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Cablegate: Gos Responds to Section 1377 Telecom Comments From U.S.

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGP #0127/01 0320550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010550Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4821
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 000127

SIPDIS

EEB/CIP/BA FOR T FINTON
STATE PASS USTR FOR AUSTR WEISEL, DAUSTR BELL, J MCHALE, AND C
HINCKLEY

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECPS ETRD ECON USTR SN
SUBJECT: GOS RESPONDS TO SECTION 1377 TELECOM COMMENTS FROM U.S.
INDUSTRY

REF: A) STATE 3689

B) 07 SINGAPORE 1134

1. (U) The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts
(MICA) submitted the following letter dated January 25 to USTR and
post in response to public comments filed by the Unites States
Council for International Business (USCIB) for Section 1377 of the
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 concerning compliance
with telecommunications trade agreements (ref A).

2. (SBU) Begin text:

REPLY COMMENTS OF THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION AND THE
ARTS, SINGAPORE

The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA),
Singapore refers to the comments filed by the United States Council
for International Business (USCIB) concerning the process for a
telecommunication licensee to appeal to the Minister for
Information, Communications and the Arts against a
decision/direction by the Info-communications Development Authority
of Singapore (IDA). MICA welcomes the opportunity to once again
clarify our appeal process and to offer our assurance to industry
players of the credibility of our decision-making process.
Notwithstanding our clarifications last year, the USCIB's comments
filed this year are virtually the same as those filed the year
before. Nevertheless, we will re-iterate our response to the
USCIB's comments on this matter and we hope that this will offer the
USCIB a clearer and more accurate understanding of the appeals
process.

Under the Telecommunications Act, an aggrieved telecommunication
licensee may appeal to the Minister for Information, Communications
and the Arts against a decision/direction by the IDA within 14 days
of the issuance of such decision/direction. The appeal procedure is
designed to provide a direct recourse for the aggrieved licensee.
In considering the appeal, the Minister adopts a process that is
transparent to the parties involved in the appeal. All submissions
by one party are copied to the other party for comments and
response. Such a process enables the parties to the appeal to make
their full representations after having regard to the arguments
raised by the other party. It also ensures that all the relevant
information is placed before the Minister so that he can properly
evaluate the merits of the appeal. Based on information adduced in
the appeal, the Minister will then determine the appeal and the
grounds for his decision are set out in a letter which is
communicated to the parties.

There has been feedback from some licensees to make appeal
submissions publicly available. However, we are unable to release
such submissions to the public domain because they contain
commercially sensitive information submitted by the parties for the
purpose of the appeal.

While our appeal process is generally restricted to the parties to
the appeal, the Minister is also empowered to obtain representations
from persons who are not parties to the appeal but who appear to the
Minister to have relevant information. The existence of such
discretion gives the Minister the flexibility of determining the
most expeditious way to deal with the issues in question and we are
of the view that the appeal process would be unwieldy and protracted
if the Minister is required to seek comments from the public for all
appeals. The exercise of such discretionary powers has enabled the
speedy resolution of appeals to the Minister, thereby reducing
business uncertainty in the Singapore telecommunications industry.

Our appeal process has worked well. It balances the importance of
reducing business uncertainty and unpredictability while providing
recourse for aggrieved licensees to appeal against a regulatory
decision/direction by the IDA.

MICA would also like to again correct the continual misperception of
the USCIB that the right of judicial review is absent in the
Singapore telecommunications environment. Judicial review is a
remedy that is available in Singapore. The merits of such judicial
review applications would be determined by our High Courts.

MICA notes that the USCIB has raised some regulatory issues in the
Singapore telecommunications sector to which the IDA has separately
responded. We trust that the IDA'S reply helps to clarify the
regulatory framework of the Singapore telecommunications sector.

We wish to assure the industry that the Singapore telecommunications
sector is governed by clear and sound principles and decisions are
taken in a credible and transparent manner that seeks to reduce
business uncertainty.

Yours Faithfully,

HO Chee Pong
Director (Infocomms & Media Devt)
For Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts

End Text.

Herbold

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