New Bill to target organised crime bosses
New Bill will target organised crime bosses, even those working outside Singapore
Singapore's law enforcement agencies are setting their sights on the big fish in the world of organised crime.
These crooks were previously hard to target because they keep their hands clean while their underlings do the dirty work. And some organised crime bosses may be based overseas.
A new Bill introduced in Parliament yesterday will make it easier to target them by criminalising all activities related to organised criminal groups (OCGs).
Even recruiting a person, instructing someone to commit an offence or just being part of an OGC will make a person liable under the Bill.
The Bill will also have extra-territorial coverage to target criminal masterminds working outside of Singapore to cause harm here.
The police and other law agencies can also get Preventive Orders to curb their criminal activities. For instance, one must now be convicted of certain offences before his assets such as property can be seized.
Under the new Preventive Orders, even if there's no conviction, a person suspected of being involved in an OCG can be prevented from acting as a company director, required to submit details of his finances and have his activities restricted.
And to ensure that ill-gotten gains from organised crime will be controlled, law enforcers can confiscate the assets or benefits without the need of a conviction, as long as a hearing in the High Court can prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the person has carried out organised crime activities.
The Bill will also introduce enhanced investigative powers for the police and law enforcement agencies to get information on how much tax a person pays or what his company pays in Goods and Services Tax.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had studied the laws and practices of other countries to develop the Bill.
For instance, the police in Perth, Australia, smashed an international drug syndicate after seizing 12kg of Meth with a street value estimated at A$12 million (S$12m). They also seized more than A$400,000 in cash and casino chips.
Two of the four men arrested were from Hong Kong. The others were a Canadian and an Australian, showing how transnational an organised crime group can be.
In New Zealand, the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act states that not only would the criminals be locked up but they would also have to hand over any profits from their crimes.
Since the tough new law took effect on Dec 1, 2009, the police have seized millions of dollars in assets - including properties and money in bank accounts - from criminals.
"The police will continue to do their utmost to counter security threats to secure Singapore and protect Singaporeans from those who wish to carry out acts of violence and destruction."
- Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean
Enhanced safety of outdoor programmes
The Mount Kinabalu tragedy, where 10 people from Singapore - seven pupils and two teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS), and an instructor - were killed in a 6.0-magnitude earthquake, will not deter future outdoor adventure learning programmes for students.
Minister of Education Heng Swee Keat made these points in Parliament yesterday:
An advisory panel will be formed to help enhance the quality and safety of outdoor adventure learning programmes. It will comprise local and international experts, and provide additional inputs on enhancing the quality and safety of the programmes.
In the Kinabalu tragedy, safety precautions were taken by the primary schools and their climbing guides. The trail was certified as safe for trekkers aged 10 and above. All the pupil trekkers from TKPS were aged 11 to 13.
"Whether a participant perished in the earthquake depended on where he or she happened to be at the time. It made no difference whether the participant was a child or adult, novice or experienced mountaineer."
The Sabah quake was a natural disaster that could not have been prevented. But until the Malaysian authorities can ascertain the safety of Mount Kinabalu, no schools will be allowed to take their students there.
The Education Ministry will also look at improving contingency plans for events, such as natural disasters, in this year's audit.
To help rebuild the lives of those affected by the earthquake, the Sabah Earthquake Fund has been launched to provide financial assistance to the dependants of the two teachers and the instructor who died.
Part of the fund will also be passed to the Mountain Torq trainers and Sabah guides, "as some had lost their lives and the rest have to worry about their livelihood in the aftermath".
Mr Heng said: "This is a meaningful way that we can show our care for those affected by the Sabah earthquake, to whom we are indebted."