Citation(1996) 8 SAcLJ 511
Date01 December 1996
Published date01 December 1996


(correct as at 31st October 1996)

Where the Act is an amendment Act, all references in this Digest are to sections in the principal Act unless otherwise stated.

Advance Medical Directive Act 1996
Act No. 16 of 1996

Long Title: An Act to provide for, and give legal effect to, advance medical directives to medical practitioners against artificial prolongation of the dying process and for matters connected therewith.

Passed by Parliament on: 2nd May 1996.

Assented to by President on: 17th May 1996.

Publication date: Not yet published.

Commencement date: Not yet in force.

Summary: This Act provides for, and gives legal effect to, advance directives to medical practitioners against artificial prolongation of the dying process. It recognises the right of a person to control the decisions relating to the rendering of his medical care and respects the prior directive of the terminally ill person to withhold or withdraw extraordinary life-sustaining treatment in order to permit a natural death. The Act however does not in any way authorise or condone euthanasia or abetment of suicide.

The Act will not apply to any act done, any directive or instrument made or executed before the date of commencement of the Act (section 1).

Section 2 contains the definition of terms used in the Bill, including “extraordinary life-sustaining treatment” and “terminal illness”.

Section 3 deals with the power to make an advance medical directive (a directive). The person must be of sound mind and of or above 21 years of age. The directive must be in the prescribed form and be witnessed by 2 witnesses present at the same time. Section 4 requires the witness who is a medical practitioner to ensure that the maker of the directive fulfils the minimum requirements under section 3 and has made the directive voluntarily and without inducement or compulsion. He has also to ensure that the maker has been informed of the nature and consequences of his decision.

Section 5 provides for the registration of directives. No person can act on an unregistered directive. Section 6 provides for the establishment of a Register of Advance Medical Directives and the appointment of a Registrar, a Deputy Registrar and an Assistant Registrar. It is an offence for any person to wilfully destroy, mutilate or make an unauthorised alteration or manipulation in the register.

Section 7 provides for the revocation of directives. A directive may be revoked in writing, orally or in any other way in which the patient can communicate, in the presence of a witness. The person making the revocation (if practicable) and each witness to a revocation must notify the Registrar and give him the relevant particulars.

Section 9 provides for the manner for determining whether a patient is terminally ill. The medical practitioner responsible for the treatment of the patient must in certain circumstances request the Registrar to search the register to ascertain whether that person has a valid directive. If the Registrar informs the medical practitioner that the patient has a valid directive, the medical practitioner shall obtain the confirmation in writing of 2 other medical practitioners as to whether they agree that the patient is terminally ill. At least 2 out of these 3 medical practitioners must be specialists. Where these 3 medical practitioners do not unanimously agree that the patient is terminally ill, the issue must be referred to a committee of 3 specialists who are members of the independent panel appointed under section 8. A patient shall on such reference be determined to be terminally ill only on the unanimous decision of the committee.

It is the duty of a medical practitioner, except in certain circumstances, to comply with a directive made in accordance with the Act unless he has registered his objection to doing so in the prescribed form. Before a medical practitioner acts in accordance with a directive, he must, amongst other things determine and certify in writing whether the patient is pregnant with a viable foetus. Extraordinary life-sustaining treatment must not be withheld or withdrawn from a patient known to be pregnant so long as it is probable that the foetus will develop to the point of live birth with the continued application of extraordinary life-sustaining treatment (section 10).

The Act does not apply to palliative care and does not affect any right, power or duty which a medical practitioner or any other person has in relation to palliative care (section 11). The directive can only take effect when the patient is no longer conscious or capable of exercising a rational judgment as to his medical treatment (section 12). The Act does not affect other existing rights, such as the right to refuse medical or surgical treatment (section 13).

Section 14 makes it an offence for a person to obtain the execution of a directive of a person by deception, fraud, mis-statement, unconscionable conduct or undue influence. It is also an offence for any person to falsify or forge a directive or to conceal or withhold personal knowledge of a directive. The penalty on conviction is a maximum fine of $10,000 or a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years or both. A person who contravenes these provisions will be prevented from claiming any interest which he has under a will, policy of insurance, instrument, intestacy or nomination under the Central Provident Fund Act (Cap. 36) or other

provident fund scheme made by the person who executed the directive. Sections 15 and 16 create other offences in relation to directives.

Sections 17, 18 and 20 make further clarifications as to the effect of the Act. Section 19 provides for the protection of a medical practitioner and persons acting under the directives of a medical practitioner from civil and criminal liability and discipline for professional misconduct in relation to giving effect to a directive.

Comments: The Bill was submitted to a Select Committee on 5th December 1995. The Select Committee received 14 written submissions and heard oral representations from 12 persons in respect of six of the written submissions. The Report of the Select Committee (Parl. 1 of 1996) was presented to Parliament on 11th March 1996.

Banking (Amendment) Act 1996
Act No. 21 of 1996

Long Title: An Act to amend the Banking Act (Chapter 19 of the 1994 Revised Edition).

Passed by Parliament on: 21st May 1996.

Assented to by President on: 20th June 1996.

Publication date: 28th June 1996.

Commencement date: 18th July 1996 vide S293/96.

Summary: Existing banks incorporated in Singapore with capital funds of less than $1,500 million are required to increase their capital funds to that level in 5 years and are prohibited from reducing their existing capital funds in the interim (section 9). Banks incorporated in Singapore which are licensed after the new provision takes effect must have issued and paid-up capital of not less than $1,500 million. The time allowed for banks to submit their monthly statements to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is shortened from 15 days to 10 days (section 26).

New section 45A allows, under certain circumstances, a foreign supervisory authority to carry out an inspection of a branch in Singapore of a foreign bank under its supervision. Section 46 requires a branch of a foreign bank to give a foreign supervisory authority carrying out an inspection under section 45A access to its books and accounts under certain circumstances. New section 46A safeguards the confidentiality of reports produced by MAS or a foreign supervisory authority upon inspection or special investigation under section 44, 45 or 45A by making it an offence for certain persons to communicate such a report or any part thereof to certain other persons, unless MAS has given prior written permission to do so, and for any person, under certain circumstances, to receive a report or any part thereof and fail to take reasonable steps to return it to MAS.

An exception is made to banking secrecy for certain classes of information to be transmitted outside Singapore solely for the purposes of carrying out

collation, synthesis or processing to facilitate centralised data-processing (section 47(4)).

Comments: These amendments increase the minimum capital funds requirement for Singapore banks and provide for certain regulatory changes. To enable closer co-operation with foreign banking supervisory authorities in the supervision of financial institutions with international cross-border operations, a foreign supervisory authority is allowed to carry out an inspection of a branch in Singapore of a foreign bank under its supervision with certain safeguards to confidentiality.

Related Legislation: The Goods and Services Tax Act (Cap. 117A) is added to the definition of “written law” in section 47 (11), that is, it is added to the list of laws under which information may be compelled as an exception to banking secrecy.

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Act 1996
Act No. 41 of 1996

Long Title: An Act to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1992 Revised Edition).

Passed by Parliament on: 28th October 1996.

Assented to by President on: 31st October 1996.

Publication date: 8th November 1996.

Commencement date: Sections 1, 5 to 15 and 17 of the amendment Act (ie. all sections except those which relate to new Article 5A) commenced on 12th November 1996 vide S478/96.

Summary: New Article 5A provides that the President may, acting in his discretion, withhold his assent to constitutional amendments (apart from those mentioned in Article 5(2A), which require a national referendum) which provide for the circumvention or curtailment of his discretionary powers. The President will be deemed to have assented to the amendments on the expiration of 30 days after the Bill being presented to him...

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