Our interview in May is with the Spanish Lawyer in Singapore, José Alberto Pascual.
- Hola José Alberto, could you please introduce yourself?
Hello everyone, first let me take this opportunity, as a Board member, to thank all of the current members of the Chamber for their membership support and encourage others who are not yet so to take a step forward and involve yourselves in this exciting and interesting project.
I am a 61 years old Spanish citizen, lawyer by profession and the son of a Spanish diplomat who actually had responsibility for Singapore back in the early 80´s, so this is the second time I have been in this country as I came over briefly with my parents when as a teenager.
- Can you tell us something about your professional activity in Singapore?
I am the Regional Counsel for the Consumer Business of an American bank, for which I have worked during the past 34 years, and I have responsibility over consumer legal matters in a region that includes 17 markets.
- How did you become involved with the Chamber?
I am one of the very few surviving members (as a Chamber member) of the original project to create an official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, which dates back to 2018 if my very bad memory serves me right.
It all started for me at an event, held in the premises of Amadeus in which the founder members of the embryonic project, supported and encouraged by our Embassy, presented the idea and asked for volunteers to become members of the initial Board of the provisional entity. I was not chosen initially as the Secretary of the Board but eventually became so when the chosen person was not deemed suitable due to having a foreign residence. Once I was confirmed as Secretary and given my legal training background I actively participated in the official incorporation of the Chamber both with the Singapore Registry of Societies, as well as with the Spanish Ministry. I am now in my second term in the Board of the official Chamber.
- As a lawyer, could you explain to us the main differences between the legal system in Spain and in Singapore?
The simple and most important difference is that Spain works on the basis of Civil Law, which means all legislation is based on codes and laws whereas Singapore follows Common law, as a legacy of its British past, which implies that legislation is based both on Laws as well as legal precedents (sentences issued by courts).
- What legal advice would you give to Spanish companies that are thinking of settling in Singapore?
My advice would be to come to Singapore with the firm commitment to comply with local laws. Although Singapore is a rather business friendly place to do business from a legal point of view with a general lack of red tape if compared to other countries, some of the local legal provisions differ from what we have in Spain and it is important to know and comply with them.
- For some years you have been the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the SpanishCham SG. How do you think Chambers of Commerce abroad can help companies in their internationalization processes?
I think there are two critical factors that come into play in ensuring that Chambers can be an important support for companies wishing to expand into Singapore or any other country: First, ensuring that the Chamber can come as close as possible to being not only the first point of contact in the country but also to the extent possible the main point of entry in terms of providing advice of all kinds as needed by companies, and, secondly, ensuring that the Chamber is aligned and very well coordinated with the Spanish Embassy´s Commercial section.
- As for the time you spend in Singapore, can you tell us your favorite places to spend your free time or a special restaurant that you would recommend to us?
I am an avid jogger despite the heat and humidity we have in Singapore. This has allowed me to visit (jogging) numerous parks in Singapore which I totally recommend. Nature in Singapore, both flora and fauna are completely different from what you will find, when also jogging, in Spain. As regards a restaurant suggestion and notwithstanding the two great Spanish ones we have as current members of the Chamber, I would recommend “Fire” and Argentinian restaurant located at the top of the Ion building on Orchard road. The food is very good and the views literally take your breath away.
Gracias José Alberto!