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The origins of Singapore’s current legal system is bound together with its history as a former British colony. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company established a trading post in Singapore. Shortly after, in 1826, the British Parliament passed the Second Charter of Justice which in effect imported and applied English law in the Straits Settlements (i.e., the British settlements on the Malay Peninsula, which included Singapore).
During its stint as a British colony, other laws were also implanted by the English into Singapore. In the field of criminal law, for example, the Indian Penal Code of 1860 was adopted by the Straits Settlements in 1872, and used instead of English common law for the relevant offences.
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, however, it increasingly found that the law ‘received’ from the British no longer suited its needs, and started to develop its own autochthonous legal system. In 1993, appeals to the Privy Council (a UK-based body) were abolished. In the same year, the Application of English Law Act (Cap 7A, 1994 Rev Ed) came into force, and set out the extent (and limits) to which English law would apply in Singapore.
Today, Singapore’s legal system, although bearing family resemblances to other commonwealth countries, is very much a law of its own. Like most other legal systems, Singapore takes reference from other jurisdictions to gauge the possible efficacy and necessity of certain legal developments. Judgments from certain jurisdictions may even be considered persuasive in court if we have certain legislative history in common (with UK, Australia, and Malaysian cases being the foreign jurisdictions often cited). However, Singapore courts do decline to follow other jurisdictions on the basis that e.g., the social contexts of the countries are different. For example, there is no Singapore equivalent of UK’s Human Rights Act of 1998, since this was a UK incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights into domestic British law.
TYPE OF SYSTEM
Singapore considers itself to have a Westminster-model parliamentary democracy.
The Constitution is the supreme law of Singapore. Other sources of law include legislation, subsidiary legislation, and judge-made law (through precedents).
LEGAL AID SITUATION
a. Quick summary of some avenues of legal aid in Singapore
- Legal Aid (representation):
All applicants: CLAS (non-capital criminal charges), LASCO (capital charges)
Singaporeans/PRs only: Legal Aid Bureau (civil claims)
Foreigners only: HOME (migrant workers) JWB (migrant workers)
- Legal Advice (e.g., through one-off legal clinics):
All applicants: AWARE (women only), Jamiyah (Syariah law)
Singaporeans/PRs only: Community Legal Clinic, SCWO (women, civil and muslim law, Singapore residents)
Foreigners only: Healthserve (migrant workers) TWC2 (migrant workers) MWC (migrant workers)
Acronyms used (in alphabetical order): AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research), CLAS (Criminal Legal Aid Scheme), HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), JWB (Justice Without Borders), LASCO (Legal Aid Scheme for Capital Offences), MWC (Migrant Workers’ Centre), SCWO (Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations), TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too).
b. State-sponsored legal aid
- Criminal cases:
The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (“CLAS”) provides legal assistance to anyone in Singapore who faces non-capital criminal charges in Court under the Penal Code or 16 other statutes,  provided that they pass both means and merits tests. This extends to non-Singaporeans and non-PRs.
The Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (“LASCO”) assigns free legal counsel to anyone who is charged with an offence where the penalty may be death (i.e., capital offences, e.g., murder, kidnapping, trafficking in Class A drugs). LASCO will provide legal representation at trial and on appeal, usually with one leading counsel and one assisting counsel. There is neither a means test to pass nor eligibility criteria to satisfy.
- Civil cases:
The Legal Aid Bureau (“LAB”) provides legal aid for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (“PRs”) who pass means and merits tests in civil cases. Also eligible are citizens/residents of contracting states who are involved in applications under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If the applicant is below the age of 21, the applicant’s parent/guardian must apply on their behalf. The Legal Aid Bureau is run by the Ministry of Law.
The Community Legal Clinic also provides one-off basic legal advice for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. The Community Legal Clinic is run by the Law Society of Singapore.
c. Other existing organizations providing pro bono legal aid
On top of directly state-sponsored legal aid, there are a number of other organizations that provide pro bono legal aid. Some NGOs focus on specific groups of applicants, such as migrant workers (HOME, Healthserve, TWC2, MWC); women (AWARE, SCWO); and startup companies (ACE). Other NGOs focus on specific areas of law, such as Syariah law (Jamiyah), intellectual property matters (IPOS), and consumer complaints (CASE).
acronyms: Action Community for Entrepreneurship (“ACE”), Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”), Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”)
d. Number of lawyers
As of 2018, there were 5,336 legal practitioners in Singapore.
SOURCES OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHTS
Singapore Constitution, in particular Art 9:
Liberty of the person
9.—(1) No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.
(2) Where a complaint is made to the High Court or any Judge thereof that a person is being unlawfully detained, the Court shall inquire into the complaint and, unless satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order him to be produced before the Court and release him.
(3) Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
(4) Where a person is arrested and not released, he shall, without unreasonable delay, and in any case within 48 hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey), be produced before a Magistrate, in person or by way of video-conferencing link (or other similar technology) in accordance with law, and shall not be further detained in custody without the Magistrate’s authority.
Information first received about an offence is normally recorded in a ‘First Information Report’. First information reports can be made to either police officers or other authorized persons. The recording officer/authorized person is obliged by law to follow certain procedures when information about an offence is given.
If the information is in writing, the recording officer must note the name and address of the person who gave the report, as well as the date and time the report was received. In addition, if the information appears to be signed, the officer is to file it as a report (s 14(2) CPC)
If the information is given orally and the recording officer considers it practicable to reduce to writing immediately, the officer must ensure that they must record: (i) the date and time of their receipt of the information; (ii) the name and address of the informant; (iii) the information given by the informant; and (iv) any other such particulars as the nature of the case may require. In addition, the informant, the recording officer, and the interpreter (where applicable) must, where practicable, sign this report (s 14(3) and (4), CPC)
If the information is given orally and it is impracticable for the recording officer to write down immediately, the recording officer must (i) make a note of the first information; and (ii) if the information relates to an arrestable offence, record as soon as possible a fuller statement from the informant (s 14(5) r/w s 22 CPC).
If the information is given to any authorized person, the person must immediately record the information in a report and communicate the report to a police officer whose duty is to deal with reports relating to the commission of any offence (s 15 CPC).
2. Arrest, search, and seizure laws
Offences are broadly categorized into offences that are ‘arrestable’ and ‘non-arrestable’ without a warrant. The police’s procedures and powers of arrest, search and seizure in each investigation depends on which category offence a person has committed (or which the police can reasonably suspect them of committing). Arrestable Penal Code offences are indicated in the 3rd column of the first schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).
To determine if a non-Penal Code offence is arrestable:
- (i) check for specific power of arrest in the particular legislation.
- (ii) if no specific power of arrest, check for the prescribed sentence: punishable with imprisonment for > 3 years = arrestable; punishable with imprisonment for < 3 years or fine only = non-arrestable.
All other offences are non-arrestable unless otherwise specified.
- Arrest without warrant:
In general, a warrant for arrest must be obtained for the police to arrest a person (see ss 69-74 CPC for procedural requirements). However, there are provided certain circumstances in which a warrant need not be obtained. In addition to (a) ‘arrestable’ offences, the following people can be arrested without a warrant under s 64(1) CPC:
• (b) possesses a housebreaking tool without being able to provide a lawful excuse for having it;
• (c) an absconded offender under section 88;
• (d) reasonably suspected to be in possession of stolen/fraudulently obtained property and reasonably suspected to have committed an offence to obtain it
• (e) obstruction of police officer doing duty or (attempted/)escapee from lawful custody
• (f) deserter from Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, volunteer/auxiliary/special forces attached to the police, or any visiting forces lawfully present in Singapore
• (g) suspect that that person is trying to conceal his presence to commit an arrestable offence
• (h) has no apparent means of subsistence or who cannot give a satisfactory account of himself;
• (i) is known to be a habitual robber, housebreaker or thief, or a habitual receiver of stolen property knowing it to be stolen, or who is known to habitually commit extortion or to habitually put or attempt to put persons in fear of injury in order to commit extortion;
• (j) breach of peace (commission or attempt in the presence of a police officer)
• (k) planning to commit an arrestable offence if cannot otherwise be prevented
• (l) subject to police supervision
• (m) breached detention order
There is other legislation that provides for arrest without a warrant, inter alia –
• Any person who commits or is reasonably suspected of committing an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act (See s 25)
• Any person who commits an offence under s 40 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) Act (See s 40)
• Any person who commits or is reasonably believed to have committed an offence under the Immigration Act (See s 51)
• Any person who commits an offence under the National Registration Act (See s 16(1))
- Physical but not unnecessary restaint:
Physical restraint: When arresting, the arrestee’s body must be touched/confined unless person submits to arrest by word or action (s 75 CPC)
No unnecessary restraint: The person must not be restrained more than is necessary to prevent his escape. (s 76 CPC)
- Right to be informed of grounds of arrest:
“Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest.” (s 9(3) Constitution)
• General information is sufficient: under what power he is being arrested under and the grounds of his arrest.
• “as soon as may be” – a question of fact in each case
• If not informed, the accused’s arrest and detention can be deemed false imprisonment until he is told (Christie v Leachinsky)
- Right to counsel:
“Where a person is arrested, (…) he shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice (s 9(3) Constitution; s 236 CPC)
• Within a reasonable time after arrest. Need not be immediately after arrest; right to be defended by an advocate must be balanced against the duty of the police to carry out effective investigations. Whether the time is ‘reasonable’ is a question of fact in each case. (Jasbir Singh v PP – 2 weeks; affirmed by the Court of Appeal in James Raj S/o Arokiasamy v PP)
• Right to counsel is not an unqualified right. Accused can only be entitled to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice insofar as the legal practitioner is similarly willing and able to defend him. (Balasundaram v PP)
• No right to be informed of right to counsel
• No right of foreign persons to consular access before statements are recorded.
In general, the police’s powers of search depends on whether the offence is arrestable or not. In general, if the investigation involves a non-arrestable offence, the Police have no automatic powers of search, and will have to apply for a search warrant (s 25 CPC, cf. s 34 CPC).
- Of people:
Search of arrested people without bail (s78(1) CPC)
In this search of the person arrested, the police may place in safe custody all articles other than necessary wearing apparel found upon the person. Search for name and address: any person who is lawfully in custody and unable to give a reasonable account of himself may be searched to find out their name or address (s 80 CPC). Detention and search of people found in a place which is being searched for an object: where a search for anything is lawfully made in any place in respect of any offence, every person found there may be lawfully detained until the search is complete (s 81(1) CPC). Furthermore, if the thing sought can be concealed on a person, the people found in the place can be searched for it by or in the presence of a police officer rank sergeant and above (s 81(2) CPC).
Search of a woman: must be by another woman unless suspected of terrorism or unless the search cannot be made within a reasonable time by a woman (s83 CPC).
- Of premises:
Starting point: search warrant needed to be issued by the court (s 25 CPC).
Search without warrant for items related to arrestable offences: the investigating police officer may search for a document or other thing in any place without a search warrant if he considers the item necessary for his investigation, and: (a) he has reason to believe that the person in possession of the item is unlikely to produce it; (b) he has reason to believe that the item is likely to be removed; or (c) it is not known who possesses this item or thing (s 34 CPC).
These powers include access to and limiting access to any computer if the police officer has reasonable cause to suspect that it is or has been used in connection with or contains evidence relating to the arrestable offence (s 39 CPC).
Search without warrant of the premises of the person related to arrestable offence: police officers are allowed to enter and search any place belonging to/in the control of a person who is: (i) under arrest for an arrestable offence, (ii) connected to the arrestable offence, or (iii) has given shelter to the person under arrest for an arrestable offence (s 78(2) CPC).
Search without warrant for stolen property: police officers rank sergeant and above can without a warrant search a place which they have reasonable cause to suspect contains stolen property if they have good grounds to believe that the property is likely to be removed (s 32 CPC). In addition, any police officer who has authorization by the Commissioner of Police can search premises which are or have been (for the past 12 months) been occupied by persons convicted of receiving stolen property, harbouring thieves, fraud/dishonesty etc. for the stolen property (s 33 CPC).
Search without warrant for a person sought to be arrested: police officers with the authority to arrest (or any other person acting under an arrest warrant) can search any place if they have reason to believe that the person to be arrested is inside (s 77 CPC). In the course of this search, the police have the power to use reasonable means to effect entry for the search, including the breaking of doors and windows (s 77(4) CPC)
c. Pre-trial detention
- Must be brought before a court without unnecessary delay
• When arrest is without a warrant: must be heard before a Magistrate’s Court without unnecessary or unreasonable delay and within 48 hours (ss 67, 68 CPC)
• When arrest is with a warrant/when arrest is by a citizen: must be brought before the relevant court without unnecessary delay
- Exception: Preventive Detention
Article 9(1) of the Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of his (…) personal liberty save in accordance with law”. However, the Constitution simultaneously provides that any law designed to prevent actions that are (inter alia) prejudicial to the security of Singapore is valid notwithstanding that it may be inconsistent with the rights enumerated in the Constitution, including Art 9 (Art 149(1), Singapore Constitution).
Person may be detained for up to 2 years on order of Minister with the satisfaction of President: Under s 8 of the Internal Security Act (“ISA”), the Minister may order that a person be detained for up to two years if the President is satisfied that it is necessary to prevent that person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Singapore.
Person may be detained for up to 12 months with satisfaction of Minister and consent of Public Prosecutor: At the same time, s 30 of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (“CLTPA”) allows for the detention of a person for up to 12 months if the person has been associated with activities of a criminal nature, if he has the consent of the Public Prosecutor, and if he is satisfied that this detention is necessary in the interests of public safety, peace, and good order.
Constitutional restrictions on preventive detention: Art 151 requires the authority on whose order the person is being detained to provide (i) grounds, (ii) allegations of fact and (iii) opportunity to make representation. Furthermore, no citizen can be detained for more than 3 months without being given the opportunity to make representations to the advisory board (final decision upon 2/3 of Elected Presidency, Advisory Board or Internal Security Department).
There have been efforts to judicially review the executive’s discretion under the various Acts that provide for preventive discretion. One of the main controversies is whether it the court should use a ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’ test to determine whether the Minister has been reasonable in ordering the detention (see Lee Mau Seng, Chng Suan Tze, and Teo Soh Lung; Michael Hor (2005) for a more comprehensive overview).
d. Enforcing the Rules
Note that the illegality of arrests do not affect the court’s jurisdiction to try the accused. Rather, the accused’s remedies lie in civil proceedings or disciplinary actions against the police.
(i) Lineups and other identification procedures
There is a lack of legislative guidelines regulating the conduction of identification parades. The Courts therefore generally have discretion as to whether they will admit or give weight to the evidence but must do so within the confines of procedural safeguards put in place to lessen the danger of the Court relying on unreliable identification evidence.
Firstly, the Courts will give less weight to evidence obtained from line-ups where the composition of foils is clearly unfair to the accused.
(a) Whether the case is dependent wholly or substantially on the correctness of the identification evidence alleged by the Defence to be mistaken; and if the answer is yes,
(b) If so, whether the identification evidence is of good quality, having regard to the circumstances in which it was made; or
(c) Where the quality of such evidence is poor, whether there is any other evidence that supports the correctness of the identification.
Whether identification evidence will be used and to what extent is subject to the three-step test. If the first limb is satisfied, the second or third does not have to be satisfied for the Court to rely on the evidence.
Singapore’s attitude towards admissibility of evidence obtained from police-led interrogation is also significantly more lenient than practices in other Commonwealth countries and marks a departure from the original intention that police-taken statements should be prima facie inadmissible. This attitude has been justified by arguments that the safeguards put in place for statements obtained by the Police ensure sufficient reliability.
- Oral Statements Taken Before Suspect has been Formally Charged
Under s 22(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, before any person is formally charged with an offence, police officers have the power to compel any suspects or witnesses to appear before them. Police officers have the power to orally examine these persons and take section 22 statements from them as long as they are connected to the proceedings or persons to be charged or already charged with an offence in connection with the case at hand. These section 22 statements are prima facie admissible in Court.
Although the person being examined “shall be bound to state truly what he knows of the facts and circumstances of the case ”, he enjoys the right of silence. This right is not considered to be a Constitutional right.
The right of silence under this section has two limitations:
(a) The accused does not have to be informed of the right of silence; and
(b) The Court can make adverse inferences from the silence.
The Court of Appeal in Kwek Seow Hock v Public Prosecutor held that the Court may draw an adverse inference under Section 22(2) on the person’s failure to mention a fact that may prove his innocence in the statement given to the police during the investigation process. While this rarely forms the sole basis of conviction, it can be used to corroborate or support aspects of the Prosecution’s case.
However, because Section 22 statements are often taken when the suspect has not yet been informed of the charge against him, it makes it difficult for him to discern what facts would be exculpatory and which would be self-incriminating. Section 22 statements are also taken again after the suspect has been charged but where the details of the charge are not fresh on his mind, opening the door to adverse inferences made against the accused when his omissions are caused by forgetting the events or facts relevant to the Charge.
- After Suspect has been Formally Charged
Under s 23(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, after a suspect has been formally charged or informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence, he must be served with or have read to him a notice that contains:
1. Information about the Charge; and
2. The consequences of keeping silent or refusing to give a statement.
There is no right to silence for statements made under s 23 of the Criminal Procedure Code. If the suspect continues to keep quiet or omits important information that is useful for his case in his statement, the Court will have the power to draw adverse inferences based on this silence.
- Procedural Safeguards during Interrogation Process
The procedural safeguards for the interrogation process operate almost entirely retroactively. Accused persons can usually only challenge the admissibility of the statements they made under interrogation or argue that the statements should be given less or no weight by the Court.
Consequences of Breach of Procedural Rules: The Criminal Procedure Code does not prevent evidence from being admitted simply because the procedure set out under the code was not adhered to because “[the courts] are not concerned with how the evidence is obtained as it is not for the courts to discipline the police ”. Any lapse in procedure when taking a statement can only go towards a finding of one of the above two points. No lapse in procedure will in and of itself automatically cause statements to be excluded and no inferences will be drawn from the breach of procedure.
Statements taken by any enforcement personnel can only be excluded under two circumstances:
1. Voluntariness: Firstly, where the statement was not given voluntarily
For the statement to be admissible, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the statement taken by the police officer was given voluntarily by the accused. A statement is not given voluntarily 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. However, the bar to Courts finding a lack of voluntariness is extremely high.
2. Prejudicial effect > Probative Value
The Court of Appeal’s judgment in Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 marked a change in attitude towards severe breaches of procedure and their consequences for the evidence’s admissibility. While statements obtained through procedural lapses such as lying to the suspect continue to be prima facie admissible as long as they are voluntarily given, the Court now explicitly reserves the discretionary power to exclude these statements where it finds the prejudicial effect of the statement outweighs the probative value of the statement. This can be found where there have been excessive breaches of procedural guidelines that render the evidence so unreliable as to be inadmissible.
Video recording: As a practical safeguard and to better assess the arguments on whether a statement was voluntarily taken, the Courts have begun to roll out mandatory video recordings (VRIs) of interrogations and interviews. While VRIs are currently limited to those accused of specified rape offences, there are plans to expand its scope in the future. Although defence counsels will not be able to obtain copies of the recording, they will be given access to watch the recordings at an approved place for however many times they want as well as a transcript of the recording.
Disciplinary Action for Mistreatment of Suspects and Witnesses: Besides procedures during interrogation affecting the statements as evidence, there are Police General Orders in addition to a Criminal Procedure Code which police officers are trusted to follow during interrogation. Breach of procedures under these codes can be punishable. However, disciplinary proceedings relating to lack of adherence to interrogation procedures is uncommon in Singapore.
Right to counsel: There is an inalienable Right of access to Counsel in Singapore that continues to subsist even where the person is remanded under the Internal Security Act. Its source is Article 9(3) of the Constitution: Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. However, no one has the right to be informed of his right to Counsel. Furthermore, the Article does not provide the time elapsed or conditions that must be fulfilled before a person can have their Right to Counsel.
The prevailing view in Singapore is that the right to counsel must be granted “within a reasonable time” after the suspect’s arrest, and this “reasonable time” means affording a “reasonable time” for investigations -- the right does not elapse immediately after arrest. As to the actual measure of “reasonable time”, the Courts have stated that it is instead a question of fact because it calls for a factual inquiry of all the relevant considerations, explicitly rejecting arguments that a reasonable time is within 48 hours. While the Courts have stated that the onus is on the Police officer to show that the right to counsel would impede police investigation or the administration of justice, a largely permissive view has been taken towards delays: Courts have held 2 weeks of no access to counsel to be reasonable despite the Prosecution already having taken a cautioned statement from the accused.
Rights of the accused at all times
CRIMINAL LAW SYSTEM
1. Double jeopardy
The Executive includes the Elected President, the Cabinet and the Attorney-General. The President is elected by the people and is empowered to veto government budgets and appointments to public office. The Cabinet comprises the Prime Minister and Ministers appointed from among the Members of Parliament and is responsible for the general direction and control of the Government and is accountable to Parliament. The Attorney-General is the principal legal advisor to the government and has the power and discretion to prosecute offenders.
Executive power rests with the Cabinet. The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other Ministers from among the Members of Parliament to form the Cabinet. The Cabinet is responsible for all government policies and the day-to-day administration of the affairs of state.
(i) Prime Ministers of Singapore
1959 to 1990: Mr Lee Kuan Yew
1990 to 2004: Mr Goh Chok Tong
2004 to Present: Mr Lee Hsien Loong
The Legislature comprises the President and Parliament and is the legislative authority responsible for enacting legislation. Parliament is made up of elected, non-constituency and nominated Members of Parliament. The President’s assent is required for all bills passed by Parliament and he may in his discretion withhold assent to certain bills.
The Singapore Parliament is unicameral and together with the President of Singapore, is known as the Legislature. It is modelled after the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament (MPs) are voted in at regular General Elections. In Singapore, a General Election must be held at least once every five years. The leader of the political party that secures the majority of seats in Parliament will be asked by the President to become the Prime Minister. MPs consist of either Elected, Non-Constituency or Nominated members.
The present 12th Parliament of Singapore, which opened its first session on 10 October 2011, has 99 MPs, comprising 87 elected MPs, 3 Non-Constituency MPs and 9 Nominated MPs.
The Judiciary is made up of the Supreme Court and the State Courts. The Judiciary administers the law independently of the Executive and this independence is safeguarded by the Constitution. The Supreme Court consists of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Chief Justice, Judges of Appeal, Judicial Commissioners and High Court Judges are appointed by the President from candidates recommended by the Prime Minister.
Singapore practices the common law legal system, where the decisions of higher courts constitute binding precedent upon courts of equal or lower status within their jurisdiction, as opposed to the civil law legal system in continental Europe. The current criminal code was preceded by the Indian Penal Code which was adopted when Singapore was a Crown Colony.
Singapore has a comprehensive judicial system. The State Courts (previously known as Subordinate Courts) form the first tier in the judicial hierarchy to administer justice amongst the people. It comprises the District Courts, Magistrates' Courts, specialised courts – Family Court, Juvenile Court, Coroner's Court – Small Claims Tribunals and the Court Mediation Centre. The District Courts, Magistrates’ Courts and Small Claims Tribunals can hear civil matters where disputed amounts do not exceed $250,000, $60,000 and $10,000 respectively.
The second tier is the Supreme Court, made up of the High Court and Court of Appeal (the highest Court in the land). Both courts hear criminal cases and civil claims exceeding $250,000. The Chief Justice, Judges of Appeal, Judges and Judicial Commissioners are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
While the judicial system has been efficient in dispensing justice, the Government has found it necessary and expedient to complement the courts with other modes of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), namely arbitration and mediation. Having established itself as a major international commercial centre, Singapore has made giant leaps to cater to the demands of business for cheaper, quicker and, at times, confidential dispute resolution.
It has positioned itself as a competitive arbitration centre to match that of London and Hong Kong. Major law firms in Singapore now offer arbitration services, and institutions with state-of-the-art hearing facilities are in place to meet the arbitration needs of disputants.
For smaller claims, mediation has been promoted as an alternative method of resolving disputes. The State Courts via their Primary Dispute Resolution Centre and the Singapore Mediation Centre are the two main mediation avenues. The rest are initiatives spearheaded by the Government or industry namely Maintenance of Parents Tribunal, Community Mediation Centre and Consumers’ Association of Singapore.
(a) The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is made up of the Court of Appeal and the High Court, and hears both civil and criminal matters. Led by the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the Supreme Court Bench consists of the Judges of Appeal, Judges and Judicial Commissioners of the Supreme Court.
The High Court has jurisdiction to try all offences committed in Singapore and may also try offences committed outside Singapore in certain circumstances. In criminal cases, the High Court generally tries cases involving capital offences or cases involving imprisonment terms that exceed 10 years. Generally, except in probate matters, a civil case must be commenced in the High Court if the value of the claim exceeds $250,000. Probate matters are commenced in the High Court only if the value of the deceased's estate exceeds $3,000,000 or if the case involves the resealing of a foreign grant. In addition, ancillary matters in family proceedings involving assets of S$1,500,000 or more are also heard in the High Court.
Since 2002, various specialised courts like the Admiralty Court, the Intellectual Property Court and the Arbitration Court have also been set up in the Supreme Court in response to the increasing complexity of commercial cases reaching the judiciary. The establishment of dedicated specialist commercial courts underscores the Supreme Court´s depth of expertise and experience in these areas, and its commitment to position and promote Singapore as a premier centre for dispute resolution and as a jurisdiction of choice for the resolution of both domestic and international commercial disputes.
(b) State Courts of Singapore
The Judiciary is one of the three constitutional pillars of government along with the Legislature and the Executive. As an Organ of State, the Judiciary's function is to independently administer justice. The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary which comprises the Supreme Court and the State Courts (originally called Subordinate Courts).
The State Courts of Singapore include the District Courts, the Magistrates´ Courts, the Specialised Courts (i.e. Family Courts, Juvenile Courts, etc.) and the Small Claims Tribunals. As a critical component of the Judiciary, the State Courts handle more than 95% of the Judiciary's caseload.
The Chief District Judge has overall responsibility for the administration of the State Courts. The Chief District Judge leads a team of Judicial Officers who adjudicate on cases brought before the State Courts. He is assisted administratively by the Registrar who is also concurrently the Deputy Chief District Judge.
(forms part of the Executive)
Roles and Responsibilities
The President of Singapore is the Head of State.
Prior to 30 November 1991, the President was a titular Head of State with a largely ceremonial role. On 30 November 1991, the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore was amended to make the President’s office an elected office with discretionary powers relating to the safeguarding of national reserves and the appointment of key personnel in the public sector and certain Government companies. Broadly, the roles and responsibilities of the President can be categorised as follows:
The powers of the Elected President are set out in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and these powers largely fall into two categories - discretionary powers and non-discretionary powers.
(b) Discretionary powers
The President has the power to veto or disagree with the Government’s proposals in the following areas:
• Use of Past Reserves – i.e. Reserves not accumulated by the Government during its current term of office.
• Appointment and removal of key office holders in the public service and in the statutory boards and Government companies, which are listed in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.
• Changes to investment powers of the Central Provident Fund Board
• Restraining Orders under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (Cap. 167A)
• Continued detention under the Internal Security Act (Cap. 143)
• Refusal of investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB)
The President’s discretionary powers provide an important check and balance to the Government with regard to preventing the misuse of the nation’s reserves and ensuring that the public service is impartial.
The President must consult the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) on matters relating to Past Reserves and the appointment and removal of key office holders (Article 21(3) of the Constitution). On other areas involving the President’s discretionary powers, consultation of CPA is optional (Article 21(4) of the Constitution).
If the President vetoes (i) the Government’s budget (on the basis that it is likely to lead to a draw on Past Reserves) or (ii) the appointment/removal of any key office holder, and the President’s decision is contrary to CPA’s advice, Parliament may overrule the President’s decision with a two-thirds majority vote.
On other matters involving the President’s discretionary powers, the President’s decision is final.
(c) Protection of Past Reserves
The President acts as the guardian of Past Reserves – reserves that were accumulated before the current term of the Government, including reserves accumulated by key statutory boards and Government companies (SBGC) listed under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.
SBGCs include GIC Pte Ltd, Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) and Jurong Town Corporation (JTC).
The President may exercise his discretionary power and veto any budget or specific transaction (such as the giving of guarantees or raising of loans) of the Government or a Fifth Schedule SBGC if, in his opinion, the proposed budget or transaction is likely to lead to a draw on the Past Reserves.
The President does not direct the operations or the investment strategies of the Government or the Fifth Schedule SBGCs. However, in the case of the CPF Board, the President can veto any Bill passed by the Parliament that directly or indirectly affects the Board’s investment powers.
(d) Appointment of Key Office Holders
In the interest of ensuring the impartiality of the public sector, the President has the discretionary power to veto the appointment or removal of —
key office holders in the public service listed in Article 22 of the Constitution (such as the Chief Justice, Judges of the Supreme Court, Attorney-General, Auditor-General, Director of Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Chairman and members of the Public Service Commission, Chief of Defence Force and Commissioner of Police);
any chairman, board member or chief executive officer of a Fifth Schedule statutory board (Article 22A of the Constitution); and
any director or chief executive officer of a Fifth Schedule Government company (Article 22C of the Constitution).
(e) ISA detention orders, CPIB investigations and restraining orders in relation to maintenance of religious harmony
The continued detention of a person under the Internal Security Act (ISA) requires the President’s concurrence if the Government disagrees with the recommendation of the advisory board (established under the ISA) that the person be released (Article 151(4) of the Constitution).
Investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) may be carried on with the President’s concurrence under Article 22G of the Constitution notwithstanding that the Prime Minister does not consent to such investigations.
Restraining orders made under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA) must subsequently be confirmed by the President. The President also has the power under Article 22I of the Constitution to cancel or vary a restraining order if the advice of the Cabinet on the matter differs from the recommendation of the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony (established under the MRHA).
Non-discretionary powers of the President refer to matters in which the President has no discretion and must act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a Minister. For example, the President must act in accordance with the Cabinet's advice regarding the pardon of a person convicted of an offence. The President must also act in accordance with the Prime Minister's advice on the appointment of Ministers.
As the Ceremonial Head of State, the President is the symbolic figure representing Singapore at ceremonies and internationally.
(h) Foreign Relations
All foreign ambassadors-designate and high commissioners-designate will present their credentials to the President before assuming office in Singapore. The President also presents letters of credence to ambassadors-designate and high commissioners-designate of Singapore before they leave to assume office overseas.
The President promotes friendship and economic ties between Singapore and other countries by hosting and engaging visiting dignitaries and making State Visits overseas.
A meeting between countries at the Head of State level is the highest form of a diplomatic exchange. Such exchanges promote international and bilateral trade and investments, and cooperation in various areas such as defence, education, research and development, and arts and culture, to open doors to opportunities around the world that Singaporeans can tap on.
(i) Officiating at State Events & Conferment of National Awards
As the highest office of the land, the Presidency is vested with several ceremonial functions. Each Parliament session is opened by the President who will deliver a Presidential address laying out the key challenges for each term of government. The President officiates at swearing-in ceremonies of key appointment-holders such as the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court. The annual National Day Parade is officiated by the President. The President also confers awards, such as the National Day Awards, on the advice of the Cabinet.
The President may use the influence of his position to support charitable and social causes, such as sports, volunteerism, social entrepreneurship, culture and the arts. The President's Challenge championed by the President is one such example. The President is often invited to grace events organised by grassroots, community and welfare groups, ethnic and religious celebrations and social activities.
The Istana is open to the public on national festivities such as the Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Labour Day and National Day. President will interact with members of the public during these open houses.
The President lends his name to awards in recognition of excellence achieved in various fields, which are of importance to our nation and society and to encourage the development of our youths.
(l) Presidential office
• Council of Presidential Advisors
The Constitution of Singapore was amended in 1991 to give the Elected President custodial and discretionary powers to safeguard the reserves of the Government, which were not accumulated by the Government during its current term of office. The Constitutional amendments, which came into effect on 30 November 1991, also provided for a Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) to advise the President in the exercise of his custodial and discretionary powers. It is obligatory for the President to consult the Council before he vetoes the budgets of the Government and key government-linked bodies and the appointments of government nominees to key posts.
The Council comprises six members and two alternate members. Two members are appointed by the President at his discretion; two are the Prime Minister's nominees; one is the Chief Justice's nominee; and one is the nominee of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. One alternate member is appointed by the President at his discretion while the other is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, in consultation with the Chief Justice and Chairman of Public Service Commission.
Members are appointed on a six-year term on their first appointment. They are eligible for re-appointment for further terms of four years each. Alternate members are appointed on a four-year term. The present Chairman of the CPA is Mr J Y Pillay. The other members are Mr S Dhanabalan, Mr Po'ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar, Mr Goh Joon Seng, Mr Bobby Chin Yoke Choong and Mr Lee Tzu Yang. The two alternate members are Mr Lim Chee Onn and Mr Stephen Lee Ching Yen. As Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr Pillay exercises the functions of the office of the President in the absence of the President. If he is unavailable, this duty then falls on the Speaker of Parliament.
(i) Role of the CPA
The CPA advises the President in the exercise of his discretionary veto powers. The President must consult the CPA in the exercise of any of his discretionary powers in connection with appointments and the reserves. It is optional for the President to consult the CPA as regards other areas where he has discretionary powers. CPA proceedings are private. The CPA may ask public officers to furnish information. Should any public officer appear before the CPA, the officer is prohibited by the Constitution from disclosing his discussions before the CPA with anyone else.
(ii) Members of Council of Presidential Advisers
Chairman – Mr J Y Pillay
Member – Mr S Dhanabalan
Member – Mr Po'ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar
Member – Mr Goh Joon Seng
Member – Mr Bobby Chin Yoke Choong
Member – Mr Lee Tzu Yang
Alternate Member – Mr Lim Chee Onn
Alternate Member – Mr Stephen Lee Ching Yen
(iii) Other Presidential Councils
Presidential Council for Minority Rights
The Presidential Council for Minority Rights has its origins in 1970 when it was established as the Presidential Council under the Constitution. In 1973, the Council was renamed to its present name.
The Council examines all legislation to ensure that they are not disadvantageous to any racial or religious community as compared to other such communities. Its report on such legislation is presented to Parliament. In addition, the Council also considers matters affecting any racial or religious community that are referred to it by Parliament or the Government.
In its advisory capacity, the Council advises the President on nominations of appointees to the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony (under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act), the Malay Community Committee, and the Indian and Other Minorities Communities Committee (under the Parliamentary Elections Act).
Members of the Council are appointed by the President on the advice of the Cabinet. Currently, the Council has 16 Members comprising the Chairman, six permanent Members and nine other Members, as follows:
The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
Tuan Haji Othman bin Wok
Mr Goh Chok Tong, Emeritus Senior Minister
Mr S Dhanabalan
Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law
Mr VK Rajah, Attorney-General
Mr J Y Pillay
His Grace Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye
Mr Othman Haron Eusofe
Mr Timothy James de Souza
Mr Abdullah Tarmugi
Prof Chan Heng Chee
Mr Barry Desker
Mr Philip Jeyaretnam
Mr Surjit Singh s/o Wazir Singh
Shaikh Syed Isa bin Mohamed Semait
Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng
(iv) Presidential Council for Religious Harmony
The Presidential Council for Religious Harmony is set up under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA). The Chairman and members are appointed by the President of the Republic of Singapore. The Council gives its advice to the Minister for Home Affairs on matters affecting the maintenance of religious harmony in Singapore which are referred to it by the Minister or by Parliament, and considers and makes recommendations to the President on restraining orders issued under the Act. The Council can number from six to fifteen members, excluding the Chairman. The Council serves a three-year term.
The Chairman and members of the Council are:
Mr Goh Joon Seng
Venerable Seck Kwang Phing (Buddhist Representative)
His Grace Archbishop William Goh (Roman Catholic Representative)
Mr Rajendran s/o Sinnathamby (Hindu Representative)
Mufti Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram (Muslim Representative)
Mr Lim Khay Tham (Protestant Christian Representative)
Mr Surjit Singh s/o Wazir Singh (Sikh Representative)
Associate Professor Lee Cheuk Yin (Taoist Representative)
Mr Wee Heng Tin (Layperson)
Ms Lai Siu Chiu (Layperson)
The term "Aide-de-Camp' is of French origin, meaning 'camp or field assistant'. The ADC was originally a military assistant in the field to a Sovereign, Chief of State, or General. They transmitted orders and supervised operations in the name of their commander, and even exercised delegated authority on occasions. In modern day, the ADC is an officer of the armed forces who serves as a personal assistant to the President, Head of State, General, Admiral, or other high-ranking commanders. Compared to the military importance and tasks of ADCs in 19th Century armies, the role of ADCs today have changed to become mainly those of rendering personal assistance and acting as confidential secretaries to their commanders.
In some countries, the ADC to the sovereign or Head of State is an honorary position. In others, ADCs have more detailed and important duties. In most countries, the tour of duty of an ADC is between two and four years, and it is usually required that an ADC appointee has served several years with troops previously. Currently, the President of the Republic of Singapore has three full-time ADCs. The full-time ADCs are assisted by a corps of Honorary ADCs from the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force at major events.
The full-time ADCs to the President attend to the general administration, security and social needs of the President, and accompany him whenever he attends, presides, or is involved in State functions, gatherings, ceremonies or occasions of ceremonial or charitable/social nature. They are responsible for the co-ordination, planning, execution and follow-up of all of President’s events, both locally and for overseas visits. Honorary ADCs assist the full-time ADCs in the discharge of their duties to the President. They help in areas such as receiving guests and serving as liaison officers for VIPs or as emcees at official events, to ensure the smooth running of these functions.
(vi) The Aiguillette
Internationally, Aides-de-Camp may be identified by the thick distinctive cords worn across their right shoulder, called aiguillettes. The aiguillettes are plaited cords ending at two points called aglets. Historically, the aglets were used by knights to fasten the plates of their armour together. Aiguillettes are worn on the right shoulder by officers of certain appointments only. They include:
Chief of Defence Force in the Singapore Armed Forces
Commissioner of Police in the Singapore Police Force
Commissioner in the Singapore Civil Defence Force
Aides-de-Camp to the President
Honorary Aides-de-Camp to the President
In Singapore, ADCs from the Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Civil Defence Force wear gold aiguillettes, while those from the Singapore Police Force wear silver aiguillettes.
(vii) Civil List
The Civil List provides the funds to maintain the President’s Office, including salaries of the President and his personal staff, and operational expenditures, such as the costs of running events and functions. The Civil List of the President of the Republic of Singapore, which is provided for under the Constitution (Article 22J) to enable the President to perform his functions, shall not be diminished during the continuance in office of the President.
(viii) Presidents of Singapore
1965 to 1970: Mr Yusof bin Ishak
1971 to 1981: Mr Benjamin Sheares
1981 to 1985: Mr Devan Nair
1985 to 1993: Mr Wee Kim Wee
1993 to 1999: Mr Ong Teng Cheong
1999 to 2011: Mr S R Nathan
2011 to Present: Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam
SINGAPORE LEGAL SYSTEM
Although Singapore’s legal system has its root in the common law, the criminal law of Singapore is largely statutory in nature. The general principles of criminal law, as well as the elements and penalties of common criminal offences such as homicide, theft and cheating, are set out in the Penal Code.
REVISED EDITION 2008 – 30TH NOVEMBER 2008
(Original Enactment: Ordinance 4 of 1871)
(numerals being the section number)
1. Short title
2. Punishment of offences committed within Singapore
3. Punishment of offences committed beyond, but which by law may be tried within Singapore
4. Jurisdiction over public servants for offences committed outside Singapore
5. Certain laws not to be affected by this Code
6. Definitions in this Code to be understood subject to exceptions
7. Expression once explained is used in the same sense throughout this Code
10. "Man" and "woman"
20. “Court of justice”
21. “Public servant”
22. “Movable property”
23. “Wrongful gain” and “wrongful loss”
26. “Reason to believe”
27. Property in possession of spouse, clerk or servant
29B. “Electronic Record”
30. “Valuable security”
31. “A will”
31A. “Die” and “instrument”
32. Words referring to acts include illegal omissions
33. “Act” and “omission”
34. Each of several persons liable for an act done by all, in like manner as if done by him alone
35. When such an act is criminal by reason of its being done with a criminal knowledge or intention
36. Effect caused partly by act and partly by omission
37. Co-operation by doing one of several acts constituting an offence
38. Several persons engaged in the commission of a criminal act may be guilty of different offences
41. Offence with specified term of imprisonment
43. "Illegal", "unlawful" and "legally bound to do"
49. “Year” and “month”
52. “Good faith”
54. Imprisonment for life
72. Punishment of a person found guilty of one of several offences, the judgment stating that it is doubtful of which
73. Enhanced penalties for offences against domestic maids
74. Enhanced penalties for racially or religiously aggravated offences
75. Punishment of persons convicted, after a previous conviction, of an offence punishable with 3 years’ imprisonment
76. Act done by a person bound, or by mistake of fact believing himself bound by law
77. Act of judge when acting judicially
78. Act done pursuant to the judgment or order of a court of justice
79. Act done by a person justified, or by mistake of fact believing himself justified by law
80. Accident in the doing of a lawful act
81. Act likely to cause harm but done without a criminal intent, and to prevent other harm
82. Act of a child under 7 years of age
83. Act of a child above 7 and under 12 years of age, who has not sufficient maturity of understanding
84. Act of a person of unsound mind
85. Intoxication when a defence
86. Effect of defence of intoxication when established
87. Act not intended and not known to be likely to cause death or grievous hurt, done by consent
88. Act not intended to cause death done by consent in good faith for the benefit of a person
89. Act done in good faith for the benefit of a child or person of unsound mind, by or by consent of guardian
90. Consent given under fear or misconception, by person of unsound mind, etc., and by child
91. Acts which are offences independently of harm caused to the person consenting, are not within the exceptions in sections 87, 88 and 89
92. Act done in good faith for the benefit of a person without consent
93. Communication made in good faith
94. Act to which a person is compelled by threats
95. Act causing slight harm
Right of private defence
96. Nothing done in private defence is an offence
97. Right of private defence of the body and of property
98. Right of private defence against the act of a person of unsound mind, etc.
99. Acts against which there is no right of private defence
100. When the right of private defence of the body extends to causing death
101. When such right extends to causing any harm other than death
102. Commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of the body
103. When the right of private defence of property extends to causing death
104. When such right extends to causing any harm other than death
105. Commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of property
106. Right of private defence against a deadly assault when there is risk of harm to an innocent person
107. Abetment of the doing of a thing
108A. Abetment in Singapore of an offence outside Singapore
108B. Abetment outside Singapore of an offence in Singapore
109. Punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence, and where no express provision is made for its punishment
110. Punishment of abetment if the person abetted does the act with a different intention from that of the abettor
111. Liability of abettor when one act is abetted and a different act is done
112. Abettor, when liable to cumulative punishment for act abetted and for act done
113. Liability of abettor for an offence caused by the act abetted different from that intended by the abettor
114. Abettor present when offence committed
115. Abetment of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life
116. Abetment of an offence punishable with imprisonment
117. Abetting the commission of an offence by the public or by more than 10 persons
118. Concealing a design to commit an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life
119. A public servant concealing a design to commit an offence which it is his duty to prevent
120. Concealing a design to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment
120A. Definition of criminal conspiracy
120B. Punishment of criminal conspiracy
OFFENCES AGAINST THE STATE
121. Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Government
121A. Offences against the President’s person
121B. Offences against authority
121C. Abetting offences under section 121A or 121B
121D. Intentional omission to give information of offences against section 121, 121A, 121B or 121C by a person bound to inform
122. Collecting arms, etc., with the intention of waging war against the Government
123. Concealing with intent to facilitate a design to wage war
124. Assaulting President, etc., with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power
125. Waging war against any power in alliance or at peace with Singapore
126. Committing depredation on the territories of any power in alliance or at peace with Singapore
127. Receiving property taken by war or depredation mentioned in sections 125 and 126
128. Public servant voluntarily allowing prisoner of State or war in his custody to escape
129. Public servant negligently suffering prisoner of State or war in his custody to escape
130. Aiding escape of, rescuing, or harbouring such prisoner
130B. Piracy by law of nations. Cf. 12 and 13 Victoria c. 96 (Admiralty Offences (Colonial) Act 1849)
130C. Piratical acts
130E. Punishment for genocide
OFFENCES RELATING TO ARMED FORCES
131. Abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce an officer or a serviceman from his duty
132. Abetment of mutiny, if mutiny is committed in consequence thereof
133. Abetment of an assault by an officer or a serviceman on his superior officer, when in the execution of his office
134. Abetment of such assault, if the assault is committed
135. Abetment of the desertion of an officer or a serviceman
136. Harbouring a deserter
137. Deserter concealed on board merchant vessel through negligence of master
138. Abetment of act of insubordination by an officer or a serviceman
140. Wearing the dress of a serviceman
140B. Application of Chapter VII to Singapore Police Force
OFFENCES RELATING TO UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY
141. Unlawful assembly
142. Being a member of an unlawful assembly
144. Joining an unlawful assembly armed with any deadly weapon
145. Joining or continuing in an unlawful assembly, knowing that it has been commanded to disperse
146. Force used by one member in prosecution of common object
147. Punishment for rioting
148. Rioting, armed with a deadly weapon
149. Every member of an unlawful assembly to be deemed guilty of any offence committed in prosecution of common object
150. Hiring, or conniving at hiring, of persons to join an unlawful assembly
151. Knowingly joining or continuing in any assembly of 5 or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse
152. Assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, etc.
153. Wantonly giving provocation, with intent to cause riot
154. Owner or occupier of land on which an unlawful assembly is held
155. Liability of person for whose benefit a riot is committed
156. Liability of agent of owner or occupier for whose benefit a riot is committed
157. Harbouring persons hired for an unlawful assembly
158. Being hired to take part in an unlawful assembly or riot
OFFENCES BY OR RELATING TO PUBLIC SERVANTS
161. Public servant taking a gratification, other than legal remuneration, in respect of an official act
162. Taking a gratification in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence a public servant
163. Taking a gratification, for the exercise of personal influence with a public servant
164. Punishment for abetment by public servant of the offences above defined
165. Public servant obtaining any valuable thing, without consideration, from person concerned in any proceeding or business transacted by such public servant
166. Public servant disobeying a direction of the law, with intent to cause injury to any person
167. Public servant framing an incorrect document or electronic record with intent to cause injury
168. Public servant unlawfully engaging in trade
169. Public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for property
170. Personating a public servant
171. Wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant, with fraudulent intent
CONTEMPTS OF THE LAWFUL AUTHORITY OF PUBLIC SERVANTS
172. Absconding to avoid arrest on warrant or service of summons, etc., proceeding from a public servant
173. Preventing service of summons, etc., or preventing publication thereof
174. Failure to attend in obedience to an order from a public servant
175. Omission to produce a document or an electronic record to a public servant by a person legally bound to produce such document or electronic record
176. Omission to give notice or information to a public servant by a person legally bound to give such notice or information
177. Furnishing false information
178. Refusing oath when duly required to take oath by a public servant
179. Refusing to answer a public servant authorised to question
180. Refusing to sign statement
181. False statement on oath to public servant or person authorised to administer an oath
182. False information, with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person
183. Resistance to the taking of property by the lawful authority of a public servant
184. Obstructing sale of property offered for sale by authority of a public servant
185. Illegal purchase or bid for property offered for sale by authority of a public servant
186. Obstructing public servant in discharge of his public functions
187. Omission to assist public servant when bound by law to give assistance
188. Disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant
189. Threat of injury to a public servant
190. Threat of injury to induce any person to refrain from applying for protection to a public servant
FALSE EVIDENCE AND OFFENCES AGAINST PUBLIC JUSTICE
191. Giving false evidence
192. Fabricating false evidence
193. Punishment for false evidence
194. Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of a capital offence
195. Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of an offence punishable with imprisonment
196. Using evidence known to be false
197. Issuing or signing a false certificate
198. Using as a true certificate one known to be false in a material point
199. False statement made in any declaration which is by law receivable as evidence
200. Using as true any such declaration known to be false
201. Causing disappearance of evidence of an offence committed, or giving false information touching it, to screen the offender
202. Intentional omission to give information of an offence, by person bound to inform
203. Giving false information respecting an offence committed
204. Destruction of document or electronic record to prevent its production as evidence
204A. Obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating course of justice
204B. Bribery of witnesses
205. False personation for the purpose of any act or proceeding in a suit
206. Fraudulent removal or concealment of property to prevent its seizure as a forfeiture or in execution of a decree
207. Fraudulent claim to property to prevent its seizure as a forfeiture or in execution of a decree
208. Fraudulently suffering a decree for a sum not due
209. Fraudulently or dishonestly making a false claim before a court of justice
210. Fraudulently obtaining a decree for a sum not due
211. False charge of offence made with intent to injure
212. Harbouring an offender
213. Taking gifts, etc., to screen an offender from punishment
214. Offering gift or restoration of property in consideration of screening offender
215. Taking gift to help to recover stolen property, etc.
216. Harbouring an offender who has escaped from custody, or whose apprehension has been ordered
216A. Harbouring robbers or gang-robbers, etc.
217. Public servant disobeying a direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture
218. Public servant framing an incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment, or property from forfeiture
219. Public servant in a judicial proceeding making an order, etc., which he knows to be contrary to law
220. Commitment for trial or confinement by a person having authority who knows that he is acting contrary to law
221. Intentional omission to apprehend on the part of a public servant bound by law to apprehend
222. Intentional omission to apprehend on the part of a public servant bound by law to apprehend person under sentence of a court of justice
223. Escape from confinement negligently suffered by a public servant
224. Resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension
225. Resistance or obstruction to the lawful apprehension of another person
225A. Public servant omitting to apprehend or suffering other persons to escape in cases not already provided for
225B. Resistance or obstruction to lawful apprehension, or escape, or rescue, in cases not otherwise provided for
225C. Offences against laws of Singapore where no special punishment is provided
226. Unlawful return from banishment
228. Intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding
229. Personation of an assessor
OFFENCES RELATING TO COIN AND GOVERNMENT STAMPS
230. “Coin” and “current coin”
231. Counterfeiting coin
232. Counterfeiting current coin
233. Making or selling instrument for counterfeiting coin
234. Making or selling instrument for counterfeiting current coin
235. Possession of instrument or material for the purpose of using the same for counterfeiting coin
236. Abetting in Singapore the counterfeiting out of Singapore of coin or current coin
237. Import or export of counterfeit coin
238. Import or export of counterfeits of current coin
239. Delivery to another of coin, possessed with the knowledge that it is counterfeit
240. Delivery of current coin, possessed with the knowledge that it is counterfeit
241. Delivery to another of coin as genuine, which when first possessed the deliverer did not know to be counterfeit
241A. Delivery to another of current coin as genuine, which when first possessed the deliverer did not know to be counterfeit
242. Possession of counterfeit coin by a person who knew it to be counterfeit when he became possessed thereof
243. Possession of current coin by a person who knew it to be counterfeit when he became possessed thereof
246. Fraudulently or dishonestly diminishing the weight or altering the composition of any coin
247. Fraudulently or dishonestly diminishing the weight or altering the composition of current coin
248. Altering appearance of any coin with intent that it shall pass as a coin of a different description
249. Altering appearance of current coin with intent that it shall pass as a coin of a different description
250. Delivery to another of coin possessed with the knowledge that it is altered
251. Delivery of current coin possessed with the knowledge that it is altered
252. Possession of altered coin by a person who knew it to be altered when he became possessed thereof
253. Possession of current coin by a person who knew it to be altered when he became possessed thereof
254. Delivery to another of coin as genuine, which when first possessed the deliverer did not know to be altered
254A. Delivery to another of current coin as genuine, which when first possessed the deliverer did not know to be altered
255. Counterfeiting a Government stamp
256. Having possession of an instrument or material for the purpose of counterfeiting a Government stamp
257. Making or selling an instrument for the purpose of counterfeiting a Government stamp
258. Sale of counterfeit Government stamp
259. Having possession of a counterfeit Government stamp
260. Using as genuine a Government stamp known to be counterfeit
261. Effacing any writing from a substance bearing a Government stamp, or removing from a document a stamp used for it, with intent to cause loss to Government
262. Using a Government stamp known to have been before used
263. Erasure of mark denoting that stamp has been used
OFFENCES RELATING TO WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
264. Fraudulent use of false instrument for weighing
265. Fraudulent use of false weight or measure
266. Being in possession of false weights or measures
267. Making or selling false weights or measures
OFFENCES AFFECTING THE PUBLIC TRANQUILITY, PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, CONVENIENCE, DECENCY AND MORALS
267B. Punishment for committing affray
267C. Making, printing, etc., document containing incitement to violence, etc.
268. Public nuisance
269. Negligent act likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life
270. Malignant act likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life
271. Disobedience to a quarantine rule
272. Adulteration of food or drink which is intended for sale
273. Sale of noxious food or drink
274. Adulteration of drugs
275. Sale of adulterated drugs
276. Sale of any drug as a different drug or preparation
277. Fouling the water of a public spring or reservoir
278. Making atmosphere noxious to health
279. Rash driving or riding on a public way
280. Rash navigation of a vessel
281. Exhibition of a false light, mark or buoy
282. Conveying person by water for hire in a vessel overloaded or unsafe
283. Danger or obstruction in a public way or navigation
284. Negligent conduct with respect to any poisonous substance
285. Negligent conduct with respect to any fire or combustible matter
286. Negligent conduct with respect to any explosive substance
287. Negligent conduct with respect to any machinery in the possession or under the charge of the offender
288. Negligence in pulling down or repairing buildings
289. Negligence with respect to any animal
290. Punishment for public nuisance
291. Continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue
292. Sale of obscene books, etc.
293. Sale, etc., of obscene objects to young person
294. Obscene songs
OFFENCES RELATING TO RELIGION OR RACE
295. Injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class
296. Disturbing a religious assembly
297. Trespassing on burial places, etc.
298. Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person
298A. Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony
OFFENCES AFFECTING THE HUMAN BODY
Offences affecting life
299. Culpable homicide
301. Culpable homicide by causing the death of a person other than the person whose death was intended
302. Punishment for murder
304. Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder
304A. Causing death by rash or negligent act
305. Abetment of suicide of child or insane person
306. Abetment of suicide
307. Attempt to murder
308. Attempt to commit culpable homicide
309. Attempt to commit suicide
311. Punishment for infanticide
Causing miscarriage; injuries to unborn children; exposure of infant; and concealment of births
312. Causing miscarriage
313. Causing miscarriage without woman’s consent
314. Death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage
315. Child destruction before, at or immediately after birth
316. Causing death of a quick unborn child by an act amounting to culpable homicide
317. Exposure and abandonment of a child under 12 years by parent or person having care of it
318. Concealment of birth by secret disposal of dead body
320. Grievous hurt
321. Voluntarily causing hurt
322. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
323. Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt
324. Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means
325. Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt
326. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means
327. Voluntarily causing hurt to extort property or to constrain to an illegal act
328. Causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence
329. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal act
330. Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession or to compel restoration of property
331. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort confession or to compel restoration of property
332. Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty
333. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty
334. Voluntarily causing hurt on provocation
335. Causing grievous hurt on provocation
336. Punishment for act which endangers life or the personal safety of others
337. Causing hurt by an act which endangers life or the personal safety of others
338. Causing grievous hurt by an act which endangers life or the personal safety of others
339. Wrongful restraint
340. Wrongful confinement
341. Punishment for wrongful restraint
342. Punishment for wrongful confinement
343. Wrongful confinement for 3 or more days
344. Wrongful confinement for 10 or more days
345. Wrongful confinement of person for whose liberation a writ has been issued
346. Wrongful confinement in secret
347. Wrongful confinement for the purpose of extorting property or constraining to an illegal act
348. Wrongful confinement for the purpose of extorting confession or of compelling restoration of property
Criminal force and assault
350. Criminal force
352. Punishment for using criminal force otherwise than on grave and sudden provocation
353. Using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty
354. Assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty
354A. Outraging modesty in certain circumstances
355. Assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour otherwise than on grave and sudden provocation
356. Assault or criminal force in committing or attempting to commit theft of property carried by a person
357. Assault or criminal force in attempting wrongfully to confine a person
358. Assaulting or using criminal force on grave and sudden provocation
Kidnapping, abduction, slavery and forced labour
360. Kidnapping from Singapore
361. Kidnapping from lawful guardianship
363. Punishment for kidnapping
363A. Punishment for abduction
364. Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder
365. Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person
366. Kidnapping or abducting a woman to compel her marriage, etc.
367. Kidnapping or abducting in order to subject a person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.
368. Wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement a kidnapped person
369. Kidnapping or abducting child under 10 years with intent to steal movable property from the person of such child
370. Buying or disposing of any person as a slave
371. Habitual dealing in slaves
372. Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.
373. Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.
373A. Importing woman for purposes of prostitution, etc.
374. Unlawful compulsory labour
376. Sexual assault by penetration
376A. Sexual penetration of minor under 16
376B. Commercial sex with minor under 18
376C. Commercial sex with minor under 18 outside Singapore
376D. Tour outside Singapore for commercial sex with minor under 18
376E. Sexual grooming of minor under 16
376F. Procurement of sexual activity with person with mental disability
377. Sexual penetration of a corpse
377A. Outrages on decency
377B. Sexual penetration with living animal
377C. Interpretation of sections 375 to 377B (sexual offences)
377D. Mistake as to age
379. Punishment for theft
379A. Punishment for theft of a motor vehicle
380. Theft in dwelling-house, etc.
381. Theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master
382. Theft after preparation made for causing death or hurt in order to commit theft
384. Punishment for extortion
385. Putting person in fear of harm in order to commit extortion
386. Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt
387. Putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt in order to commit extortion
388. Extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death, or imprisonment, etc.
389. Putting person in fear of accusation of offence, in order to commit extortion
Robbery and gang-robbery
392. Punishment for robbery
393. Attempt to commit robbery
394. Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery
395. Punishment for gang-robbery
396. Gang-robbery with murder
397. Robbery when armed or with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt
399. Making preparation to commit gang-robbery
400. Punishment for belonging to gang-robbers
401. Punishment for belonging to wandering gang of thieves
402. Assembling for purpose of committing gang-robbery
403. Dishonest misappropriation of property
404. Dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by a deceased person at the time of his death
Criminal breach of trust
405. Criminal breach of trust
406. Punishment of criminal breach of trust
407. Criminal breach of trust by carrier, etc.
408. Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant
409. Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant, or agent
Receiving stolen property
410. Stolen property
411. Dishonestly receiving stolen property
412. Dishonestly receiving property stolen in the commission of a gang-robbery
413. Habitually dealing in stolen property
414. Assisting in concealment or disposal of stolen property
416. Cheating by personation
417. Punishment for cheating
418. Cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may be thereby caused to a person whose interest the offender is bound to protect
419. Punishment for cheating by personation
420. Cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property
Fraudulent deeds and dispositions of property
421. Dishonest or fraudulent removal or concealment of property to prevent distribution among creditors
422. Dishonestly or fraudulently preventing a debt or demand due to the offender from being made available for his creditors
423. Dishonest or fraudulent execution of deed of transfer containing a false statement of consideration
424. Dishonest or fraudulent removal or concealment of property or release of claim
426. Punishment for committing mischief
427. Committing mischief and thereby causing loss or damage to the amount of $500
428. Mischief by killing or maiming any animal
430. Mischief by injury to works of irrigation or by wrongfully diverting water
430A. Mischief affecting railway engine, train, etc.
431. Mischief by injury to public road, bridge or river
431A. Mischief by injury to telegraph cable, wire, etc.
432. Mischief by causing inundation or obstruction to public drainage, attended with damage
433. Mischief by destroying or moving or rendering less useful a lighthouse or sea-mark
434. Mischief by destroying or moving, etc., a landmark fixed by public authority
435. Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage
436. Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house, etc.
437. Mischief with intent to destroy or make unsafe a decked vessel or a vessel of 20 tons burden
438. Punishment for the mischief described in section 437 when committed by fire or any explosive substance
439. Punishment for intentionally running vessel aground or ashore with intent to commit theft, etc.
440. Mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt
441. Criminal trespass
443. Lurking house-trespass
444. Lurking house-trespass by night
446. House-breaking by night
447. Punishment for criminal trespass
448. Punishment for house-trespass
449. House-trespass in order to commit an offence punishable with death
450. House-trespass in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment for life
451. House-trespass in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment
452. House-trespass after preparation made for causing hurt, etc.
453. Punishment for lurking house-trespass or house-breaking
454. Lurking house-trespass or house-breaking in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment
455. Lurking house-trespass or house-breaking after preparation made for causing hurt, etc.
456. Punishment for lurking house-trespass by night or housebreaking by night
457. Lurking house-trespass by night or house-breaking by night in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment
458. Lurking house-trespass by night or house-breaking by night after preparation made for causing hurt, etc.
458A. Punishment for subsequent offence under section 454 or 457
459. Grievous hurt caused while committing lurking house-trespass or house-breaking
460. Lurking house-trespass by night or house-breaking by night when death or grievous hurt is caused
461. Dishonestly breaking open any closed receptacle containing or supposed to contain property
462. Punishment for same offence when committed by person entrusted with custody
OFFENCES RELATING TO DOCUMENTS OR ELECTRONIC RECORDS, FALSE INSTRUMENTS, AND TO CURRENCY NOTES AND BANK NOTES
464. Making a false document or false electronic record
465. Punishment for forgery
466. Forgery of a record of a court of justice, or a public register of births, etc.
467. Forgery of a valuable security or will
468. Forgery for the purpose of cheating
469. Forgery for the purpose of harming the reputation of any person
470. “A forged document” or “a forged electronic record”
471. Using as genuine a forged document or forged electronic record
472. Making or possessing a counterfeit seal, plate, etc., with intent to commit a forgery punishable under section 467
473. Making or possessing a counterfeit seal, plate, etc., with intent to commit a forgery punishable otherwise
473A. Making or possessing equipment for making a false instrument
473B. Making or possessing equipment for making a false instrument with intent to induce prejudice
473C. Meaning of “prejudice” and “induce”
474. Having possession of certain document or electronic record known to be forged, with intent to use it as genuine
475. Counterfeiting a device or mark used for authenticating documents described in section 467, or possessing counterfeit marked material
476. Counterfeiting a device or mark used for authenticating documents or electronic records other than those described in section 467, or possessing counterfeit marked material
477. Fraudulent cancellation, destruction, etc., of a will
477A. Falsification of accounts
Currency notes and bank notes
489A. Forging or counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes
489B. Using as genuine forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes
489C. Possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes
489D. Making or possessing instruments or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes
OFFENCES RELATING TO MARRIAGE
493. Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage
494. Marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife
495. Same offence with concealment of the former marriage from the person with whom subsequent marriage is contracted
496. Marriage ceremony gone through with fraudulent intent without lawful marriage
500. Punishment for defamation
501. Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory
502. Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter
CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION, INSULT AND ANNOYANCE
503. Criminal intimidation
504. Intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace
505. Statements conducing to public mischief
506. Punishment for criminal intimidation
507. Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication
508. Act caused by inducing a person to believe that he will be rendered an object of divine displeasure
509. Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman
ATTEMPTS TO COMMIT OFFENCES
511. Punishment for attempting to commit offences
THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE
(a) Individual Rights
(i) Police can make an arrest on any person without a warrant of arrest if the police reasonably suspect a man of committing a serious offence. Arrestable offences without a warrant include rape, causing serious hurt, robbery, theft or drug consumption. However, for a normally non-arrestable offence, it is mandatory for the police to conduct an investigation before executing an arrest.
(ii) Upon arrest, the individual has the right to request the police for identification and the reason for his or her arrest, at this point handcuffs may be used. Should there require a body search, the female accused can only be searched by female police officers.
(iii) At the police station, the accused has the right to consult a lawyer within a reasonable time. Accused may also contact their family members provided that they do not interfere with the investigation that the accused is charged with.
(iv) The Police can only detain the accused for 48 hours at most, but extension may be made by obtaining a Magistrate’s order if the police deem fit to hold the accused under custody to continue with the investigations. Should extension be requested, police must then make a submission to the Judge entailing the reason(s) for the extension of the detention. The Judge will then have to consider the adequacy of the reason(s) submitted and decide whether extension may be allowed.
(v) The accused has the right against self-incrimination and the right to a lawyer. This ensures impartiality which is an important element in due process; protecting the fairness and reliability of the statement that had been taken. However, adverse inference may be drawn and guilt may be inferred if the accused remains silent and does not state his defence, if any at the earliest possible time.
(vi) Investigations are mandatory before an individual can be charged in Court. Investigations are carried out to determine the reliability of any evidence claiming your innocence or guilt.
(vii) The following are some of the enforcement agencies that are empowered to conduct Investigations:
• Police officers;
• Central Narcotics Bureau (‘CNB’) officers;
• Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (‘CPIB’) officers;
• Immigration officers;
• Customs officers;
• Commercial Affairs Department (‘CAD’) officers;
• Any other officers who are given the power to investigate under the Law; and
(viii) Some of the powers of an investigating officer are as follows:
• To order a person to go to a police station or other place for questioning and for taking of a statement:
• To record what you have to say and ask you to sign it;
• To search a place and take away things to be used as evidence; and
• To seize properties which may be exhibits in the case.
(b) Arrest and Court Procedure
Once being arrested, police officers may conduct a search on you physically and bring you to a nearby Police Station for questioning. After the questioning session, you may be held in a lock-up. Any personal belongings that you have with you will be taken by the Police and a list of these belongings will be recorded and subject to your confirmation. A copy of this list will also be given to you.
(i) Types of Arrest
• Arrest without a warrant
This happens when a police officer possesses credible information or reasonable believed that the suspect is involved in an arrestable offence. An arrest without warrant must be founded on reliable and definite facts.
• Arrest with a warrant
A warrant of arrest or a summon is required for a non-arrestable offence before the arrest is made. Police are not allowed to make an arrest in the absence of a warrant.
• Private arrest
Private arrest is only allowed in situations where any person who commits a non-bailable and arrestable offence in another’s view or presence. The arrested person must be handed over to the nearest police officer or police station without unnecessary delay. A private person has the right to arrest another as long as he is in a close proximity to the incident even if he is not a witness to the incident.
In the second situation, a victim of the crime can apprehend the perpetrator, who commits an offence against the victim or the victim’s property. In order to make an arrest, the name or residential address of the perpetrator must be unknown; or his residential address must be outside Singapore; or there is reason to believe that the name or residential address he gave is false.
(ii) At The Police Station
• Detained at the police station
The accused only be detained for maximum 48 hours. If it is for more than 48 hours, police will have to prefer the charge via videolink or bring the accused to court where the officer furnish reasons for the extension of the accused’s detention. The Judge will then have to consider the adequacy of the reasons that were given to decide whether the accused should be further detained or to be placed on bail.
If the accused is not detained for more than 48 hours, he or she will be put on Police bail to ensure he or she will come back to the station or to attend Court when told to do so. The accused will require a family member or friend in order to be bailed out.
• Process of Interview
Upon being arrested and detained, the accused is entitled to make a call to his or her family member, friend or lawyer to inform them of his or her arrest. Whilst in custody, the accused will be interviewed at length with breaks in between. He or she can also be taken to the crime scene. DNA samples, such as blood sample, fingerprint and photo identification are taken of he or she. Sometimes, the accused can be asked to take a lie-detector test. Any statement taken from him or her is called the ‘long statement’. When the accused is shown his or her statements, he or she has to look through the statement and correct the discrepancies and sign at the relevant amendments and at the bottom of the page as indicated by the police officer.
The accused is allowed to request for an interpreter to help with the translation during recording of the statement. This is to ensure accuracy of the statement that is taken. It is always a good practice to record what had been told to the police officer before the accused meet the lawyer.
• Investigations can stretch from a few days to a year or two. It is advisable to co-operate with the police to provide witnesses, Defence or Alibi (if any). Alternatively, the accused can engage a lawyer to prepare a letter of representation on his or her behalf. If the accused has an Alibi, he or she has to give the full details to his or her lawyers so that they can do the necessary. Once investigations are done, the police officer will submit the case file to the Prosecution who will then make the decision of whether or not to charge the accused.
The police officer will contact the accused if he or she is being charged. The meeting at the police station will be for the purposes of preferring the charge against the accused, i.e. reading the charge and asking the accused if he or she will be admitting to the charge. Signing the sheet without having to agree to the charge does not mean that there was any admittance. That is only a formality. Any refusal to sign on the sheet will be recorded as the accused being refused to sign on it. However, not signing on the sheet does not mean serious consequence, it is also one of the right of the accused not to sign on the sheet. The charge is followed by a notice of warning, which is known as the “Cautioned Statement”.
This is the opportunity for the accused to state his or her Defence. Do not be hasty to think that all has been recorded accurately in the long statement, thus no repetition is necessary. The accused will be given the choice to either write down his or her defence or it must be recorded by the investigating officer in the English Language, which will be read it to the accused. Correction must be made should there appear to be any mistake.
Once verified, the accused must signed on it and this will constitute his or her Cautioned Statement.
Bail is a form of property deposited or pledged by the family member or friend of the accused, as the “Bailor”, either with the police or the courts in order to secure the release of an accused person from remand prison on the understanding that you will ensure that the accused will return to court for the hearing until the final completion of the case.
• What are the common types of bail?
(i) The two common types of bail are:
(a) bail granted by the prosecuting agency (commonly known as ‘Police Bail’); and
(b) bail granted by the courts (commonly known as ‘Court Bail’).
(ii) Does this mean an accused person cannot be his own Bailor?
Yes, unless the Court directs otherwise.
(iii) Who can offer bail?
The prosecuting agencies, including the Police, the Commercial Affairs Department, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, and the courts can offer bail. If no bail is offered by the prosecuting agencies, the accused may still make an application to the court for bail to be offered when the case is first heard in court.
(iv) Who can be a bailor?
You can be a bailor if you are:
• Aged 21 years and above
• Not a bankrupt.
• No pending case in the courts
• A Singapore citizen or a Permanent Resident of Singapore
• Prepared to accept the responsibilities of a bailor until the case is over
• Prepared to pledge security whether in cash or in personal properties for the amount of bail as ordered by the Court.
(i) What if there is no suitable bailor?
An accused will have to remain in remand prison pending hearing of his case if there is no suitable bailor.
(ii) Can the accused still be bailed out later even though he was initially unsuccessful in getting a bailor? If so, what is the procedure?
The accused may be bailed out at any time provided that bail has been offered. A willing bailor should then personally attend at the prosecuting agency (for Police Bail) or at the Bail Centre of the State Courts (for Court Bail) with the necessary documents and security required.
(vi) What are the usual conditions that may be imposed before bail is offered?
The prosecuting agency or the Court may impose the following conditions:
• The accused’s passport be surrendered
• Requiring that accused person be only able to leave at and/or shall return to his home by a certain time
• Requiring the accused to report to the Investigation Officer (‘IO’) on certain days of the week
• Requiring that that there be only one or more bailors
• That only cash may be used as security for bail.
(vii) What are the responsibilities of a bailor?
A bailor’s key responsibility is to ensure that the accused attends all court hearings at the required time and date until the case has been concluded. If the accused fails to attend a court hearing, the full bail amount pledged as security may be forfeited. The bailor must also ensure that the accused does not leave Singapore without the Court’s permission.
(viii) What documents must a bailor bring if the bail is being processed at the prosecuting agency and/or Bail Centre?
The bailor must bring along with him the following documents:
• The bailor’s Identity Card or Passport
• The accused’s passport (if it is required by the prosecuting agency or the Court as a condition of bail)
• The documents as stated in S/N 12 below and depending how the bailor wishes to furnish the bail sum.
(ix) What if the bailor cannot speak English?
Court Staff will assist those who are not able to speak English but are able to converse in Malay, Mandarin, local Chinese dialects and Tamil.
(x) What can the bailor pledge or deposit to the court as security for the bail amount?
In addition to cash, the bailor may pledge:
• Fixed or Time Deposit. This is provided the bailor is the account holder with at least 6 months before its maturity, and that the sum has not already been used as a form of security
• Monies in the savings account. This is provided there are no deductions made from that account for GIRO or any other payment. The updated savings passbook or bank statement, must be brought to the prosecuting agency or Court offering bail as the case may be
• Cashier’s Order. This should be made payable either to the prosecuting agency (for Police Bail) or the “Registrar, State courts” (for Court Bail) for the exact bail amount
• NETS payment. This is through the bailor’s own ATM card. Please note that for ATM cards, there may be a maximum withdrawal up to $2,000 per day
• Bailor’s personal properties not exceeding $15,000.
Note: If the bailor is using cash, a copy of his bank statement (indicating Name and NRIC No. of account holder & Account No.) must be provided either to the prosecuting agency (for Police Bail) or the Bail Centre (for Court Bail).
(xi) Can the bailor pledge money or assets that belong to the accused person as security for bail?
No. The monies and properties must belong to the bailor.
(xii) Can the bailor still use his bank account, fixed/time deposit as he wishes after he has pledged the amount as bail sum?
No. In addition, the bank will be notified to freeze the bank account/deposits.
(xiii) What if the bank account has joint names?
Joint account cannot be used as security by one account holder. To utilize such an account as bail sum, both account holders will have to be bailors.
(xiv) When will the bailor get the bail monies back?
When a case has concluded or if the bailor has been granted a discharge, the bailor may obtain the return of the full sum of bail monies deposited. For Court Bail, if cash was deposited with the State courts, the bail amount would be directly refunded to the bailor by the Accountant-General by way of crediting directly into the bailor's bank account furnished by the bailor at the point of standing bail. The bailor may enquire from the Finance Section (Tel: 6435-5869) of the State courts should there be any further queries. For Police Bail, the bailor can contact the IO assigned to the case for more information on refund of bail sum.
(xv) What if the bailor no longer wishes to stand as bailor for the accused person?
The bailor will have to apply in writing (min. 1 week in advance) to the Court for the application to be heard. During the court mention, the bailor must be personally present together with the accused for the application to discharge as bailor. Once the bailor is discharged, to secure the release of the accused pending hearing, the accused must arrange for a substitute bailor.
(xvi) Can the accused leave Singapore after bail is given?
The accused person may only leave Singapore with the permission of the Court. Both the bailor and the accused must be present when the application is made to leave jurisdiction. The application can be made at the next court mention. If it is urgent, the accused can request in writing to the Court seeking an early date to make the application. In such instances, it is common for the Court to increase the bail amount to allow the accused to leave jurisdiction.
(xvii) What if the accused person fails to turn up in court as required?
If the accused fails to attend Court as required, a Warrant of Arrest may be issued against the accused. The bailor will also have to attend a hearing to explain why the full bail amount should not be forfeited. The latter is commonly known as a hearing for the Bailor To Show Cause.
(xviii) Will fresh bail be offered after an accused person is first charged in court?
Whether the original Police Bail will be extended or fresh Court Bail offered is at the discretion of the Court.
(xix) When should the bailor attend court?
The bailor should attend court:
• At the first court hearing of the accused person, where possible
• If the bailor wishes to apply to the court to discharge himself as a bailor
• If the accused wishes to make an application to the Court to leave Singapore
• Where the bailor has been asked to Show Cause why the bail monies should not be forfeited as a result of the accused failing to attend a court hearing.
(xx) Can the bailor later ask for the bail amount to be lowered?
The application may be made through the accused. The granting of such an application is rare.
(xxi) What if the assets that the bailor pledged are insufficient to meet the bail amount forfeited?
When the bail amount is forfeited and the assets sold are insufficient to meet the forfeited bail amount, the bailor will have to pay the difference. If the bailor does not pay, enforcement action will be taken.
(xxii) Is there a channel to request to review or appeal on bail related matters?
There is no channel to appeal against a decision on the bail offered for Police Bail before an accused is charged in court. If an accused has been charged in court, and it is felt that either bail ought to have been offered or that a lower sum of bail ought to have been offered, the accused can request for a bail review to be conducted. If the bail amount was forfeited whether in full or in part, the aggrieved bailor may appeal to the High Court against the forfeiture.
(xxiii) Where is the Bail Centre?
The Bail Centre is at the Crime Registry of the State courts.
The Crime Registry is located on the ground floor of the State courts,
1 Havelock Square, Singapore 059724.
(xxiv) What are the operating hours of the Bail Centre?
Mon-Thu 9.00AM - 6.00PM (Last registration at 12.30 pm & 5.00 pm)
Fri 9.00AM - 5.30PM (Last registration at 12.30 pm & 4.30 pm)
Sat 9.00AM – 1.00PM (Last registration at 12.00 pm)
FIRST COURT APPEARANCE
The accused will be informed of the date to appear in Court once he or she is on the police bail bond. He or she may instruct his or her counsels to act on his or her behalf. The lawyer may attend the court session with the accused. However, if the notice is too short, the accused may attend court session with his or her bailor and seek for adjournment while looking for a lawyer to represent you. The court will allow the adjournment and to extend the police bail or to place the accused on court bail. Each offence you are alleged to have committed will be listed as a SEPARATE CHARGE.
1. When Charged in Court
(a) Pleading Guilty
It is always advisable to have an understand of the minimum and maximum punishment that the accused may receive for the alleged offence that he or she is charge with. The accused must accept whatever punishment the Court may sentence. The Statement of Facts (relating to the accused/the offence that he or she had committed) will then be read out. There is no need for defence counsels if the accused is ready to accept the sentences that are to be meted out to him or her. However, counsels must voice out should there be any dispute with any of the facts.
Should there be any dispute with the Statement of Facts regarding important issues, the Court will NOT accept any plea of guilt. He or she will be directed to claim trial to the charge.
(b) Not Pleading Guilty
A Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) will be fixed in the event where there is no admittance of guilt.
(c) Trial Process
The Prosecution will present their case by calling their witnesses to stand and asking them questions.
(ii) Cross Examination
The defence lawyer will be allowed to question the Prosecution’s witness.
They can challenge and/or contradict what the Prosecution Witness has said with documentary evidence (if any). The challenge will be based on what was said or not said. The Defence lawyer will also put forth events according to the perspective of the accused to check if the Prosecution’s witness agrees with it.
The Prosecution would then ask their witness further questions, to clarify their answers given to your lawyer during cross-examination.
(iv) Submission of no-case to answer
If the accused felt that the prosecution has not proven the case against him or her, he or she can consult and instruct the defence lawyers to give a submission on NO CASE.
(v) Post Trial
1. Making closing submissions. - Both sides will have to summarize all the evidences and make respective arguments to the Court.
2. The Court will then decided if the accused is guilty (convicted) or not guilty (acquitted). The court also has the power to reduce the charge against the accused.
3. Can the accused contest the Court’s final decision?
If the accused is convicted after a trial, he or she can appeal against the Court’s decision on his or her conviction and/or his or her sentence. However, if the accused have pleaded guilty, he or she can only appeal against the sentence and this appeal must be filed with the Criminal Justice Division’s Registry within 10 calendar days from the date the verdict of the accused was announced. It is important to note that there is no guarantee the appeal will be successful and always advised the accused to consult the advice of the defence counsel when making such important decision.
(only applicable to accused who are sentenced with the death penalty)
Singapore’s President may grant pardons, reprieves, respites and re- missions under Article 22P of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (hereinafter ‘Singapore Constitution’). Article 22P of the Singapore Constitution also states that ‘The President, as occasion shall arise, may, on the advice of the Cabinet, grant a par- don’.
Article 21 of the Singapore Constitution clearly lists out the discharge and performance of functions of the President. The powers of the president consist of 4 things and unless otherwise provided for the President must act on the advice of the Cabinet. Article 21(2) lists eight specific matters which the president has personal discretion and a final open-ended one: the President has personal discretion in performing ‘any other function’ authorized by the Singapore Constitution.
However, under Article 21(3), the President must consult the Council of Presidential Advisers before performing functions specifically provided for. Under Article 21(4), the Council may be consulted in performing some of the independent functions provided for in Article 21(2). Hence, the President has both independent and dependent powers.
In relation to the power to grant pardons, there have been arguments stating that the open-ended Article 21(2)(i) when read together with Article 22P suggests that the President is not bound by the Cabinet’s advice in such matters.
- See e.g., the landmark case of R v Wilans, a Straits Settlement (Penang) case which held that English law up to 1826 (both common law and equity) was introduced to Singapore through the 1826 Second Charter of Justice.
- See e.g., Yeo, Morgan & Chan, ‘Criminal Law in Singapore & Malaysia, Rev 2nd ed.’ (LexisNexis: Singapore, 2015) at 1.22-1.27
- Ministry of Law, ‘Our Legal System’ (2018) https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/our-legal-system.html
- Arms & Explosives Act (Cap. 13); Arms Offences Act (Cap. 14); Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (Cap. 50A); Corrosive & Explosive Substances & Offensive Weapons Act (Cap. 65); Dangerous Fireworks Act (Cap. 72); Enlistment Act (Cap. 93); Explosive Substances Act (Cap. 100); Films Act (Cap. 107); Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Cap. 184); Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap. 185); Moneylenders Act (Cap. 188) [Sections 14 & 28] 12. Penal Code (Cap. 224); Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap. 241); Undesirable Publications Act (Cap. 338); Vandalism Act (Cap. 341); Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) [Sections 65(8) and 140(1)(i)] [Section 65(8) – any person who willfully contravenes a protection order] [Section 140(1)(i) – has carnal connection with any girl below the age of 16 years]
- See http://www.lawsocprobono.org/Documents/CLAS2015_PRINT%20(updated%2018jan16).pdf for more information
- Supreme Court of Singapore, ‘Legal Assistance for Capital Offences (LASCO)’ https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/services/self-help-services/legal-assistance-for-capital-offences
- To qualify for advice, assistance, and aid, applicants have to pass the means test. In addition, to qualify for aid (representation), applicants also have to pass the merits test. The means test qualifies people with (a) disposable income of $10,000 and below, and (b) disposable capital of $10,000 and below. Means test notwithstanding, the Director of Legal Aid can also qualify other applicants who are facing hardship. (see: https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/dam/minlaw/lab/About%20Us/Legal%20Aid%20Bureau%20-%20Flyer.pdf) Note however that there are some civil matters for which the LAB does not provide legal aid, such as defamation cases, as well as proceedings before the Small Claims Tribunal and the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents.
- Legal Aid Bureau, ‘Do I qualify for legal aid?’ (2018) https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/lab/en/eligibility/do-i-qualify-for-legal-aid.html
- Law Society of Singapore, ‘General Statistics’ https://www.lawsociety.org.sg/About-Us/General-Statistics
- s 2(1), Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v PP (“the Messiah”)  3 SLR 750
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs, Singapore & Anor [1969-1971] SLR 508; Chng Suan Tze v Minister of Home Affairs  MLJ 89 and  2 SLR 525; Teo Soh Lung v Minister of Home Affairs & Ors  SLR 40
- Michael Hor, ‘Law and Terror: Singapore Stories and Malaysian Dilemmas’ in Victor V. Ramraj, Michael Hor & Kent Roach, eds., Global Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 273-294
- CHEN, Siyuan and CHUA, Eunice. Wrongful Convictions in Singapore: A General Survey of Risk Factors. (2010). Singapore Law Review. 28, 98-122. Research Collection School Of Law.
- Lee Desmond, "Legal and Psychological Perceptiveness on Eyewitness Testimony" (2002) 22 Sing. L. Rev. 202
- Kunasekaran s/o Kalumuthu Somasundara v Public Prosecutor  4 SLR 580
- R v Turnbull  QB 224
- CHEN, Siyuan and CHUA, Eunice. Wrongful Convictions in Singapore: A General Survey of Risk Factors. (2010). Singapore Law Review. 28, 98-122. Research Collection School Of Law.
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at 
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at 
- Michael Hor, ‘The Future of Singapore’s Criminal Process’,  25 SAcLJ 847 at page 851
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at : These safeguards give rise to the statutory-based assumption that such senior police officers are competent and will discharge their obligations conscientiously.
- s 21(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68): In conducting an investigation under this Part, a police officer may issue a written order requiring anyone within the limits of Singapore, who appears to be acquainted with any of the facts and circumstances of the case, to attend before him, and that person must attend as required.
- s 22(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- s 258(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- s 22(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Also known as the privilege against self-incrimination. Ho Hock Lai, ‘On the Obtaining and Admissibility of Incriminating Statements’,  Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, 249–276
- Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun and another  3 SLR(R) 968
- Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun and another  3 SLR(R) 968. In the past, the police had to inform the suspect of his right not to say anything before questioning him. This duty was set out in rules 3, 4 and 5 of Schedule E to the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 113, 1970 rev. ed.). The Schedule was repealed in 1976. See Mohamed Bachu Miah v. PP  2 SLR(R) 783 at , .
- S 261 of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Public Prosecutor v Chee Cheong Hin Constance  2 SLR(R) 24 at 
- Ho Hock Lai, “The Privilege against Self-Incrimination and Right of Access to a Lawyer” (2013) 25(3). SAcLJ 826 at 840–842
- Ho H.L. (2019) Criminal Justice and the Exclusion of Incriminating Statements in Singapore. In: Gless S., Richter T. (eds) Do Exclusionary Rules Ensure a Fair Trial?. Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, vol 74. Springer, Cham
- S 261 of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Law Society of Singapore v Tan Guat Neo Phyllis  2 SLR(R) 239 at 
- s 22(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Public Prosecutor v BDA  SGHC 72 at 
- s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68); see also https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/news/parliamentary-speeches-and-responses/second-reading-speech-by-law-minister-k-shanmugam-on-the-criminal-procedure-code-bill.html
- Explanation 2 to s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Hor, Michael, ‘The Future of Singapore’s Criminal Process’, (2013) 25 Singapore Academy of Law Journal, 847–873 at 855
- Explanation 2 to s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205
- Lum, S. (2018, March 19). Video-recordings of suspects' statements to start in phases. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/video-recordings-of-suspects-statements-to-start-in-phases
- Lum, S. (2018, March 19). Video-recordings of suspects' statements to start in phases. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/video-recordings-of-suspects-statements-to-start-in-phases.
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs [1971–1973] SLR(R)135
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs [1971–1973] SLR(R)135 at 
- Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed)
- Excepting enemy aliens or any person arrested for contempt of Parliament pursuant to a warrant issued under the hand of the Speaker.
- Rajeevan Edakalavan v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR(R) 10 at 
- Jasbir Singh and another v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR(R) 782 at 
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 750 at 
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 750
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v PP  2 SLR 3 at 
- Jasbir Singh v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR 782
- This Journal Article is brought to you for free and open access by the School of Law at Institutional Knowledge at Singapore Management University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Research Collection School of Law by an authorized administrator of Institutional Knowledge at Singapore Management University. For more information, please email libIR@smu.edu.sg
- D A MShubhankar. Presidential Pardon in Singapore: A Comment on Yong Vui Kong v A.G. (2013). Common Law World Review., 42(1), 48. Research Collection School of Law.
- An Act to consolidate the law relating to criminal offences. [16th September 1872]
- Singapore Academy of Law Journal (2013) 25 SAcLJ – The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination and Right of Access to a Lawyer; A Comparative Assessment
- Section 22 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Also see Kwek Seow Hock v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 157
- Reference was made to: http://www.singaporecriminallawyer.com/your-rights/
- Reference was made to: http://www.singaporecriminallawyer.com/your-rights/
- A PTC is to update the judge on how the case is progressing, and to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. Trial dates will only be fixed when all parties are ready and prepared for trial.
- This Council is a constitutional body under Article 37B of the Singapore Constitution. It comprises six members, of whom two are appointed by the President, two are appointed by the Prime Minister, while the Chief Justice and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission appoint one member each.
- D A MShubhankar. Presidential Pardon in Singapore: A Comment on Yong Vui Kong v A.G. (2013). Common Law World Review., 42(1), 48. Research Collection School of Law.
- Also see: Yong Vui Kong v Attorney-General  SGCA 9. The ('Pardon Case')