Second Reading Speech by SMS Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee on the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2009
12 Jan 2010 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a Second time.”
Sir, as its title implies, 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 Subordinate Courts Act, Supreme Court of Judicature Act and Workplace Safety and Health Act (Clauses 4 to 7)
- The Chief Justice has decided to re-designate the apex post in the Subordinate Courts from “Senior District Judge” to “Chief District Judge”, as the phrase “Senior District Judge” does not fully convey the leadership role of the apex position. The amendment will effect a change in the title of the apex post in the lower courts but it does not change the scope of the role. So, Clause 4 to 7 amend the Subordinate Courts Act and various other Acts to change the designation of “Senior District Judge” to “Chief District Judge”, and to effect a similar change in any other written law or any other instrument.
Amendments to the Casino Control Act (Clause 9)
- Sir, the next set of amendments, which are contained in Clause 9, relates to the Casino Control Act. We are amending the language and minor details to improve the interpretation and administration of the Casino Control Act.
- Currently, the Act defines “chips” to mean “ any tokens used instead of money for the purpose of gaming”. Clause 9 amends the definition of “chips” to include wagering vouchers and other instruments with a fixed dollar value. Wagering vouchers are commonly used these days in electronic gaming machines. Our two casino operators intend to use these too. So amending the definition of “chips” to include wagering vouchers will remove any ambiguity as to whether a casino patron may use such vouchers for gaming in the casinos.
- Clause 9 also removes references to goods and services tax (or “GST” for short) in the specification of the entry levy under section 116 of the Casino Control Act . As the entry levy is regulatory in nature, no GST is chargeable on the entry levy. In addition, Clause 9 also amends section 117(3) of the Casino Control Act to make it clear that entry levies, whether paid on time or recovered as a debt, should be payable to the Singapore Totalisator Board, and shall be used by that Board for public, social or charitable purposes in Singapore. The amendment addresses an anomaly between section 116(2) (where entry levies paid on time are paid to the Singapore Totalisator Board), and the current section 117(3) (where entry levies recovered as a civil debt are paid to the Government ).
Amendments to the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Clause 13)
- Next, Clause 13 makes various amendments to the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (or “CDSA” for short) to enhance Singapore’s anti-money laundering regime and bring Singapore into greater compliance with recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force, a body which sets international standards to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Singapore has been a member of the FATF since 1991.
- First, Clause 13 amends sections 46(2) and 47(2) of the CDSA to make it clear that an offence is committed so long as the accused does the act knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the property represents another person’s proceeds of crime. The requirement to show that the accused had committed the act for the purpose of assisting the launderer to avoid prosecution for a drug trafficking or serious offence or the making or enforcement of a confiscation order is removed. Second, Clause 13 amends sections 46(3) and 47(3) of the CDSA to make it clear that an offence is committed even if the accused acquires a property at fair value, if he does so knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the property represents the proceeds of crime of another person. And lastly, Clause 13 amends section 48(2)(a) of the CDSA to criminalise the act of tipping off of a person when the tipper knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a suspicious transaction report (or “STR” for short) is being made under the Act. The current section 48(2)(a) only covers cases where the STR has already been made.
Amendments to the Singapore Academy of Law Act (Clause 15)
- Sir, another Act that is amended is the Singapore Academy of Law Act (or “SAL” for short). Since 1997, the SAL has undertaken a stakeholding function and it has built up the necessary infrastructure to provide a stakeholding service for properties in Singapore . Clause 15 expressly clarifies the SAL stakeholding function and the power to retain its income from stakeholding. As t he SAL is now relying predominantly on its own revenue streams to fund its work and no longer relies on public donations, Clause 15 removes the provision that deems the SAL to be an institution of a public character approved under the Charities Act.
Amendments to the Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act and Pensions Act (Clauses 2 and 3)
- Next, Clauses 2 and 3 remove terms in the Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act (or “MTERA” for short) and the Pensions Act that are no longer in use as a result of the restructuring of Government hospitals. All restructured hospitals now come under MOH Holdings Pte Ltd. So, for example, in the MTERA, terms such as “Superintendent” and “Government hospital”, which are no longer applicable, will be replaced by the terms “designated officer” and “approved hospital” respectively. Another example is in the Pensions Act, where the phrase “a male nurse at a Government mental hospital” is no longer applicable and will be deleted.
Amendments to the Competition Act (Clause 12)
- Next, Clause 12 amends section 69 of the Competition Act to empower the Competition Commission of Singapore (or “CCS” for short) to charge interest on the instalment payment and late payment of financial penalties. This is to enable compliance with paragraphs 24 and 27 of the Government Instruction Manual section on “Receipts”. Clause 12 also amends section 72(15) of the Competition Act to clarify that the Competition Appeal Board (or “CAB” for short) has powers to order interest on any financial penalties that it imposes, confirms, or varies, which the CAB is already empowered under the Competition (Appeals) Regulations to do.
Amendments to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Act 2009 (Clause 10)
- Sir, Clause 10 amends the definition of “air navigation services” under the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Act (or “CAAS Act” for short) to include “communications, navigation and surveillance services” to make it consistent with the International Civil Aviation Organisation definition. Clause 10 also amends section 52(2) of the CAAS Act to allow the Minister for Transport to make rules prescribing the methodology or other matters of determining the maximum prices for aeronautical charges in addition to “content, form and procedure”, which will provide greater clarity to the provision. And lastly, Clause 10 corrects a typographical error in section 72(7) of the CAAS Act.
Other Miscellaneous Amendments
- And finally, Sir, a few amendments are proposed to facilitate better administration of various Acts.
Amendment to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Act (Clause 8)
- Clause 8 amends the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Act (or “ACRA Act” for short) to allow ACRA’s legal officers to represent the Registrar, Deputy Registrars and Assistant Registrars of Limited Partnerships, who are ACRA officers appointed by the Minister for Finance under the Limited Partnerships Act 2008 to administer this Limited Partnerships Act, in civil proceedings and other related matters.
Amendment to the Employment Act (Clause 14)
- Next, Clause 14 creates an offence for a breach of sections 88 and 89 of the Employment Act. This ensures that employers who are required to provide for paid holidays and sick leave under the Employment Act can be taken to task for failure to comply.
Amendments to the Community Mediation Centres Act (Clause 11)
- And lastly, Sir, Clause 11 makes some “house-keeping” amendments to the Community Mediation Centres Act, namely, to correct cross-references to section numbers in corresponding legislations which have been amended.
- Sir, I beg to move.
Last updated on 26 Nov 2012