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Regulating debt-collectors in Singapore

The live-streaming of a video by five debt-collectors from the Singapore Debt Collection Service (SDCS) collecting a debt of S$4,905 from Lim Tean, a politician from People’s Voice (PV), at the office of Carson Law Chamber, send a shock wave across the political divide.

The use of live-streaming to harass any debtor so excessively is simply appalling and they are clearly no better than “Ah Long”.

What is most troubling is that if this harassment can be inflicted on a practicing lawyer, what protection or recourse can a debtor, like a hawker, who may be genuinely constrained by financial hardship do in such a situation?

As such, it is untenable that our Ministry of Home Affairs and mainstream media, save for Todayonline, to be staying silent instead of taking the initiative in engaging Singaporeans in addressing this new form of harassment.

But this is not the first time that the SDCS has adopted such a harassing tactic.

In April this year, they had done the same to Naiise at The Jewel and has the audacity to upload a series of Facebook posts and live videos of their harassment, as if there is no “government” left in Singapore to stop them from from taking the laws into their hands.

Yes, at The Jewel where foreign travellers who witness such an incident may think that Singapore has become a lawless society.

Such audacity begets a question – aren’t debt-collecting agencies in Singapore regulated by our Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and if so, why is K. Shanmugan, the Minister for Home Affairs staying so silent on such an appalling practice?

Does that mean that Shanmugan finds such a harassment acceptable and that Singaporeans should, by way of his silence, accept this new form of harassment as a “New Norm” under the PAP-led government?

In the case of Naiise, aren’t business owners supposed to be protected by the the provisions of company’s laws and limitation on liabilities?

Is it acceptable for genuine debtors to be exposed or be subjected to such harrowing form of harassment?
Legal Implications:

As this latest development has serious implications to the risks undertaken by our hawkers, enterprise owners, entrepreneurs and individual mortgagors, why aren’t corporate and consumer lawyers speaking up on this matter and/or lodging a complaint to the Law Society so that they can formally demand a clarification from MHA in order to preserve the interests of corporate and consumer lawyers and their clients?

In normal circumstance, the interests of lawyers and the public would have been mitigated by our Law Minister seeking an explanation from the Minister of Home Affairs.

But in the peculiar context of Singapore, where both ministries are headed by the same individual, things can get very complicated should that individual decides to keep quiet about it.

As such, it will be interesting to see if lawyers in Singapore are socially responsible enough in addressing this latest form of harassment, more so when one of their own has been harassed in the first place.

Political Implications:

As Lim Tean is also a politician from People’s Voice (PV), it does not help the public perception of PV when he or his party failed to issue a press statement in explaining the incident, issue an apology if the situation warrants it, and more importantly, address this harassment in the interest of the public.

Whatever decision PV may decide upon internally, they must find the courage in explaining and addressing this incident, factually and sincerely, if they want Singaporeans to take them seriously.

The exception to this may be that he is considering his rights in bringing those debt-collectors to court to challenge their use of live-streaming and end such an appalling practice so that other genuine debtors will not have to endure such extreme form of harassment.

Otherwise, PV may end up as a “political squid” that the PAP can use nearer to the next General Election in tarnishing all the good work and efforts of the opposition parties and derail the nascent development of an Alternative Government in Singapore.

Think about it – should any PAP politician unscrupulously expose any opposition member for their personal indiscretion at election time, that opposition member or team may end up helping the PAP with a free ride into parliament.

Instead of serving the interests of the Alternative Government, such an individual may actually end up serving the interests of the PAP, no?

Is this a progress or an impairment towards the development of an Alternative Government in Singapore?
In this context, the office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOTO) has a right to demand an explanation from PV while concurrently filing a motion in parliament to demand an explanation from the Minister of Home Affairs.

Silence cannot be an option in such a situation unless everyone is contented in gerrymandering away the issue.

There can be no room for complacency, personal indiscretion or any exception if Singaporeans truly aspire towards the development of a dynamic Alternative Government to help us restore a healthy balance of power in our parliament and government.

Socio-Economic Implications:

Unless this harassment is duly discussed, reviewed and addressed to protect the interests of genuine enterprise owners, entrepreneurs and Singaporeans, who may become financially-challenged while undertaking the responsibility of being a mortgagor, the way forward for them can be extremely traumatizing.

As Singapore can expect a sharp increase in bad debts, payment defaults and bankruptcy proceedings once the government lift all the pandemic safeguards that are currently in place, isn’t it timely that our government addresses this incident and help provide some reasonable assurances to those who are at risks of financial defaults?

Unless something reasonable is done to address all valid concerns, how then can Singapore promote innovation, enterprising or entrepreneurship when most of our innovators, enterprise owners and entrepreneurs are all either harassed beyond recovery or when they are laid to waste by our outdated Bankruptcy Acts?

As our SMEs formed the backbone of our economy, how is the government going to restart our economy when many of its “backbones” are broken?

As such, it is imperative for the Minister of Home Affairs, the office of the LOTO, parliamentarians and lawyers in Singapore to start looking into this troubling incident and the likelihood of an increase in financial defaults in the coming months.

At the end of the day, l hope they can all agree that Singaporeans clearly deserve better…

 

Joseph Nathan

 

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

19 Responses to “Regulating debt-collectors in Singapore”

  • precedent to be copied:

    //But this is not the first time that the SDCS has adopted such a harassing tactic.//

    or is it because it is done to LT (a high profiled person opposed to the white monkey idiots ???) ? so such act can be excused ??? waiting to see whether such act can be a GOOD precedent to be copied by similar debt collection outfits ???

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  • Pappy dog:

    This guy is behaving like a pappy puppy. He spends so much space to attack special targets.

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  • xoxo:

    $100Billion squandered.
    Increase GST ?
    VERY SIMPLE.
    Sgs , no money.
    Borrow from banks etc.
    Pay high interests.
    No money, kena harassed.
    And,CPF NOT YOUR MONEY?

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  • remember?:

    Remember who said these words?: “Never mind what others think, we do what is right!”
    So, what’s wrong in going around collecting more money!!??

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  • So What else is new?:

    Mr LT should try suing them..
    So PAP kind of tactics.
    Despicable.
    It was a really a political move to shame LT..
    But PAP owes mil$ of sgs bil$ by holding back forcefully our CPF monies.
    So we sgs would like to tell the PAP , O$P$ asap!
    Pot calling the kettle black!

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  • xoxo:

    JOBLESSNESS IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
    On one side,it causes impoverishment and poverty ultimately.
    On the other side,it causes risk-taking like gambling that leads to borrowing from loansharks,etc.

    Many sgs are indebted one way or another.
    Joblessness of sgs is basically caused by the govt,can VB say not?
    This clown can talk cock telling sgs to upskill or lose their jobs when he overblew YOG BUDGET and still got promoted?

    It is not true sgs are not as talented as most of the Fake FTs the PAP dumps here to rob our jobs by unfair means and assistance from DAFT GOVT POLICY PRACTICES that are FULL OF LAPSES!

    THE TALENTS N SKILLS ACQUIRED WILL NATURALLY BE DILUTED N LOST WHEN sgs are chronically laid off.
    You lose touch when you are not in touch as when you are employed.
    Even a top surgeon can lose touch if he become laid off for too long?

    Lee Ah Long sends his $tooges to go around and talk down to tru blu sgs making them feel they are untalented or unskilled.
    They just want to satisfy their OWN AGENDA ,be it population augmentation or forced vy FTAs like CECA.

    PAP SCHOLAR-GAHMEN ,on the other hand,TRY ALL WAYS TO PROTECT THEIR OWN JOB$?
    Even have GRC,POFMA,FICA and maybe *LAMPA* to create ENTRY BARRIER TO PARLIAMENT?

    SAY SO MUCH ABOUT SGS HAVING TO COMPETE OPENLY WITH NO GOVT PROTECTION BUT OWN JOBS ARE REINFORCED IRON RICE-BOWL?

    FARK YOU ALL VERY MUCH FOR FARKING us up.

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    LT seems to be in perpetual finance situation easily EXPLOITED…he should explsin his situation or his credibilty is at stake…umlike JBJ who was sued till his pants drop

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  • Whatever the debt-collectors did, had it been in China, would have been an offense under the new “民法典”, both criminal and civil action can be taken against these ‘gangsters’.

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  • Regulate Debt Pusher:

    We should also regulate debt pushers. Those bank employees who entice people to sign up to bank’s credit cards.

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  • AristoCATs class ?:

    Pappy puppy:
    This guy is behaving like a pappy puppy. He spends so much space to attack special targets.

    -
    They must belong to the AristoCATs class.
    -
    More than 39% should try the Power of the Ballot Box !

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  • Equality:

    Why are these gang-like collectors allowed to exist?

    Why is the law society keeping quiet that one of its members, Mr Lim Tean is allowed to undergo such harrassment? Isn’t harassment of any kind is disallowed! Goh Kayu and his kinder society! Where got?

    What about CID taking action on this gang of collectors, never mind whether ithe collectirs’ Firm is legit or not?

    Is it because Mr Lim is an opposition figure, such laws do not apply……………only for pappy mps!

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  • Samseng Ahlian ToaPaiKia!:

    As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. And I am an undisputed gangster. To me, that means playing by my own rules.
    In my world, of course, it don’t matter your looks: You could be a gangster in a chanel dress, or you could be a gangster wearing oxford baggies. I need to be feared … not loved that’s for sissies.

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  • Wah, Scary:

    In future banks, car dealer, furniture suppliers, landlords, telcos, water & electricity company, employees (company defaulted pay), town councils can do same. Lawless smart nation.

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  • illiterate pap voters:

    We support all OPPO.

    Also as long as not pap we support.

    We also believe in the principle, owe S$ pay S$.

    Can anyone in the know tell us how come Mr Lim Tean can owe S$?

    BTW the amount owed is very small, almost the price of a meal with a good wine. If truly owe S$ why not pay S$ and be free to fight pap?

    Look forward to any bro or sis to tell us what we find puzzling.

    Thank you very much.

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  • Harder Truths:

    The biggest and most evil debt collector is the regime. Hoe are thieves going to keep us safe from other thieves?

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  • Make it an offence:

    Should stop all these nonsense.
    Make it an offence to harass people like that.
    No need to shame the poor or debtor…they may have some real difficulties.
    Maybe some lost their income from the Covid and restrictions…

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ illiterate pap voters:

    Yes why is Mr Lim in debt ? What the story whats his financial status and how come he never explain himself.

    The amount owed is very small ? 4905 ? You sound rich Why dont you foot the bill for him ?

    In China, O$ never P$ is consider “老賴” , also subject to certain laws. Exceptions maybe e.g. Evergrande.

    https://zh.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/失信被执行人

    民典法 ?

    Yet still such cases ?

    https://h5.video.weibo.com/show/1034:4687091989413973

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  • oxygen:

    @ illiterate pap voters:

    I AM NOT (repeat NOT) commenting on this specific case. As a generality of law applications, there is sometimes arises cases of disputed liability account or amount involved in disputed account (i.e. counterclaim of offsetting claims to be satisfied).

    In either example of illumination only, the said “debtor” might want to creditor to sue to prove his/her claims of liability or amount needing to be satisfied.

    The drama is unnecessary. Maybe better resolve in the small claims tribunal, if any??

    illiterate pap voters: BTW the amount owed is very small, almost the price of a meal with a good wine. If truly owe S$ why not pay S$ and be free to fight pap?

    Look forward to any bro or sis to tell us what we find puzzling.

    Thank you very much.

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  • Unlicensed:

    There is no licence issued by any government department for debt collection. Don’t believe, you can check with Go Business portal where all licenses issued in Singapore are available. When the debt collectors say that they are licenced, this means that the company is registered with ACRA. That’s all.

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