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Second Reading Speech by Law Minister K Shanmugam on the Criminal Procedure Code Bill

Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses

1.               Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move “That the Bill be now read a Second time”.

2.               This Bill, Sir, repeals and re-enacts the Criminal Procedure Code, hereafter referred to as the CPC. 

I             Introduction

3.               The CPC sets out the procedures to be observed in the conduct of criminal cases in Singapore. It is a fundamental part of our Criminal Justice System.

II            Philosophy underpinning our Approach

4.               Sir, the key principles underlying the approach we take in shaping the Criminal Justice System include the following:

(A)            Presumption of Innocence

5.               Every person is presumed innocent. One is guilty only upon conviction by a Court.

6.               While we have specific exceptions in the law to this approach, the presumption of innocence is fundamental.

(B)            The procedure must be fair

7.               The procedure that is set out must be fair.

(C)           The procedure must reasonably provide for arriving at the truth

8.               The procedure must provide a system for arriving at the truth.

9.               That means that it should not be a system that leans towards conviction regardless of innocence or guilt. But it should also not be a system which gives the offender every possible technicality to escape conviction.

10.             Each society seeks to strike a balance between:

(1)          the rights of society, to secure conviction of a  person who commits an offence; and
(2)          the rights of an individual, not to be wrongly convicted.

11.             These amendments seek to strike the balance in a fair way. I will admit freely that there can be reasonable debate as to whether that balance has been rightly struck. There will be people who will disagree with the proposals. The procedure to be adopted for administration of criminal justice is an area where there are diverse and often contentious viewpoints. This is an evolutionary process and we will have to continue to be open to amending our criminal procedures to meet changing norms.

III            Consultation

12.             In our efforts to achieve the correct balance that I referred to, we engaged in extensive consultations.

13.             The draft Bill was first issued in December 2008. The public were invited to give their comments. There were several responses.

14.             We then formed a working group, comprising representatives from relevant government agencies, the Singapore Law Society, the Association of Criminal Lawyers Singapore, faculty members from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University, as well as other legal practitioners. The Working Group was tasked to examine the proposals which were received by my Ministry in the course of public consultations. Table top exercises were conducted by the working group to iron out the various procedures which were to be introduced by this Bill. After the working group had completed their discussions, my Ministry, together with its partner agencies, continued to review and deliberate on various aspects of the Bill in light of the points raised by the working group.

15.             Each and every proposal has been given due consideration. Several proposals were adopted. For instance:

i.             the accused’s whole statements (instead of only portions of those statements) would be provided by the Prosecution in discovery;

ii.             the Preliminary Inquiry process was retained;

iii.             the concept of using “oppression” as the touchstone for determining the voluntariness, and hence admissibility, of an accused person’s confession was codified and even extended to all forms of statements.

16.             Of course, not all suggestions could be taken on board. On a number of points the various members of the Working Group had to agree to disagee, but this was after a healthy and robust discussion of various points of view and concerns. This is best summed up by what the ACLS, through its President Mr Subhas Anandan, has told us, and I quote “ACLS had made written submissions to the Ministry of Law during public consultations on the proposed amendments to the CPC. Although the CPC Bill which had its first reading in Parliament on 26 April this year did not accept many of its recommendations, ACLS is pleased to note the introduction of the Criminal Case Discovery Procedure in the CPC Bill. The Disclosure Procedure requires the Prosecution to give to the Defence, apart from the charge, a summary of facts, a list of witnesses and exhibits and the statements to be adduced at the trial. This is a welcome change. ACLS also fully supports the introduction of the new community sentences in the Bill.”

17.             The Working Group deserves our gratitude for helping us with this Bill. Its members are listed in the Annex to my speech.

18.             Let me now take Members through the key provisions.

IV            The Bill

(A)         Increased Jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Courts

19.             Clause 7 of the Bill increases the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Courts to hear offences which carried a maximum term of imprisonment of three years to five years instead. The jurisdiction of the District Court and the High Court remains the same.

(B)         Private Prosecution

20.             At present, the right of private prosecution is allowed in summary cases before a Magistrate’s Court, or for non-seizable cases before a District Court.

21.             Sir, as I mentioned earlier, the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Courts is being expanded. It is therefore no longer appropriate to allow private prosecutions in respect of all cases triable before the Magistrates’ Courts. Neither is it appropriate to tie this to non-seizable offences: some of these offences are punishable with terms of imprisonment of up to seven years.

22.             Hereafter, pursuant to Clause 11(10), private persons will be able to prosecute offences where the maximum punishment is less than three years’ imprisonment, or which are punishable by fine only. Private prosecutions will be tied to less serious offences where the punishments are less severe.

(C)         Police Enforcement Powers

23.             The Bill makes a number of amendments to rationalise Police enforcement powers. I will touch on two key changes: the seizure of property and police powers of intervention.

(1) Seizure of Property

24.             Clause 35 of the Bill builds upon the existing powers of the Police to seize property under certain circumstances, by expanding the powers to three specific classes of property: 

i.       property in respect of which an offence is suspected to have been committed.

ii.       property suspected to have been used or intended to be used to commit an offence - for example, dangerous weapons used to commit gang robbery.  

iii.       property suspected to constitute evidence of an offence – for example, bits of clothing found at a crime scene. 

25.             Property falling within the first and second classes will include not only the original property, but also any property that it has been converted into. So, for example, if a suspected watch thief has sold the stolen watch and used the proceeds to buy a computer, the police may seize the computer instead.

26.             If property liable to be seized is held with a financial institution, a police officer of inspector rank or above may issue a written order to direct the financial institution to either deliver the property to any police officer, or refrain from dealing in respect of such property within a specified period.

27.             At the same time, an absolute power to freeze property in a bank account may be unduly harsh on the affected person. Hence, a person whose bank account has been the subject of a written order may apply to court for the release of such property to meet legitimate expenses – for example, the payment of basic expenses, reasonable professional fees or, in the context of a company, day-to-day running expenses.

(2) Police Powers to Intervene

28.             The previous s111 of the CPC gave the police powers to interpose to prevent crime.

29.             In the new security climate, it is appropriate for changes to be made to deal specifically with issues of terrorism. While the Police currently have the necessary powers to deal with acts of terrorism, clarity is useful for officers on the ground. This is in line with the amendments to the Penal Code in 2008, when illustrations were added to sections 79 and 81 of the Penal Code to give further clarity to officers dealing with terrorism.

30.             The new Clause 63 of the Bill puts in place the following safeguards in the use of lethal force by the police:

i.       the police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is doing or about to do something which may amount to a terrorist act; and

ii.       the use of lethal force is necessary to apprehend the person.

31.             A definition of what constitutes a “terrorist act” is provided in the Bill. 

(D)         Criminal Discovery

32.             The Law Society, criminal law practitioners and various members in this House, such as Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mr Alvin Yeo and Ms Sylvia Lim, have urged reform in this area.

33.             Disclosure is familiar to lawyers operating within the common law system. In civil proceedings, the timely disclosure of information has helped parties to prepare for trial and assess their cases more fully.
34.             Criminal cases can benefit from the same approach. However, discovery in the criminal context would need to be tailored to deal with complexities of criminal practice, such as the danger of witnesses being suborned.

35.             To this end, Part IX of the Bill introduces a formalised framework obliging the Prosecution and the Defence to exchange relevant information about their respective cases before trial. This will introduce greater transparency and consistency to the pre-trial process.

36.             After the charge is tendered against an accused, the Prosecution is required to provide the Defence with a “Case for the Prosecution”. This document must include information about the facts, witnesses and evidence supporting the charge, together with the statements of the accused which the prosecution intends to rely on at the trial. 

37.             The Defence is then required to serve on the Prosecution its “Case for the Defence”. This document will, in turn, contain information about the facts, evidence and witnesses that the Defence will adduce at the trial.

38.             After the Case for the Defence is served, the Prosecution will then be required to furnish to the Defence all other statements made by the accused person, documentary exhibits in the Case for the Prosecution, as well as the accused person’s criminal records (if any).

39.             The framework has a number of safeguards to try and prevent abuse.

40.             The sequential nature of the process protects the interests of prosecution and defence. The onus is on the prosecution to set out its Case first, with the accused’s statements that it is relying upon. The provision of all statements after the Defence Case is filed, cuts down on opportunities to tailor evidence. At the same time, if either party refuses to file its Case, or files an incomplete Case, or advances an argument at trial inconsistent with its previously filed Case, the Court may draw any inference it deems fit. In addition, where the Prosecution fails to comply with its obligations, the Court may order a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. This approach tries to ensure that parties take discovery seriously.

41.             The new procedure will initially apply automatically to High Court cases and the majority of offences tried in the District Court. The accused may opt out of the system if he prefers. For Magistrate’s Court cases, the procedure will be available if all parties consent.

(E)         Trial Proceedings

(1)          Video Conferencing

42.             The new Clause 281 follows upon the recent amendments to Article 9(4) of the Constitution, announced and taken through by Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng in this House last month, which allows an arrested person to be produced for First Mentions in court by video conferencing. 

43.             In line with those amendments, Clause 281 of the Bill sets out safeguards in relation to the use of video conferencing. The Court will have the discretion to summon the arrested person, or consider the application of the arrested person to be physically produced in court at any time before or during the First Mentions. Video conferencing will also not be used for accepting guilty pleas or passing of sentences.

(2)          Composition

44.             To streamline the prosecution process, the Public Prosecutor (PP) will be empowered to consent to composition between parties, and compound certain prescribed offences by requiring a person to pay a composition sum.

45.             At present, once an accused has been charged in court, composition requires the consent of the court.

46.             The new clause 241 requires the consent of the PP instead, since he has control and direction of all criminal proceedings. This follows logically from the PP’s prosecutorial discretion. Even when the proceedings are ongoing in court, and the court does not consent to composition, the PP is empowered to withdraw the charge in an appropriate case.

47.             Clause 242 is a new provision which allows the PP to compound certain prescribed offences. These will be offences which do not involve specific victims, such as offences relating to damage to public property. Composition will be allowed to take place any time, even before the offender is charged in court. This composition regime is similar to composition of minor regulatory offences by enforcement agencies.

(F)          Admissibility of Statements

48.             I now turn to the admissibility of accused persons’ statements, at Clause 258 of the Bill.

49.             Under this provision, the statement of an accused person is inadmissible if it is made as the result of a threat, inducement or promise which operates on his mind, such that it robs him of his free will and thereby rendering the statement involuntary.

50.             This admissibility test, developed by our courts in Seow Choon Meng v PP (1994) 2 SLR 853 and Gulam bin Notan Mohd Shariff Jamalddin v PP (1999) 2 SLR 181, is now codified in Explanation 1 to Clause 258.

51.             Clause 258 extends the protection of the admissibility test to all statements made by an accused person, whether made to a police officer (above the rank of sergeant) or otherwise. This plugs a gap in the existing section 121 of the Code, which confines the admissibility test only to statements made to a police officer (but not any other enforcement personnel).

52.             I should also comment briefly on Explanation 2 to Clause 258 of the Bill, which has been the source of some degree of debate (and I think, confusion), during the public consultation and working group phases.

53.             Explanation 2 is a reproduction of s 29 of the Evidence Act (which is now ported to the Code). Its purpose is simply to clarify that the sole test of admissibility is the absence of threat, inducement or promise as set out in Clause 258. This reflects the position taken by our courts. Thus, and I emphasise this – there is no change in the law as a result of the amendments. (The only addition is Sub clause (e) to Clause 258). The main change is that the test of voluntariness is now applied to all statements and that is an extension of the rights.

54.             However, I note from an article in TODAY 17 May (entitled “Criminal Lawyers concerned over Clause in proposed Criminal Procedure Code”) that both Mr Subhas Anandan and Mr Edmond Pereira are quoted on this clause. Mr Anandan is concerned that a part of the law on what is admissible evidence is being “further entrenched”. Mr Pereira has said that clause 258 was a “talking point”, among the changes to the CPC.  But as I have stated earlier, clause 258 does not change the law. It does not detract from the rights of the accused. Clause 258 simply brings over a similar provision in the Evidence Act – which is already the law. The only change is the addition of sub clause (e). Thus, there is no “further entrenching” of this aspect of the law on what is admissible evidence. The law is set out in black and white in the Evidence Act and that is the law that the Courts have been applying all these years. And to the extent that this Clause 258 is a talking point, it may be that its current avatar in the Evidence Act has perhaps been overlooked. We had explained these points to relevant stakeholders, as well as the Law Society.

55.             I understand now that the ACLS accepts that the real test of Section 258 – that is, whether a threat, inducement or promise operated on the accused person at the material time, and that deception is technically irrelevant.

56.             I can understand arguments that such a provision should be qualified. But it is difficult to understand arguments that object to the CPC essentially replicating a provision from the Evidence Act.

(G)        Ancillary Hearings

57.             If the court, after hearing any submissions from parties, decides to reverse its earlier decision in admitting such evidence, it must disregard such evidence when determining whether or not to call for the defence or when determining the guilt of the accused person. The converse will apply if the court, after hearing any submissions, decides to reverse its earlier decision in refusing to admit the evidence. Where this is the case, such evidence may be admitted in court for the purpose of determining whether or not to call for the defence or when determining the guilt of the accused.

(H)         Appeals

58.             Under clause 390 of the Bill, the appellate court will be allowed to frame an altered charge and convict on it if there is sufficient evidence for it to do so based on records before the court.  The amendment is a codification of case law as decided by the Court of Appeal in Lee Ngin Kiat [1993] 2 SLR 511 .

59.             The amendments go one step further to provide safeguards should the appellate court decide to frame an altered charge. The appellate court is required to ask the accused if he intends to offer a defence to the newly framed charge. The appellate court will then have to decide, with reference to the nature of the defence and the records before the court, whether to convict him of the freshly-framed charge or to send the matter for trial in the lower courts.

60.             Clause 396 contains a new provision which allows both the Public Prosecutor and the Defence to state a case directly on a question of law of public importance, from the District Court directly to the Court of Appeal.

61.             The situations where a “leapfrog”, as such provisions are known, will apply are: (a) where the High Court is already bound by a prior decision of the Court of Appeal on the point of law being stated, or (b) where there is a conflict of binding authority on the High Court on the question at hand.  In these situations, the legal issues (for example, binding precedent on the High Court) are more appropriately dealt with by the Court of Appeal, than the High Court.   A leapfrog appeal direct to the Court of Appeal would thus save parties time and cost.

62.             To ensure that the provision is not abused, the leave of the Court of Appeal is required before a “leapfrog” is allowed. The Court of Appeal will determine whether the question of law is indeed of public importance, and whether a leapfrog is appropriate in the circumstances of the case. 

(I)           Rectification of Clerical Errors

63.             Clause 301 of the Bill relates to the powers of the courts to rectify errors in their judgments. Currently, only the High Court can alter or review its judgments. To the extent that the error was a clerical one, it can be rectified at any time. Any other mistake may only be rectified before the court has risen for the day.

64.             The Bill extends the power to rectify errors to all courts (including the District and Magistrates’ Courts). The existing practice has been retained. For all other errors, including errors in the exercise of the court’s sentencing powers, the time in which the court may rectify such errors has been extended to the next working day after the delivery of the judgment.

65.             Illustrations are also included in Clause 301 to clarify how the provision will work. For instance, where a District Court imposes a sentence of caning on a man who was 54 years old when he committed the offence in question, the court would have made an error. Exercising its powers of rectification under Clause 301 of the Bill, the court may now revoke the sentence of caning and impose the appropriate sentence provided this is done by the next day after it had imposed the original sentence of caning.

66.             Notwithstanding this, there is a further limit on the courts’ rectification powers. Clause 301(2) expressly states that a court may not exercise its powers under this Clause to rectify any error resulting from a sentence which the court subsequently views as being too harsh or lenient.

(J)           Sentencing jurisdiction of the Courts

67.             Clause 303 of the Bill increases the sentencing powers of both the Magistrates’ Courts and the District Courts to align them with the recent amendments to the penalties in the Penal Code. Essentially, the Magistrates’ Courts sentencing powers have been increased from two years to three years of imprisonment, and the District Court’s sentencing powers will be increased from seven years to 10 years of imprisonment.

68.             Clause 303 also increases the quantum of fines which can be imposed by the Subordinate Courts. For the Magistrates’ Courts, the limit will be increased from $2,000 to $10,000; whereas the limit for the District Court will be increased from $10,000 to $30,000. The revision is necessary to take into account the increase in the purchasing power of money, since the jurisdiction for imposing fines for the District Court was last revised in 1986 and the jurisdiction for the Magistrates’ Courts since 1959.

(K)         Caning

69.             Two main changes will be made to the provisions on caning.

70.             The first change is the imposition of a cap of 24 strokes for each occasion of sentencing or caning.

71.             The amendments will make clear that on each occasion of sentencing, a cap of 24 strokes will apply, even where the mandatory number of strokes for multiple charges could add up to more than 24. As an example, if the Prosecution has, in the same set of proceedings, preferred five counts of robbery under section 392 of the Penal Code (each carrying a sentence of not less than six strokes of the cane), the court cannot impose a sentence of 30 strokes. In such a case, the court can only impose a maximum of 24 strokes.

72.             A similar rule will be imposed for the execution of caning. Whilst sentences for caning can be combined, the maximum strokes for any one sitting would be capped at 24.

73.             The cap does not apply for repeat offenders sentenced and caned over different periods of time. There is no immunity from further caning for serial offenders. This is because we cannot treat serial offenders in the same way as we do an offender who has only committed, for example, two offences.

74.             The second amendment relates to imprisonment in lieu of strokes where the statutory cap of 24 strokes applies and in excepted cases.

75.             Where an accused person would have been sentenced to an aggregate sentence of caning which exceeds the specified limit (i.e. 24 strokes for an adult or 10 strokes for a juvenile), the court may impose a term of imprisonment of not more than 12 months in lieu of all such strokes which exceed the specified limit. Thus, in the example which I had used since the court can only impose 24 strokes instead of 30 strokes, the court may impose an additional term of say, eight months imprisonment in lieu of the 6 strokes of caning.

76.             Another category of cases where imprisonment would be ordered in lieu of caning would be where caning is not possible from the outset (e.g. male offenders over 50 years old and those who are medically unfit). For these categories of offenders, the court has the discretion to impose an imprisonment term of up to 12 months in lieu of the strokes which were forgone. This will give the court discretion in exercising parity between co-accused persons, one of whom may be caned and the other may not.

(L)          Community Sentences

77.             I turn now to the main change to our sentencing regime: Community Sentences (CBS), detailed in the new Part XVII of the Bill.

(1)          Rationale for having new community sentences

78.             Our sentencing philosophy is aimed at deterrence, prevention, retribution and rehabilitation. A fair sentencing framework is one that enables the Court to deliver the correct mix of these four objectives on the specific facts of each case.
79.             CBS gives more flexibility to the Courts. Not every offender should be put in prison. CBS targets offences and offenders traditionally viewed by the Courts to be on the rehabilitation end of the spectrum: regulatory offences, offences involving younger accused persons, and persons with specific and minor mental conditions. For such cases, it is appropriate to harness the resources of the community. The offender remains gainfully employed and his family benefits from the focused treatment.

(2)         Eligibility criteria

80.             In line with those considerations, Clause 337 of the Bill sets out the circumstances that prevent the making of a community order.

81.             A community order cannot be made in respect of an offence for which the sentence is fixed by law or which attracts a specified minimum sentence or mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment or caning.

82.             Community orders, except for the community work order, cannot be made in respect of an offence which attracts a specified minimum sentence or mandatory minimum sentence of a fine.

83.             Community sentences cannot be handed down for the serious offences which are specified in the Third Schedule to the Registration of Criminals Act. Offences which are punishable with a maximum sentence of more than three years’ imprisonment are excluded from the community sentencing framework.

84.             Finally, a court cannot hand down a community sentence if an offender had previously been detained or subjected to police supervision under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, detained in a Drug Rehabilitation Centre, sentenced to imprisonment, corrective training, reformative training, or preventive detention.

(3)          Community sentences

85.             The Bill introduces five new types of CBS orders:

(a)             a mandatory treatment order (MTO);
(b)             a day reporting order (DRO);
(c)             a community work order (CWO);
(d)             a community service order (CSO); and
(e)             a short detention order (SDO).

86.             A court may pass a CBS order comprising one or more of these orders at the same proceeding.

87.             Let me highlight the key features of the various community orders.

(4) Mandatory treatment orders

88.             Clause 339 and 340 provide for MTOs. The MTO allows the court to order an offender to undergo psychiatric treatment in lieu of imprisonment. The period of treatment can be up to 24 months.

89.             Before making a MTO, the court must call for a suitability report by a psychiatrist who is appointed by the Director of Medical Services of the Ministry of Health. The appointed psychiatrist will have to assess (a) first, if the offender is suffering from a treatable psychiatric condition; (b) secondly, if he is suitable for treatment; and (c) thirdly, if his psychiatric condition had contributed to the commission of the offence. If the offender does not meet any of these requirements, the court will not be able to make the MTO.

(5) Day reporting orders

90.             Clauses 341 to 343 provide for the DRO. This order requires the offender to report to a reporting centre on a regular basis for supervision and to undergo counselling and rehabilitation. An offender may also be monitored electronically, if necessary. The duration of a DRO can be from three to 12 months. This imposes discipline and aids in rehabilitation as the offender’s progress is monitored closely.

91.             Before making a DRO, the court must call for a suitability report by a day reporting officer appointed by the Director of Prisons.

92.             However, even if the report concludes that the offender is unsuitable, the court may still sentence him to a DRO, as the court may take into account broader considerations. Where rehabilitation is the key consideration, the courts would still impose a DRO, if satisfied that the offender will be sufficiently punished by having restrictions imposed, and is unlikely to re-offend if there is no significant disruption to his employment or family.

(6) Community work orders

93.             Clause 346 provides for CWOs. The CWO is modelled after the “Corrective Work Order” for litterbugs, but will allow for a wider range of offences and types of work to be mandated.

94.             The type of community work will have some nexus to the offence committed. By performing work associated with the offence, the intention is to let the offender take responsibility for, and acknowledge the harm caused by his offence.

(7) Community service orders

95.             The courts are currently empowered to make a CSO under the Children and Young Persons’ Act, or as a condition of probation. Clause 346 and 347 of the Bill expands the existing order to allow offenders aged 16 and above to receive a CSO as a standalone sentence or with other community orders. This would allow the offender to make reparations to the community while being punished for his actions.

96.             The courts will have to call for a suitability report before sentencing an offender to perform community service. The court may make a CSO even if the community service officer finds the offender unsuitable.

(8) Short detention orders

97.             Clause 348 allows the courts to detain an offender in prison for up to 14 days. By limiting the detention period, the SDO is less disruptive and stigmatising than a longer prison stay. Prisons will also put in place measures that prevent first-time offenders from being “contaminated” by hardcore criminals.
(9) Taking and forfeiture of security

98.             Clause 349 empowers the court to take a security from the offender or any other person to ensure that the offender complies with the community order. Clause 350 provides for the forfeiture of the security if the offender breaches the order or any of its conditions.

(10)   Breach of community order, conviction of offence committed before emplacement on community sentence, commission of further offence

99.             A CBS order gives an offender the chance to reflect on his actions. The onus is on him to complete the community sentence.

100.          Under clause 352, if the offender breaches the conditions of a CBS order, he can be summoned back to court.

101.          After being notified of the breach, the court can give a warning or impose a fine of up to S$1,000, while at the same time allowing the offender to continue serving the community sentence. The court can also vary the community sentence by extending or reducing it, up to the maximum length permitted for each order. If the community sentence is not a SDO, the court may detain the offender in prison for not more than 14 days. Lastly, the court may revoke the community sentence and impose the traditional sentence originally mandated for the offence.

102.          Under clause 353, if the offender is sentenced to imprisonment for a crime committed before the CBS order is made, the community sentence will be revoked and he will be re-sentenced. The community sentence will also be revoked if the prior offence cannot be punished with a community sentence. Otherwise, the offender will be allowed to continue to serve his community sentence.

103.          Under clause 354, if the offender commits a fresh offence while serving a community sentence and is convicted for it, the CBS order will be revoked and he will be brought back to the courts for re-sentencing.
V             Conclusion

104.          Sir, I have taken the House through the main amendments to the CPC.

105.          This Bill, although wide ranging, should be seen as part of the on-going evolution of our criminal justice system since our independence in 1965.

106.          In 1966, the Code was amended to mirror the practice in the UK Judge’s rules to grant discretion to the court to admit an accused person’s statement which was obtained in non-compliance with certain conditions provided the statement was made voluntarily. In 1967, offences such as rioting and unlawful assembly were made non-bailable. In the wake of a number of cases in 1969 where accused persons were acquitted by juries despite there having been clear evidence of guilt, the jury system was abolished. The 1970s saw amendments to allow sentences of corrective training for young offenders who showed signs of embarking on a lifetime of crime. Amendments were also made in respect of an accused person’s “right of silence” by permitting the court to draw adverse inferences in appropriate circumstances. In 1984, the period in which a suspect could be detained when arrested without a warrant was extended from 24 hours to 48 hours to give the police adequate time to complete investigations. Later, in 1995, vulnerable witnesses were allowed to give evidence via video link to shield them from direct confrontation with the accused person.

107.          The present Bill represents a significant point in the developmental continuum of our criminal justice framework. As our society continues to evolve and mature, our criminal procedure will have to be reviewed and updated to keep pace. In the process, we will continue to examine developments and innovations occurring elsewhere in the world.

108.          For instance, the Law Society has highlighted that the United Kingdom introduced, in 2003, an indeterminate sentencing regime, known as “Imprisonment for Public Protection”, where courts are empowered to incarcerate an offender for as long as he or she is assessed to be a danger to the community, rather than for a fixed term of years. Similar regimes exist in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We will study this, and other reforms, in close consultation with our criminal justice stakeholders. We will continue to search for solutions which work for us.

109.          Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move.



Mr Amarjeet Singh, SC

Mr Ang Cheng Hock, SC
Allen and Gledhill LLP

Mr Bala Reddy
Attorney-General's Chambers

Mr Hri Kumar, SC
Drew and Napier LLC

Ms Jennifer Marie, SC
Attorney-General’s Chambers

Professor Michael Hor
National University of Singapore

Assistant Professor Rathna Nathan
Singapore Management University

Mr S Rajendran
Hindu Endowments Board

Mr Sant Singh, SC
Chairman, Criminal Practice Committee of the Law Society 2009

Mr Subhas Anandan
President, the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore

Mr Sunil Sudheesan
Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore

Mr Tai Wei Shyong
Ministry of Home Affairs

Mr Tan Siong Thye
Subordinate Courts

Ms Valerie Thean
Ministry of Law

Mr Wendell Wong
Vice-Chairman, Criminal Practice Committee of the Law Society 2009

Mr Wong Hong Kuan
Singapore Police Force

Last updated on 25 Nov 2012