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Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min on Second Reading of the Merchant Shipping (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill

14 Jan 2019 In Parliament

1.     Mr Speaker Sir, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time.”

Overview

2.     The main objectives of the Bill are to amend the Merchant Shipping Act and the Maritime Conventions Act to implement:

     a.   The 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976, or the 1996 Protocol;

     b.   The International Convention on Salvage, 1989, or the Salvage Convention.

Key Provisions of the Bill

3.     Let me highlight the key provisions of the Bill.

Implementation of the 1996 Protocol

4.     First, Clauses 5 to 7 and 16 implement the 1996 Protocol, which updates the limits of liability of a ship-owner for maritime claims covered under the 1976 International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims. This ensures that Singapore's limitation regime reflects the current value of life and property and is aligned with that of other countries that have acceded to the 1996 Protocol.

5.     Clause 8 preserves and applies the existing liability limits for maritime incidents which occurred prior to the commencement of the Bill.

Implementation of the Salvage Convention

6.     Second, Clauses 9, 10, 12 and 17 implement the Salvage Convention which has the following key features:

     a.   The introduction of a criteria for fixing the amount of reward for salvors;

     b.   The introduction of a special compensation to salvors who prevented or minimised environmental damage, even if the salvage operations failed to save the ship or its cargo.

7.     In addition, Clauses 13 and 14 require the receiver of wreck and High Court to apportion salvage payable to several claimants according to the Salvage Convention.

Amendments to the MLC

8.     Besides implementing the 1996 Protocol and the Salvage Convention, we are making a few other amendments to improve the way the Singapore Registry of Ships is run. First, Clause 3 of the Bill amends the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Act to enable the Director of Marine or a recognised organisation to extend the validity of a Maritime Labour Certificate.

9.     This will enable Singapore, as a contracting state to the Maritime Labour Convention, to comply with the amendment to this Convention to allow the extension of the validity of a Maritime Labour Certificate for a ship, in cases where its renewal inspection is completed but the new certificate cannot be immediately issued and made available on board.

Delegation of power to reduce ship registration fee

10.    In addition, Clause 4 of the Bill enables the Minister for Transport to delegate the power to reduce registration fee for ships under the Singapore Flag. This will simplify administrative procedures and enable the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore or any other person to reduce the fee.

Conclusion

11.    The provisions in this Bill will help Singapore maintain our position as an international maritime arbitration and dispute resolution hub. They will also ensure that the Singapore Registry of Ships stays relevant and competitive.

12.    Mr Speaker Sir, I beg to move.