Second Reading Speech on Moneylenders (Amendment) Bill 2008 by Senior Minister of State Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee
17 Nov 2008 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, that the Bill be now read a Second time.
Sir, this Bill collates a number of amendments to several Acts which are mainly technical in nature. Let me highlight the key ones.
Amendments to the Copyright Act (Clause 6).
- First, Clause 6 amends section 107B and section 261D(2) of the Copyright Act. Currently, a radio station is exempted from paying record companies when it plays their songs on the radio via a digital transmission that is not a subscription and interactive service. This is because the radio station helps record companies popularise their songs and boost their CD sales. However, this symbiotic relationship is less applicable when a radio station plays the songs, say over the Internet, since it is easier for listeners to make high quality copies of the songs. Thus reducing the need to buy CDs. In order not to unduly prejudice the interests of record companies, Clause 6 amends section 107B of the Copyright Act to clarify that the exemption will only apply to over-the-air digital audio transmission that is not a subscription and interactive service.
- Clause 6 also amends section 261D(2) of the Copyright Act. In exercising their copyright, owners of music, software and other copyrighted works may control the access to their works by using technology that limit, say, the number of times the works can be accessed, or the people who can access them. The Copyright Act prohibits the unauthorised circumvention of such technology. However, as such a prohibition may prevent legitimate and non-infringing use of certain types of works, section 261D(2) of the Copyright Act provides for certain works to be exempted from the prohibition. Currently, the works to be exempted can only be specified by type. Clause 6 amends section 261(D)(2) to also allow the exemption to be specified, where appropriate, by the purpose for which the circumvention is done and the persons who may carry out the circumvention.
Amendment to the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (Clause 11)
- Sir, another Act that is amended is the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act. Clause 11 repeals section 33 of the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, substituting it with a new section that is more closely aligned with section 6 of the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act 2007.
- Sir, the intent of the new section 33 is to give full effect to Article 11 of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (the “Convention”) which deems Convention offences - in our case, they include all terrorism financing offences as defined in the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act - to be included as extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing between States Parties to the Convention before the entry into force of the Convention for those Parties.
- Sir, Singapore has extradition treaties with the United States, Germany and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which predate our ratification of the Convention. Singapore, the US, Germany and Hong Kong are all Parties to the Convention. To ensure that terrorism financing offences are covered as extraditable offences under the relevant extradition treaty between Singapore and these 3 countries, so that accused or convicted persons may be extradited from Singapore to these countries in appropriate cases, Clause 11 inserts new sub-sections (5) and (6) into section 33 of the Act, to make it clear that the Extradition Act may be applied in relation to the US, Germany or Hong Kong under section 4 of the Extradition Act, as if the relevant extradition treaty provided for the extradition of persons accused of or convicted of an offence against that country’s laws which would, if it had taken place in Singapore, have constituted a terrorism financing offence as defined in the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.
- Sir, as regards a Convention country with which Singapore has no extradition treaty, there is no change in position as sub-section (2) of new section 33 is not new. This sub-section gives Singapore the option of extraditing to a Convention State with whom no extradition treaty is in force, a person accused or convicted of a foreign offence which if it had taken place in Singapore, would have constituted a terrorism financing offence as defined in the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.
Amendments to the Building Control Act (Clause 4)
- Sir next, Clause 4 amends the Building Control Act. The Building Control Act provides for the licensing of two classes of builders, Class 1 Licensed Builders who can tender for construction projects of any amount, and Class 2 Licensed Builders who can tender for projects of up to $3m. In view of rising construction costs, the amendment in Clause 4 is to give the Minister flexibility in varying the contract values of Class 2 Licensed Builders. In a similar vein, Clause 4 introduces an amendment to allow the Minister to vary the minimum cut-off contract value for “significant general building work projects” so as to cater to the volatile prices of construction.
- Clause 4 also amends the Building Control Act to allow different sets of qualifications and practical experience to be prescribed for the management and the technical staff of a “Licensed Builders”. Currently, the Building Control Act allows only one set of qualification and practical experience to be prescribed for both the management and technical staff. This is not ideal as different abilities are required for the management of the business and the supervision of building works.
Amendments to the Casino Control Act (Clause 5).
- Sir, the next set of amendments contained in Clause 5 relates to the Casino Control Act. We are amending the language and minor details to improve the interpretation and administration of the Act.
- Currently, the Casino Regulatory Authority can request the Police to provide information regarding applicants for casino licences for the purposes of suitability checks. Clause 5 amends the Act to extend this to cover their associates and special employees. This regularises the various suitability checks that the Authority may conduct on different persons regulated under the Act.
- Sir, clause 5 also clarifies that in the event of an appeal to the Casino Regulatory Authority arising from a dispute between patrons and casino operators, written or other means of appeals are permitted in addition to face-to-face hearings. Foreign tourists on short visits can thus continue their dispute process with casino operators even after leaving the country. The appeals committee can still call parties to appear before them should they deem it necessary.
- Another clarification is to enable the Casino Regulatory Authority to take a combination of disciplinary actions against a “special employee” instead of just one type of disciplinary action. The amendment will ensure consistency in the approach taken by the Authority against “special employees” and “casino operators”.
- Finally, Clause 5 reduces the record keeping period applicable to a casino operator from 7 to 5 years to render it consistent with what is now applicable to companies under the March 2007 amendment to section 199 of the Companies Act.
Amendments to the Land Surveyors Act (Clause 8)
- Sir, next, Clause 8 amends the Land Surveyors Act to tighten the penalty against errant registered surveyors by allowing the Board to impose a combination of the existing three disciplinary actions against a registered surveyor instead of just one of the actions. The existing three disciplinary actions are:
- The imposition of a penalty not exceeding $10,000;
- A written censure of the registered surveyor under the hand of the President; and
- Ordering the registered surveyor to pay costs of any correction to his cadastral survey incurred by the Chief Surveyor
- This amendment will give the Board more flexibility in dealing with errant registered surveyors. The ability to mete out stiffer penalties will also enable the Board to play a more effective role in ensuring that the high standards of the profession are upheld. The amendment will also align the disciplinary actions under the Land Surveyors Act with the Professional Engineers Act.
Amendments to the Prisons Act (Clause 9)
- Sir, Clause 9 amends the Prisons Act to empower the Minister for Home Affairs to make Regulations for the good management and government of Prisons and Reformative Training Centres. The Minister has exercised this power to establish advisory committees to provide independent input on various matters. For example, the Employment Release Selection Committee was set up to recommend to the Director of Prisons the suitability of an inmate to be released beyond the precincts of the prison for employment. The Home Detention Advisory Committee was set up to advise the Director of Prisons on the suitability of inmates for Home Detention as referred to the Committee by the Superintendent. These committees are part of a framework of the checks and balances to ensure the good management and administration of prison institutions.
- When the Home Detention Scheme was introduced in 2000, the Prisons Act was amended to expressly empower the Minister to make regulations on the establishment of Home Detention Advisory Committees, its functions and procedures. For clarification of doubt, Clause 9 will amend the Prisons Act to expressly authorise the Minister to also make Regulations to establish advisory committees in general.
- Sir finally, a few amendments are proposed to facilitate better administration of various Acts. Amendments Due to Deletion and Substitution of a section in Health Sciences Authority Act (Clauses 2 and 7)
- First, Clauses 2 and 7 make technical amendments to ensure that the definition of “chemical metrology” is properly included into the Health Sciences Authority Act. This was originally intended to be inserted after the definition of “cosmetic” in the Health Sciences Act by The AStar (Amendment) Act 2007. However, just before the AStar (Amendment) Act came into force, the definition of “cosmetic” was removed in the HSA Act by another Act. Hence, the definition of “chemical metrology” can be inserted only now into Health Science Authority Act by the amendments in Clause 2 and 7.
Amendment to Boundaries and Survey Maps Act (Clause 3)
- Next, Clause 3 amends the definition of “land” in the Boundaries and Survey Maps Act is to make it consistent with the definition of “land” in the Land Titles Act. The definition of “land” in the Land Titles Act was amended in August 2001 to include any parcel of airspace or any subterranean space whether or not held apart from the surface of the earth.
Amendments to the Land (Titles) Strata Act (Clause 9)
- Lastly, Clause 9 makes some “housing keeping” amendments to the Land Titles (Strata) Act, namely, to delete unnecessary cross-references, correct minor slips like incorrect references to a corresponding legislation or section number and to make the correct reference to an “approved liquidator” consistent with the definition in the Companies Act.
- Sir, I beg to move.
Last updated on 26 Nov 2012