Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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The removal of Estate Duty – Snippets from inside the Court

In the midst of all my activism and lawyering these days, i finally attended on one file where our client had applied to the High Court for Letters of Probate.

Now everyone knows that Estate Duty was hastily repealed by the PAP dominated parliament with immediate effect from 15th February 2008 or so.

Upon the hasty repeal, lots of conspiracy theories arose. Arguments for and against whether members of the ruling elite would benefit greatly from such repeal formed the speculation over the motivation for the change.

Being a practising lawyer and having the benefit of some deeper than layman insight into the workings of Probate and estate duty administration, i feel it is my duty to bring to Singapore’s attention of what i have come to know from today’s hearing.

Now we for sure do not know the exact reasons operating in the minds of our 84 Members of Parliament when they decided to do away with the Estate Duty BUT what we do know is that the deed was done very quickly and hastily.

In fact it was done so hastily and without any thought or consideration or semblence of leadership as to its ramifications on the current probate practice and administrative procedure that as of now roughly almost 4 months after the repeal there has still been set any interim rules or procedure directing applicants for probate in the manner in which the applications should proceed.

In fact, the then prevailing administrative rules relating to procedure in Probate matters were thrown into somewhat a confusion because of the repeal. As i waited for my turn to see the Registrar this afternoon, I spoke with several lawyers outside the Registrar’s Chambers and none of us really knew what were the steps to be taken.

If we had indeed from our discussion put together an inking of what to do, it was due to the collective experience, logic of members of the brethern building on the fact of a precedent set by some brother who had blazed the trail in one such matter with what was deemed acceptable by the Court.

The Assistant Registrar Teo Guan Siew was most helpful. He gave sensible directions as well as a snippet of a text which one could use for the Schedule of Assets. Then again, it is my understanding that there has been no gazetting of any rules, forms or procedure to-date AND To-date there has been no clarification from Parliament to date as to where do we go from here.

In the light of such circumstances, it seems pretty obvious that from Parliament’s extremely hasty move to remove Estate Duty by foisting 84 pairs of scissors on the Gordian Knot, they had left behind a mess of countless loose ends which after almost 4 months have yet to be tied up by a World Class Administration.

Let there be no misunderstanding – the fault is not on the Court.

Let there be no misunderstanding – the fault is neither on the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore nor the Commissioner of Estate Duties.

Let it be clear – the fault lay in the hasty removal of Estate Duty by the 84 members of Parliament who in so doing did not have the foresight to think / plan / discuss / debate on how to tie up the loose ends following the hasty removal.

If we indeed did have a World Class Administration – Why then do such things happen?

Food for thought.

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June 9, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Politics

1 Comment »

  1. […] are fed, up with progress! – Chia Ti Lik’s Blog: The removal of Estate Duty – Snippets from inside the Court – Under the Willow Tree: Temasek’s Hands in Too Many […]

    Pingback by The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 10 Jun 2008 | June 10, 2008 | Reply


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