I beg to move, ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’.
This Bill contains a number of amendments to several Acts which are mainly technical in nature. Let me highlight the key ones.
Amendments to the Casino Control Act
Clause 3 of the Bill amends the Casino Control Act to insert a new provision at Section 139 to require a casino operator to take customer due diligence measures, under certain circumstances, in order to detect or prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
The casino operators will also be required to keep records and any analysis obtained from such measures for minimally 5 years, and to do so in a manner that permits a reconstruction of each transaction so that they can serve as evidence should there be a prosecution for an offence.
These requirements are not new. They are already substantially set out in the Casino Control (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Regulations 2009 promulgated by the Casino Regulatory Authority.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to expressly provide for them in the main Casino Control Act to align our legislation with the revised standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), of which Singapore is a member.
Amendments to the Home Affairs Uniformed Services Superannuation Act
Clause 6 of the Bill amends the Home Affairs Uniformed Services Superannuation Act.
The Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs) will replace the Public Service Commission as the authority to reduce or withhold the benefits from the INVEST Plan for any member who is a civil defence officer, a narcotics officer, a prisons officer or senior police officer, where the member has been found guilty of some misconduct.
This power to reduce or withhold INVEST Plan benefits is already subject to concurrence by the Public Service Commission under Article 113 of the Constitution.
The amendment will ensure that the Public Service Commission does not have to perform the dual role of deciding whether to reduce or withhold INVEST Plan benefits under the Home Affairs Uniformed Services Superannuation Act; and also concur with its own decision under the Constitution.
Amendments to the Trade Marks Act, Patents Act and Registered Designs Act
Clause 7 of the Bill amends the Patents Act to allow the Schedule of the Patents Act to be amended by way of a Ministerial order, so that amendments of a consequential or procedural nature can be made more efficiently in the future.
We propose to extend the definition of “related national phase application” so as to allow additional instances in which Singapore patent applications can rely on the search and examination results of such “related national phase applications”. This gives the patent applicants the benefit of more options.
To facilitate the implementation of the Positive Grant System, the amendments also provide for a set of administrative conditions that must be complied with before patents are granted.
Consequential amendments to the Schedule of the Patents Act are required to align certain definitions such as “traditional medicine” and “Chinese proprietary medicine” to those in the Medicines (Traditional Medicines, Homeopathic Medicines and other Substances) (Exemption) Order.
Clauses 7, 8 and 13 of the Bill amend the Trade Marks Act, Patents Act and Registered Designs Act to allow the Registrar to appoint a panel of IP Adjudicators at the Registries of Trade Marks, Patents and Registered Designs.
This would open another avenue to bring in good legal minds to Singapore to augment the Hearing and Mediation Tribunal at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which adjudicates disputes relating to IP applications and registrations.
IP Adjudicators supplement the existing specialist tribunal at IPOS which already hears such disputes.
Together, our specialist tribunal and these new IP Adjudicators will enhance Singapore’s reputation for quality IP decisions.
To improve the transparency of information relating to interests in registered IP, clauses 7, 8 and 13 of the Bill will enable the recording of express trusts and beneficiaries of express trusts on the Trade Marks Register, Patents Register and Registered Designs Register.
This is a business-friendly move in support of Singapore’s goal to be a hub for IP transactions.
Amendments to the Road Traffic Act
Clause 9 of the Bill is an administrative amendment to delete section 82 of the Road Traffic Act, and the portion of section 66(3) which makes reference to section 82.
Section 82 of the Road Traffic Act requires the issuance of a warning, the service of a summons, or service of a notice of intended prosecution via registered mail within 30 days for three traffic offences, namely, speeding, dangerous/reckless driving and driving without due care or reasonable consideration for other road users.
The proposed amendments seek to streamline enforcement processes in respect of these offences. The provision is no longer required as the person will already be notified of possible prosecution action for the offence when he is issued with a notice under section 81 to give information of the particulars of the driver at the time of the offence. The amendments allow notices for all traffic offences to be sent via normal mail. Following such notices, the registered vehicle owner will be given adequate opportunities to clarify the identity of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence.
The use of normal mail is more efficient than registered mail as it does not require the motorist to collect such mail from the post office if he is not able to receive the mail at the first instance. It is also less costly.
Amendments to the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act
Clause 12 of the Bill amends the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act to expand the definition of a “police officer” to include a Commercial Affairs Officer from the Police Force’s Commercial Affairs Department who is involved in conducting investigations into terrorism financing.
The term is used in sections 8, 10, 10B and 11 of the Act, namely, requiring any person with information about terrorist property or terrorist financing to disclose it to a police officer, criminalizing the act of tipping off in respect of investigations conducted by a police officer, and authorizing a police officer to search and seize terrorist property.
Amendments to the United Nations Act
The United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations currently make it an offence to, inter alia, export, sell, supply or ship arms to any terrorist or to provide any terrorist with technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities.
Clause 14 of the Bill increases the penalties for such terrorism-related offences to enhance their deterrent effect.
The maximum fine for these offences will be raised from $100,000 to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for entities. The maximum imprisonment term for these offences will be raised from 5 years to 10 years.
This is in line with the penalties provided under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act and will thus ensure consistency across our anti-terrorism legislation.