Because MDA is acting like judge, jury and executioner. And MBC Ltd is a legit commercial entity, so says UK company law.
The Opinion Collaborative (TOC Ltd), former owner of The Online Citizen, has appealed to the Minister of Communication and Information to stand down a demand by the Media Development Authority for the social enterprise to return S$5,000 in advertising revenue to Monsoons Book Club Ltd, another social enterprise registered in the UK.
The deadline for TOC Ltd to return the money was 4 April. It is not clear if TOC Ltd has already done so, and MDA has earlier indicated that it retains the option to shut down TOC if the demands are not complied with.
In the appeal letter to the Minister, Mr Howard Lee, who is one of TOC Ltd’s directors, referred to an earlier letter to MDA dated 2 April, which spelt out in detail how the authority’s demand was unreasonable.
“You will appreciate that you have not provided one iota of evidence to support your contention thus far as to how MDA had so “determined” that MBC Ltd’s provision of funds to TOC Ltd for its said Essay Competition was not bona fide,” said Mr Lee.
“MBC Ltd is a UK company set up for the purposes it sets out in its Articles of Association, incorporated under United Kingdom Companies Act 2006,” said Mr Lee. “Their Certificate of Incorporation states clearly it is a private company limited by guarantee. If by virtue of this incorporation status you have determined that it is a non-commercial entity, then do SPH and Mediacorp receive funds from foreign companies having similar status?”
Similarly, TOC Ltd took issue with what appeals to be MDA’s unsubstantiated assertion that MBC Ltd was an NGO, and hence an inappropriate funding source.
“Surely if we are to be governed by the Rule of Law, you cannot just talk down to us and state you have arbitrarily determined and so therefore, it must be so.”
Mr Lee also noted that MBC Ltd has sought to “obtain brand name recognition (through the contest) which will open up more doors (for the company) in the South East Asian Region”, and objective that is stated in the company’s Articles of Association.
In addition, Mr Lee said that MDA’s initial public statement on this issue contained “serious allegation as it also calls into question (TOC Ltd’s) integrity and reputation, that we are not a law abiding company.”
Mr Lee also asked for “all the documents and evidence MDA considered to arrive at its determination and contention that we are in contravention”.
“Who were the judge, the jury and the executioner of this “determination”? That is, let us have the names of the committee or team members at MDA who considered the evidence against TOC Ltd and arrived at its determination.”
The latest letter to MDA was also significant, as it suggested that TOC Ltd is considering legal action against MDA, including seeking the assistance of a Queen’s Counsel.
And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…
TOC Ltd has pointed out to Minister for Communication and Information Yaacob Ibrahim eights areas, also highlighted in its earlier letter to MDA, where the agency has failed to justify its demands for the return of funds:
- Who are the personnel in MDA who were part of the process to arrive at the “determination” stated in MDA’s letter of 24 March 2016?
- Was the Minister, MCI involved in this “determination”?
- Were personnel from MCI also involved in the “determination”; and if so, who were these personnel?
- What factors, evidence and alleged material facts were considered by MDA and/or MCI in arriving at this questionable “determination”?
- What specific evidence did MDA and/or MCI consider in Singapore and the UK concerning MBC Ltd?
- What evidence does MDA and/or MCI have in possession, custody and power to substantiate MDA’s contention that MBC Ltd is an NGO and not a bona fide commercial organisation?
- What procedure did MDA and/or MCI embark upon in arriving at this “determination”?
- What were MDA’s reasons for the long delay in its determination of the issue as to MBC Ltd’s fund provision to TOC Ltd?