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RTA COVID-19 Resource Centre

The COVID-19 outbreak has been a jarring development across the world. As the threat continues to climb, the impact of the outbreak has been palpable. National borders have been restricted, entire industries have been affected, and businesses have found themselves having to change the way they work. This has heralded much uncertainty in the commercial world.

Our RTA COVID-19 Resource Centre gathers views from our lawyers across the region on some of the common issues and legal implications of this pandemic.

Going Through This With You

We appreciate the difficulty in keeping track of the rapidly evolving regulatory changes to deal with the COVID-19 situation. Rajah & Tann Asia is closely monitoring the situation and remains ready to assist.

Our COVID-19 Legal Team comprises lawyers across the region and practice areas dedicated to serve our clients on a timely basis in this uncertain time. Please feel free to get in touch with our COVID-19 Legal Team or your usual contact at Rajah & Tann Asia if you have any queries relating to legal and operational issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What's New


SINGAPORE: Managing Manpower Costs: New Guidelines on Wage Cuts and Updated Tripartite Advisory on Retrenchments

In an encouraging sign, Singapore's third-quarter economic growth has expanded by 7.9% in the third quarter from the 13.2% contraction in the preceding quarter. However the economic fallout of COVID-19 will not dissipate anytime soon, especially as new waves of infections continue to surge worldwide. While the government has been encouraging businesses to retain workers where possible, it is now acknowledged that retrenchments and/or wage cuts may be inevitable. Accordingly, there have been two new developments for employers to take note of:

  1. Release of the National Wages Council's ("NWC") 2020/2021 Supplementary Guidelines ("Supplementary Guidelines"), which will apply from 1 November 2020 to 30 June 2021; and
  2. Updates to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment as of 17 October 2020 ("Updated Advisory") issued by the tripartite partners, being the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM"), the National Trades Union Congress ("NTUC") and the Singapore National Employers Federation ("SNEF").

The Supplementary Guidelines sets out principles for wage cuts, while the Updated Advisory provides guidance on conducting retrenchment exercises. We provide an overview of both developments in this Update.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 20 October 2020
LAO PDR: New Instruction on Monitoring Entertainment and Karaoke Outlets, and Organising Traditional Festivals, Weddings and Group Tours

On 7 October 2020, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (“MICT”) issued Instruction No.351/MICT on monitoring entertainment and karaoke outlets, and organising traditional festivals, weddings and group tours ("Instruction").

Pursuant to the Order of the Prime Minister No. 06/PM dated 29 March 2020, the Notice of Prime Minister’s Office No.1049/PMO dated 30 September 2020, and the Minutes of the Secretarial Meeting of the Task Force Committee for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 dated 7 October 2020 referred to in the Instruction, the Deputy Minister of MICT announced the restrictions on movements and gatherings which must be implemented nationwide by the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism of Vientiane Capital and Provinces, the District Office of Information, Culture and Tourism and the relevant departments/agencies.

Lao PDR | Control Measures | 19 October 2020
SINGAPORE: Court Proceedings in New Normal: Successful Application for Leave for Both Foreign Factual and Expert Witnesses to Testify via Video-Link

While Singapore has settled well into the present "new normal" of Phase Two of reopening the economy, travel restrictions and other preventative measures are still largely in place, and may continue to be in place for the foreseeable future. Yet the wheels of justice must continue to turn. Access to justice (fundamental to the rule of law) must continue to be provided by an agile legal system. In circumstances where foreign witnesses are unable to physically attend trial, what considerations will the courts take into account when deciding whether to grant leave for them to give evidence via video-link?

To put matters in context, giving evidence by video-link is, per se, not a new issue. Guiding principles have been established in legislation and earlier cases over the last three decades. However, how such principles are to be applied against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a novel point. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so courts worldwide have devised creative but legally sound solutions that do not cause prejudice to any party.

In the lead up to a recent civil trial (currently part-heard and resuming in late October), conducted entirely remotely, Gregory Vijayendran SC, Kevin Tan, Devathas Satianathan, and Low Weng Hong from Rajah & Tann Singapore's dispute resolution team successfully obtained leave from the Singapore High Court for the Defendant's foreign factual and expert witnesses to give evidence by video-link in a contested application. This was despite the Plaintiff's strenuous objections.

This Update elucidates the considerations that the Court took into account when granting such leave.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 19 October 2020
SINGAPORE: Court Proceedings in New Normal: Successful Application for Leave for Both Foreign Factual and Expert Witnesses to Testify via Video-Link

While Singapore has settled well into the present "new normal" of Phase Two of reopening the economy, travel restrictions and other preventative measures are still largely in place, and may continue to be in place for the foreseeable future. Yet the wheels of justice must continue to turn. Access to justice (fundamental to the rule of law) must continue to be provided by an agile legal system. In circumstances where foreign witnesses are unable to physically attend trial, what considerations will the courts take into account when deciding whether to grant leave for them to give evidence via video-link?

To put matters in context, giving evidence by video-link is, per se, not a new issue. Guiding principles have been established in legislation and earlier cases over the last three decades. However, how such principles are to be applied against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a novel point. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so courts worldwide have devised creative but legally sound solutions that do not cause prejudice to any party.

In the lead up to a recent civil trial (currently part-heard and resuming in late October), conducted entirely remotely, Gregory Vijayendran SC, Kevin Tan, Devathas Satianathan, and Low Weng Hong from Rajah & Tann Singapore's dispute resolution team successfully obtained leave from the Singapore High Court for the Defendant's foreign factual and expert witnesses to give evidence by video-link in a contested application. This was despite the Plaintiff's strenuous objections.

This Update elucidates the considerations that the Court took into account when granting such leave.

 

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 19 October 2020
PHILIPPINES: PCC Issues Rules for the Implementation of Provisions from “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” Relating to the Review of Mergers and Acquisitions

On 24 September 2020, the Philippine Competition Commission (“PCC”) issued its “Rules for the Implementation of Section 4(eee) of Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’, Relating to the Review of Mergers and Acquisitions”. The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act is a new law meant as a recovery measure for the Philippines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It took effect on 15 September 2020.

Philippines | Competition & Antitrust | 15 October 2020
INDONESIA: OMNIBUS LAW 2020: The Omnibus Law Removes Cap on Fines for Competition Law Violations

This is the third edition of the "Omnibus Law 2020: Overview Series", which highlights changes in the competition sector.

With the spotlight on sensitive items such as employment, the Indonesian Government, through the Omnibus Law, has also introduced changes to the Competition Law (Law No. 5 of 1999).

Key changes include the removal of the cap on fines and criminal sanctions for competition law violations, as well as the introduction of a new procedure when lodging an appeal in a competition case.

Indonesia | Competition & Antitrust | 13 October 2020
INDONESIA: OMNIBUS LAW 2020: Finding a New Equilibrium in Indonesia's Employment Law?

This is the second edition of the "Omnibus Law 2020: Overview Series", which highlights changes in the employment sector.

In Indonesia, as in many other countries, employment law is often a sensitive issue, and past governments have shied away from resolving issues surrounding employment. With the enactment of the Omnibus Law, various provisions of the current Labour Law (Law No. 13 of 2003) that are deemed to be "too restrictive" or "too difficult" are either removed entirely or updated.

The provisions that are being updated by the Omnibus Law include provisions on termination of employment, compensation for termination of employment, minimum wage, outsourcing, fixed-term employment, work permit for expatriates, and the establishment of a new social security program called the loss of employment security program.

Indonesia | Workplace & Employment | 09 October 2020
SINGAPORE: Additional Temporary Relief Measures for Property Sector due to COVID-19 Pandemic

On 8 October 2020, the Singapore Government announced additional temporary relief measures ("October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures") for the property sector. The October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures, granted in addition to the temporary relief measures announced on 6 May 2020, offer immediate relief for eligible property developers that are affected by and have experienced disruptions to their construction schedules arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the Singapore Government has emphasised that these temporary relief measures do not alter the Government's prevailing residential property market cooling measures.

This Update highlights the key features of the October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures, summarising the relief granted and the qualifying criteria.

Singapore | Real Estate | 09 October 2020
LAO PDR: New Notice from Prime Minister's Office on COVID-19 Reinforcement Measures

On 30 September 2020, the Prime Minister's Office issued the Notice on the Reinforcement Measures on Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Notice"). Pursuant to the Order of the Prime Minister No. 06/PM dated 29 March 2020 referred to in the Notice, and the report and instruction of the Prime Minister on 28 September 2020, the Prime Minister's Office announced the restrictions on movements and gatherings which must be implemented from 1 to 31 October 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Laos.

Lao PDR | Control Measures | 08 October 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Measures Extended to 30 June 2021: (1) Alternative Meeting Arrangements; (2) Electronic Dissemination of Rights Issue and Take-over/Merger Documents

The following temporary exemption and/or measures that are provided to overcome the control measures put in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have been extended to 30 June 2021 ("extension"):

  1. Alternative meeting arrangements for various types of entities to convene, hold or conduct meetings by electronic means; and
  2. Electronic dissemination of documents in relation to rights issues of issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist and take-over or merger transactions.

This Update provides a summary of the effect of the extension. Refinements to the alternative meeting arrangements for companies, variable capital companies, business trusts, relevant unit trusts and relevant debenture holders to facilitate greater convenience and engagement for virtual meetings are highlighted.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 08 October 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Measures for Collective Sales under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Measures for Conduct of Collective Sale of Property) Order 2020

On 5 October 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Measures for Conduct of Collective Sale of Property) Order 2020 ("Order") was published in the Government Gazette and came into operation on 6 October 2020. The Order temporarily modifies certain select provisions of the Land Titles (Strata) Act to alleviate the profound effects COVID-19 events may have on the collective sales of properties, allowing for applications for extensions of the usual timelines.

This Update highlights the key features of the Order.

Singapore | Real Estate | 08 October 2020
INDONESIA: OMNIBUS LAW 2020: Overview Series

On 5 October 2020, the Legislation Body of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia (“DPR”) and the Indonesian government agreed to pass the Omnibus Bill on Job Creation, commonly known as the Omnibus Law. The bill is a breakthrough effort by the government to comprehensively amend 76 sectoral laws and amend or revoke hundreds of regulations to create job opportunities and improve Indonesia’s investment ecosystem.

The bill will be delivered to the President within seven days after the date of the plenary meeting at DPR on 5 October 2020. The President is expected to sign the bill into law, failing which, it will automatically become law within 30 days after the draft bill is jointly agreed by the President and DPR.

The Omnibus Law is by far the most ambitious and complicated piece of legislation in Indonesia, covering many sensitive areas, such as employment, that previous governments have refused to touch. It consists of 15 chapters and 186 articles, spanning over 900 pages. It mainly covers the following:

  1. investment growth and licensing leniency;
  2. protection and enforcement of small-medium scale enterprises and cooperative;
  3. employment;
  4. research and innovation;
  5. ease of doing business;
  6. land procurement;
  7. economic area;
  8. central government investment and national strategic projects;
  9. government administration; and
  10. sanctions.
Indonesia | Support Measures | 07 October 2020
MYANMAR: Myanmar Government Reimposes Stringent Measures to Curb the Spread of COVID-19

The Myanmar Government has recently reimposed its stringent measures in order to curb the spread of the second wave of COVID-19. These include the issuance of Stay-at-Home orders for certain townships in various Divisions of Myanmar, as well as notifications imposing travel restrictions.

Myanmar | Control Measures | 05 October 2020
PHILIPPINES: Bayanihan to Recover as One Act Signed into Law

On 11 September 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11494, entitled “An Act Providing for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Interventions and Providing Mechanisms to Accelerate the Recovery and Bolster the Resiliency of the Philippine Economy, Providing Funds Therefor, and for other Purposes” (“Bayanihan Act 2”).  The Bayanihan Act 2 took effect on 15 September 2020 and will be enforced until 19 December 2020.  The law aims to further mitigate the economic losses and enhance the financial stability of the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philippines | Support Measures | 05 October 2020
PHILIPPINES: BSP and SEC Issue Guidelines to Implement Mandatory Grace Period for all Loans Pursuant to Bayanihan to Recover as One Act

Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act”, prescribes a mandatory one-time 60-day grace period for the payment of all existing, current, and outstanding loans falling due, or any part thereof, on or before December 31, 2020, in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 situation. 

In this regard, both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (“BSP”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released guidelines to implement this measure.  The guidelines are addressed to all BSP-supervised financial institutions, as well as financing companies, lending companies, and microfinance non-governmental organizations under the SEC Corporate Governance and Finance Department’s jurisdiction (collectively, the “financial institutions”). These guidelines provide that the grace period shall apply to each loan, whether the borrower has a single loan or multiple loans with the institution.

Philippines | Financial Institutions | 05 October 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC Updates on Subsidies for Employees in the Garment and Tourism Sectors during the Employment Suspension

To update the amounts of subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to employees in the garment and tourism sectors, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued several notifications as follows:

  • three notifications on 24 July 2020; 
  • two notifications on 29 July 2020;
  • three notifications on 31 July 2020;
  • two notification on 26 August 2020;
  • one notification on 2 September 2020, and
  • one notification on 10 September 2020.

Generally, the amount of subsidy varies with the period of employment suspension, and subject to fulfilment of certain conditions such as employees who have completed soft skills training.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 21 September 2020
SINGAPORE: Further Changes to COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act Concerning Rental Relief, Collective Sales, Construction Contracts and Meetings

On 4 September 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 2) Bill ("Bill") was passed in Parliament, setting out further proposed amendments. The Bill seeks to strengthen the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act by:

(a) Expanding the powers of rental relief assessors;

(b) Allowing applications for the extensions of deadlines for collective sales;

(c) Clarifying the interaction between Part 8 of the Act (which deals with contracts affected by delay in the performance or breach of a construction contract, supply contract or related contract) and other dispute resolution proceedings; and

(d) Enhancing the certainty of alternative meeting arrangements.

This Update highlights the key features of the Bill.

Singapore | General | 17 September 2020
CAMBODIA: Clarification on Compensation in Cases of Termination of Undetermined Duration Contract

On 14 August 2020, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training ("MLVT") issued a clarification on the compensation in lieu of prior notice and damages in cases of termination of undetermined duration contract ("UDC"), providing additional explanation to Letter No. 295 dated 29 July 2020 of the Inspection Department of the MLVT on clarification of “damages” and “compensation in lieu of prior notice”.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 14 September 2020
SINGAPORE: Restructuring & Insolvency Regimes in Southeast Asia: A Comparative Overview

As business and commerce becomes increasingly cross-border in nature, it is important for businesses to have knowledge of restructuring and insolvency regimes of foreign jurisdictions. This is particularly relevant in the Southeast Asia region, given the close connection and links amongst the Southeast Asian states.

In this publication, we take a broad look at the key areas of interest in the restructuring and insolvency regimes across the region. The comparative overview covers various differences and similarities in the respective restructuring and insolvency frameworks in these jurisdictions.

Rajah & Tann Asia, as a regional network of law firms, has an established presence across Southeast Asia. Our regional offices have the requisite restructuring and insolvency expertise to assist with your queries and restructuring and insolvency needs across these jurisdictions.

Singapore | Banking & Finance | 11 September 2020
PHILIPPINES: DTI and DOLE issue Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19

On 14 August 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry ("DTI") and the Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") released Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-04 or the Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 ("Supplemental Guidelines"). This issuance shall apply to all private establishments, regardless of economic activity, including those located inside special economic zones and under the jurisdiction of Investment Promotion Agencies. 

The Supplemental Guidelines introduce new measures intended to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Philippines | Workplace & Employment | 08 September 2020
LAO PDR: New Notice from Prime Minister's Office on COVID-19 Reinforcement Measures

On 31 August 2020, the Prime Minister's Office issued the Notice on the Reinforcement Measures on Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Notice"). Pursuant to the Order of the Prime Minister No. 06/PM dated 29 March 2020 referred to in the Notice, and the report and instruction of the Prime Minister on 28 August 2020, the Prime Minister's Office made known the restrictions on movement and gatherings which must be implemented from 1 to 30 September 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Laos.

Lao PDR | Control Measures | 07 September 2020
MALAYSIA: Amendment to Insolvency Act 1967 to Mitigate Financial Ramifications of COVID-19 and Provide Individuals with Additional Protection From Bankruptcy

On 25 August 2020, the Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 2020 (“Insolvency Bill”) was passed with a simple voice majority in the Dewan Rakyat. It appears that the Insolvency Bill is intended to mitigate the financial ramifications of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and to provide individuals with additional protection from the threat of bankruptcy.

This Update provides in a nutshell the key changes introduced by the Insolvency Bill.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 01 September 2020
LAO PDR: New Notice from Prime Minister's Office on COVID-19 Reinforcement Measures

On 7 August 2020, the Prime Minister's Office issued the Notice on the Additional instruction on Reinforcement Measures on Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Notice"). Pursuant to the Order of the Prime Minister No. 06/PM dated 29 March 2020 referred to in the Notice, and the report and instruction meeting on reinforcement measures with Vietnam and China on 5 August 2020, the Prime Minister's Office made known the restrictions on movement and gatherings which must be reinforced to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading again in Laos.

Lao PDR | Control Measures | 31 August 2020
SINGAPORE: August 2020 Ministerial Statement: Further Support for Businesses and Workers

Life seems unlikely to return to normal anytime soon as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to swirl around the globe, particularly for some key sectors such as aviation and tourism. As certain support lifelines provided for in the past four Budgets draw close to their expiry dates without significant alleviation of the need for them, there have been stirrings of unease among businesses and workers. 

On 17 August 2020, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, released a Ministerial Statement setting out further financial support measures to help workers and businesses stay afloat in the short term and adapt by seizing growth opportunities in a COVID-19 world. 

This Update will focus on the measures targeting businesses and workers, which can be broadly categorised into the following: 

  1. Extension of the existing Jobs Support Scheme ("JSS");
  2. New Jobs Growth Incentives scheme to encourage hiring of locals;
  3. Supporting workers; and
  4. Sector-specific relief for aviation, tourism, and startups.
Singapore | Support Measures | 31 August 2020
PHILIPPINES: DOLE Issues Guidelines on Processes and Proceedings Before the Labor Offices in Areas Under Community Quarantine

On 5 May 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") issued DOLE Department Order No. 213 series of 2020 which suspended the reglementary periods to file pleadings, motions, and other actions, and interrupted the prescriptive periods for the commencement of actions for areas placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") and General Community Quarantine ("GCQ"). However, given the extension of community quarantine measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, and in the interest of labor, DOLE issued Department Order No. 214 series of 2020 which provides for the lifting of the suspension of the reglementary periods and interruption of prescriptive period for areas placed under community quarantine excluding places under ECQ, MECQ, and total lockdown.

Philippines | Workplace & Employment | 24 August 2020
MALAYSIA: Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bill 2020

On 12 August 2020, the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bill 2020 ("COVID-19 Bill"), which aims to provide temporary relief to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the Movement Control Order (“MCO”), was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat. The COVID-19 Bill has also been tabled for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat on 18 August 2020.

In a nutshell, Part II of the COVID-19 Bill provides temporary relief measures in relation to any inability to perform certain contractual obligations, while Parts III to XVII of the COVID-19 Bill provide for modifications and amendments to certain Acts and Ordinances which are transient in nature.

In this Update, we examine and summarise some of the key temporary reliefs proposed under the COVID-19 Bill and the effective period for such reliefs.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 21 August 2020
CAMBODIA: Revision of Entry Requirements for Foreign Travellers to Cambodia

The Ministry of Health issued an announcement dated 4 August 2020 on the Adjustment of the Entry Requirements for Foreign Travellers to Cambodia to safeguard health and safety of foreign travellers visiting Cambodia. Foreign travellers are categorised into four groups: (i) sponsored; (ii) invited but not sponsored; (iii) neither sponsored nor invited investors-businesspersons, company employees, experts, skilled workers, technicians and family members; and (iv) regular foreign travellers (who do not fall within the first three categories).

Cambodia | Control Measures | 18 August 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC’s Guideline on Additional Measures to Manage the COVID-19 Economic Impact on the Main Sectors and Economic Acceleration and Rehabilitation Post COVID-19

The Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) has issued consecutive press releases and regulations on preventive measures to mitigate the COVID-19 impact on the main sectors such as garment and textile, tourism, and aviation. The impact has been decreased but not vanished. The main sectors are still affected by COVID-19. Therefore, the RGC has issued a press release on the fifth round of preventive measures on 31 July 2020 in order to (1) rehabilitate and promote business operations and (2) mitigate burden on poor families and vulnerable groups by providing financial support.

Cambodia | Support Measures | 18 August 2020
REGIONAL: COVID-19 and Remote Arbitration: How are Major Arbitral Institutes Adapting to the New Normal?

As the famous maxim goes, justice delayed is justice denied. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, twelve arbitral institutions came together on 16 April 2020 to publish a joint statement on supporting "international arbitration's ability to contribute to stability and foreseeability in a highly unstable environment, including by ensuring that pending cases may continue and that parties may have their cases heard without undue delay."

Here, we take a look at some issues with remote arbitration, and what steps the following six major arbitral institutions ("Arbitral Institutions") are taking to manage cases during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Singapore International Arbitration Centre ("SIAC");
  2. Indonesia National Board of Arbitration (Badan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia ("BANI"));
  3. China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission ("CIETAC");
  4. Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre ("HKIAC");
  5. International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration ("ICC Court"); and
  6. London Court of International Arbitration ("LCIA").
Regional | Dispute Resolution | 17 August 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Relief Measures for Tenants and Landlords, Purchasers and Developers in COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 (Updated 11 August 2020)

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("principal Act") provides for, among other things, targeted and temporary reliefs for individuals and businesses that are unable to perform certain contracts due to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19.

On 5 June 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in Parliament. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 ("Amendment Act") aims to revise the principal Act to provide for, among other changes, relief measures relating to tenants, landlords and intending purchasers, including a framework for rental relief. On 31 July 2020, the provisions in the Amendment Act setting out these relief measures as well as the statutory limit on the amount of late payment interest and charges for arrears under certain prescribed contracts came into force. In this Update, we share with you the key features of the provisions of the principal Act and the subsidiary legislation that deal with these measures.

Singapore | Real Estate | 11 August 2020
SINGAPORE: Dos and Don'ts for Financial Reports Amid COVID-19: SGX RegCo's Expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic has created "significant uncertainty, or even threats to business prospects" to issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist ("listed issuers"). Emphasising the need for "high quality and reliable financial statements", the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") recently issued a statement on the Regulator's Column on 27 July 2020, setting out its expectations of financial reports, including interim financial reports ("27 July 2020 Statement").

This Update highlights salient points raised by SGX RegCo in its 27 July 2020 Statement which listed issuers, their boards of directors, and management must take note of in preparing financial reports, including interim financial statements.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 07 August 2020
SINGAPORE: Treatment of Collaborations During COVID-19: CCCS Guidance

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tremendous disruption to logistics and supply chains and many companies face challenges in respect of demand. To deal with the effects of the outbreak, collaborations may be necessary between competitors.

Against this backdrop, the Competition & Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS") has on 20 July 2020, issued a Guidance Note on Collaborations between Competitors in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Guidance Note"), to provide clarity to businesses on how CCCS will view collaborations between competitors during this exceptional period.

This Update highlights a few salient points from the Guidance Note on the assessment framework CCCS will use to assess certain collaborations between competitors which are put in place from 1 February 2020 and end by 31 July 2021.

Singapore | Competition & Antitrust | 05 August 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 Legal Response Package

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges to many businesses. In the face of a prolonged crisis, companies are forced to adjust to a ‘new normal’ in this era of uncertainty. To guide you through this period, we have specially put together a COVID-19 Response Package which aims to address the current legal issues that are confronting your business.

The COVID-19 Response Package includes business recovery checklists to help your business develop its response plan as you restart operations amid the uncertainties. It also highlights some COVID-19 related measures and responses put in place by the Government in the following areas and how we can assist you to navigate the changes:

  1. Banking & Finance
  2. Competition & Antitrust
  3. Consumer Protection
  4. Corporate Real Estate
  5. Debt Capital markets
  6. Financial Institutions
  7. Investment Funds
  8. Tax
  9. Technology, Media and Telecommunications
  10. Trade
  11. Workplace & Employment
Singapore | General | 28 July 2020
INDONESIA: Government Cuts Red Tape to Pave the Way for Covid-19 Vaccine

As seen from the many regulations issued since the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency, the Indonesian government has been rolling out various measures to protect the country and its citizens. Most recently, the government issued Presidential Regulation No. 77 of 2020 on the Procedures to Implement Patents by the Government ("New Regulation"), which is the implementing regulation of Law No. 13 of 2016 on Patents.

In the past, the procedure to implement patents by the government was governed by Government Regulation No. 27 of 2004 (“Regulation No. 27 of 2004”) as mandated by the old patent law (Law No. 14 of 2001 on Patent). Pursuant to Regulation No. 27 of 2004, the government then issued Presidential Regulation No. 76 of 2012 on the Implementation of Patent by the Government for Antiviral and Anti-Retroviral Medicines, which was enacted to meet the urgent demand and need for antiviral and anti-retroviral medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B.

In light of the current pandemic, the New Regulation aims to eliminate bureaucratic red tapes to ensure that when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the government can immediately implement the patent.  Under the New Regulation, the government can implement a patent if the patent relates to Indonesia's national defence and security or in the event of an urgent public needs, which includes the need for pharmaceutical or biotechnological products that may potentially be expensive or necessary to treat diseases that can adversely affect the general rate of mortality.

Indonesia | Control Measures | 27 July 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Adopts Fast-track Measures and Removes the Requirement of Submission of Photocopies of Documents Evidencing Credit Extensions and Credit Restructurings

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (“BIR”) has issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 071-2020 to circularise the advisory for the adoption of fast-track measures during the COVID-19 state of calamity issued by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (“ARTA”) through ARTA Advisory No. 01, Series of 2020 (“Advisory”). The Advisory applies to all government offices and agencies including local government units, government-owned or -controlled corporations, and other government instrumentalities, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, that provide services covering business and nonbusiness-related transactions. The suggested measures include extending the validity of permits, licenses, certifications, and other similar authorisations that are expiring within the period of the State of National Emergency.

BIR has also issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 072-2020 to remove the requirement of submission of photocopies of documents evidencing credit extensions and credit restructurings granted by covered institutions during the enhanced community quarantine.

Philippines | Support Measures | 25 July 2020
PHILIPPINES: Updates on the Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine in the Philippines

On 22 March 2020, the Philippines closed its borders to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Foreign Affairs restricted the entry of foreign nationals and suspended visa-free privileges and the issuance of entry visas. Recently, the Philippines has opened up its economy and eased its movement restrictions. Following this direction, on 16 July 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force (“IATF”) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution No. 56 allowing the entry of foreigners starting 1 August 2020 subject to some conditions.

In another development, the IATF on 14 July 2020 issued Resolution No. 55-A reclassifying community quarantine status of different areas of the country until 31 July 2020.

Philippines | Control Measures | 25 July 2020
PHILIPPINES: PCC Issues Guidelines for the Operations of the Mergers and Acquisitions Office during GCQ and MGCQ

On 16 July 16 2020, the Philippines Competition Commission (“PCC”) approved and released the Interim Guidelines on the Operations of the Mergers and Acquisitions Office during the General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine. These guidelines outline the conduct of activities and processes of the Mergers and Acquisitions Office during the General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine to comply with the minimum public health standards and ensure the safety of PCC employees and stakeholders

Philippines | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 25 July 2020
SINGAPORE: Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act to Come into Operation on 30 July 2020

On 23 July 2020, it was announced that the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 ("IRDA"), together with 48 pieces of subsidiary legislation, will come into operation on 30 July 2020.

The IRDA is a significant piece of legislation and its implementation is set to effect major changes in the restructuring and insolvency regime in Singapore. Businesses and insolvency practitioners should be aware of the impending changes and the potential impact on the industry. It should also be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in certain temporary measures which affect the operation of the insolvency framework.

This Update highlights the key elements of the IRDA, as well as the COVID-19 related measures which relate to personal and corporate insolvency.

Singapore | Support Measures | 24 July 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC Updates Subsidies for Employees during the Employment Suspension

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued two notifications dated 14 July 2020 and 16 July 2020 updating the amount of the subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia for the garment and tourism sectors annexed to the notification via Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank in Khmer Riel. The amount of subsidy varies with the suspension period.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 21 July 2020
CAMBODIA: 2020 Khmer New Year Public Holiday to Take Place from 17 to 21 August 2020

In the line with Sub-Decree No. 101 dated 15 July 2020 issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia on the Approval of a Public Holiday from 17 to 21 August 2020 for Public Officials, Employees and Workers, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued Prakas No. 242/20 MLVT.Prk dated 16 July 2020 (“Prakas”) on 17 to 21 August 2020 Public Holiday to Substitute the 2020 Khmer New Year Public Holidays.

Pursuant to the Prakas, all employees from any factory/enterprise are permitted to take paid leave from 17 to 21 August 2020 as replacement for the postponed Khmer New Year public holiday which was originally scheduled from 13 to 16 April 2020

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 21 July 2020
SINGAPORE: Sustainability Reporting by Issuers During COVID-19: What SGX RegCo Expects

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed extraordinary challenges to businesses and many companies have had to rapidly respond and manage disruptions to business operations. As we transit into the next phase of COVID-19, where businesses gradually resume and borders re-open, keeping investors and stakeholders updated remains essential, and reporting on social factors is particularly vital during this period.

In this regard, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") recently issued a statement on the Regulator's Column on 6 July 2020, setting out its expectations on sustainability reporting by issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist ("listed issuers").

This Update highlights key points listed issuers should note in approaching sustainability reporting in this new business climate with reference to the expectations set out by SGX RegCo, such as keeping investors and stakeholders updated and the emphasis on the social aspect of sustainability reporting during this period.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 15 July 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC Updates Subsidies for Employees during the Employment Suspension

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued four notifications, one on 6 July 2020, two on 8 July 2020, and another on 9 July 2020 updating the amount of the subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia for the garment and tourism sectors annexed to the notification via Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank in Khmer Riel ("KHR"). The amount of subsidy varies with the suspension period.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 14 July 2020
SINGAPORE: Executing Documents in New Normal: Key Considerations When Using Electronic Signatures

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to change how we operate business moving forward. With a majority of the global workforce currently telecommuting amid the elevated border control and safe distancing measures, there is an increased need to assess what would be the most efficient way of executing contracts and documents in the new normal. There is therefore more demand for the use of electronic signatures in commercial transactions.

In this Update, we highlight some key requirements or considerations that you should take note of to ensure that a document or contract that has been executed by electronic signatures is valid.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 13 July 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Relief Measures for Tenants and Landlords, Purchasers and Developers in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Amendment Act 2020 (Updated 7 July 2020)

On 5 June 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in Parliament. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 ("Amendment Act") was gazetted and came into force partially on 20 June 2020. The Amendment Act amends the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 to provide for, amongst other changes, relief measures relating to tenants and landlords, purchasers and developers by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including a framework for rental relief. These changes have yet to come into force.

On 7 July 2020, the Ministry of Law released a note on the rental relief framework in the Amendment Act, providing further details on the entitlement to rental relief and the relevant relief mechanism. The Ministry of Law has also indicated in this note that the rental relief provisions in the Amendment Act will come into force by end-July 2020.

We earlier issued a Client Update highlighting the key measures in the Amendment Act relating to tenants and landlords, intending purchasers and developers.  The write-up has since been updated to reflect the clarifications provided by the Ministry of Law and to keep you in the know on the latest information.

Singapore | Real Estate | 10 July 2020
PHILIPPINES: Securities and Exchange Commission provides options for the submission of Reports, Applications, and Other Documents

Based on a notice issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") dated 24 June 2020, in light of the imposition of community quarantine in the National Capital Region due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous need to comply with social distancing requirements and other public health measures in the receiving, processing and submission of documents, the covered companies (i.e., investment companies, registered issuers of proprietary and non-proprietary shares/timeshares, public companies, corporate governance institutional training providers and publicly-listed companies under the supervision of the Corporate Governance and Finance Department are advised to file or submit their reports, applications, requests, compliance, and other documents to the SEC, via courier services or  electronic email, or both courier services and electronic email.

Philippines | Support Measures | 09 July 2020
MALAYSIA: Going Remote – Challenges Employers Face in Work from Home Arrangements

The term “the new norm” is widely used in mainstream media and can be said to have become synonymous with social distancing, the application of face masks, body temperature checks, etc. In the context of employment, this new norm can be associated with the Work-From-Home ("WFH") arrangements that allow employees to discharge their duties and obligations from home. Needless to say, the second quarter of 2020 has seen a sharp rise in the percentage of employees with WFH arrangements, particularly those from the service sector.

With the gradual lifting of government restrictions, we are now witnessing more economic sectors reopening. Things are slowly but surely reverting to “the old norm”. That said, there are businesses that continue to allow their employees to opt for WFH arrangements.

In this Update, we examine some of the challenges businesses face in the context of employment laws and highlight the need for effective WFH policies to be created and implemented.

Malaysia | Workplace & Employment | 08 July 2020
PHILIPPINES: Cebu City Under Enhanced Community Quarantine; Makati City Allows Payment of Realty and Business Taxes Online

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and pursuant to Resolution No. 46-A of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, the local government of Cebu City, through Cebu City Executive Order No. 082 dated 17 June 2020 (“Order”), has imposed an enhanced community quarantine (“ECQ”) over its territory. Pursuant to the Order, a mandatory stay-at-home order is enforced for all residents. Travel and movement outside homes of residents of Cebu City shall be limited only to accessing basic necessities and services. Only one member of the household is allowed to leave the home. The travel and movement restrictions do not apply to several groups of residents including medical practitioners and health workers, emergency personnel, and authorised national and local government officials and employees.

In another development, the local government of Makati City announced on 17 June 2020 that the second-quarter payments for real property taxes and business taxes can be made online through this website: https://makationlinepayments.com/.

Philippines | Support Measures | 01 July 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC Updates Subsidies for Employees during the Employment Suspension

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued two notifications dated 23 June 2020 and 25 June 2020 updating the amount of the subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia for the garment and tourism sectors annexed to the notification via Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank in Khmer Riel ("KHR"). The amount of subsidy varies with the suspension period.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 30 June 2020
MALAYSIA: The National Economic Recovery Plan: Employment Reliefs and Incentives

In our previous Update on the Recovery Movement Control Order, we have highlighted some of the initiatives implemented by the Government of Malaysia under the National Economic Recovery Plan ("PENJANA"). Further guidance on the initiatives relating to employment have since been released by the relevant regulatory bodies and government agencies.

In this Update, we discuss in further detail the initiatives introduced under PENJANA to assist employers and employees during this period of recovery of the country's economy.

Malaysia | Workplace & Employment | 29 June 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 Extended to Leases/Rental Agreements for Commercial Equipment and Commercial Vehicles

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act") provides for, among other things, targeted and temporary reliefs for individuals and businesses that are unable to perform certain contracts due to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19. These temporary relief measures apply for six months from 20 April 2020 to 19 October 2020.

On 20 June 2020, the Act was amended to (1) extend the temporary relief measures under the Act to leases or rental agreements for commercial equipment and commercial vehicles; and (2) give effect to part of the changes set out in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020. These changes aim to enhance the temporary relief measures for an inability to perform a scheduled contract specified in the Act.

This Update provides a summary of the changes to the Act that took effect on 20 June 2020.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 29 June 2020
SINGAPORE: Employment Agencies to Comply with New Licence Conditions for Fair Hiring

With effect from 1 October 2020, the Ministry of Manpower will require all employment agencies in Singapore ("EAs") to comply with the fair recruitment requirements set out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices ("TGFEP") when recruiting on behalf of their clients. The TGFEP contains fair and merit-based employment guidelines that all Singapore-based organisations are expected to abide by.

These new guidelines will be imposed as new licensing conditions on the EAs, and non-compliance may result in demerit points, suspension or revocation of an EA licence or prosecution.

This Update highlights the new licence conditions that EAs must comply with to ensure fair hiring.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 26 June 2020
CAMBODIA: Adjustment of the Requirements for Cambodian Travellers and Quarantine of Diplomatic Personnel

As part of its efforts to contain COVID-19, the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) has issued consecutive regulations affecting several sectors of the country to prevent and mitigate the devastation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the RGC has restricted travelling into Cambodia by imposing requirements on both Cambodian and foreign travellers.

Cambodia | Control Measures | 25 June 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC Updates Subsidies for Employees during the Employment Suspension

On 16 June 2020, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued two notifications updating the amount of the subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia for the garment and tourism sectors annexed to the notification via Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank in Khmer Riel (“KHR”). The amount of subsidy varies with reference to the suspension period.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 25 June 2020
CAMBODIA: COVID-19 Costs for Testing, Quarantine Facilitation and Treatment

Following notification No. 4898 MEF dated 8 June 2020 issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on the Costs of Foreign Travellers for COVID-19 Testing and Health Examination at Public Hospitals, the Ministry of Health issued notification No. 564 dated 11 June 2020 on the payment fees for COVID-19 tests and health examinations.

Cambodia | Control Measures | 25 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Further Extends Deadlines, Suspends Assessment, and Collection of Deficiency Taxes Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has issued several circulars and regulations to, among other things, further extend the deadlines for the filing of documents and payment of taxes, as well as suspend the assessment and collection of deficiency taxes due to the various ongoing quarantine restrictions in the Philippines.

Philippines | Support Measures | 24 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: DTI Issues Guidelines on Refund Concessions for Events Affected by the State of Public Health Emergency

The Department of Trade and Industry issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-30 to provide economic relief to all persons and businesses who scheduled events that were cancelled or scaled-down in view of the public health emergency and social distancing measures imposed by the government

Philippines | Support Measures | 24 June 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC’s Subsidy for Employees during the Employment Suspension (Update)

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a notification dated 9 June 2020 updating the amount of the subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to 17,052 employees of 50 factories/enterprises in the garment and tourism sectors annexed to the notification via Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank in Khmer Riel (“KHR”). The amount of subsidy varies with reference to the suspension period.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 19 June 2020
CAMBODIA: Tourism Licenses Renewal Fee Exemption for 2021

In accordance with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s press release dated 26 May 2020 on the fourth-round of preventive measures for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on business operations, the Ministry of Tourism issued a notification dated 8 June 2020 providing for, among others, the waiver of the renewal license fee and the public service fee for the license renewal of all types of valid tourism licenses for 2021.

 

Cambodia | Support Measures | 19 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: Supreme Court Announces the Resumption of Court Operations Nationwide

On 29 May 2020, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ("SC") directed the resumption of court operation in the country with the easing of movement restrictions and placing most parts of the country under general community quarantine ("GCQ"). The SC also announced that the hearings through videoconferencing shall continue in GCQ-affected areas.

Philippines | Dispute Resolution | 13 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: Makati City Government issues General Community Quarantine Guidelines

On 29 May 2020, Makati City Mayor Mar-Len Abigail S. Binay issued Executive Order No. 11, which approved the 2020 General Community Quarantine Guidelines for the City of Makati effective 1 June 2020. While Makati City is also covered by the Inter-Agency Task Force ("IATF") Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, the Makati City Government is empowered to issue localised guidelines for its territorial jurisdiction.

Philippines | Control Measures | 13 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: DOLE & BI Resume Operations under General Community Quarantine

On 1 June 2020, the Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") was lifted and Metro Manila was placed under General Community Quarantine ("GCQ") until 15 June 2020.

On 29 May 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") announced that under the GCQ, it will resume the processing of all Alien Employment Permit ("AEP")-related applications through its newly launched online AEP portal. AEPs which expired during the ECQ may be renewed within 45 working days after the lifting of the community quarantine without penalty. As part of its COVID-19 mitigation and containment efforts, DOLE issued its guidelines on the online submission of documentary requirements for AEP applications.

 On 1 June 2020, the Bureau of Immigration ("BI") also lifted the previous suspension of all visa-related transactions, including the filing for the application or extension of 9(a) Visa, 9(g) Visa, and visa downgrading. However, under the GCQ, all applicants are required to reserve an appointment online for all visa-related transactions; otherwise, they will not be allowed to enter the BI premises.

Philippines | Workplace & Employment | 13 June 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Company Meetings and Filings in the Current Situation (Updated 11 June 2020)

The government has introduced several measures to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on business operations in Thailand, namely, several notifications to relax requirements and obligations on the part of business operators. These include, among others, the requirements for corporate entities to hold their annual general meeting and submit financial statements and reports to the authorities

We had earlier issued a Client Update on “COVID-19: Company Meetings and Filings in the Current Situation” on 9 April 2020 and 23 April 2020. There have since been notable updates and developments in this area with regard to meetings via electronic media. This Update provides a summary of the updated measures and relevant guidelines as at 11 June 2020.

Thailand | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 12 June 2020
THAILAND: New Security Standards for E-meetings

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (“MDES”) has issued the MDES Notification on Standards for Maintenance of Security of Meetings Via Electronic Media B.E. 2563 (2020) (“MDES Notification on E-meeting”) containing new standards for the maintenance of security of meetings which take place via electronic media. The MDES Notification on E-meeting was published in the Royal Gazette on 26 May 2020 and came into force on 27 May 2020. It sets out detailed standards to be implemented when arranging a meeting via electronic media. This Update summarizes the key requirements set out in the MDES Notification on E-meeting.

Thailand | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 12 June 2020
MALAYSIA: The Recovery Movement Control Order - Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) (No. 7) Regulations 2020

On 7 June 2020, the Government of Malaysia announced that the Recovery Movement Control Order (“RMCO”) will replace the Conditional Movement Control Order (“CMCO”). The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) (No. 7) Regulations 2020 (“Regulations No. 7”) outline measures to control and prevent the spreading of COVID-19 during the RMCO. The RMCO is effective from 10 June 2020 to 31 August 2020.

Movement restrictions were initially introduced under a Movement Control Order, which lasted for 6.5 weeks from 18 March 2020 to 3 May 2020. These were succeeded by the CMCO that was effective from 4 May 2020 until the institution of the RMCO.

In this Update, we examine the changes that have been implemented by Regulations No. 7 and the various initiatives introduced by the Government to aid and relieve those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Malaysia | Control Measures | 11 June 2020
INDONESIA: Is there Room for Cartel and Collaboration in the New Normal?

Among the many devastating impacts, the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated how a pandemic can have a significant and adverse effect on economic activities, both from supply and demand perspectives. Market distortion, disruption of supply-chain and increasing demand for various healthcare products and services are among the main issues sparked by the pandemic.

In responding to these issues, businesses might have contemplated certain collaborative measures to aid in alleviating shortage, ensuring that the public receives reliable supply, helping themselves survive, and even achieve efficiency. However, businesses must be aware that the implementation of those joint measures are not without potential legal implications as they may be recognised as anti-competitive conduct under Indonesian Competition Law.

AHP recently held a webinar on this topic, with Mr. Kurnia Toha, the Chairman of the Indonesia Competition Commission (KPPU), as one of the panellists. This Update sets out the key takeaways from the webinar on any collaborative business measures, particularly those taken during the pandemic.

Indonesia | Competition & Antitrust | 10 June 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC’s Subsidy for Employees During the Employment Suspension

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (“MLVT”) issued notifications dated 26 May 2020, 1 June and 3 June 2020 on the amount of subsidy provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to employees whose employment contracts are suspended pursuant to an earlier Notification. This is the third-round of the RGC’s measures put out to support private sectors and employees heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 08 June 2020
CAMBODIA: Reminder on COVID-19 Preventive Measures at Factories and Enterprises

Although the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic is currently getting better, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued Notification dated 2 June 2020 as a reminder on COVID-19 preventive measures that factories and enterprises, in particular those of the garment industries, must continue to implement. These include (a) arranging to have temperature checks of all persons before entering the factories and enterprises; (b) placing alcohols or hand sanitisers (gels or soaps) at the entrances of the workplaces; and (c) reminding employees to cover their mouth and nose with handkerchief, scarf or elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 08 June 2020
CAMBODIA: Suspension of Payment of Back Seniority Payment Prior to 2019 and Seniority Payment for 2020

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued Notification No. 018/20 dated 2 June 2020 on the Suspension of the Payment of the Back Seniority Payment prior to 2019 and the Seniority Payment for 2020 (“Notification”). This Notification was implemented in the line with Point 7 of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s press release dated 7 April 2020 which provides for additional measures to assist the private sector and employees heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 08 June 2020
CAMBODIA: RGC’s Guideline on Additional Measures to Support Private Sector and Employees Heavily Impacted by COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Economic Rehabilitation

After issuing consecutive press releases, the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) on 26 May 2020 issued a press release on the fourth-round preventive measures in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business operations of the main sectors. The measures include (a) extending the validity of some measures previously issued; and (b) imposing additional measures. These measures will also include social assistance to help poor families.

Cambodia | Support Measures | 08 June 2020
CAMBODIA: Travellers’ Quarantine and Travelling Restriction Lifted During COVID-19 Containment

Based on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health issued Announcement No. 101 of the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat COVID-19 dated 20 May 2020 (“Announcement”) to amend the travelling restriction imposed in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Announcement abrogates the announcement of the Ministry of Health dated 14 and 15 March 2020 on the travelling restriction of foreign nationals from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the United States of America into Cambodia.

Cambodia | Control Measures | 08 June 2020
SINGAPORE: Telemedicine before, during and after COVID-19: Key Considerations and Issues

The acceleration in the use of telemedicine is expected to be one of the lasting changes to lifestyles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As defined by the Ministry of Health (Singapore), telemedicine refers to the provision of healthcare services over physically separate environments via information technology, and it includes the exchange of information for clinical purposes between healthcare providers and patients through text messaging, web or mobile applications. In this Update, we discuss the regulatory framework in respect of telemedicine in Singapore and highlight some issues that healthcare providers, employers and patients should note in the implementation of telemedicine.

Singapore | Healthcare | 08 June 2020
SINGAPORE: Fast Lane for Essential Business and Official Travel Between China and Singapore

On 3 June 2020, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) jointly announced that fast lane arrangements will be in place to facilitate essential business and official travel between Singapore and China. The fast lane arrangements will be established between Singapore and six Chinese provinces and municipalities (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang).

Under the fast lane arrangements, residents in Singapore who are seeking to make essential travel to China must be sponsored by either a company or a government agency in China, while residents in China who are seeking to make essential travel to Singapore must be sponsored by either a company or a Singapore Government agency.

From 8 June 2020, a traveller sponsored by a government agency for essential business or official travel to Singapore may submit an application under the fast lane arrangements. Applications for company-sponsored travellers may be submitted in a later phase.

This Update highlights the key requirements of the fast lane arrangements which relate to: (1) applications for approvals by the relevant authorities and visas; (2) pre-departure health measures; (3) post-arrival health measures; and (4) controlled itinerary.

Singapore | Control Measures | 05 June 2020
SINGAPORE: Going Forth: Singapore's Fortitude Budget for Employers, Tenants, and Businesses

With the end of the circuit breaker period on 1 June 2020, the Singapore government has laid out a three-phase approach towards the resumption of normality. Phase One commenced on 2 June 2020 and is expected to last for at least four weeks, although this will be reassessed in mid-June 2020 with a view to shortening it. It is marked by a restart of some economic activities that do not pose a high risk of transmission, such as manufacturing and office work. Telecommuting must still be adopted to the maximum extent. Some major sectors, such as retail and dining-in, will not be permitted to reopen until Phase Two.

As progression to the next phase depends on the COVID-19 situation rather than a fixed timeframe, many businesses remain uncertain as to when they can reopen. On 26 May 2020, the Minister of Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat ("DPM Heng") announced the fourth Budget, christened the Fortitude Budget, to provide further relief in these times of economic uncertainty.

In this Update, we cover key aspects of the Fortitude Budget that relate to employers, tenants, and businesses.

Singapore | Support Measures | 05 June 2020
INDONESIA: BANI Moves to Arbitration Online

At the height of the Coronavirus crisis in March 2020, the Indonesian National Arbitration Board or BANI issued Decree No. 20.007/III/SK-BANI/HU, temporarily suspending all arbitration proceedings in BANI in an effort to contain the outbreak. As the government and businesses are starting to assess the 'new normal,' BANI has revoked the March decree and issued Decree Number 20.015/V/SK-BANI/HU on the Rules and Procedures for Electronic Arbitration (“Decree”). Under the Decree, arbitrations can now be held or continued online by using an electronic telecommunication platform, provided the parties observe the arbitration principles applicable in BANI.

What is worth noting in the Decree is that it is applicable beyond the current health crisis, thus allowing an arbitration proceeding to proceed virtually in the event of a disaster, emergency, or any other exceptional circumstances.

The ability to move an arbitration online applies not only to new and ongoing arbitrations, but to situations where parties intend to submit a statement of claim. Given this, the Decree may effectively change the way arbitrations are conducted in Indonesia going forward.

Indonesia | Dispute Resolution | 03 June 2020
PHILIPPINES: The Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine in the Philippines

On 22 May 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force ("IATF") for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution No. 38 which further revised and clarified the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of the Community Quarantine in the Philippines that was issued on 15  May 2020.  Key modifications were made with respect to industries allowed to operate within a particular community quarantine area, interzonal movement of persons, and grace period for the payment of loans, among others.  On 27 May 2020, the IATF adopted a reclassification of the community quarantine for certain areas beginning 1 June 2020.

Philippines | Control Measures | 02 June 2020
MALAYSIA: Corporate Liability is not Shelved – Adequate Procedures More Crucial Than Ever in the Face of COVID-19 Corruption and Fraud Risks

COVID-19 has forced businesses into survival mode, especially with restrictions on how businesses can operate during the Conditional Movement Control Order and, before this, the Movement Control Order (collectively, the "MCO") period. From shifting to new methods of transacting to partnering with new business associates, businesses have had to change the way they operate to stay in the black. Post-MCO, businesses will clamber to make up for lost time and revenue. It is tempting to assume compliance responsibilities can take a back seat during such trying times, but companies cannot fall victim to this fallacy

In light of Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 coming into effect on 1 June 2020, this Update highlights the risks of corruption exacerbated by COVID-19 which companies need to be aware of, and offers some suggestions of practical adequate procedures to implement.

Malaysia | Corporate Matters & Business Impact | 01 June 2020
MALAYSIA: Personal Data Protection Commissioner Issues Advisory on the Collection, Processing and Storage of Personal Data During the Conditional Movement Control Order

Following the shift from the previous Movement Control Order to the Conditional Movement Control Order (“CMCO”) in Malaysia (which is currently scheduled to end on 9 June 2020), most industries and businesses have been allowed to resume operations, subject to compliance with standard operating procedures issued by the Malaysian Government. On 29 May 2020, the Personal Data Protection Commissioner issued an Advisory on the Procedure for the Handling of Activities relating to the Collection, Processing and Storage of Personal Data by Business Premises during the Conditional Movement Control Order (“Advisory”), which outlines the minimum requirements to be complied with by business premises operating during the CMCO period in order to comply with the seven Personal Data Protection Principles (“PDP Principles”) of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.

In this Update, we analyse some of the minimum requirements against each of the PDP Principles as identified in the Advisory to be observed by businesses when collecting personal data for contact tracing purposes during the CMCO period.

Malaysia | Technology & Data Privacy | 01 June 2020
REGIONAL: COVID-19: Employers' Road to Reopening

The global economy has taken a staggering hit following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Country after country has announced full lockdowns or issued a multitude of orders intended to limit the movement of people.

As the pandemic shows signs of being brought under control in some countries, governments have begun looking to the future, cautiously seeking to restart their economies without triggering another outbreak. With ten member firms throughout Southeast Asia, Rajah & Tann Asia is uniquely positioned to address queries that employers and businesses with cross-border dealings within this region of high economic interconnectivity and interdependency may have, particularly with regard to the anticipated reopening of businesses.

Our member firms hail from the jurisdictions of Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

This COVID-19 Publication brings together our lawyers from all member firms to answer the following questions:

1. Is your jurisdiction under some form of movement control restrictions, whether full or partial ("Restrictions")? If so, what Restrictions are in place?

2. Are businesses open and functioning during these Restrictions?

3. If businesses are not allowed to open, how long is this situation expected to last?

4. What conditions need to be in place to allow businesses to open and continue to function, and what are employers’ legal obligations in this situation?

5. What is the risk to employers who reopen their premises for business? What additional measures should employers take to manage their liabilities?

Regional | Workplace & Employment | 29 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Employers Required to Notify Salary Reduction Measures

On 29 May 2020, the Employment (Returns on Salary Reduction Measures) Notification 2020 ("Notification") came into effect. The Notification requires any employer with more than 10 employees who intends to reduce operating expenses by implementing measures that result in the reduction of salary of any employee to submit a return to the Commissioner for Labour in a prescribed form within the prescribed period.

The Ministry of Manpower has earlier issued an advisory titled "Advisory on salary and leave arrangements during Circuit Breaker" that among other things, set out notification requirements for cost-saving measures with salary reductions during the circuit breaker from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020. The Notification applies to employers in Singapore with effect from 29 May 2020.

This Update outlines the requirements in the Notification.

 

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 29 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: The Revised Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine in the Philippines

After the implementation of an Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") for two months in Luzon and other high-risk areas, the Philippine Government has gradually started easing restrictions and has begun transitioning to the "new normal".  On 30 April 2020, the Philippines President issued Executive Order No. 112), which adopted the Inter-Agency Task Force ("IATF") for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 30 or the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines ("Omnibus Guidelines") and granted the IATF the authority to modify the Omnibus Guidelines without need of further approval of the President.  On 15 May 2020, the IATF issued the Revised Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines.

Philippines | Control Measures | 22 May 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 & Insurance: Coverage Issues in a Pandemic World

It has been only two months since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, but the world has probably seen only a fraction of the likely long-lasting economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Whilst various social distancing and lockdown restrictions imposed across the world have slowed down the rate of outbreaks, myriad financial losses to both corporate entities and individuals have already skyrocketed. Many affected persons are likely to turn to and eagerly expect their existing insurance coverage to defray some or all of these losses.

This Update discusses the following potentially difficult coverage issues under some of such existing (and pre COVID-19) commercial insurance policies:

  • Loss of profit/revenue and business interruption;
  • Event cancellation;
  • Credit insurance;
  • Public liability; and
  • Management liability.
Singapore | Financial Institutions | 21 May 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Prohibition on Lockouts and Strikes

In order to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand, the Thai government announced an emergency decree which applies to all areas in Thailand from 26 March to 30 April 2020 (“Emergency Decree”), and has since been extended to 31 May 2020. Under the Emergency Decree, the Thai government has issued several notifications in order to prevent and suppress the outbreak.

One of the most recent notifications is from the Ministry of Labour Re: Referral of unsettled labour disputes to the labour relations committee for settlement and prohibition on employers to cause a lockout or employees to cause a strike during the period of the emergency situations in accordance with the laws on public administration in emergency situations (“Notification”). The Notification came into force on 8 May 2020 and is widely understood to be intended to prevent a potential spread of the disease by prohibiting employee strike action, while also allowing employees who were previously subject to a lockout to return to work.

Thailand | Workplace & Employment | 21 May 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Postponed Implementation Deadline for Personal Data Protection Act

On 19 May 2020, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle a proposal made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to provide a one-year long postponement of the effective date of key operative provisions of the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) ("PDPA") from 27 May 2020 to 31 May 2021 ("New Effective Date"). This move comes as good news for companies struggling to implement their personal data protection regimes by the original 27 May 2020 date. For example, by the New Effective Date, companies are required to ensure they obtain consent from the Data Subject prior to or at the time of any collection, use, or disclosure of Personal Data, except where consent is not required under the PDPA or pursuant to any other laws.

This Update highlights the implications of the postponement, as well as the key features of the PDPA

Thailand | Technology & Data Privacy | 20 May 2020
MALAYSIA: Pharmaceutical Product Registration and Cosmetic Product Notification in Malaysia

As the global COVID-19 cases continue to rise, researchers around the world are racing to understand the virus and working to roll out an effective vaccine.

In this Update, we look at the general requirements and procedure for pharmaceutical product registration and also cosmetic product notification in Malaysia.

Malaysia | Healthcare | 18 May 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 and M&A: Key Considerations in a Time of Global Uncertainty

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread uncertainty, and the full impact on the global economy remains to be seen. Understandably, this would lead to questions surrounding the viability and validity of, and impact on, transactions, whether contemplated, ongoing or completed.

As M&A activity continues against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certain key considerations that should be borne in mind by the parties.

This Update aims to highlight these considerations as well as steps that can be taken to manage the risks caused or aggravated by COVID-19.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 15 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Regulations for Property Owners on Passing on Tax Rebates to Tenants

In response to the commercial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Resilience Budget was announced to grant property tax rebates for qualifying properties for the period of 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020. While the owners of such properties would receive the rebate, owners are expected to pass on the benefit of the rebate to their tenants, if any.

On 13 May 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") came into operation. The Regulations provide further details on how owners are to pass on the rebate, including: (i) the formulae for determining the prescribed amount of benefit that must be passed on to the tenant; (ii) the prescribed manner and time for passing on the benefit; and (iii) the information to be provided to the tenant. In this Update, we highlight the key points of the Regulations that property owners should take note of.

Singapore | Real Estate | 15 May 2020
SINGAPORE: FinTech Solidarity Grant & MAS Support Package to Aid FinTech Firms/FIs Financially

On 13 May 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS"), Singapore FinTech Association, AMTD Group and AMTD Foundation launched a S$6 million MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant ("Grant") to help Singapore-based FinTech firms weather the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible FinTech firms may apply for the Grant from 18 May 2020 to 31 December 2021.

The Grant complements the S$125 million support package announced by MAS on 8 April 2020 ("Support Package") to sustain and strengthen capabilities in the financial services and FinTech sectors amid the current economic slump. The Support Package took effect from 8 April 2020.

This Update highlights the key features of the Grant and the Support Package for FinTech firms in Singapore.

Singapore | Financial Institutions | 15 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Contracts between Housing Developers and Buyers Added to Scope of COVID-19 Temporary Relief

On 13 May 2020, the Government announced amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Relief for Inability to Perform Contracts) Regulations 2020 (collectively, "Updated Regulations"). The new amendments allow property purchasers of a unit in a housing accommodation from housing developers to obtain temporary relief for their inability to perform their obligations under:

• an option given by a housing developer to an intending property purchaser, and/or

• a sale and purchase agreement between a housing developer and a property purchaser

This Update highlights the key features and implications of the Updated Regulations.

Singapore | Real Estate | 15 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: BSP Grants Relief Measures to Manage the Financial Impact of COVID-19, Temporarily Suspends Administrative Proceedings, and Issues Guidelines for the Implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (“BSP”) Monetary Board has approved the granting of relief measures to BSP-supervised financial institutions (“BSFIs”) to enable them to extend the same relief measures to their clients, borrowers, and employers in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) imposed by the Philippine government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. The BSP also temporarily suspended proceedings of administrative cases at the BSP’s Office of the General Counsel and Legal Services-Investigation and Prosecution Group due to the Luzon-wide ECQ. It likewise directed all BSFIs to comply with Section 4(aa) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

On April 24, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until May 15, 2020.

Philippines | Financial Institutions | 14 May 2020
INDONESIA: The Urge to Merge: OJK Regulations Encourages Merger Between Banks

Following the enactment of Government Regulation in lieu of Law No. 1 of 2020, Indonesia's financial services authority, the OJK, has enacted several regulations designed to safeguard the stability of the financial system and deal with the threat of an economic crisis.

In this update, we will discuss OJK Regulation No. 18/POJK/03/2020 on Written Order to Handle Problematic Banks ("POJK 18/2020") and OJK Regulation No. 12/POJK.03/2020 on the Consolidation of Commercial Banks ("POJK 12/2020") in the context of the banking sector. While POJK 18/2020 was issued in the context of the current coronavirus crisis, POJK 12/2020 has been on OJK's radar before the pandemic.

Indonesia | Support Measures | 13 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Resuming Workplace Operations: Safe Management Measures

Following the Multi-Ministry Taskforce's announcement that the circuit breaker measures would be progressively-eased over the coming weeks, the Tripartite Partners have issued Safe Management Measures on 9 May 2020 ("Measures") for employers to establish a system to ensure a safe work environment and minimise the risks of further outbreaks. The Measures issued by the Tripartite Partners must be implemented by employers which are allowed to resume operations, including employers allowed to operate during this period and those permitted to do so after 12 May 2020. For employers resuming operations after the end of the circuit breaker period, the Measures must be in place before they can resume operations at the workplace. An outline of the Measures is set out in this update.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 13 May 2020
CAMBODIA: Guideline on Health and Livelihood Protection of Cambodian International Migrants and Returnees During COVID-19 Containment

On 29 April 2020, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued Guideline No. 048/20 MLVT on Health and Livelihood Protection of Cambodian International Migrants and Returnees During COVID-19 Containment (“Guideline”). The Guideline mandates the returnees to, among other things, follow the guidelines of the competent authority at the land border and airport for health check measure implementation and 14-day quarantine after arrival, and contact the local authorities for intervention if any problem affecting their daily livelihood during the COVID-19 containment arises.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 12 May 2020
MALAYSIA: Business As Usual During COVID-19: Legal Considerations of E-Signing Documents

Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement that the Conditional Movement Control Order ("CMCO") has been extended until 9 June 2020 (but with further industries and businesses gradually opening up since the start of the CMCO on 4 May 2020), companies and organisations are increasingly compelled by circumstances to adopt new and innovative ways to resume business. Work from home arrangements have been widely implemented across industries to support the Government’s call to practice social distancing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia. In light of the present circumstances, companies and organisations (essential and non-essential services alike) have now turned towards "e-signing" to facilitate the signing and execution of documents in the commercial context. In this client update, we analyse and address some of the legal issues related to the use of electronic signatures.”).

Malaysia | Contracts & Force Majeure | 12 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Exemption to Allow Electronic Dissemination of Offer Documents for Rights Issues and Take-over or Merger Transactions

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, restrictions imposed on the operations and manpower of printers and mailing houses have posed challenges to the mass production of hard copy documents including documents in relation to rights issues and take-over or merger transactions. Various laws and rules require hard copies of these documents to be despatched.

In response, on 6 May 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Securities Industry Council and the Singapore Exchange Regulation jointly announced temporary measures giving issuers listed on SGX-ST and parties involved in rights issues and take-over or merger transactions the option to disseminate an electronic version of the relevant offer documents through publication on SGXNET and their corporate websites.

These temporary measures take effect from 6 May 2020 to 30 September 2020.

This Update highlights the conditions for relying on the temporary measures.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 12 May 2020
CAMBODIA: Law on the Administration of the Nation during a State of Emergency

The Law on the Administration of the Nation during a State of Emergency (“Law”) was promulgated with immediate effect on 29 April 2020. Under the Law, the country can be placed under a state of emergency via a Royal Decree if Cambodia is faced with a serious threat to the national security, public health, and societal order. The state of emergency may be declared for a period of no longer than three months. If the situation demands, such period may be extended. At the appropriate time and circumstance, the state of emergency may be withdrawn by a Royal Decree via the request of the Prime Minister. 

Cambodia | Control Measures | 08 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Relief Measures against Disruptions Caused by COVID-19 and 'Circuit Breaker' Measures for Eligible Property Developers & Married Couples

On 6 May 2020, the Singapore Government announced temporary relief measures for eligible property developers and married couples affected by the COVID-19 'circuit breaker' measures. Eligible property developers will be granted six months' extension of time to comply with the regulatory and authority-imposed timelines / deadlines, including completing the construction of the development projects and selling the units being built, while eligible married couples purchasing a second residential property will be granted an additional six months to sell their first residential property so as to be eligible for a remission of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty paid on the second property. In this Update, we look at the key elements of these temporary relief measures, as well as their efficacy for property developers.

 

Singapore | Real Estate | 08 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: Supreme Court Suspends Operations of Courts and Issues Rules on Online Filing of Complaint or Information and Posting of Bail

In line with the implementation of enhanced community quarantine ("ECQ") measures by the National Government, the Philippine Supreme Court ("SC") has ordered the physical closure and suspension of operations of all courts, except for urgent matters.  The SC has also issued rules of procedure for the online filing of complaints or informations in criminal cases, posting of bail, and pilot testing of hearings in criminal cases involving persons deprived of liberty ("PDLs") through videoconferencing. In line with the extension of the ECQ over certain areas (including the National Capital Region), the SC has also extended the effectivity of these measures until May 15, 2020.  Separate guidelines were also issued for courts located in areas placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).  These are provided in SC Administrative Circulars Nos. 35-2020 and 36-2020, both issued on 27 April 2020.

The SC also issued guidelines on reduced bail and recognizance as modes for releasing indigent PDLs during the period of public health emergency pending the resolution of their cases.  These are provided in SC Administrative Circular No. 38-2020 issued on 30 April  2020. 

Philippines | Dispute Resolution | 07 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Further Extends Deadlines, Suspends Assessment, and Collection of Deficiency Taxes Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Bureau of Internal Revenue ("BIR") previously issued Revenue Regulations No. 007-2020, as amended by Revenue Regulations No. 010-2020, extending the deadline for the submission and/or filing of certain documents and/or returns as well as payment of certain taxes. On 29 April 2020, BIR issued Revenue Regulations No. 011-2020  further extending the deadlines to submit, file and/or pay the necessary documents and/or taxes required under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, as well as in the existing revenue regulations.  The extension of due dates is applicable throughout the Philippines. 

Philippines | Support Measures | 07 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: DOLE and DTI Issue Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 for Private Establishments Allowed to Operate during the ECQ and GCQ

The whole of Luzon has been under an Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") since 17 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.  On 30 April  2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 112 which approved the extension -- until 15 May 2020 -- of the ECQ over Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), CALABARZON (comprising Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) and other high-risk provinces.  Moderate and low-risk provinces, meanwhile, were placed under a less-stringent General Community Quarantine ("GCQ") until 15 May 2020.   

On 30 April 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued interim guidelines to assist private institutions that are allowed to operate during the ECQ and GCQ in developing the minimum health protocols and standards in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philippines | Workplace & Employment | 07 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: Extension of Deadlines of Payment Obligations and Submission Requirements, and Implementation of Other Measures to Provide Relief to Electricity Consumers

The Department of Energy ("DOE") extended the deadlines for the payment of certain obligations in the energy supply chain, such as those due to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO), the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP) and the Independent Electricity Market Operator (IEMOP), and also directed public and private corporations in the energy supply chain to extend the payment deadlines of their customers.  The DOE also issued guidelines for the remittance and utilization of host community funds for a targeted COVID-19 response and directed the grant of relief to electricity consumers, both individual and corporate.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also extended the deadlines for the payment of certain obligations in the energy supply chain, and also the submission of certain documents, and directed other energy sector participants to similarly extend certain payment deadlines.  It temporarily suspended the collection of the feed-in tariff allowance (Fit-All) and granted interim relief to the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP) that will effectively reduce the transmission tariff borne by electricity consumers.

Philippines | Support Measures | 07 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Conducting Meetings Relating to Collective Sale Amid COVID-19

On 27 April 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Management Corporations, Subsidiary Management Corporations and Collective Sale Committees) Order 2020 ("Order") was issued to provide for alternative arrangements for the following types of meetings to be conducted by electronic means:

• General meetings of management corporations ("MCs");

• General meetings of subsidiary management corporations; and

• Meetings of collective sale committees ("CSCs").

There are difficulties in conducting general meetings for collective sales (commonly known as en bloc sales) and meetings of CSCs in a manner prescribed in the Land Titles (Strata) Act while the control and elevated safe distancing measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Order, which is deemed to be in force from 27 March 2020, allows such meetings to be conducted, wholly or partially, by electronic means from 27 March 2020 to 30 September 2020. With the exception of meetings of CSCs, they may also be deferred to a date no later than 30 September 2020.

This Update focuses on the key issues to note for holding a general meeting of a MC for the purpose of a collective sale and a CSC meeting by electronic means pursuant to the alternative arrangements set out in the Order.

Singapore | Real Estate | 04 May 2020
CAMBODIA: Quarantine Measures for Workers Taking Leave during the Khmer New Year and Returning Back to Work at Factories, Enterprises and Establishments

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (“MLVT”) has issued Guideline No. 046/20 MLVT/GUI.CBN dated 17 April 2020 on the Quarantine Measures for Workers Taking Leave during the Khmer New Year and Returning Back to Work at Factories, Enterprises and Establishments (“Guideline”). Following the previous regulations of the MLVT and Ministry of Health, the Guideline requires all owners or directors of the factories and all workers to implement certain measures, such as providing isolation rooms for returning employees, and instructing workers to have health checks at the Health Control Centre.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 30 April 2020
CAMBODIA: Control and Support Measures in Cambodia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In combatting the spread of COVID-19 in Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) first started to issue travel restrictions on a selective basis, targeting travellers coming from countries or region most hard-hit by COVID-19, which included the European countries, the United States of America and Iran. As the situation continues to worsen, the RGC has sought to impose travel restrictions on all inbound foreign travellers by requiring them to fulfil a set of conditions before they can be allowed to enter the country.

In addition, the RGC has issued various measures aimed at alleviating the burden of local businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cambodia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
CHINA: Control and Support Measures in China Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

China is at a different stage in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, the COVID-19 pandemic in China has been under control, but China is at the stage of preventing the virus from being imported and the potential occurrence of a second wave of infections. Most of the lockdown and movement control measures in China have been lifted, including the lockdown of Hubei Province (except for Wuhan City),  which ended on 25 March 2020. The lockdown of Wuhan City (the epicentre of the outbreak) ended on 8 April 2020. Currently, most of the businesses in China have resumed normal production and operations or are in the process of resuming normal production and operations, subject to certain relevant local rules such as the working space and safe social distancing requirements.

The central government of China has released temporary policies, reliefs and guidelines to support businesses affected by the pandemic. The ministries of the central government and the local governments have also issued temporary policies and reliefs in accordance with the guidelines issued by the central government.

 

China | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
INDONESIA: Control and Support Measures in Indonesia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Indonesian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been steadily intensifying in the past weeks. Pursuant to Regulation of the DKI Jakarta Governor No. 33 of 2020 and Decree No. 380 of 2020, Jakarta became the first province in Indonesia to impose massive social restriction. This is evidenced by the closing of schools, offices except for those conducting essential services) and places of worship, passenger’s limitation for public and personal transportation and prohibition of mass gathering. By mid-April, President Joko Widodo declared COVID-19 as a non-natural national disaster, which obliges the governors, regents, and mayors of the various regions in Indonesia to establish policies in line with this declaration. West Java and Tangerang soon followed Jakarta’s lead and declared a massive social restriction in their respective regions.

On the business side, the government has begun setting the stage to allow public institutions to introduce future measures to ensure that business can go on as usual.

Indonesia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
LAO PDR: Control and Support Measures in Lao PDR Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister issued the Order on Reinforcement Measures on Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Order"). Pursuant to the Order, restrictions were imposed on movement and gatherings, and employees (other than those in essential services) were required to work from home for the period from 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020. The Order had been extended to 3 May 2020. 

Even before the Order was issued, the Bank of Lao PDR ("BOL") had on 26 March 2020 issued the Decision on Policy in Respect of Loans to Provide Relief Measures Due to the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic ("BOL Decision").  The BOL Decision requires commercial banks to allow borrowers more time to repay principal and interest and to support parties adversely affected by the pandemic.  Loans re-structured pursuant to the BOL Decision need not be classified as non-performing.

Lao PDR | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MALAYSIA: Control and Support Measures in Malaysia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 16 March 2020, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced the implementation of a nationwide Movement Control Order ("MCO") which began on 18 March 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 31 March 2020. This order was made pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 with the objective being to restrict the spread of COVID-19. However, due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases seen in Malaysia during that time, the Government made a decision to extend the initial period of the MCO to 14 April 2020 (Phase 2) and the MCO was subsequently further extended until 28 April 2020 (Phase 3). The Prime Minister recently made an announcement extending the MCO period to 12 May 2020. 

As part of the Government’s efforts to mitigate the social and economic impact of COVID-19 and the MCO, on 27 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced a RM250 billion stimulus package known as the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN). Through this stimulus package, financial assistance will be channelled to targeted individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and industries to provide temporary relief.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MYANMAR: Control and Support Measures in Myanmar Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar government has introduced a number of measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, and provide relief to businesses, individuals, employers and employees affected by the outbreak.

On 25 March 2020, the President's Office with the advice of the Ministry of Health and Sports, issued Letter No. 70(23)/1 to all Regional and State Governments on Preventive and Precautionary Measures of COVID-19 ("Letter"). The Letter instructed all Regional and State Governments to allow only 50% of the employees in the government offices and departments to work during office hours.

On 20 March 2020, MOL issued Directive 1/2020 stating that  Cut- Make-Pack (CMP) Factories and Workshops, Hotel and Tourism companies, and other medium and small business enterprises economically afflicted by COVID-19 ("Afflicted Businesses") which have been temporarily or permanently shut down, or whose number of labourers has been reduced, are permitted to be exempted from Social Security Board ("SSB") contribution payments. MOL also issued Notifications 63 and 64/2020 on that date to allow the Afflicted Businesses to make SSB contribution payments no later than three months from the end of the relevant month, as opposed to the previous 15-day requirement.

Myanmar | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: Control and Support Measures in the Philippines Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 16 March 2020, the Philippine President declared a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines for a period of six months and imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") throughout Luzon (the biggest island in the Philippines where Metro Manila is located) until 12 April 2020.  The ECQ was subsequently extended to 30 April 2020. 

In order to optimise the government’s efforts in responding against the health and economic costs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act ("Act").  The Act granted the President certain emergency powers and the authority necessary to carry out urgent measures, including the authority to direct the operation of privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities, and ensure availability of essential goods, among others.  The Act also authorised and prioritised the augmentation of the operational budget of government hospitals, calamity funds, and budget of various social amelioration programs. 

On 24 April 2020, the Philippine President announced the extension of the ECQ in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora which is under general community quarantine), CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), and other high-risk areas in Luzon until 15 May 2020. Moderate-risk and low-risk areas in Luzon will be placed under general community quarantine starting 1 May 2020. The President also placed some areas in Visayas and Mindanao under ECQ.

Philippines | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Fourteen Rajah & Tann Singapore’s Lawyers Appointed by Singapore's Ministry of Law to Serve as Assessors under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act

Rajah & Tann Singapore is pleased to announce that 14 of our lawyers have been appointed by Singapore's Ministry of Law to serve as assessors under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. They were appointed by the Minister for Law to resolve disputes arising from the application of the Act. The Assessor will decide whether the case is one to which the relief under the Act applies and will seek to achieve an outcome that is just and equitable in the circumstances.

 The appointed assessors who come from the firm's Disputes and Corporate practices are the following:

  1. Aleksandar Georgiev
  2. Alvin Tan Yong Joon
  3. Alyssa Leong
  4. Benjamin Teo
  5. Clement Chan
  6. Devathas Satianathan
  7. Dominique Lombardi  
  8. Kevin Tan
  9. Lionel Tay
  10. Matthew Koh
  11. Nur Rauda Mohamed Said
  12. Pamela Wong  
  13. Phang Hwee Guang
  14. Yip Li Ming
Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 30 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Rajah & Tann Regional Round-Up: Issue 1 - Q1 2020 (Special Edition on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a deep impact across the globe, affecting all sectors of society. It has fundamentally changed the way we work, the way we live and the way we function.

As governments work to overcome the pandemic and its consequences, policies and measures have been implemented at a swift rate. In this quarterly issue of our Regional Round-Up, we present a special COVID-19 Edition to provide our clients with an overview of the control and support measures put in place in the South-East Asia region and in China. This issue also consolidates Rajah & Tann Asia’s key Client Updates to date on the legal and regulatory developments in response to the pandemic in the respective jurisdictions.

 

Singapore | General | 30 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means for Corporate Insolvency and Bankruptcy Matters and Corrigendum

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impracticable to conduct various types of meetings prescribed under written law and certain legal instruments, which require physical attendance. These include meetings for insolvency and bankruptcy matters.

On 27 April 2020, two Orders prescribing alternative arrangements for meetings in respect of insolvency matters and bankruptcy matters were issued under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 (“Act”) that provides, among other things, meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied relevant requirements under written law or legal instruments.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 30 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Control and Support Measures in Singapore Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has introduced a number of control and safe distancing measures progressively to manage the spread of COVID-19, and to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak. Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"), the Minister for Health has issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations"), which seeks to minimise the movement of and interaction between individuals with effect from 7 April 2020. As part of Singapore's circuit breaker efforts to pre-empt the increasing trend of local transmission, the Regulations have been progressively updated with enhanced measures. The Regulations are stated to be in force until 4 May 2020 and may be extended if necessary; on 21 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the circuit breaker period would be extended until 1 June 2020.

The Singapore Parliament has also introduced legislative provisions in the Act that will afford temporary relief from actions for parties unable to perform their contracts, repay loans or pay rent due to COVID-19 events, and will increase the monetary thresholds and time limits for insolvency and bankruptcy. In addition, the Government has introduced various initiatives to provide financial support for businesses and individuals during this time, including the Unity Budget, the Solidarity Budget, the Resilience Budget together with further support measures for businesses to cover the prolonged circuit breaker.

Singapore | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
THAILAND: Control and Support Measures in Thailand Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In order to control the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Thailand, the Thai government announced an Emergency Decree which applies to all areas in Thailand from 26 March 2020 to 30 April 2020 ("Emergency Decree"). The Emergency Decree empowers the Bangkok Governor and other provincial governors to issue orders for the closure of places posing a risk of disease contagion. Under the Emergency Decree, the Thai government has issued notifications and set out certain measures in order to prevent and suppress the spread of the disease. The measures include prohibiting entry into risk areas, closure of points of entry into Thailand, prohibiting the assembly of persons, and the closure of places that are risk-prone to the transmission of the disease (including 34 types of venues in the Bangkok area such as department stores, schools, universities, pubs, bars, theatres and sports stadiums). 

To support businesses and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and governmental authorities have introduced several measures, which include emergency loans and soft loans for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic, SME relief measures, a reduction in the rate of withholding taxes, tax relief measures, and additional grounds for tax deductions.

On 28 April 2020, the Thai government has announced the extension of the Emergency Decree until 31 May 2020.

Thailand | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
VIETNAM: Control and Support Measures in Vietnam Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vietnamese Government has introduced a number of measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, and  provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak.                           

Pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Directive No. 16/CT-TTg (as extended), nationwide social distancing measures were imposed from 1 April 2020, and had recently ended on 22 April 2020 for high-risk areas (including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). During such measures, people were advised to stay home and only leave for essential purposes. Regarding relief, the Government has rolled out various initiatives for eligible individuals and businesses. These include tax relief (by way of deferral of tax payment deadlines), suspension of social insurance contributions, and the State Bank of Vietnam asking commercial banks to waive, reduce or defer interest payments on loans to affected businesses.

Vietnam | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MALAYSIA: COVID-19: Interim “Immunity Booster” for Financially Distressed Companies

In fighting against our common enemy, COVID-19, the Government of Malaysia has implemented a Movement Control Order (“MCO”) commencing on 18 March 2020 and currently extended until 12 May 2020 (“MCO Period”).

It is inevitable that beyond the MCO Period, the global and domestic economies will continue to be severely impacted due to reduced socio-economic activities – with each passing day, many business entities are struggling to survive.

In this Update, we are specifically considering the practical and legal issues pertaining to the interim measures taken by the Government of Malaysia in an attempt to assist financially distressed companies from being wound up by the Court.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 29 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Update: Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means Amid COVID-19

Various control and safe distancing measures have been put in place in Singapore to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures along with provisions under written law and certain legal instruments requiring personal attendance at meetings have caused difficulties to business entities in Singapore in conducting their annual general meetings and meetings involving a large number of participants.

In response to this, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act") was enacted to provide, among other things, that meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with the alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied the relevant requirements under the written law or legal instrument.

This Update highlights the changes to the period of application of the prescribed alternative arrangement for conducting shareholders, unitholders and bondholders meetings by electronic means and new Orders issued under the Act to prescribe for the alternative arrangements for conducting meetings by electronic means for other types of meetings and business entities.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 29 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Extension of Support Measures for Businesses to Cover Prolonged Circuit Breaker

On 21 April 2020, the Singapore Government announced that the original circuit breaker measures ("Measures") lasting from 7 April to 4 May 2020 would be extended to 1 June 2020 (inclusive), totalling eight weeks of such Measures. These Measures include the closure of all non-essential businesses, which has since been further tightened such that only 15% of the usual workforce continues to physically attend at their workplaces.

The Solidarity Budget (covered in our earlier Client Update titled "In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures") announced several relief measures to assist employers in retaining their workforce. This has now been extended to cover the full circuit breaker period, and includes the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme ("JSS") and a second Foreign Worker Levy ("FWL") waiver and rebate.

This Update covers the above, as well as a further announcement from the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") on its requirements of employers which may affect the receipt of the JSS and FWL payouts.

Singapore | Support Measures | 29 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: DOLE Suspends Alien Employment Permit Processing and Allows Deferment of Payment of Holiday Pay for April 2020

In light of the enhanced community quarantine ("ECQ") implemented in the Luzon Region due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the processing and issuance of alien employment permits (AEP) and allowed employers to defer the payment of holiday pay to employees.  The ECQ was implemented on 16 March 2020 and would be in effect until 30 April 2020.  On 24 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until 15 May 2020.

Philippines | Workplace & Employment | 28 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: DFA, BI Suspend Transactions Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

In view of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Department of Foreign Affairs ("DFA") and the Bureau of Immigration ("BI") imposed a suspension on certain visa-related transactions.

Philippines | Control Measures | 28 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: Company Registration and Transactions with the SEC During the Period of Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") adopted guidelines as a response to the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) all over Luzon by reason of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most transactions with the SEC, which include applications for company registration and submission of required reports, can be made online.

Philippines | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 28 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Eases Procedures and Provides Reliefs Including those that are Related to Needed Healthcare Equipment in View of the ECQ

The Bureau of Internal Revenue ("BIR") has extended deadlines, suspended assessment and collection of deficiency taxes, and exempted the importation of needed healthcare equipment or materials from certain taxes and duties in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") imposed by the Philippine government in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.  The quarantine was announced in the evening of 16 March 2020 and was scheduled to end on 30 April 2020.  On 24 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until 15 May 2020.

Philippines | Support Measures | 28 April 2020
CHINA: Measures to Support Enterprises Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic in China

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the business and operation of many enterprises in China. In order to help enterprises (especially SMEs) that are affected by the pandemic relieve their burden and overcome the difficulties during this period, the central government of China has released temporary policies, reliefs and guidelines. The ministries of the central government and the local governments have also issued temporary policies and reliefs in accordance with the guidelines issued by the central government. 

This Update discusses the key measures implemented by the central government to support enterprises amidst the pandemic.

 

China | Support Measures | 27 April 2020
INDONESIA: General Meeting of Shareholders Goes Online

In light of the approaching deadline for public companies to hold their annual GMS, the Indonesian Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan or "OJK") issued two new regulations this week on general meeting of shareholders ("GMS") of public companies, namely OJK Regulation No. 15/POJK.04/2020 ("POJK 15") and OJK Regulation No. 16/POJK.04/2020 ("POJK 16"). POJK 15 and POJK 16 allow public companies to hold their GMS virtually ("e-GMS") through an e-GMS system provided by an e-GMS provider.

In addition, both regulations enable the granting of an electronic proxy ("e-Proxy") through the e-GMS system. While AHP has discussed the e-proxy mechanism in its previous client update, certain provisions have been adjusted in POJK 16 to facilitate the implementation of the e-GMS better.

Indonesia | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 27 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Expectations of Disclosures by Issuers During COVID-19

During this period of disruption to business caused by the pandemic, issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist and shareholders, alike are facing challenges. The economic uncertainty and market volatility make it necessary for shareholders to have up-to-date information concerning material changes in issuers’ business and operations.

Against this backdrop, the Singapore Exchange Regulation (“SGX RegCo”) had, on 22 April 2020, issued a statement on the Regulator's Column setting out SGX's expectations of issuers' disclosures during COVID-19 and considerations to guide issuers in complying with their disclosure obligations under the Listing Rules of the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist.

This Update highlights issuers' disclosure obligations during COVID-19 with reference to the general guidance by SGX RegCo.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 24 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Statutory Moratorium Against Breach of Scheduled Contracts Starts 20 April 2020

On 20 April 2020, the provisions in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 Act dealing with the following temporary measures came into force:

  • Temporary relief for inability to perform a scheduled contract specified in the Act that is to a material extent caused by a COVID-19 event; and
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed individuals and businesses by increasing the debt thresholds for bankruptcy and insolvency. 

The Regulations setting out the details for a party to seek the temporary reliefs under the Act were also issued and came into force on 20 April 2020. 

This Update provides a summary of the requirements and process for seeking these temporary reliefs under the Act and includes an overview guide of the procedure diagrammed for your ease of reference. 

 

 

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 23 April 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Company Meetings and Filings in the Current Situation (Updated 23 April 2020)

The government has introduced several measures to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on business operations in Thailand, namely, several notifications to relax requirements and obligations on the part of business operators. These include, among others, the requirements for corporate entities to hold their annual general meeting and submit financial statements and reports to the authorities. We had earlier issued a Client Update on "COVID-19: Company Meetings and Filings in the Current Situation" on 9 April 2020. There have since been notable updates and developments in this area with regard to meetings via electronic media. Below is a summary of the updated measures and relevant guidelines as at 23 April 2020.

Thailand | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 23 April 2020
MALAYSIA: COVID-19 AGM Matters & the Move to Virtual General Meetings

As the COVID-19 threat continues to escalate and companies struggle to stay afloat, the Companies Commission of Malaysia, in doing its part to offer companies breathing room, has provided a procedure for the extension of time for public companies to hold annual general meetings (“AGMs”), and has also introduced an extension of time for public and private companies to circulate and lodge financial statements and reports.

Regarding the conduct of AGMs, the Securities Commission Malaysia has issued guidelines on the conduct of general meetings during the Mandatory Control Order period and the post-MCO period.

Malaysia | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 21 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: Imposition of Price Freeze and Enumeration of Establishments Allowed to Operate during the Period of Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Department of Trade and Industry issued various circulars in line with the Philippine government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These circulars address various measures taken by the government including the imposition of price freeze or price control, measures against panic buying and hoarding, and granting of grace period for rent due on residential and commercial leases. The circulars also address the movement of cargo and transit of personnel of business establishments allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared under the Memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary on 16 March 2020.

Philippines | Control Measures | 21 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: Philippine Legislature Grants the President Temporary Emergency Powers to Combat COVID-19 Outbreak

On 8 March 2020, the President of the Philippines declared a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19. Following the continued rise of COVID-19 cases, the President, on 16 March 2020, declared a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines and imposed an Enhance Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) throughout Luzon from 17 March 2020 until 12 April 2020, which was subsequently extended until 30 April 2020.

The imposition of the ECQ resulted in the suspension of all classes, prohibition of mass gatherings, observance of strict home quarantine in all households with the exception of accessing basic necessities, closure of private establishments except those providing basic necessities, and suspension of mass public transport, among others.

Philippines | Control Measures | 21 April 2020
SINGAPORE: SME Loan Financing Obligations Amidst Covid-19

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced a set of relief measures meant to ease the financial strain on small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") in Singapore. Such relief measures include support for SMEs to defer the payment of principal on their secured loans and the provision of loans to SMEs at potentially lower interest rates. Furthermore, on 7 April 2020, the Parliament passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, which provides for support and protection for SMEs which are unable to perform their obligations under scheduled contracts due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. 

Such measures include a six-month moratorium period starting from 20 April 2020 during which SMEs are provided broad protection against legal action and enforcement of security in respect of certain scheduled contracts and temporary modifications to the insolvency regime to limit certain insolvency proceedings. 

This Update discusses the relief measures relating to SME loan financing obligations amid COVID-19. 

Singapore | Banking & Finance | 20 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Measures to Help S-REITs Manage Cash Flow and Raise Funds Amid COVID-19

On 16 April 2020, the Ministry of Finance, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore jointly announced the following measures to provide real estate investment trusts listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited ("S-REITs") greater flexibility to manage their cash flows and raise funds, to help them to weather through the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Extending deadline for distribution of taxable income;
  • Raising leverage limit; and
  • Deferring the implementation of a new minimum interest coverage ratio requirement.

This Update provides a summary of these measures affecting S-REITs.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 17 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means Amid COVID-19

Issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are facing difficulties in conducting their annual general meetings ("AGMs") due to the enhanced control and safe distancing measures that apply from 27 March 2020 to 4 May 2020 ("Control Period") coupled with provisions under written law and certain legal instruments requiring personal attendance at meetings. To address these challenges, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 came into force partially on 7 April 2020 to provide, among other things, that meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with the alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied the relevant requirements under the written law or legal instrument. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Companies, Variable Capital Companies, Business Trusts, Unit Trusts and Debenture Holders) Order 2020 was issued on 13 April 2020 to prescribe the alternative arrangements for conducting meetings ("Alternative Arrangements"). On the same day, SGX RegCo (together with ACRA and MAS) jointly prepared a comprehensive and useful checklist to guide listed and non-listed entities on the conduct of general meetings during the Control Period.

This Update discusses the Alternative Arrangements for conducting a meeting or AGM by a listed issuer during the Control Period, with reference to the Order and the Checklist, along with some practical notes.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 17 April 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Force Majeure in Commercial Transactions in the Current Situation

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a substantial impact on business operations in many industries. As the performance of contractual obligations becomes increasingly difficult, contractual parties should consider the potential legal impact and effect of the outbreak on their commercial contracts and agreements. A frequently asked question is what will happen to contracts and whether or not the performance of obligations can be delayed or suspended or would the parties be liable for losses in any event. In assessing these issues, parties should focus on force majeure clauses and how these apply to their contracts, and the options available in the absence of such contractual provisions. In this Update, we take a look at the rules of force majeure under Thai law, and whether it can be invoked in light of the pandemic.

Thailand | Contracts & Force Majeure | 17 April 2020
LAO PDR: Support and Enhanced Control Measures and Policies for COVID-19 Outbreak

To combat the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic issued an order relating to enhanced prevention and control measures for the COVID-19 outbreak on 29 March 2020 ("Order") and a decision on policies and measures to reduce the impact from COVID-19 on 2 April 2020 ("Decision"). The Ministry of Finance issued a notification on 10 April 2020 to implement certain provisions relating to tax contained in the Decision. The Order takes effect from 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020. On 15 April 2020, the Laos Government announced an extension of the duration of the Order for an additional two weeks (ending 3 May 2020). If necessary, the Government will notify of a further extension. This Update outlines the enhanced measures in the Order and the policies to reduce the impact on businesses caused by COVID-19 in the Decision. 

Lao PDR | Control Measures | 15 April 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order: Update on Employment Issues

The Movement Control Order by the Government of Malaysia which started on 18 March 2020 has been extended till 28 April 2020 (“Restriction Period”).

In this update, we discuss the initiatives introduced by the Government to assist employers and employees during the Restriction Period, and the updated FAQs issued by the Ministry of Human Resources as a result of consultations with stakeholders in the wider industry.

Malaysia | Workplace & Employment | 15 April 2020
INDONESIA: AHP Covid-19 Dispatch

As countries around the world work to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the threat of business interruption has become real, throwing arrangements into disarray, disrupting workforce, and upsetting the global economy.

In Indonesia, the government has begun issuing various countermeasures and relief for businesses and public alike. In this update, we provide a summary of legislation and government updates issued to navigate the Covid-19 outbreak, specifically with respect to the following areas:

i. Dispute Resolution: Jokowi Declares Covid-19 as a National Disaster: A Force Majeure Trigger?

ii. Technology, Media & Telecommunications: Highlighting Indonesia's E-Signature Framework in Times of Covid-19

Indonesia | General | 14 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Updated Requirements under COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Control Order

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 were issued on 7 April 2020 to impose restrictions on (i) premises and businesses in relation to the closure of premises and the respective controls on essential and non-essential service providers; and (ii) the movement of people, both in public places and in places of residence. Subsequently the Minister for Health issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2020 ("Amendments"). These amendments introduce additional obligations and requirements, including in relation to essential service providers, essential service workers, occupiers and owners of permitted premises, and operators of specified dormitories.

In this Update, we highlight the key changes introduced by the Amendments. 

Singapore | Control Measures | 14 April 2020
CAMBODIA: Requirement for Workers Transportation Permit and Work Performance during Domestic Travel Constraint

Following the Royal Government’s Order No. 02 ORD dated 9 April 2020 pertaining to the domestic travel constraint, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a notification on the use of workers transportation permit and work performance during such domestic travel constraint.

Cambodia | Workplace & Employment | 13 April 2020
CAMBODIA: Nationwide Travel Constraint for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 and Exception for Certain Travels

The Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has issued Order No. 02 ORD dated 9 April 2020 on the Nationwide Travel Constraint for Preventing and Obstructing the Spread of COVID-19’ (“Order”). Based on the Order, the constraint enters into force from 24:00 of 9 April 2020 to 24:00 of 16 April 2020.

 

Cambodia | Control Measures | 13 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Provisional Measures to Assist Issuers Amid COVID-19

To support issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard during this COVID-19 situation, on 8 April 2020, the Singapore Exchange Regulation (in consultation with the Monetary Authority of Singapore) issued a press release announcing two provisional measures:

  • Enhanced Share Issue Limit: Allowing an issuer to seek a general mandate for an issue of pro-rata shares and convertible securities of up to 100% of its share capital, increasing it from the current 50% limit; and
  • Suspension of Entry into Financial Watch-List: Suspending half-yearly reviews on the first market days of June 2020 and December 2020 to place an issuer on the Singapore Exchange Limited financial watch-list.

This Update discusses the two provisional measures together with some practical notes.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 13 April 2020
INDONESIA: AHP Covid-19 Dispatch

As countries around the world work to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the threat of business interruption has become real, throwing arrangements into disarray, disrupting workforce, and upsetting the global economy.

In Indonesia, the government has begun issuing various countermeasures and relief for businesses and public alike. In this update, we provide a summary of legislation and government updates issued to navigate the Covid-19 outbreak, specifically on the following areas: 

  1. Dispute Resolution
  2. Capital Markets
  3. Competition
  4. Tax and Customs

 

Indonesia | General | 11 April 2020
CAMBODIA: Postponement of Khmer New Year 2020 Holidays & COVID-19 Preventive Measures During Postponement Period

In order to prevent and fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training have issued notifications to postpone the 2020 Khmer New Year and set out the necessary measures for both the public and private sectors.

 

Cambodia | Control Measures | 10 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Listed Issuers Granted Automatic 60-day Extension to Hold AGMs Amid COVID-19

On 7 April 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") issued a press release announcing that all issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist with financial year ending on or before 31 March 2020 are automatically granted a 60-day extension by SGX to hold their annual general meetings (“AGMs”).

This is issued in response to the Singapore Government’s enhanced safe distancing measures (otherwise known as "circuit-breaker" measures) to control the spread of COVID-19. From 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020, all businesses in Singapore are required to, among other things, suspend activities at their workplace premises unless they are essential service providers. These measures have severely hampered the holding of meetings which require personal attendance of the participants (provided under Singapore law and/or certain legal instruments which provide a similar restriction) and the performance of statutory audits on listed issuers for their full-year financial results.

This Update highlights the matters that a listed issuer should take note of in view of this recent development.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 09 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Control Orders under the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures

Under the new circuit breaker measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19, one of the key safeguards is the imposition of control orders. On 7 April 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") were issued under the Act to impose restrictions on (i) premises and businesses in relation to the closure of premises and the respective controls on essential and non-essential service providers; and (ii) the movement of people, both in public places and in places of residence. In this Update, we provide a summary of the movements which are or are not permitted under the Regulations.

Singapore | Control Measures | 09 April 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19: Company Meetings and Filings in the Current Situation

The government has introduced several measures to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on business operations in Thailand, namely, several notifications to relax requirements and obligations on the part of business operators. These include, among others, the requirements for corporate entities to hold their annual general meeting and submit financial statements and reports to the authorities. Below is a summary of these measures and relevant guidelines as at 9 April 2020.

Thailand | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 09 April 2020
MALAYSIA: Processing Personal Data in the Context of COVID-19 and the Movement Control Order

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia, organisations will likely face questions in respect of their right to share and disclose personal data of employees, customers and visitors to their premises (in particular, after the end of the Movement Control Order when business resumes as usual) for the purpose of contact tracing or to take other response measures.

In this client update, we explore the possible legal grounds for the collection, disclosure and retention of personal data under the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Malaysia | Technology & Data Privacy | 08 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Measures and Relief against COVID-19 and their Impact on Property Owners and Tenants

A suite of relief measures has been rolled out by the Government through the Unity Budget, the Resilience Budget and the Solidarity Budget given the COVID-19 outbreak. Amongst other things, the measures include property tax rebates for owners of eligible properties and rental waivers for tenants of Government agencies. To supplement these measures, the Government, on 7 April 2020, passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"). The Act provides targeted and temporary relief for parties that, due to the ongoing COVID 19 outbreak, find themselves unable to perform obligations under the scheduled contracts. This Update provides a summary of these measures and their impact on property owners and tenants.

Singapore | Real Estate | 08 April 2020
SINGAPORE: In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures

On 3 April 2020, Singapore announced that she was moving to implement circuit breaker measures to control the spread of COVID-19. As covered in our earlier Client Update, these circuit breaker measures include school closures and shutdowns for all businesses except those providing essential services, and will remain in place from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (both dates inclusive).

To alleviate the hardship consequent upon business closures, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, announced the S$5.1 billion Solidarity Budget on 6 April 2020, of which S$4 billion will go towards supporting businesses and workers.

This Update discusses the additional support provided for businesses, which includes measures such as further enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme and rebates for foreign worker levies paid in 2020. It also covers other relief measures employed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") to assist small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") with continued access to bank credit and insurance cover, and to ensure interbank funding markets remain liquid and well-functioning.

Singapore | Support Measures | 08 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Joint Ministerial Statement on Ensuring Supply Chain Connectivity amidst COVID-19 Situation

On 7 April 2020, a Joint Ministerial Statement was issued by Singapore, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand and Uruguay regarding their collective response to combat COVID-19 and its repercussions on trade disruptions. In this Update, we highlight the commitments by the countries to maintaining open and connected supply chains, and to working closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities.

Singapore | Trade | 07 April 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures: Court Proceedings for Essential and Urgent Matters Only

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Government announced an elevated set of safe distancing measures to be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020 ("Relevant Period"). As part of this initiative, on 6 April 2020, the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts announced that they will hear only essential and urgent matters in the Relevant Period. Registrars' Circulars ("Circulars") have been issued by each of the three Courts to identify the matters that may be considered to be essential and urgent. In this Update, we highlight the key elements of the Circulars, including the identified essential and urgent matters and the relevant timelines and processes.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 07 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: PCC Suspends Merger Process and Timelines Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has suspended certain activities in view of the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. The quarantine was announced in the evening of 16 March 2020, and is currently scheduled to end on 14 April 2020.

Philippines | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 06 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Covid-19 Circuit Breaker Measures - Asset Management

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that an elevated set of safe distancing measures will be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020. Notably, there will be a suspension of activities at all workplace premises, subject to certain exemptions for selected essential services ("Essential Services"). Entities providing asset management services ("Fund Management Companies") are included as providers of Essential Services. In this Update, we highlight the key aspects of the exemption for Fund Management Companies and the requirements they are subject to during this period.

Singapore | Financial Institutions | 06 April 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures: Suspension of Activities at Workplace

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that an elevated set of safe distancing measures will be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020. These enhanced measures aim to act as a circuit breaker to control the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore by minimising movements and interaction in public and private places. Notably, there will be a suspension of activities at all workplace premises, subject to certain exemptions for selected essential services. In this Update, we highlight the scope and key aspects of the measures requiring the suspension of activities at all workplace premises.

Singapore | Control Measures | 05 April 2020
INDONESIA: AHP Covid-19 Dispatch

As countries around the world work to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the threat of business interruption has become real, throwing arrangements into disarray, disrupting workforce, and upsetting the global economy.

In Indonesia, the government has begun issuing various countermeasures and relief for businesses and public alike. AHP Covid-19 Dispatch provides a summary of legislation and government updates issued to navigate the Covid-19 outbreak. In this Update, we review the circular letter from the Ministry of Land Affairs (Kementerian ATR-BPN) requiring certain land-related services to be done online, and its potential impact to the current condition of land filings.

Indonesia | General | 03 April 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order (Extended) – the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

On 25 March 2020, the Prime Minister's Office announced that the movement control order ("MCO") will be extended by two weeks to 14 April 2020.

Following that announcement, the Government gazetted the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 ("MCO2 Regulations") which are to be effective for the period of 1 April 2020 to 14 April 2020. Whilst the provisions of the MCO2 Regulations contain similarities to those set out in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 ("MCO1 Regulations") for the initial MCO period, there are additional conditions imposed and variations to the definition of essential services under the MCO2 Regulations.

Following the gazetting of the MCO2 Regulations, the National Security Council released FAQs on 2 April 2020 and 3 April 2020 to provide clarifications on the MCO2 Regulations.

Malaysia | Control Measures | 03 April 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 AGM Pack

As COVID-19 ravages the globe, governments are upending the rules on nearly every aspect of our lives almost daily. These include various social distancing measures to contain the outbreak. Issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are facing unprecedented challenges in conducting annual general meetings ("AGMs") and meetings in a manner that complies with new legal requirements, guidance and advisories from various regulatory authorities.

We are pleased to bring you the COVID-19 AGM Pack that collates our Updates that share with you the latest legislative developments and advisories relating to the conduct of AGMs amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These include our latest Update titled “Listed Issuers' Meetings to Comply with Safe Distancing Measures Amid COVID-19” which discusses the draft COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill that provides for, among other things, temporary alternative arrangements for conducting meetings in a manner that complies with the prevailing safe distancing measures. The Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament next week and anticipated to be passed into law shortly after.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 03 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Relief for Breach of Contract under the New COVID-19 Bill

The new COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill ("COVID Bill") will be introduced in Parliament next week and is anticipated to be passed into law shortly after. As the title suggests, the COVID Bill is intended to provide targeted and temporary relief for parties that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, find themselves unable to perform obligations under certain scheduled contracts – including contracts to which the government is a party. The COVID Bill will also temporarily increase the existing bankruptcy and insolvency thresholds for individuals and businesses respectively, as well as provide more time to respond to statutory demands from creditors. This Update provides a summary of these temporary reliefs under the COVID Bill.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 03 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Lex Mundi Global Report on COVID-19 Government Support Measures

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 shockwave places many companies at financial risk. As governmental authorities formulate and roll-out new support measures intended to throw companies a lifeline, the Lex Mundi full-service member firms have come together to provide a snapshot of the policies implemented and announced in 104 jurisdictions.

In this wide-reaching report, the content for each jurisdiction is provided locally, by experts on the ground steeped in the local legal business culture. The guide gives a quick and comparative reference for the policies and measures across the respective jurisdictions.

Our Competition & Antitrust and Trade Practice contributed to the Singapore chapter of this guide, which will be regularly updated to take into account changes and additions to the measures announced thus far. If you have any question, do not hesitate to contact Ms Kala Anandarajah (kala.anandarajah@rajahtann.com).

For more information, please click here for the full guide. An interactive version of the guide will be uploaded shortly to the Lex Mundi website.

Singapore | Support Measures | 03 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Laws Enforcing Telecommuting, Safe Distancing (and More) at Workplace Take Effect 2 April 2020

On 1 April 2020, the Infectious Diseases (Workplace Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") were issued to give legal force to prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace. The Regulations apply throughout the control period of 2 April 2020 to 30 April 2020, inclusive of both dates. Its rapid implementation indicates the gravity of the current situation and the government's determination to ensure compliance. The Regulations apply to employers, principals, and occupiers, and set out prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19 to be put in place at the workplace, including safe distancing and telecommuting.

[Note: Following the Singapore Government announcements on 3 April 2020, new enhanced safe distancing measures will take effect on 7 April 2020. This relates most importantly to the need to work from home. The measures have been significantly tightened, with the critical point that “reasonably practicable” has been removed. The measures critically result in the requirement to close all workplace premises and retail outlets except for certain specified essential services. Non-compliance will result in an offence. This Update must thus be read with reference to these new measures.]

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 03 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Keeping the Judicial Wheels Turning: Remote Proceedings in Singapore Courts amid COVID-19

The Ministry of Law has issued a press release announcing that it intends to introduce the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill ("Bill") in Parliament next week. The Bill includes proposed provisions allowing for the conduct of court proceedings using remote communication technology so as to avoid individuals having to physically appear in court. Rajah & Tann Singapore is well placed to manage remote court proceedings, having supported the pilot remote hearings before the Singapore courts and being fully equipped with remote communication technology. In this Update, we highlight the key aspects of the Bill as it relates to remote proceedings in court.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 03 April 2020
VIETNAM: Covid-19 – A Force Majeure Event From Vietnam’s Legal Perspective

The respiratory disease caused by a new strain of virus, Covid-19, is a global pandemic spreading over 200 countries and territories, with hundreds of thousands of infections and deaths without any sign of the situation easing. The Covid-19 outbreak has severely affected the global supply chain of goods and the operations of enterprises in numerous sectors from manufacturing to services. Many enterprises are currently unable to perform their executed contracts due to the shortage of labour and raw materials supply, as well as the administrative measures and/or decisions of the state agencies to isolate persons who are infected with the disease.

It is a legal concern of many enterprises whether the Covid-19 outbreak constitutes a Force Majeure event that would warrant an exemption from liabilities or penalties in the event of a breach of a contract.

This Update provides an overview of the concept of a Force Majeure event, and a legal analysis of the Covid-19 outbreak from Vietnam’s legal perspective.   

Vietnam | Contracts & Force Majeure | 03 April 2020
INDONESIA: AHP Covid-19 Dispatch

As countries around the world work to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the threat of business interruption has become real, throwing arrangements into disarray, disrupting workforce, and upsetting the global economy.

In Indonesia, the government has begun issuing various countermeasures and relief for businesses and public alike. In this update, we provide a summary of legislation and government updates issued to navigate the Covid-19 outbreak, specifically on the following areas:

  1. Banking and Finance
  2. Disputes Resolution
  3. Tax and Custom
Indonesia | Control Measures | 02 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Listed Issuers' Meetings to Comply with Safe Distancing Measures Amid COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 is greatly felt and measures are being introduced by the Singapore Government to try to minimise further spread of COVID-19. These include safe distancing measures that would render the holding of annual general meetings ("AGMs") or shareholder meetings difficult for issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist which have a large shareholder base.

Issuers are expected to comply with the prevailing safe distancing measures which, among other things, require the organiser of an AGM to ensure that not more than ten individuals are present at the event at any one time. On 31 March 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo), the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) jointly issued an updated guidance for issuers on the alternative arrangements that may be adopted to ensure that their AGMs are conducted in a manner that complies with the safe distancing measures. On 2 April 2020, the draft COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill which provides for temporary alternative arrangements for conducting meetings in a manner that complies with the Safe Distancing Measures was made available on the Ministry of Law website. This Update provides a summary of this development.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 02 April 2020
INDONESIA: AHP Covid-19 Dispatch

As countries around the world work to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the threat of business interruption has become real, throwing arrangements into disarray, disrupting workforce, and upsetting the global economy.

In Indonesia, the government has begun issuing various countermeasures and relief for businesses and public alike. AHP Covid-19 Dispatch provides a summary of legislation and government updates issued to navigate the Covid-19 outbreak.

Indonesia | Control Measures | 01 April 2020
INDONESIA: Covid-19 Response: Between Lockdown, Quarantine and Massive Social Restriction

For the last couple of weeks, the term 'lockdown' has been frequently mentioned both in official media, as well as social media. Some argue that it will be the most pressing and effective action to prevent viruses spread; others appeal to take a closer look as it may adversely affect state economy and livelihood of workers in the informal economy.

Perhaps unknown by many, the government had issued a law on health quarantine (Law No. 6 of 2018 on Health Quarantine) in 2018. This law regulates various types of actions, including massive social restriction and quarantines that can be taken by the government in preventing the spread of a disease and/or any health risk.

Indonesia | Control Measures | 31 March 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 Resilience Budget and MOM Relief Measures: Additional Support for Businesses

Since the announcement of Budget 2020 (also known as the Unity Budget) a bare five weeks ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, has unveiled the S$48 billion Resilience Budget on 26 March 2020 to help Singapore weather the "mighty storm" of COVID-19. In a mark of the extraordinary times, this is only the second time that Singapore's reserves have been drawn on in her history.

Apart from the relief measures that directly assist households, the Resilience Budget sets aside funds to implement new schemes and enhance existing ones to support businesses in these crippling times. Key measures are elaborated on below, together with a consolidation of recent non-Budget measures implemented by the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") to provide relief to employers to cope with manpower issues.

Singapore | Support Measures | 31 March 2020
THAILAND: COVID-19 & Employment Issues in Thailand

On 25 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced a state of emergency under the Emergency Decree, which gives authority to the Prime Minister to announce further implementing notifications and measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand. Such notifications and measures will affect entrepreneurs or employers directly and indirectly. In light of the COVID-19 situation, we set out below our legal comments concerning employment issues affecting employers and employees. Thailand's response to COVID-19 must be monitored on a daily basis; however, we have set out below the status as at 31 March 2020.

Thailand | Workplace & Employment | 31 March 2020
INDONESIA: Indonesia Temporarily Halts Export of Masks and Medical Protective Equipment

Following the announcement from the World Health Organization that declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, the Indonesian government continues making adjustment and taking steps to deal with the outbreak. As of 23 March 2020, there were 579 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 49 deaths and 30 recovery. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 330,000 people and taken at least 14,000 lives. 

Amidst this outbreak, the Indonesian Central Statistics Agency noted an increase in the export of protective masks from Indonesia to trading partner countries by an average of 3,000% during February 2020. Given that Indonesia is currently suffering from a shortage of protective masks due to panic buying and an increase of price, the Indonesian government issued the Minister of Trade Regulation No. 23 of 2020 on the Temporary Ban of Export of Antiseptics, Raw Materials for Masks, Personal Protective Equipment and Masks on 17 March 2020 ("Regulation") prohibiting the export of antiseptics, raw materials for masks, personal protective equipment and masks that fall under specified Tariff Post/Harmonized System.

The temporary ban of export started on 18 March 2020 and will end on 30 June 2020. Non-compliance with the Regulation will subject the errant exporters to sanctions provided for by the prevailing laws and regulations.

Indonesia | Trade | 24 March 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order - Construction Industry: Update on "Critical Works"

On 23 March 2020, the Malaysian Ministry of Works ("KKR") issued an update to its list of Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ2") in efforts to provide clarity and clear communication to address the queries affecting the construction industry arising from the implementation of the Malaysian Movement Control Order. A key highlight of the FAQ2 is that, in acknowledgment of the importance of ensuring the safety and cleanliness at the construction site during Restriction Period, KKR has revised the examples of “critical works” previously listed in its Frequently Asked Questions issued on 18 March 2020 (FAQ1).

Malaysia | Building & Construction | 24 March 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order – Update on Employment Issues

Since the issuance of the Movement Control Order by the Government of Malaysia ("MCO”), business has slowed substantially for essential services providers and come to a standstill for others. The prospect of the MCO being extended beyond the initial restriction period, i.e. 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020, is weighing heavily on the minds of business owners. The need to minimise expenses and conserve cash at a time when revenue has fallen substantially has given rise to questions of what employers can do to secure their business and at the same time support their employees.

In this Update, we examine various laws and pronouncements and explain their effects on the employer-employee relationship. We analyse in particular the two FAQs issued by the Ministry of Human Resources on 19 March 2020 and 20 March 2020.

Malaysia | Workplace & Employment | 23 March 2020
SINGAPORE: Holding AGMs Amid COVID-19: Guidance from SGX RegCo

On 19 March 2020, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") provided guidance on the holding of general meetings amid the COVID-19 situation, in furtherance of the latest advisories from the Ministry of Health. The SGX RegCo's guidance was developed in consultation with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

This guidance is a welcome complement to SGX RegCo's previous announcement providing issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist which meet certain criteria two more months to hold their annual general meetings ("AGMs") to approve their 31 December 2019 financial results.

This Update sets out further guidance by SGX RegCo on the holding of AGMs/general meetings amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 23 March 2020
INDONESIA: Indonesian Government Begins Easing Rules in Light of COVID-19

In light of the spread of  the Covid-19 outbreak, on 18 March 2020, the OJK, Indonesia's Financial Services Authority, relaxed the rules on submission of reports and holding of general meeting of shareholders for public companies. Under OJK Letter No. S-92/D.04/2020 ("Letter"), OJK not only extends the deadline for the submission of several reports, including annual reports and financial statements, but also touches upon the holding of a general meeting of shareholders ("GMS") via an e-proxy.

Indonesia | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 20 March 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order – How Does It Affect the Construction Sector?

Since 16 March 2020, Malaysia has been abuzz following the announcement by the Prime Minister of the implementation of a Movement Control Order ("MCO"). The MCO restricts the movement of anyone to, fro and within an infected area. Following the announcement, the Government of Malaysia has gazetted the Prevention and Control (Measures Within the Infected Areas) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") which shall take effect from 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020 ("Restriction Period"). Under the Regulations, the whole of Malaysia has been defined as an infected area.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement, the different sectors of the construction industry have sought clarification and guidance as to whether the type of construction, operation and/or maintenance work that they perform are classified or may be construed within the purview of Essential Services and/or be considered as critical works. To provide clarity, the Ministry of Works has made a further announcement that all construction work shall be subject to the MCO. Accordingly, all construction and maintenance work must stop. Only critical works are allowed to continue.

This FAQ strives to provide answers to the pertinent questions, addressing the perspective from both the public and private sectors, of the construction industry in general and a brief commentary on specific industry(ies) consequent upon the MCO, its impact and what steps need to be taken by these sectors during the Restriction Period.

Malaysia | Building & Construction | 20 March 2020
MALAYSIA: Movement Control Order - How Does It Affect the Manufacturing Sector?

Manufacturing was not explicitly named as one of the essential services under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020. However, the essential services list does provide for "any services or works determined by the Minister as essential or critical to public health or safety" to continue to operate during the Movement Control Order period between 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020 ("Restriction Period"). On 18 March 2020, the National Security Council and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry issued corresponding press statement and circular to allow certain manufacturing companies to operate during the Restriction Period if such companies are producing critical products.

Malaysia | Manufacturing | 20 March 2020
MALAYSIA: The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 – Containing the COVID-19 Outbreak in Malaysia

Following a sharp increase in the number of persons infected by the COVID-19 virus, the Malaysian Government has gazetted the Prevention and Control (Measures Within the Infected Areas) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations"). The Regulations are to have effect from 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020. This followed the announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office on 16 March 2020 of a Movement Control Order, which according to the announcement, will be enforced under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967. The Regulations were issued subsequent to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Declaration of Infected Local Areas) Order 2020 which declared all states and federal territories of Malaysia as infected local areas.

Malaysia | Control Measures | 18 March 2020
SINGAPORE: Latest - Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment in View of COVID-19

In view of COVID-19, the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trade Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation issued an update to their Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment ("Advisory") on 11 March 2020. The Advisory sets out possible measures to manage excess manpower and is intended to help employees continue to retain a job amidst a likely prolonged difficult period even as employers work towards keeping their businesses and employees' jobs viable. We highlight some of these updates below.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 17 March 2020
INDONESIA: Market Condition Pushes the OJK to Relax Buyback Procedures

Indonesia's financial services authority, Otoritas Jasa Keuangan or "OJK", recently issued a circular that allows all issuers or public companies to conduct a buyback of shares without convening a general meeting of shareholders. 

In OJK Circular Letter No. 3/SEOJK.04/2020 on Other Conditions as Significantly Fluctuating Market Conditions in the Implementation of Shares Buyback by Issuers or Public Companies ("Circular"), the OJK states that the trading condition in the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) has experienced significant pressure as evidenced by the decline in the Composite Stock Price Index (IHSG) by 18.46% from the beginning of 2020 until the date of the Circular. The economy is also slowing down due to regional and national pressure, including as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The revision to the buyback procedure is an attempt by the government to provide economic stimulus to the market and at the same time reducing the adverse impact from the current market condition.

Indonesia | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 12 March 2020
SINGAPORE: In Containing COVID-19 and Complying with the PDPA: Practical Tips

As part of the DORSCON Orange risk assessment, organisations have started implementing precautionary measures to minimise the risk of further transmission of COVID-19, including requiring visitors and employees to fill in health declaration forms to enable ease of contract tracing. When implementing these measures, organisations should be aware that large amounts of personal data may be amassed, and hence should pay particular attention in complying with the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 ("PDPA"). The Personal Data Protection Commission has released an "Advisory on Collection of Personal Data for COVID-19 Contact Tracing" on 13 February 2020 ("Advisory") to provide some guidance in this regard. In this Update, we look at the key aspects of the Advisory and how organisations can ensure compliance with the PDPA.

Singapore | Technology & Data Privacy | 12 March 2020
SINGAPORE: Deadline for Holding AGMs for SGX-ST Listed Issuers Extended to 30 June 2020 Due to Covid-19 Outbreak

Issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are given two more months to hold their annual general meetings ("AGMs") to approve their 31 December 2019 financial results. Under the Listing Rules of the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist, issuers are required to hold their AGMs within four months from the end of their financial years. However, in response to feedback by shareholders who want to participate in and vote at AGMs but may be concerned about attending large-group meetings amid the COVID-19 outbreak, on 27 February 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) announced that a waiver from the foregoing requirement will be granted to issuers which satisfy the prescribed criteria ("Waiver"). Issuers which are granted the Waiver have up to 30 June 2020 to hold their AGMs.

This Update provides a brief overview of the relevant requirements and the steps issuers can take to obtain the Waiver.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 06 March 2020
MALAYSIA: Legal Analysis of COVID-19 Outbreak: What Businesses Should Be Aware Of

On 30 January 2019, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus disease 2019 ("COVID-19") a public health emergency of international concern. More than 90,000 people globally have been infected in a short span of two months, sending shockwaves through the global economy. Every business has been affected in some way or the other by COVID-19 and the measures taken by governments and authorities to contain its outbreak.

The first part of this guide provides a legal analysis on the potential impact of COVID-19 on seven crucial Malaysian economic sectors, namely, Building & Construction, Energy & Power, Events & Sports, Hospitality & Tourism, Oil & Gas, Real Estate & Retail, and Shipping & Trade. In the second section of this guide, we examine the general legal implications on contracts, employment, personal data protection, financing, mergers & acquisitions, and social media.

Malaysia | Corporate Matters & Business Impact | 05 March 2020
SINGAPORE: FAQs for Employers: Practical Tips on Dealing with the COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 outbreak across the world has had a major impact on the economy in many countries, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry downgrading Singapore's 2020 GDP growth forecast to -0.5% to 1.5% on 17 February 2020. With the economy and businesses taking a beating, all quarters in Singapore are holding on to the hope that the situation in Singapore will stabilise soon. The Singapore Government has taken a practical approach to contain the spread of the virus while urging the public to continue business as usual where possible.

As businesses adapt to the evolving situation, we address some frequently asked questions on an employer's obligation to comply with the Singapore Government's defensive measures and to provide a safe workplace for their employees while maintaining business continuity.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 25 February 2020
SINGAPORE: FAQ on COVID-19 and its Potential Impact on Contracts

The COVID-19 outbreak has been a jarring development across the globe, bringing about much uncertainty in the commercial world. In this Update, we look at some of the common questions regarding the potential legal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on contracts and agreements. This includes a focus on force majeure, frustration and the obstructions which may arise in specific industries such as Shipping & International Trade, Construction & Projects, and Hospitality and Tourism.

 

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 20 February 2020


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