Book Review

Citation(2008) 20 SAcLJ 834
Published date01 December 2008
Date01 December 2008


by Stanley Yeo, Neil Morgan and Chan Wing Cheong

I. Introduction

1 Coming hot on the heels of numerous amendments to the Singapore Penal Code passed by Parliament in October 2007, the authors of Criminal Law in Malaysia and Singapore, released in December 2007, had to grapple with updating the manuscript in a hurry.

2 Their task was made all the more challenging as the final version of the Penal Code Amendment Bill presented to Parliament was significantly different from the draft version circulated for public comment the previous year. For instance, the scope of the defence of duress under s 94 has now been widened to cover threats to persons other than the accused himself. Although time was obviously not on their side, the authors creditably managed to incorporate the key changes to the Code in their narration or, at the very least, by way of footnotes.

3 The book covers the main criminal law legislation and cases in Malaysia and Singapore. The Penal Codes of both countries feature prominently, but other legislation is used to explain particular crimes or principles. Thus, the Women’s Charter, drug and regulatory legislation are used ad hoc to deal with domestic violence, evidentiary presumptions and strict liability respectively.

4 The authors intend the book to serve the diverse interests of legal practitioners and judges, scholars and students.

II. Value for practitioners and judges

5 The authors deliver the substantive law clearly, drawing on authorities from Singapore, Malaysia, India (obviously) and other commonwealth jurisdictions where useful.

6 The exposition of the law will be immediately useful to practitioners and judges. Being a text book rather than a compilation of reference materials, it understandably quotes less liberally from case law than reference books such as Chan, Hor & Ramraj’s Fundamental Principles of Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (2005). Nevertheless, this text book is of great assistance to the practitioner or judge in doing the initial getting-up, bringing one up to speed with an explanation and the gist of the main authorities applicable to specific offences or defences. The practitioner or judge would, of course, still need to go to the primary source (ie, the judgment) to assess the exact value of the authority as a precedent.

III. Comparisons across the Causeway

7 When juxtaposed with the last criminal law text book written locally by Koh, Clarkson & Morgan...

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