Chan Hock Wai v Public Prosecutor

JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date17 February 1995
Neutral Citation[1995] SGCA 17
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 20 of 1994
Date17 February 1995
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselPeter Low and Amolat Singh (Peter Low Seong Tang & Partners)
Citation[1995] SGCA 17
Defendant CounselOng Hian Sun (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterWhether relevant to charge,Whether relevant to charge and admissible,Whether ownership of drugs a prerequisite to the act of trafficking,Proof of evidence,Admissions,Statutory offences,Whether appellant knew substance in his possession was drugs,Whether accused made the oral admission at time of arrest,Drug trafficking,(follow title of statute: eg misuse of drugs act),Extra quantity of drugs found,s 17 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185),Relevancy,Admission that substance found was heroin,Criminal Law,Evidence of paraphernalia of drug trafficking and cash,Weight of evidence,Trafficking in controlled drugs,Evidence

The appellant was convicted and sentenced to death on a charge of trafficking by transporting not less than 149.84g of diamorphine, an offence under s 5(a) and punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (`the Act`). Against his conviction, he appealed. We dismissed the appeal and now give our reasons.

The prosecution case

The prosecution case was as follows. On 23 September 1993, Corporal Mohd Rusdi (`Cpl Rusdi`), an officer from the Central Narcotics Bureau (`CNB`), was instructed to keep watch on a flat, #06-180 Block 330 Clementi Avenue 2, Singapore (`the flat`). At about 6.42am, the appellant was observed entering the flat. Cpl Rusdi alerted his fellow CNB officers who swiftly arrived at the scene. When the appellant left the flat at about 6.57am carrying a light brown plastic bag, he was arrested by the CNB officers in the car park at the foot of Block 330. The appellant resisted the arrest and fell in the course of the struggle.

After he was arrested, there was a short exchange between Inspector Sivakumaran (`Insp Sivakumaran`) speaking in English and the appellant speaking in the Hokkien dialect, with Sergeant Ang Oon Tho (`Sgt Ang`) acting as the interpreter.
The contents of the answers given by the appellant were disputed by the defence. As a result, the trial judge had to consider whether a voir dire was required to resolve the dispute. According to counsel for the defence, although the defence maintained that the appellant was punched and kicked at the car park, it was not the defence`s stand that the oral statements were made as a result of `any inducement, threat or promise`. The objection was that the appellant did not give the answers as alleged but said something different. In the premises, having paid heed to the observations of this court in , the trial judge decided that a voir dire was not necessary, because the dispute was one of fact based on the allegation of fabrication. As a result, he admitted the evidence adduced by the prosecution as to what the appellant said immediately after his arrest without conducting a voir dire.

The brief exchange consisted of two questions and answers.
When asked about the content in the plastic bag, the appellant replied that it was ` peh hoon `, which is a common term in the Hokkien dialect used to refer to heroin. To the second question as to the amount of the substance in the plastic bag, the appellant`s reply as interpreted was `two pounds`. Besides Insp Sivakumaran and Sgt Ang, two other officers, namely, Corporal Ong Lu Hieow (`Cpl Ong`) and Corporal Sea Hoon Cheng (`Cpl Sea`) heard the exchange and gave evidence on the matter as well.

It was denied by all the four officers that Sgt Ang showed the appellant a vulgar sign and muttered an obscenity in the Hokkien dialect during the material time.
When it was put to them that the appellant had replied that the plastic bag contained `eok` meaning medicine in the Hokkien dialect and not `peh hoon`, they disagreed. Cpl Ong and Cpl Sea confirmed that in reply to the second question, the appellant said `nerng liap` which literally means `two lots` but was understood by them to mean `two pounds`. The answer was also interpreted by Sgt Ang to Insp Sivakumaran as `two pounds`. Insp Sivakumaran, Sgt Ang and Cpl Ong claimed that they recorded the exchange in a statement and in their pocket diaries respectively afterwards.

The plastic bag which the appellant was carrying contained a handphone and a package wrapped in newspaper comprising two packets of granular substance.
The substance was subsequently analysed and found to contain not less than 149.84g of diamorphine, which formed the subject matter of the charge.

Shortly after the arrest, the appellant was brought back to the flat.
The flat was rented by the appellant`s sister, one Chan Mei Fah who lived there with her boyfriend, her young son and a maid. A search was conducted of the front room, which the appellant used, when he visited the flat. Inside the room was a cupboard which was locked. The cupboard was opened with a key found on the appellant and according to the other occupants of the flat, he was the person with the only key to the cupboard. According to Insp Sivakumaran, the appellant had earlier denied that the cupboard was his. It was Chan Mei Fah`s young son who identified that the cupboard was used by the appellant. The contents of the cupboard were a paper bag with two packets of diamorphine, a plastic bag with 56 sachets of diamorphine, an envelope holding ten sachets of diamorphine and two newspaper-wrapped packets holding five sachets of diamorphine each, and four other sachets of diamorphine. Besides the drugs, the officers also recovered from the cupboard $10,150 in notes and $4.30 in coins, a watch, three electronic weighing scales, two stacks of new empty sachets and a box of candles. The drugs recovered from the cupboards formed the subject matter of the second charge which was stood down at the commencement of the trial.

The trial judge considered whether the evidence of the contents of the cupboard was admissible.
Upon a consideration of the cases of , and the first instance decision in to which the prosecution referred, the trial judge...

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6 cases
  • Tan Meng Jee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 16 May 1996
    ... ... In Chan Hock Wai v PP [1995] 1 SLR 728 , this court held that the paraphernalia found to be in the possession of the accused could give rise to an ... ...
  • Syed Yasser Arafat bin Shaik Mohamed v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 24 August 2000
    ... ... Many precedents can be found, such as Toh Ah Loh & Anor v R [1949] MLJ 54 , Chan Pean Leon v PP [1956] MLJ 237 , Sukor v PP [1995] 1 SLR 221 , Low Kok Wai v PP [1994] 1 SLR 676 , PP v Wan Yue Kong & Ors [1995] 1 SLR 417 ... Some of these items were also stained with diamorphine. In Abdul Karim bin Mohd v PP [1996] 1 SLR 1 and Chan Hock Wai v PP [1995] 1 SLR 728 , the finding of drug-related paraphernalia was treated as telling evidence of or, to be used as an inference of ... ...
  • Sharom bin Ahmad and Another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 17 July 2000
    ...2 SLR (R) 314; [1999] 3 SLR 175 (refd) Chai Chien Wei Kelvin v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 619; [1999] 1 SLR 25 (refd) Chan Hock Wai v PP [1995] 1 SLR (R) 296; [1995] 1 SLR 728 (folld) Chia Song Heng v PP [1999] 3 SLR (R) 166; [1999] 4 SLR 705 (refd) Chua Keem Long v PP [1996] 1 SLR (R) 239; [1996]......
  • Loh Kim Cheng v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 18 February 1998
    ...if it was established that Wah Chye was the owner of the heroin, ownership is not a prerequisite to trafficking (see Chan Hock Wai v PP [1995] 1 SLR 728 ). As the learned judge observed, and we agreed, the appellant himself testified that it was he who put the pink substances in Bag A, lock......
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