COVID-19: Alternative arrangements for meetings extended until end-June 2021

COVID-19: Alternative arrangements for meetings extended until end-June 2021

People walk along Raffles Place
People are seen at Raffles Place in Singapore on Sep 15, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Some meetings in Singapore can continue to be held electronically until the end of June next year, with new provisions for real-time electronic voting.

Amendments to the orders relating to alternative arrangements for meetings under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act came into force on Tuesday (Sep 29), the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said in a press release. 

Under the amendments, the meeting orders will now be extended to Jun 30, 2021, after it was set to expire on Wednesday. The orders came into effect on Mar 27 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.

The amendments refine provisions in the orders to facilitate "greater convenience and engagement for virtual meetings", the ministry said.

They also extend the deferral provisions for meetings of some entitles, to provide "these entities with a further grace period to overcome practical difficulties in organising meetings".

Employees have been told to work from home since the start of the pandemic to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) eased restrictions to allow more people to return to workplaces, but added that working from home remained "the default mode".

READ: COVID-19: More people allowed to return to workplace, subject to conditions like capacity limits

REFINEMENTS TO MEETINGS

Real-time electronic voting will be allowed for some types of meetings held on or after Oct 1, as long as "certain prescribed safeguards" are adopted and attendees are still allowed to vote by appointing the chairman or convenor as their proxy.

This provision applies to general meetings of most entities.

Existing alternative arrangements that provide for voting by electronic means remain unchanged, said the ministry.

Amendments have also been made to clarify that entities have the option of carrying out real-time Q&A via electronic means, as long as they also allow attendees to submit matters they wish to raise by post or email before the meeting.

The amendments also clarify that entities have the option of using other electronic means, including virtual AGM platforms, to accept submissions and signed proxy instruments by attendees in advance of the meeting, as long as they also allow such submissions by post or email.

READ: Commentary – This is the end of business conferences as we know it

DEFERRAL EXTENDED FOR SOME MEETINGS

The amendments also extend the deferral provisions for some meetings, said MinLaw.

The deferral provision is extended for the following meetings, which may be held no later than Dec 31, 2020:

- General and board meetings of charities and registered societies

- General meetings of cooperative societies, mutual benefit organisations, management corporations (including for purposes of collective sale) and subsidiary management corporations

- Meetings of trade unions and their executives and branches

READ: Digital venues and virtual booths: How hybrid MICE events can be piloted

The deferral provision in the meeting orders is not extended for the following meetings:

- Meetings of town councils and committees of town councils

- Meetings of school management committees and school governing boards

- Bankruptcy and insolvency-related meetings

There remains no deferral provision for general meetings of companies, variable capital companies, business trusts, unit trusts, debenture holders and meetings of collective sale committees, said the ministry.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to remove incorrect information on the meetings covered by the latest refinements. We apologise for the error.

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Source: CNA/dv(mi)

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