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Sim Lim management team says it has no power to pass by-laws

SINGAPORE — The management team of Sim Lim Square has indicated that its hands are tied under the law when it comes to setting by-laws to dictate that tenants run their businesses fairly — something the consumer watchdog had suggested the team do on Monday.

Sim Lim management team says it has no power to pass by-laws

A man walks past a shuttered shop at Sim Lim Square. The shop had been raided by police on Dec 4, 2014. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — The management team of Sim Lim Square has indicated that its hands are tied under the law when it comes to setting by-laws to dictate that tenants run their businesses fairly — something the consumer watchdog had suggested the team do on Monday.

Nevertheless, the mall, which has come under intense public scrutiny in recent days because of the unscrupulous sales tactics employed by some rogue retailers, left the door open to further discussions with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) to find ways to alleviate the problem.

In its two-page letter yesterday responding to CASE’s suggestion — also extended to People’s Park Complex, which has also been slammed by consumers — Sim Lim Square’s management council chairman Raymond Chua cited the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA), which the Management Corporation Strata Titles (MCST) falls under, and said it “does not possess the power to pass by-laws for the purposes of managing the business practices of retailers”.

Neither does it have the power to impose fines on those that are in breach of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) or even evict them, which was another suggestion by CASE, he added.

Repeated attempts to reach People’s Park Complex’s MCST were unsuccessful, but TODAY understands a meeting with CASE has been set for sometime next week.

On Sim Lim Square’s response, CASE executive director Seah Seng Choon only said: “Basically, they (MCST of Sim Lim Square) are telling us about their limitations and that they are prepared to work with us.”

In the letter, Mr Chua said the BMSMA states that MCSTs may make or amend by-laws for the purpose of controlling and managing the use or enjoyment of the building and common property.

The MCST’s council can only go as far as persuading subsidiary proprietors to include clauses in their tenancy agreements requiring the fair conduct of businesses as set out under the CPFTA, but it does not have the power to amend the by-laws to compel them to do so, he added.

Mr Chua also said that while the MCST can seek a court order to compel a tenant abide by its by-laws, it cannot impose fines on errant offenders or force them out.

“We note that there is no easy solution to the problem of errant retailers and we hope to work closely with your association to devise ways to alleviate the problem,” wrote Mr Chua.

“We look forward to receiving feedback from your association on how the laws in Singapore may be amended so as to make the MCST more effective in dealing with such errant retailers.”

Mr Gary Teo, a lawyer from City Law, told TODAY there are no restrictions under the statute precluding the types of by-laws MCSTs can draw up “as long as the proposed changes are beneficial to the members of the estate without contravening the law”.

MCSTs can propose to amend by-laws through their annual general meeting or call for an extraordinary general meeting, for which they have to give a notice of at least 14 days.

During the meeting, the proposed changes will be read and after discussions, a voting session will be held. The percentage of votes needed to pass the proposed changes depends on the by-laws of the individual MCSTs.

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