Published: 03 April 2017
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) introduced the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Amendment) Bill in Parliament today. The Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (PEMA) regulates public entertainment (PE) events and establishments.
Review of Public Entertainment Establishment Regulatory Regime
2. MHA has reviewed the PE establishment regulatory regime to ensure it remains effective with an evolving nightlife industry. MHA will put in place a more calibrated, risk-based regulatory regime. This will support the continued vibrancy of the industry, while ensuring that PE is carried out in a lawful and orderly manner, in line with standards of public decency.
3. For the vast majority of licensees who are law-abiding, the intent is to take a lighter touch and allow licences with longer validity periods. Police will also work closely with industry partners to promote higher standards. On the other hand, we need to strengthen regulatory levers against errant PE establishments.
Proposed Amendments to the PEMA
4. The Bill introduced today will make the necessary legislative amendments to support the enhanced regulatory regime. The key features of the Bill are set out below.
Preventing unsuitable PE establishments
5. The Bill will prevent unsuitable persons from operating PE establishments by extending the assessment of an applicant's suitability to hold a licence to include other relevant persons in the business, such as company directors and partners.
6. To deter errant operators from circumventing the regulatory regime, the maximum penalty for providing PE without a valid licence or while the licence is suspended will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000.
Enhanced levers against errant establishments
7. The Police will be empowered to immediately suspend a PE licence if the licensee or any person relevant to the business is charged in court for committing serious crimes connected to the PE establishment. These serious crimes include drug offences, trafficking in persons and offences under the Organised Crime Act. The enhanced penalties will deter PE operators from using the premises for illegal activities.
8. For licensees who are charged in court for multiple licence breaches, the Bill allows demerit points to be awarded for offences which are taken into consideration for sentencing, on top of the demerit points which are currently awarded for convicted offences.
Enhanced enforcement powers
9. The Bill will clarify the powers to inspect PE establishments, and allow the use of force to make entry into an establishment if officers are being refused entry and there is reasonable suspicion that offences under PEMA are being or have been committed within.
Independent Appeal Board for PE establishment licences
10. The Bill will create a Public Entertainment Appeal Board to allow independent review of Police licensing decisions with respect to PE establishments.
Regulation of Arts Entertainment (AE)
11. The Ministry of Communications and Information has also reviewed the provisions of the PEMA relating to AE classification to better meet the Info-communications Media Development Authority's (IMDA) operational needs in administering the AE regulatory regime.
12. The Bill will clarify that the AE Licensing Officer has the powers to issue classification ratings with conditions, as well as refuse classification for AE that contains content exceeding the R18 classification rating under the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC). This aligns IMDA's regulation of AE held at PE licensed establishments or events with its existing regulation framework for AE. The amendments will not have any impact on the existing AE content standards.
Renaming of the Act
13. The Act will also be renamed as the Public Entertainments Act, as "meetings", such as rallies, talks and forums, are regulated under the Public Order Act which was enacted in 2009.