who have been reluctant to crystallise their position in a depressed market. As a result, a number of restructurings designed to provide additional liquidity and a runway for a company attempting to survive any downturn in fortunes have relied on a recovery in the M&O market - a recovery which has yet to manifest itself.

Secondly, M&O restructurings are often complicated due to the intricacies of the businesses and capital structures for many companies in the sector - and the inherently international nature of the assets. Not only are M&O businesses almost invariably categorised by extremely complex corporate and capital structures covering multiple jurisdictions, many such structures have been rendered even more challenging by previous restructurings.

Cross-border issues often present complications for both creditors and debtors, and it is worth remembering that participants in the M&O sector are highly dependent upon the uninterrupted continuity of their business. This means that restructuring solutions must protect these companies from value-destructive scenarios such as termination of key contracts.

In addition, the interaction between cross-border insolvency law and maritime law is rarely straightforward and often complicated by varying requirements of different jurisdictions where a vessel might be located, the domicile of the business, the governing law of the relevant documents and the jurisdiction where a restructuring solution is ultimately sought.

SINGAPORE'S ATTRACTIONS FOR M&O RESTRUCTURING

Over the next 12 months, M&O players around the globe will be attempting to shore up their balance sheets and emerge from the downturn by taking advantage of developing opportunities. Singapore's newly implemented restructuring regime could prove popular as it creates a viable means to achieve these goals and, under the right circumstances, it may even prove preferable to the well-established M&O restructuring frameworks of the US Chapter 11 and the English scheme of arrangement.

Singapore's restructuring and insolvency laws saw several changes as a result of the Companies (Amendment) Bill, amending the Singapore Companies Act, which came into effect on May 23, 2017. In particular, the law seeks to transpose some of the more powerful tools from Chapter 11 into Singapore law, as well as easing access for foreign companies to the country's restructuring processes (the Judicial Commissioner of Singapore has referred to the "cherry-picking" of restructuring tools in order to produce a hybrid system).

These restructuring tools include rescue financing and an improved framework for schemes of arrangement.

RESCUE FINANCING

The new rescue financing provisions are similar to the US' post-petition financing model, thus enabling Singapore courts to rank creditors contributing to the restructuring process ahead of other parties attempting to recover debt from the relevant company. This financing can be secured against both previously secured and unsecured assets, and on a subordinated, equal footing, or senior basis.

IMPROVED SCHEMES OF ARRANGEMENT

The legislative framework for schemes of arrangement has been modified to increase its utility as an international restructuring tool.

• Moratorium - Singapore courts are now empowered to grant a moratorium - a legal authorisation to debtors to postpone payment - during a company's restructuring negotiations and implementation process, which includes an automatic global moratorium of up to 30 days, as soon as the application is received. The temporary suspension can be extended to related companies such as subsidiaries, and also direct and indirect holdings.

• Cram-down - Furthermore, in certain circumstances, the court can "cram down" creditors that oppose an arrangement or compromise and bind them to accept an outcome - a hybrid of equivalent powers available in English and US Chapter 11.

• Pre-packs - In cases where there are pre-negotiated compromises, the courts may be able to approve these without requiring a meeting of creditors (that is, as a "pre-pack" solution), although safeguards have also been put in place to protect the creditors' rights. In particular, the new regulations increase the transparency of information about a proposed compromise or arrangement, thus enabling creditors to assess the situation more easily. These partners have been given the right to apply to the court to vary or terminate the moratorium and to prevent the company from dissipating its assets.

WHAT SINGAPORE CAN DO TO BECOME A M&O RESTRUCTURING HUB

To compete effectively with established M&O restructuring hubs, Singapore needs to gain the confidence of the sector's businesses, banks, funds and export credit agencies - and the advisers who will ultimately steer them towards a solution.

These stakeholders will require convincing that a restructuring in Singapore would produce a superior outcome compared to Chapter 11 or an alternative process.

The new Singapore regime is a welcome addition to the restructuring toolbox for the Asia-Pacific M&O sector and beyond. Adopting many of the most useful elements of the US and English systems has resulted in - on paper - a robust restructuring regime, with the added benefit of removing one more element of cross-border uncertainty for local debtors and creditors.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Singapore will become the jurisdiction of choice for the Asia-Pacific M&O restructurings in the short term, or whether the market will need more time to mature and develop before large-scale cross-border restructurings become the norm ahead of Chapter 11 or a solution in England.

The deciding factor will be whether market participants believe Singapore's regime is capable of dealing with the very complex nuances of M&O restructurings.

The writers are partners at White & Case Pte Ltd, which is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore. Where advice on Singapore law is required, it will refer the matter to and work with licensed Singapore law practices where necessary.

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Car-Free Sunday SG — Exemption for Personal Mobility Device Riders) Order 2018 (S 142 of 2018)

In the matter of C (Children) [2018] UKSC 8 (on appeal from [2017] EWCA Civ 980)

Judgments
19 Feb 2018

YuuZoo Corp under investigation by CAD

Business Times
04 Apr 2018
Chia Yan Min

Mainboard-listed online media company YuuZoo Corp is under investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) for possible breaches of the Securities and Futures Act.

In an exchange filing on Tuesday night, YuuZoo said that the CAD has asked it to provide access to documents or information related to the company, its subsidiaries and associates from financial years 2013 to 2016, including all records and correspondences related to franchises, franchising arrangements and firms it has a stake in.

Thomas Zilliacus, the company's chairman, also received a notice from CAD related to these investigations.

The company said that it "will cooperate fully" with the CAD on the investigations.

This latest announcement comes after the Singapore Exchange (SGX) referred initial findings from an independent review of YuuZoo to the relevant authorities for possible breaches.

The company has also been slapped with yet another notice of compliance - its second in as many months - from the bourse operator on Monday.

The SGX had suspended trading of YuuZoo's shares in March, after the company missed a disclosure deadline tied to regulatory queries over its full-year results for the 12 months ended Dec 31, 2017.

YuuZoo appointed EY last October to carry out an independent third-party review after a number of claims and allegations were made against the firm. The review would look into issues raised in e-mails to the SGX and in articles in The Business Times referred to in an announcement on July 17, 2017.

These related to claims filed by former YuuZoo employees against its former financial controller, including two different police reports, one of which was filed over alleged extortion. Claims were also raised by the former financial controller in an e-mail sent to the SGX after his services were terminated.

YuuZoo in July had refuted the various statements and claims in the articles, saying that it believed a subsequent decline in share price could be linked to the allegations.

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Planning Act - Planning (Exemption under Section 53) (No. 3) Notification 2018 (S 141 of 2018)

MAS issues revised Notice 652 on Net Stable Funding Ratio to delay implementation of required stable funding add-on for derivative liabilities

Business
19 Feb 2018

ADV: Career Opportunities at NUS Faculty of Law

Singapore Law Watch
04 Apr 2018
NUS Faculty of Law

Requisition of Resources Act - Requisition of Resources (No. 3) Order 2018 (S 140 of 2018)

MAS consults on proposal to widen scope of eligible collateral relating to commodities and equity securities in MAS Notice 637

Business
19 Feb 2018

Woman with joint custody loses bid to take son on overseas stint

Straits Times
03 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

Move to relocate centres on her career rather than being in child's best interests, court finds

A judge stopped short of calling a mother selfish in denying the single woman permission to take her eight-year-old son with her on a two-year work assignment in London.

The woman - a corporate vice-president earning $560,000 a year - had argued that denying her the chance to relocate would hurt her career and endanger her health. This, she argued, would then affect her ability to care for her son, identified in court papers as R.

She needed permission as she has joint custody, following a court consent order in Singapore last year. The boy's father is an Irish national working in New Zealand as chief executive of a property development company. The married man has two children of his own.

In judgment grounds last week, District Judge Kathryn Thong said: "The mother's case has been run on a very individual-centric, rather than child-centric basis."

The judge stressed that the court's decision has to be in the best interests of the child. "The narrative that emerges from the affidavits is that relocation is necessary for career development, or at least not to jeopardise (the mother's) career, and R's benefiting from this is incidental rather than the driving force behind the relocation," she said.

The court noted that the only time the couple and R resided together was in 2010 in New Zealand. That was when the man's wife and two children were in Ireland for a year.

Between 2011 and 2016, the man flew to Singapore to visit every four to 12 weeks, but in late 2016 the mother ended the relationship as she felt he was not interested in spending time with their son, which the father denied.

The woman's lawyer, Mr Yap Teong Liang, said that after the move to London she would give the father more access to their son than provided for under existing arrangements, adding that the boy was still young and would easily adapt to a new environment.

But the father's lawyer, Mr Ivan Cheong, countered that the woman was concerned with advancing her career and that her case overall suffered from a lack of evidence, including for claims of ill health. The father feared that any relocation would reduce his access to his son and that the boy would be traumatised by being uprooted from Singapore, where his family and friends are.

The court found that the "blossoming relationship" between the boy, who attends school in Singapore, and his overseas-based father would be lost with any relocation. Judge Thong "did not find the mother's wish to relocate reasonable" and noted that the mother had acknowledged that the boy "loves his father and actively sought his approval".

Pointing to the potential loss in relationship to the "left-behind parent", the judge added that "the status quo appears to be working fine enough for the father" and that she saw "no reason to disrupt R's life by allowing the relocation".

The mother is appealing against the court decision.


Pointing to the potential loss in relationship to the "left-behind parent", the judge added that "the status quo appears to be working fine enough for the father" and that she saw "no reason to disrupt R's life by allowing the relocation".

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 14) Notification 2018 (S 139 of 2018)

MAS issues new and revised Notices to implement requirements for Singapore-incorporated banks in line with revised standards on Pillar 3 disclosures under Basel III framework

Business
19 Feb 2018

SGX calls for immediate resignation of two top Midas Holdings executives

Business Times
03 Apr 2018
Chia Yan Min

Troubled railway parts maker Midas Holdings has been hit with a notice of compliance by regulators demanding the immediate resignation of two of its top executives.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) said in the notice that Midas Holdings executive chairman Chen Wei Ping cannot be appointed as a director or executive officer in any listed company for the next three years.

The bourse has also barred Ma Ming Zhang, the legal representative of Midas Holdings unit Luoyang Midas, from being appointed an executive officer in any listed company for the next three years.

These latest blows come after the company's audit committee lodged a police report with Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department last week, over a possible breach of securities laws and other offences linked to irregularities in the group's operations in China.

These included unauthorised loans taken out by the companies' subsidiaries, as well as the provision of unauthorised corporate guarantees.

The guarantees were executed by, among others, Sun Qi Xiang, the legal representative of Jilin Midas Light Alloy, Mr Ma, Mr Chen and Yang Xiao Guang, the legal representative of Dalian Huicheng, another unit of Midas Holdings.

They did not seek approval from the company's board for providing these guarantees.

In view of these developments, there are "immediate and serious concerns" about the suitability of Mr Chen and Mr Ma to continue in their roles, the Singapore bourse regulator said.

The SGX also noted that other executives named in Midas' disclosures about events in China - including Mr Yang, Mr Sun and former chief executive Patrick Chew - have since resigned or been replaced.

Trading in the company's stock has been suspended since early February.

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 13) Notification 2018 (S 138 of 2018)

MAS revises MAS Notice 637 on Risk Based Capital Adequacy Requirements for Banks Incorporated in Singapore to introduce a minimum leverage ratio requirement of 3% from 1 January 2018

Business
15 Feb 2018

SGX flags possible breaches at YuuZoo, issues 2nd notice

Business Times
03 Apr 2018
Chia Yan Min

The initial findings from an independent review of mainboard-listed YuuZoo Corp have been referred to the relevant authorities for possible breaches of listing rules.

The company has also been slapped with yet another notice of compliance - its second in as many months - from the bourse operator.

In an exchange filing on Monday, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) said a draft report from YuuZoo's independent reviewer, Ernst & Young Advisory (EY), showed that YuuZoo has not given EY necessary access to information and data. The review was also restricted by scope exclusions imposed by YuuZoo which were "inconsistent with the spirit of an independent review", SGX added.

The bourse said it issued a notice of compliance to YuuZoo on Monday, requiring EY to submit an executive summary of their initial findings to SGX as soon as these are finalised. The company will also be required to publicly release these findings.

The bourse had suspended trading of YuuZoo's shares in March, after the company missed a disclosure deadline tied to regulatory queries over its full-year results for the 12 months ended Dec 31, 2017. The suspension will be lifted when regulators are satisfied that "the state of affairs of the company can be ascertained and the shares... can be traded on a fair, orderly and transparent basis".

YuuZoo appointed EY last October to carry out an independent third-party review after a number of claims and allegations were made against the firm. The review would look into issues raised in emails to the SGX and in articles in The Business Timesreferred to in an announcement on July 17, 2017.

These related to claims filed by former YuuZoo employees against its former financial controller, including two different police reports, one of which was filed over alleged extortion. Claims were also raised by the former financial controller in an email sent to the SGX after his services were terminated.

YuuZoo in July had refuted the various statements and claims in the articles, saying that it believed a subsequent decline in share price could be linked to the allegations.

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

Vulnerable Adults Bill (Bill 20 of 2018)

MAS seeks feedback on proposed revisions to regulatory framework for large exposures of Singapore-incorporated banks

Business
15 Feb 2018

Greatest risk to financial resilience is regulation failure

Business Times
03 Apr 2018
Siow Li Sen

Failure of regulation poses the greatest risk to financial systems, while cooperation among regulators would help to mitigate risks, said former Reserve Bank of India governor Duvvuri Subbarao.

Regulators fail, not because they are incompetent, negligent or stupid but for reasons beyond their control, said the former central banker on Monday at a debate on balancing opportunities and risk for finance.

Arguing his case, Mr Subbarao said regulators have to manage the tension of fostering innovation and preserving financial stability. But if they come down hard on safety, they forgo the benefits of innovaton.

"Regulators have to be vigilant; all want to promote business."

He was among a group of panelists taking part in the 4th OMFIF Asean debate, co-organised with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, an event preceding this week's 4th Asean Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' meeting.

The collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers 10 years ago set off the global financial crisis, he said and noted the regulator's part in allowing subprime mortgage derivative products. Lehman was the biggest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities which had been seen as innovative hedging products.

When the US government refused to rescue Lehman Brothers, the subprime mortgage crisis in the US soon grew into a global financial crisis and the price is still being paid today, he said. The difficulties regulators face is knowing where the risks lie because financial markets are borderless.

Mr Subbarao said if the Monetary Authority of Singapore suppresses or tightens the regulation on fintechs, these companies can go to India or Indonesia and "if there's a bust-up, it can spread to Singapore too".

"Cooperation among regulators is necessary, but regulators may fail to reach understanding because they are carried away by short term national interests."

On cybersecurity, Mr Subbarao also said it cannot be left to the private sector to police themselves but national regulators and governments have to take charge and be responsible. There must be international cooperation and collaboration among the regulators "but to agree on common standards of cybersecurity is very difficult".

Others on the panel argued for companies to act responsibly or for collective responsibility, but Mr Subbarao said that Facebook's crisis shows up the limitations of leaving it to the private sector.

Facebook is facing a firestorm over how the data of 50 million Facebook users fell into the hands of Cambridge Analytica, the firm which allegedly helped Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

At the end of the debate, Mr Subbarao's powers of persuasion were evident. Forty-four per cent of the audience voted to agree that failure of regulation poses the greatest risk to financial resilience, up from 25 per cent when the vote was taken before the debate.

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

National Library Board (Amendment) Bill (Bill 19 of 2018)

MAS revises Notices to banks, merchant banks and finance companies to incorporate changes in recognition and measurement of allowance of credit losses

Business
14 Feb 2018

Ministerial panel lists three options for house at 38, Oxley Rd

Straits Times
03 Apr 2018
Royston Sim

The Ministerial Committee tasked to consider the future of 38, Oxley Road has laid out three broad options for the house, but left the final decision on it to a future government.

It released a 21-page report yesterday listing the three possibilities for the home of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew:

•Retain the house by gazetting it as a national monument or for conservation;

•retain the basement dining room which has the greatest historical significance, and tear down the rest of the house;

•allow it to be fully demolished for redevelopment, either by the property owner or the state.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who chaired the four-member panel, said it did not make any recommendations as no decision is required now. Mr Lee's daughter Lee Wei Ling has said she intends to continue living in the house.

DPM Teo said: "Ultimately, in the fullness of time, a future government will have the responsibility to consider the public interest aspects of the property, taking into account Mr Lee's wishes. They will have to decide what to do with the property and be able to carry the decision."

The committee assessed that the house - where the People's Action Party was founded - has architectural, heritage and historical significance. It also concluded that the late Mr Lee's preference was for his house to be demolished after his death, based on evidence that included statements he had made.

However, the late Mr Lee was also prepared to accept options other than demolition, the committee said, citing documents such as his Dec 27, 2011 letter to the Cabinet saying that if the house were to be preserved, it should be refurbished and let out for people to live in.

Responding to the report, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook: "Speaking as a son, I accept the committee's conclusion on what my father's wishes were regarding the house at 38, Oxley Road, and the range of options it has laid out."

He noted that he had recused himself from discussions on his father's property, and expressed his hope that when the time comes, the report will help the government of the day "make an informed decision that both respects my father's wishes and is in the public interest".

When reached at his home in Caldecottt Close, the PM's younger brother Lee Hsien Yang declined comment. Dr Lee, when contacted on the phone, said she has nothing to say at the moment.

The fate of 38, Oxley Road was thrust into the public spotlight in June last year when the duo accused PM Lee of misusing his power in a bid to preserve their late father's house. They alleged that he was doing it for political gain. Among other things, they accused PM Lee of using his position to influence the ministerial panel into challenging the validity of a clause to demolish the house in Mr Lee's final will.

The public falling-out stunned the country. PM Lee later apologised for the grief it caused, and delivered a statement in Parliament to refute their accusations.

The committee yesterday said it is possible to preserve 38, Oxley Road in its entirety. On the other end of the spectrum, it could be fully demolished and turned into a public space or redeveloped into a five-storey residential building. The last option though, said the panel, "would result in the loss of a historically significant property", and possibly allow the historical site to be leveraged for profit.

It also detailed possible "intermediate" options that include preserving just the basement dining room and integrating it with a park or heritage centre.

Such plans would be compatible with Mr Lee's wishes and still retain the heritage value of the site for future generations, said the committee.

DPM Teo said yesterday that the committee felt it owed it to Singaporeans to release its findings, as the dispute over 38, Oxley Road had thrust its work into the spotlight.

He added: "With this, we hope to close the chapter on this topic, and focus on other pressing national issues ahead of us."

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Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Act - Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Assignment of Function) Notification 2018 (S 137 of 2018)

When is a deposit refundable? Express terms are important

Judgments
14 Feb 2018

Malaysia passes anti-fake news Bill despite protests

Straits Times
03 Apr 2018
Trinna Leong

Opposition MPs, others fear it'll be used to curb dissent ahead of polls

Malaysia's lawmakers approved an anti-fake news law yesterday despite protests from opposition Members of Parliament and civil society groups that it would be misused to muffle dissent ahead of a general election expected within weeks.

The legislation, which carries punishments of up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of RM500,000 (S$170,000), was passed in Parliament with 123 votes for and 64 votes against after its second reading.

"This law is not intended to restrict freedom of speech but to restrict the dissemination of fake news," said de facto law minister Azalina Othman Said, who is overseeing the Bill's path into legislation.

The Bill will next be debated in the Senate, and is expected to be passed before the current Parliament session ends on Thursday. Once it passes both Houses, it will be gazetted into law after receiving the King's assent. The law - which makes it a crime for someone to maliciously create fake news - could be implemented within days.

"Activists fear the fake news Bill could be used against critics of gerrymandering or other elements of the electoral process," Mr Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

The law's broad coverage allows charges to be brought against other nationalities outside Malaysia, so long as the fake news involves Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen. It defines fake news as "any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas".

"The Malaysian government has no monopoly on the truth, but it is attempting to be the arbiter of what can and can't be said and written," Mr Adams said.

Defenders of the Bill argue that those without guilt should not fear the advent of the new law. "Only those who are already spreading or intend to spread fake news would oppose the need for this law," Datuk Seri Azalina said yesterday.

"When the Bill is brought forward in Parliament on the cusp of elections, it raises questions and doubts especially from the opposition," said political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi, a professor at Universiti Malaya. He added that the law could be misused as a political weapon to silence criticism against the ruling administration.

Ms Azalina, in her reply in Parliament, denied the law would benefit only the government, adding that the power to determine what constitutes fake news lies with the courts, not the government or the minister.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said in his blog yesterday that Malaysia is not alone in finding such a law necessary, referring to countries like Singapore, the Philippines and Germany which "are considering or have introduced similar legislation".

The Malaysian government "will not hesitate to take the necessary steps ahead of our imminent election to ensure that the well of democracy is not irretrievably poisoned with lies, falsehoods, smears and supposition", he wrote.

  • Additional reporting by Nadirah H. Rodzi

The law's broad coverage allows charges to be brought against other nationalities outside Malaysia, so long as the fake news involves Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen.

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Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) (No. 2) Notification 2018 (S 136 of 2018)

Recent developments in traditional and non-traditional funding options for SMEs

Business
14 Feb 2018

Bridgestone vs Deestone: Thai tyre maker allowed to keep brand name

Business Times
03 Apr 2018
Navin Sregantan

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) on Tuesday allowed Thai tyre maker Deestone to retain its namesake brand despite opposition from Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone Corporation, which owns the Bridgestone and Firestone tyre brand.

This follows a failed application by Bridgestone under the Singapore Trade Marks Act relating to Deestone's use of what Bridgestone claimed constitutes its family of "stone" marks. Deestone, incorporated in Thailand in 1978, had applied to trademark its Deestone brand on Feb 3, 2015.

The family of marks doctrine provides that where another party also applies for registration of a mark incorporating common characteristic of that family, the public may assume that the new mark is an addition to the family of marks, and be confused or deceived if that is not the case.

IPOS's principal assistant registrar of trade marks Tan Mei Lin - the case's hearing officer - held that while the marks were owned by two separate legal entities, this was not necessarily fatal to Bridgestone's case that they owned a family of marks, IPOS said in a release.

Moreover, IPOS found that Bridgestone's evidence fell short of supporting a finding that the Bridgestone and Firestone brands were used and recognised by consumers as a family of marks.

The evidence showed that Bridgestone and Firestone had been used and promoted as separate and independent brands and no evidence was adduced to show that there were attempts to educate consumers that the two brands come from the same corporate family, IPOS said.

Ms Tan found that the distinctiveness of the Bridgestone and Firestone brands lies in the marks as wholes and therefore should be compared to the application mark as wholes without giving special regard to any particular element.

With regard to the similarity of the marks, IPOS found that the Deestone brand was dissimilar from both brands visually and aurally.

As marks-similarity is a necessary requirement for all the grounds of opposition, the fact that the application mark was found to be more dissimilar than similar to the Bridgestone and Firestone marks meant that the opposition failed on all grounds, IPOS concluded.

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Securities and Futures Act - Securities and Futures (Offers of Investments) (Disapplication of Division 2 of Part XIII) Order 2018 (S 135 of 2018)

IMDA consults on proposed Telecommunication and Subscription TV Mediation-Adjudication Scheme

Business
14 Feb 2018

Couple take Registrar of Marriages to court over voiding of marriage after man changed sex

Straits Times
02 Apr 2018
K.C. Vijayan

A couple who had their marriage solemnised at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) are taking the Registrar to court for deleting the marriage entry from official records after the man had surgery done to become a woman.

They are seeking a High Court judicial review of the Registrar's decision to void their marriage under the Women's Charter and a court order to restore their marriage entry on the State Marriage Registry. At issue is whether their marriage remains valid as a matter of law and if the Registrar exceeded her powers in deleting the marriage entry.

The couple, represented by pro bono lawyers Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss and Suang Wijaya from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, cleared the first hurdle in January this year with Justice Valerie Thean giving the couple leave to apply for an order to quash the Registrar's decision.

The next step is a full judicial review hearing to consider the case and decide on the order.

Ms Faith Volta was still a man when she and fellow Singaporean, Ms Bryce Volta applied to register their marriage at ROM in September 2015. At a meeting with the couple, the Registrar voiced concerns about their ability to register the intended marriage given the man's appearance and name. She was known as Mr Faith.

The man declared he would not be marrying someone of the same sex and would not undergo any sex reassignment surgery (SRS) to become a woman before the marriage date, according to court documents filed. On Oct 5, 2015, the couple's marriage was solemnised and registered before an ROM official.

In March 2016, Ms Faith decided to have the surgical procedure and by June 2016, the switch was complete. In August 2016, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority issued her a new identity card stating her gender as female.

Some six months later, the Registrar met the couple to get an explanation of the circumstances behind the sex change and told them at a subsequent meeting the marriage would be revoked.

In a follow-up letter in February last year, the Registrar said a careful review of the case showed Ms Faith had already intended to undergo SRS at the time of the marriage solemnisation. The Registrar added that it showed the couple did not intend to live as man and woman during their marriage, which runs counter to the Women's Charter. The Registrar deemed the marriage void and deleted records of the marriage.

The Registrar is represented by Senior State Counsel Hui Choon Kuen and State Counsel Joshua Lai and Gordon Lim. State Counsel argued at the hearing that Ms Faith had failed to reveal when she took preparatory steps for the SRS, among other things. They said international norms require a patient to live for at least 12 months as a member of the opposite sex before an SRS is performed.

A High Court pre-trial conference is due this week.

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Supplementary Supply (FY 2017) Act 2018 (Act 14 of 2018)