S’pore, M’sia, Brunei should tackle online threat together, says Shanmugam

SINGAPORE’S capabilities to deal with the legal challenges posed by new media platforms will need the help of its neighbours — and vice-versa.

Just as legal frontiers expand when countries become more inter-connected, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei “cannot afford to look only within our geographic or jurisdictional boundaries” to deal with criminal groups operating online, Law Minister K Shanmugam said at a meeting of the Attorney-General’s Chambers of the three countries.

Generally, criminal laws do not have extra-territorial reach, and the Internet allows criminal syndicates to operate without the need to step foot in the country where the offence is committed, he noted.

This, and the challenge of “keeping public discourse rational and honest”, will require greater cooperation between the three countries.

Mr Shanmugam suggested establishing common legal concepts, structures for cooperation and a stronger relationship between law enforcement agencies.

“Only then will we be able to effectively regulate what our children see and read on the internet, and also combat criminal syndicates seeking refuge in other countries,” he said.

Another area the three neighbours should look at is the “progressive liberalisation” of the legal sector, in order to enlarge local markets and to serve the region better.

Singapore recently awarded licenses to six international law firms to practise in almost all areas of Singapore law, and Mr Shanmugam said: “As we went through the process, we realised that essentially, some of the fears were unfounded and it was a good way to go.”

Meanwhile, the Republic welcomed yesterday a new centre for dispute resolution at the Singapore Management University’s School of Law.

SMU said the centre will enhance research and teaching capabilities in commercial transactions as well as emerging areas such as World Trade Organisation dispute settlement, international peace negotiations, Islamic arbitration and civilian conflict management.

From TODAY, News – Friday, 17-April-2009


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