22 Jan 2007 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 collates a number of amendments to several Acts which are mainly technical in nature. Let me highlight the key ones.
Amendments to various Acts relating to record keeping requirements
- The Prime Minister and Minister for Finance announced in the Annual Budget Statement last year that a decision had been made to reduce the record-keeping period in a number of statutes, generally to five years with a view to reducing the burden and costs to businesses.
- Pursuant to that statement, this Bill proposes amending 14 statutes to reduce to or specify a record-keeping period of 5 years. Amendments to the record-keeping period in a few more statutes will be made when those statutes are individually amended at a later time. With the exception of the Charities Act and the Income Tax Act, the amendments to the statutes covered under this Bill will apply to existing records to enable businesses to enjoy the benefits of the amendments as soon as they are brought into effect.
- In the case of the Charities Act and Income Tax Act, the reduction in record keeping period from 7 years to 5 years under the Income Tax Act will take effect from year of assessment 2008 whilst that under the Charities Act will take effect from any financial year ending in 2007. These proposed effective dates for the Income Tax Act and Charities Act will give IRAS sufficient time to prepare for the transition and also give taxpayers and charities sufficient notice of the changes and the related transitional provisions.
Amendment to the Patents Act
- Clause 6 makes several technical amendments to the Patents Act. Generally, these amendments will bring our patent system in line with two changes to the Regulations under the Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT, to which Singapore is a party.
- The first is to provide an applicant with two more months after the statutory 12-month period to file his Singapore patent application and claim priority over an earlier relevant application that he has filed in a Paris Convention or WTO member state, provided the applicant can show that he missed the initial 12-month period unintentionally, or despite showing due care. Amendments to section 17 of the Patents Act, with consequential amendments to section 87, are proposed to effect this.
- The second is to allow an applicant to include the description and missing parts in his Singapore patent application by making reference to an earlier relevant application which completely contains them, assuming his Singapore patent application has claimed priority over this earlier relevant application. This allows the applicant to secure or retain the original date of filing of the application, and is important as a later date of filing could expose the application to additional prior art that would decrease the patentability of the invention. To effect this, amendments to section 26 of the Patents Act are proposed, along with consequential amendments to sections 2, 28, 29, 36A, 80 and 84.
- These PCT-related amendments demonstrate our continuing commitment to keep our patent system in line with international developments. Public consultations show that the proposed changes are expected to be welcomed by both applicants and patent agents for the added flexibility they bring to the patent application process.
- Apart from these PCT-related amendments, other technical amendments are also proposed to clarify provisions in the Patents Act concerning the requirement for English translation of foreign language patent applications, the publication status of PCT applications entering national phase in Singapore, and the entitlement of persons to act as patent agents.
Amendment to the Plant Varieties Protection Act
- Clause 7 aligns section 52 of the Plant Varieties Protection Act with corresponding sections in the Trade Marks, Patents, and Registered Designs Acts regarding composition of offences.
Amendment of Boundaries and Survey Maps Act and amendment of Land Surveyors Act
- Sir, the principal amendments to the Land Surveyors Act or “LSA” for short, are to provide for the licensing of Limited Liability Partnerships (or “LLPs”) formed by registered surveyors to supply or engage in survey services.
- Presently, the LSA only has provisions to grant licences to corporations and partnerships to supply or engage in survey services. There are no provisions to grant licences to LLPs.
- The LLP is a business structure which is especially suitable for professional firms. The amendments will allow registered surveyors to form such business entities. This is a pro-business approach. Similar amendments have been made to the Professional Engineers Act and Architects Act to allow for LLPs.
- The other amendments to the LSA are technical and minor in nature, whilst the amendments to the Boundaries and Survey Maps Act are consequential to the proposed amendments to the LSA to provide for LLPs.
Amendments to Schedule A of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Sir, Schedule A of the Criminal Procedure Code lists out Penal Code offences and provides whether the police may arrest without a warrant and whether bail is available as of right. The amendments rectify the anomaly where sections 130B, 130C and 151A of the Penal Code have been omitted from the Schedule. s130B concerns piracy on the high seas, s130C concerns piractical acts and s151A concerns the making, printing or distributing of any document that incites violence or counsels disobedience to a lawful order of a public servant or is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. These are all serious offences. Other offences similar in nature and gravity are likewise also “seizable” offences. With these amendments, Police will be able to arrest offenders of s130B, s130C and s151A in the Penal Code without a warrant. These three offences will not be compoundable, and the offenders will not be entitled to bail as of right, but at the discretion of the court.
Amendment to the Immigration Act
- Sir, the Immigration Act currently allows ICA to require the furnishing of security from the master, owner, charterer or agent of any vessel, aircraft or train arriving in Singapore, if ICA has reasonable grounds to believe that any person arriving on board, such as a member of the crew, a passenger, or a stowaway, may attempt to disembark in or enter Singapore illegally. The purpose of this security bond is to cover the cost of the maintenance and repatriation of the person if he is subsequently stranded in Singapore. The bond will only be enforced if any of its conditions is breached in contravention of the Immigration Act and its regulations.
- Currently, the Act requires the security in such cases to be furnished by way of a bond, or a bond accompanied by a guarantee from the bank or insurer. The Act also requires the form of the bond and the guarantee to be stipulated. This restricts the types of security and the form of the bond and guarantee which ICA can accept. In addition, it limits the selection of the acceptable types of security which are available to the shipping community. Hence, clause 10 seeks to amend section 43(4) of the Act to vest powers in the Controller of Immigration to determine the manner and form of security required, so as to allow flexibility on the type or types of security which may be accepted.
Amendment to the Public Transport Council Act
- Clause 13 makes a technical amendment to the definition of “ticket payment service” in the Public Transport Council Act to clarify that the service relates to “mode of payment for tickets” instead of “tickets”. This reflects accurately the intention for the PTC to regulate a service provider who provides a service which relates to any “mode of payment for tickets”. An example of a “mode of payment for tickets” is the ez-link card. The amendment does not expand the scope of the definition but merely serves to clarify it.
Amendment to the Public Utilities Act
- Sir, clause 14 amends paragraph 1 of the Third Schedule to the Public Utilities Act to change the financial year of the PUB. Currently based on the calendar year, it will be changed to start from 1st April and end on 31st March the following year. Consumers and suppliers will not be affected by this change.
Amendments to the Road Traffic Act
- The proposed amendment to section 44(1) of the Road Traffic Act will remove the current stipulation in section 44(1) that the Deputy Commissioner of Police may keep a driver’s conviction or disqualification record for a period not exceeding 3 years. At present, a certificate relating to the particulars of any conviction or disqualification maintained under section 44(1) is prima facie evidence of the conviction or disqualification, by virtue of section 44(2). The proposed amendment will allow a certificate relating to the particulars of any conviction or disqualification, recorded and maintained under section 44(1), to be prima facie evidence of the conviction or disqualification under section 44(2), when the conviction or disqualification occurred more than 3 years previously.
Amendment to Supreme Court of Judicature Act and Subordinate Courts Act as a consequence of the 5 day work week
- Sir, clauses 16 and 17 amend the Subordinate Courts Act and the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to reflect the days on which the Supreme Court and Subordinate Courts and their respective Registries must be open, following the introduction of the 5-day work-week in the Civil Service in 2004. However, notwithstanding the amendments, the Supreme Court and Subordinate Court Registries will continue to function on Saturdays. At the Subordinate Courts - Mentions Court 26, Family Court 1 and the Juvenile Court will also continue to remain open on Saturdays so that arrested persons may be produced before a Magistrate before the expiry of the 48 hour maximum detention period stipulated in section 36 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The amendments will also not change the position that a Supreme Court Judge or a judicial officer of the Subordinate Courts may lawfully sit on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday if in the opinion of the Judge or judicial officer, the business to be dispatched is extremely urgent.
Amendment to s 139, Women’s Charter
- Sir, under s 139 of the Women’s Charter, the power to make rules to fix the fees and costs payable for matrimonial proceedings as well as the rules concerning the practice and procedure for matrimonial proceedings is vested in the Chief Justice and two other Judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice is of the view that the judges of the Family Court ought to be formally involved in the making of rules governing matrimonial proceedings and that the rules should be relevant to the lay person. Clause 18 amends s 139 of the Women’s Charter to provide that the rules committee will comprise the Chief Justice, a Judge of the Supreme Court and a District Judge appointed by the Chief Justice and 2 practising lawyers appointed by the Chief Justice.
- Lastly, the Bill corrects a grammatical error in section 2(2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.
- Sir, I beg to move.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012