A veteran of the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore has been appointed executive director of the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA).

Bernice Yeoh takes up the position, which has been vacant since February, with immediate effect.

Previous executive director Punit Oza left after completing an initial two-year contract.

During Oza’s tenure, the SCMA raised its profile significantly and expanded its membership base and offerings.

It also opened its membership to hundreds of students, who it expects will be future users of its services.

Many structural changes were made to push the organisation into the digital age, along with streamlining and updating its rules to make them more user-friendly.

In March this year, Oza was appointed to head a new Singapore dry cargo venture called Wiz Bulk, a platform exclusively designed for handling bulk cargo.

In her 16 years at the MPA, Yeoh held key management positions, most recently senior director for strategy & policy.

Her key responsibilities included the formulation of policies and programmes to augment Singapore’s competitiveness as a global hub port and international maritime centre.

“Bernice is familiar to many in the maritime industry including legal and arbitration,” said SCMA chairman Chao Hick Tin, a senior judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore.

“She has played a vital role in developing the maritime ecosystem and attracting law firms to establish and grow their shipping practices in Singapore.

“Under her leadership, I am confident that SCMA will continue to grow its ambition to becoming a sustainable and strong arbitration institution to serve the needs of the maritime and trade communities, especially in Asia.”

The SCMA also announced that Hill Dickinson Hong Kong partner Edward Liu has been appointed to its panel of arbitrators.

His main practice areas include charterparties, shipbuilding and repair, sale and purchase, as well as bunkering.

The SCMA was originally established in November 2004. Its funding comes from the Singapore Maritime Foundation.

Management is overseen by a board of directors led by Chao.

The SCMA describes itself as a specialist arbitration institution that provides a neutral, cost-effective and flexible framework for maritime and international trade arbitrations.

Its global and regional members are said to hail from all sectors of maritime, trade and arbitration communities.