Charity watchdog to have more bite with amended Bill
Amended Charities Act will regulate fund-raising appeals of any scale
Planning a bake sale for charity at your office? Or are you crowdfunding online for the needy?
Take note then, because these actions will be scrutinised by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) under an amended law passed by Parliament yesterday, which saw a lively discussion involving eight MPs.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that with the amended Charities Act, it will be made clear that fund-raising appeals of any scale for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes, offline or online, are bound by regulation.
The move comes as online fund-raising efforts like crowdfunding become increasingly popular and effective, with over a million dollars raised in some cases.
Explaining the need for the Charities (Amendment) Bill at its second reading, Ms Fu said: "The reach and scale of these online appeals highlight the need for a regulatory regime that promotes transparency and accountability so as to maintain a high level of trust and integrity, including in the online giving environment."
The amended Bill will see governance, accountability and transparency of charities and fund-raisers in Singapore strengthened.
Disqualification and removal regimes will also be more stringent as new grounds of disqualification are introduced.
For example, a person convicted of an offence involving terrorism, terrorism financing or money laundering will be expressly disqualified.
The Bill will also mandate the practice of charities filing their annual submissions and applications electronically to ensure that information about charities are made available online.
Regulatory powers of the COC will also be enhanced.
Improper fund-raising appeals that come under the commission's scrutiny can now also be suspended for up to two years pending investigation instead of after investigation closes.
Individuals under investigation can also have their suspension from their positions in charities extended if the need arises.
Aside from legislation, Ms Fu also emphasised the importance of educating donors through means like infographics for the elderly and social media efforts for the younger generation.
SINGAPORE PENAL CODE REVIEW TO BE COMPLETED 'LATER THIS YEAR'
Singapore aims to complete a review of laws on attempted suicide and marital immunity for rape "later this year".
Responding to questions about any potential legislative change on the issues from Nominated Member of Parliament Kok Heng Leun, Minister for Law K Shanmugam said a committee set up in 2016 to review the Singapore Penal Code will aim to complete its work by that timeline.
He added: "The committee is also undertaking a fairly fundamental review on the principles which underlie our penal laws, including elements of criminal liability, the required mental element, intention or knowledge, the scope of mental health defences, as well as some of the language used in the Penal Code."
SPEAK UP IF YOU SEE ABUSE: DESMOND LEE
The public has a crucial role to play in protecting vulnerable people, such as in the case of Annie Ee (left), who died after being abused by the couple she was living with.
While underscoring the importance of laws like the Vulnerable Adults Bill, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said: "None of this would be effectual unless family members, colleagues, neighbours, passers-by...step forward, raise the alarm bell and bring their suspicions to the attention of the authorities."
He was responding to a question posed by Dr Lily Neo of Jalan Besar GRC on how intellectually disabled persons with little familial support can seek assistance.
S'PORE'S UN RESOLUTION VOTE ON JERUSALEM WAS FOR 'PEACE AND SECURITY'
Singapore's vote in favour of UN resolution on Jerusalem was a vote for "peace and security".
Reiterating Singapore's support for a peaceful and negotiated two-state solution, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan (above) said: "What really precipitated (the UN resolution) was an announcement... which could be construed as changing the status quo and hence, in our view, would be a unilateral and premature pronouncement, which instead of helping peace, would actually impede the peace process." - JAN LEE
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