Tuesday, May 22, 2007


In the course of my work, I am often asked to provide a view on an issue and I have tried different ways of addressing such issues over the years.

I have found one style particularly effective with those who rely on me for views regarding problems they are facing. I also realised it is a meaningful way of ensuring that I have thought through what I am writing, and that it sounds reasonably sound.

I call this syle "REBARE", not least because it is a way of customising the bare view in a different way!

The view is provided in the following style:
1. REcommendations / Conclusion
2. BAckground / Facts
3. REasons / Legal Basis


I cut to the chase and provide what I think is the solution, recommendation or conclusion to a matter.

This very quickly draws one's attention to what I personally think is the most important part of the problem -- the answer. After all, everyone likes to be given an answer to their problems!

This is also useful in helping the reader decide whether he wishes to read on, much like the blurbs we seek in books or the executive summaries we head for in reports.


The next thing I do is I set out the background on which I have relied to provide the answer. In this section, I highlight the assumptions I have made and the facts that I have relied on to reach the answer.

One effective way of structuring the background is in the form a story. This helps to engage the reader's interest and engage him enough to carry on reading your view, especially since this views are provided in writing.


Finally, I will set out my reasons for providing the answer that I provided. This is where I cite the relevant legislation or data or information that I have relied on.

I will also explain how the various facts I have noted inter-relate to each other, and support the conclusion I have reached.


Of course, this style does not work always. For example, like when making this blog posting or when you are writing a novel or where sometimes it just makes sense to save the best for the last!

Dharmendra Yadav

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Spam Control Act 2007: A Lay Guide

Some owners of small businesses have asked me for some general digestible guidance on the new anti-spam initiative in Singapore.

The Spam Control Act 2007 will be effective in Singapore from June 2007. If you send unsolicited commercial electronic messages in bulk, you will need to comply with the Second Schedule of the Act.


It will apply to you if:

a. You, by electronic means (e-mail / SMS), advertise / promote goods, services, land or business / investment opportunities, including all suppliers / providers of these items; and

b. You send more than 100 messages within 24 hours OR more than 1000 messages within 30 days OR more than 10000 messages within 1 year on the same or similar issue; and

c. You have not sent such messages by mistake.


1. All such unsolicited e-mails must have a valid unsubscribe e-mail address and inform the receiver how to unsubscribe. It should also have a valid telephone number or e-mail address for the receiver to contact you.

2. The instructions to unsubscribe should be clear, obvious and in English. The unsubscribe e-mail address should be genuine and effective for 30 days from the time the receiver gets your message.

3. If a person unsubscribes, you must give effect to this request within 10 business days (Monday - Friday, except public holidays).

4. The first words of the subject of the e-mail must be "ADV" in <> followed by a space and the subject.

5. Information about the sender of the message should not be not false or misleading.


A. All such unsolicited SMS must have a valid unsubscribe mobile number and inform the receiver how to unsubscribe. It should also have a valid telephone number or e-mail address for the receiver to contact you.

B. The instructions to unsubscribe should be clear, obvious and in English. The unsubscribe mobile number should be genuine and effective for 30 days from the time the receiver gets your message.

C. If a person unsubscribes, you must give effect to this request within 10 business days (Monday - Friday, except public holidays).

D. The words first appearing in the SMS must be "ADV" in <> followed by a space and the message.

E. Information about the sender of the message should not be not false or misleading.


Any person who suffers loss or damage can take you to court.

The aggrieved person can get an injunction or damages (up to $1 million or more, if loss is more than $1 million) from the court against you.

For more comprehensive advice, please consult your independent lawyer.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Increasing Supply of Lawyers in Singapore


I write this in my personal capacity and my views below are based both on my personal experience and on anecdotal accounts that others have shared with me.

1. Reduce legal work experience requirement from three years to one year

Last year, the Legal Profession Act was amended to enable law graduates with lower second class honours degrees from approved British universities and three years of relevant work experience to go on to qualify as lawyers in Singapore.

Among the reasons why the 3-year requirement was put in place was that a flood of applications were expected from such graduates, and that it was also felt the 3 years would be an adequate period to suss out the motivation and ability of one aspiring to be a lawyer.

There have been at least two rounds of applications since the legislation was amended.

Unfortunately, contrary to expectations, the process has only attracted a limited pool of applicants (myself included).

Having been subject to the process and having attempted to encourage others to do the same, I find the need for three years of relevant work experience to be a very onerous requirement.

Most such graduates are well settled in their careers either in Singapore or overseas. Some have also left the legal sector for other areas of industry after gaining 1-2 years of work experience, when they realise that qualifying as a lawyer is too much of a sacrifice, especially since, in some cases, this comes at the expense of setting up families with one's partner.

I have also learnt that some law firms employ and take advantage of law graduates in such situations. These graduates are given work quite similar to what newly qualified lawyers would receive but are not paid salaries that are commensurate with the work they do.

I would like to suggest that the requirement of three years can be brought down to 1 year, since I believe this is an adequate period to make an assessment of the will and ability of a person, who may not have an upper second class honours degree, to do legal work.

I am also aware that the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association has in the past recommended that the requirement should be 2 years.

2. Expand list of recognised law schools

I would also like to suggest that the list of approved British law schools be expanded, and perhaps the position on external law degrees be revisited. I know of law graduates who do legal work in some of our law firms or in-house that have good experience and do good legal work but cannot qualify, simply because they did not read law at a recognised law school. This is really unfortunate.

Thank you for this opportunity to be heard.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Show Me Your Story First

I have read about at least one instance in Singapore, where a journalist provided a political leader and newsmaker "the final edited version" of an article.

Separately, I have been told of incidents where a newsmaker explicitly requests, "Please send me a copy of your article before it is sent to print."

Depending on who the newsmaker is, a few journalists will agree to such a request.

I am personally against such acts, especially if the request comes from a political leader or a person of some influence.

To me, it is the equivalent of doubting the integrity of the journalist.

It can also lead to an intrusion and censorship of the creative work of the journalist.

In my dealings with various media - local, regional and international - I have often found that a journalist who takes great pride and has a high level of confidence in the creative work he or she produces is more likely to decline the request.

Newsmakers make such requests because they are concerned that what they have shared with a journalist will be misused or misinterpreted.

Many media owners are likewise concerned about this, since this can adversely affect the reliability and reputation of the media.

Hence, one finds editors in the newsroom, who are meant to serve as a check and balance within the media. Editors are expected to bring an objective, sharp and critical eye to the work of the journalist. Editors are often able to do so because they have themselves been journalists with many years of experience.

Editors also have at their disposal corporate counsel who can provide them legal advice on legal issues that may arise from the work of journalists. For example, libel claims. I know from personal experience that editors in Singapore and England tap this legal resource with some frequency.

It is also for this reason newsmakers have at their beck and call publicists, whose role is to help the newsmaker decide when to accept an interview request from the journalist, prepare the newsmaker for the interview, anticipate how a journalist may use the response and to manage the responses provided in a manner that the response will be responsibly used; of course, not always in this order!

Most individual newsmakers for practical reasons cannot afford such luxuries. As such, individual newsmakers should take steps to mitigate the risk of having their responses to the media misconstrued.

Now, asking the journalist to provide a copy of the article before it is published is certainly not the way to go about doing it. Consider yourself very lucky if the journalist is willing and able to do so!

In my experience, I have managed the situation in two ways.

Firstly, I ask the journalist for a right to reply.

More importantly, I ask the journalist to include a link to my blog. This enables me to react quickly and post a reply on the blog, if the published article did not convey my views in a fair manner. I am also able to make my full interview with the journalist available on my blog.

I am aware that some others find it useful to run their responses by their friends, especially those with a keen eye for detail or those with some journalism experience or legal expertise, to ensure that they have phrased the responses appropriately.

I also know of a few persons who, as a matter of principle, stop providing responses to a particular media or journalist, if they feel they have not been treated fairly by the media or journalist.

The lesson here is really simple. Don't disrespect the journalist by asking to see his creative work in advance. Learn instead to better manage the journalist and take steps to mitigate the risks you may face as a result of your dealings with the journalist.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Monday, May 14, 2007

MICA Reply: Review Films Act To Compensate Film-Makers

This is a reply to a proposal I made some weeks ago.

Dharmendra Yadav

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We are an open society with a free flow of ideas and rational discourse on matters of public interest.

Films are banned only in exceptional circumstances when they are inimical to the larger interests of our society.

Consequently, it is not logical to suggest compensating or underwriting the costs of such undesirable productions.

We will continue to review our regulatory framework regularly, taking into consideration the changes in our society resulting from globalisation and new technology.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Help Independent Credit Cooperatives Today

Make a crucial decision today and become members of two cooperative societies, before it is too late: TCC, "the credit cooperative with a heart", and TRC Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Ltd!

If you are unconvinced, read on to find out more.

Credit cooperative societies play an important but understated role in our society.

Every month, a member of the society makes a fixed monthly contribution to the cooperative society. This act of constant giving generates a pool of funds for the members to tap.

Members can then take credit facilities at interest rates much lower than what banks would normally provide.

Credit cooperative societies have effectively reached out to individuals that many banks would rather turn away; individuals who would otherwise fall prey to illegal moneylenders.

These lenders often charge exorbitant interest rates and will stoop to the lowest levels - including the use of brute force - to recover their funds from such debtors.

Unlike banks whose main focus is to generate shareholder value, credit cooperatives focus on generating goodwill among members.

They do so, for example, by providing financial assistance and scholarships to the less fortunate in a manner more robust than most banks.

A recent amendment to the Cooperative Societies Act proposed by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies will limit the ability of such cooperatives to tap that spirit of giving in order to help the less fortunate.

Once Parliament passes the proposed amendment, these credit cooperatives will only be able to market themselves or reach out to a limited group of individuals.

The rationale for this amendment is that it will promote good corporate governance and provide a risk-based approach in the oversight of these cooperatives.

The regulator has noted as much in its public announcement, "Credit co-ops are not regulated to the same level as financial institutions and should only play a niche role in the Singapore financial system. They should not open their membership to the general public, but should only serve a defined group of members which share a pre-existing affiliation to each other."

However, this is being read in some circles as protecting the reach of banks, which are an extremely powerful lobby in Singapore's financial sector.

The announcement is also perceived to appease another powerful group in Singapore - the trade unions. The compromise reads, "The existing union-linked credit co-ops and other large credit co-ops with broad potential reach will not need to redefine their membership base. However, they will not be allowed to add to their already large (potential) membership base by amending their by-laws to expand their membership definitions or add new groups of members."

As a result, less powerful and independent credit cooperative societies which do equally important work will find themselves extremely disadvantaged by the proposal.

These include TCC, "the credit cooperative with a heart"; and TRC Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Ltd, a credit cooperative which seeks "to promote greater awareness and consciousness of a progressive and improved lifestyle among members of the Indian community".

The regulator has sought to console these less powerful and independent credit cooperative societies by saying that: "Individuals who obtained co-op membership before new regulations were in place will be allowed to continue as members even if they do not fall within the new membership definition of the credit co-op. As a concession to existing credit co-ops which have genuine difficulties in redefining their membership due to their particular circumstances, the credit co-op may apply to the regulator for special consideration."

How open the regulator will be to "special consideration" remains a huge unknown.

But going by the reaction of these less powerful and independent credit cooperative societies, which are currently executing various membership referral initiatives, it is unlikely that there will be much room for them to negotiate after this defined membership regulatory regime is implemented.

With the recent negative publicity in Singapore about the raising of funds by charitable bodies, it is highly likely that the regulator will get its way.

Concerned by this development, I have sent in my applications to become a member of TCC through its website.

Above all, reader, I hope you will likewise join me in this intiative in order to enable less powerful and independent credit cooperatives to extend help to the financially needy and less fortunate in our society. And likewise, do encourage your loved ones to do the same too.

It is only with a strong pool of members that less powerful and independent credit cooperatives can continue to make a meaningful difference in our society. You can help make that difference today, before it is too late!

Dharmendra Yadav

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Review: A Labour of Love

I attended the final performance of the labour movement musical, A Labour of Love, with some of my friends.

The musical is an inaugural initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to commemorate Labour Day, in particular Young NTUC.

Tickets were sold for about $70 publicly. I learnt from some of my friends that tickets were sold out for all the performances.

Taking into account the premium prices being charged and the high level of branding by reference attached to the musical, my friends and I returned quite disappointed.

The marketing materials shared, "From an award winning team who worked on Beauty World, Fried Rice Paradise, Forbidden City and many other sell out shows, comes the first musical based on Singapore's history and the struggles of workers!"

Plus, various local media, including the leading broadsheet of Singapore, The Straits Times, which often take an extremely critical view of any artistic endeavour, had given glowing reviews of the musical.

Perhaps, the glowing reviews were a justified sacrifice at the altar of national interest.

A reasonable member of the artistic audience, who is usually also a discerning one, was therefore led (or misled) into believing that the musical was going to be of a standard produced by the much-loved architect of Singapore musicals, Dick Lee.

Nevertheless, many of my friends who watched the musical had a fair amount of fun "dissecting" the play.

The play was essentially the story of an old man who had dedicated his life to trade union work from the time he met his wife. In fact, it was his wife that got him to take an active interest in trade union work.

In this musical, active unionists were roped in as artistes to perform. This is laudable since it conveyed both the diversity and passion one finds in a trade union.

There was also good use of theatrical tools, including real-time subtitling and other interactive elements.

But passion, diversity and effective use of props, sound and lighting failed in the face of weak content.

The script had great room for improvement and, at many points, one ended up feeling that one was attending a propaganda event of sorts.

The NTUC story was exaggerated and the hyperbole got even louder as the musical progressed.

This came at the expense of the personal relationships being presented in the musical. As such, the plot missed the wood for the trees, since personal relationships are really central to the work of any effective labour movement.

One could not help but return with a perception that the producers had oversold the NTUC story, to a point where the story felt draggy and skewed.

This caused at least one person in the audience to remark tongue-in-cheek to a song about "hope, faith and a bit of luck" in the musical: "I need hope, faith and a bit of luck to survive this play!"

Thankfully for the producers of the musical, there was no interval in the performance, which meant members of the audience - some quite reluctantly - had to watch the performance right till the end.

Most ironical was a scene involving the pivotal character, the wife of the old trade unionist. At a metaphorical level, the wife represented the union and everything that the old trade unionist stands for.

Unfortunately, she dies at the end. Her death, to a sensitive audience, may well have symbolised the death or dark future of the trade union.

This is really unfortunate for a musical that, at the outset, sought to highlight the relevance of a trade union in a developed Singapore.

As a result, one ended up watching up a musical that was high on entertainment value and energy but low on plot.

Better "hope, faith and a bit of luck" next time, Young NTUC!

Dharmendra Yadav

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spare The Photocopier

A Singapore law professor once shared with me, "It's easy to set up a law school in a university. You just need space and a photocopier!"

One of the things I find shocking about the legal profession is how un-environment-friendly it can be in its use of paper. This practice of wasting paper starts from law school where one develops a penchant for photocopying. The practice then becomes a habit, which one takes into the profession.

I have found, over the years, that the immediate solution to any legal problem appears to be the photocopier, regardless of the relevance of the material photocopied to the problem.

The issue of relevance is only dealt with after the photocopying is completed, that is when one has had the chance to better consider the material photocopied.

The costs of photocopying also end up being borne by the client in the form of disbursements.

In the working world, I have learnt that this habit is not just limited to the legal profession. Many in the working world are equally entranced by the photocopier.

Over the years, I have attempted to persuade my colleagues and loved ones to be more considerate in their use of paper.

In March this year, my sister's friends gave her a birthday present: a photocopier for home use! When she gladly brought the present home, I knew then my attempts have had limited success.

Nevertheless, some six weeks later, one consolation is that the present still remains unused and wrapped in its packaging!

Another consolation is that I have had better success personally. I do a variety of things to limit my use of paper, which I willingly encourage others to apply.

Firstly, I limit my use of photocopying. I only photocopy things that I know would be relevant and useful to me. Ironically, this habit has partly been facilitated from my days in the University of Leicester, where photocopying used to cost a dear 20 pence per page. As a result, I was forced to spend hours in the library to read and assess the material, and take away only what was relevant.

Secondly, I don't keep printed records. I get my administrative staff to scan documents that I receive and I read them online. If I need to circulate the documents, I send it to others by e-mail rather than by fax or mail. My records are also stored in online folders; the advantage here is that I can utilise them at any time from any computer with Internet access.

Thirdly, I print two pages on one page (not recommended for those who need reading glasses) and, as far as possible, I use both sides of the paper. If, for any reason, I have not been able to use both sides of the paper, the paper goes into my recycling bin and I make use of the clean side at the next available opportunity.

Sometimes, this has incurred the wrath of my computer experts in the office; they argue that using recycled paper jams the printers and my meek counter-argument often is that they should invest in printers that facilitate the use of recycled paper!

Finally, after I have used the paper fully, I throw the paper away in the recycling bin, in the hope that this used paper will go on to be used in other useful products.

Please spare the photocopier and use paper prudently.

Dharmendra Yadav

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