Friday, November 9, 2012

The Vagueness Of Law

The Confidential Information clause commonly found in a template contractual agreement defines what the parties deem to be proprietary and protected by the terms of the agreement. The clause usually defines what is, and what is not, confidential.

While the definition of the excluded items may be fairly consistent, the definition of the scope of information covered by the provisions tends to be highly variable. For instance the Microsoft non-disclosure agreement (NDA) defines Confidential Information as any non-public information that Microsoft designates as being confidential or which, under the circumstances surrounding disclosure ought to be treated as confidential by Recipient (italics mine). The clause may even attempt to cover anything the discloser wants to be treated as confidential, such as “ information that any Party desires to maintain as confidential or secret, which is supplied or provided to any other Party.” Whether this is too vague to be enforceable, it's for the lawyers to have their day in court. Of course, if a Minister deems it confidential - such as the terms for the Formula One Night Race extension - the conversation ends right there.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) decision to stonewall public demands for the details of the punishment meted out to Asean scholar and sex fiend Alvin Tan of Malaysia, we are given to understand, is protected by a confidential undertaking. For all we know, the contracting parties could be construed as the NUS, the dean of law, the sex blogger or even members of the public, if the latter's interest in the matter is even considered material at all.

What is not vague is that a precedent was set when provost Tan Eng Chye did detail the fine ($3,000) and community service obligation imposed on another scholarship holder without actually disclosing the name of the offender (spoiler alert: Sun Xu), thus maintaining the "confidentiality" agreement with that scallywag. He was simply referred to in the internal circular distributed to students as "an undergraduate at the Faculty of Engineering" who "posted offensive remarks about Singaporeans online".

The bar, for reasons best known to the faculty training the new batch of lawyers, has been raised (lowered?) for this rogue who NUS has admitted to be detrimental to its international reputation and dignity. By pushing the envelope of the vagueness of law, the confidence in NUS can only be shaken, if not (already) stirred.


  1. Where was the confidentiality when Philip Yeo says he intends to publicly shame all the scholars who break their bonds?

    Everything is getting to be ad hoc in Singapore.
    Suka, suka, all the mini chieftains can decide within their little empires.
    No need to consult the law of Singapore anymore?
    Like Chinese warlords in 19th century Imperial China?

  2. maybe the system has invested so heavily on this little prat that they gave him a slap on the wrist.

  3. The law here is like a martini. You can have it stirred or shaken.

  4. Raise it up in Parliament, if need to..

    Where is the "co-driver." MIA

    1. Personally I like WP's MIA approach.
      Talk no use. Just focus on winning the votes and looking after their constituents.

      I applaud WP's decision to give the NatCON a miss. Waste of time talking to death frogs. And if your idea is really good, the deaf frogs will steal it and claim it for themselves.

      Why waste time giving political bankrupts "constructive" criticism and ideas? In the last 47 years, have they ever listened? How many have had to flee S'pore, got themselves bankrupted, or even jailed?

      Just continue to give them plenty of rope to hang themselves. Let them implement their daft policies and expose themselves for the incompetents they are.
      We just keep quiet.

  5. Alvin Tan's punishment was probably a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. That is why NUS is stone walling with this confidentiality rubbish!

    I'd like to be proven wrong. But would I?

  6. Well, Alvin will do community service, he will lecture of sex & sexuality at secondary schools. That was the punishment.

  7. NUS would not want to dampen the experimentation with sex among the other undergraduates by publicly lynching Tan, simple as that. If the 'punishment' is revealed, it has to be a sacking like what NTD said. Comparison would be made between Tan and that China engineering scholar. If too excessive, Tan may not be able to afford it and it would also have the unintended side effect of curtailing such experimentation and similar activities that are even not taking place anobg the students. NUS is therefore taking great pains to avoid saboing the national objective of tertiary students having fun which just might result in more of them getting hitched and fulfil the govt's dream!

  8. Maybe Alvin Tan & partner was doing Singapore a favor by encouraging everyone to have more sex. With more sex, more babies can be produced. This is what our Govt is hoping for, isn't it?

    So why punish him when he is doing a service for our country, not unlike our National Service? Even if he is expelled, it is not going to make any difference to him because he already wants to give up his studies, isn't it?

    Who ask our Govt to be so stupid to give scholarships to such students?

  9. It's confirmed and proven.
    Foreign talents have better sex lives than Sinkies.