Chung Tuck Kwai v Public Prosecutor

JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date15 May 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 163
Docket NumberCriminal Motion No 8 of 1998 (Magistrate's
Date15 May 1998
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselLuke Lee (Luke Lee & Co)
Citation[1998] SGHC 163
Defendant CounselJaswant Singh (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterAdducing fresh evidence,Appeal,Evidence,Whether conditions satisfied,s 257(1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Conditions to be fulfilled to justify taking additional evidence,Whether witness independent,Witnesses,Effect of non-independent witness,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing


This appeal arises out of the appellant`s conviction under s 64(1) of the Road Traffic Act (Cap 276, 1997 Ed) (the Act) by the district judge Lau Wing Yum for driving recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner which was dangerous to the public. The appellant was fined $3,000 and in default three weeks` imprisonment. He was also disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for 24 months. He paid his fine and is now under disqualification. The appeal was against conviction only. In addition, the appellant filed a criminal motion pursuant to this appeal to adduce fresh evidence before this court.

2.The appeal came up for hearing before me on 31 March 1998. After hearing submissions from both the appellant`s counsel and the DPP, I dismissed the appeal. I now set out the grounds of my decision.

3. The charge

The appellant faced the following amended charge:

Summons No R97508144KD

You, Chung Tuck Kwai

M/39 yrs, NRIC No: S1232375/A

are charged that you on or about 30 January 1997 at about 2:39am along Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 junction of CTE, Singapore, did drive motor car SBR 2742 K in a manner which was dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the nature, condition and use of the road and the amount of traffic which was actually at the time or which might reasonably be expected to be on the road, to wit, by failing to conform to the traffic red light signal at the controlled junction of Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 by CTE, resulting in a collision with a motor car SBE 4651 U and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 64(1) of the Road Traffic Act (Cap 276).

4. The facts

The appellant was the general manager and director of Confield Manufacturing Pte Ltd and the owner of a Nissan car bearing the registration plate number SBR 2742 K. The car he was driving collided into another car driven by one Tay Hua Tian (Tay), an Alfa Romeo bearing the registration plate number SBE 4651 U in the early hours of 30 January 1997. It was this collision out of which the prosecution arose. It should be pointed out that Tay pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of drink pursuant to s 67(1)(b) of the Act. He was fined $1,500 and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

5.On 30 January 1997, at about 2:50am, the appellant was driving alone along the Central Expressway (CTE) slip road after a farewell party that night for one of the members of his staff. He had consumed a fair amount of alcohol at the party (eight glasses of brandy) but decided to drive afterwards as he felt that he was alert enough to control the car. At the same time, Tay was driving alone along the perpendicular road, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, after having some drinks with his friends at a temple. The two cars collided at the junction of the two roads. The appellant`s car slammed into the left of Tay`s car. On impact, the latter car swerved to the right and hit the traffic light pole on the right, bending it. Tay`s car was so badly damaged that it had to be scrapped.

6.There was much dispute as to who was to be blamed for the collision. According to Tay, when he reached the junction, the traffic light was red. When it turned green, he proceeded forward at a slow speed when, all of a sudden, a car approached him from the left and collided into his car. He said that the appellant had driven on past the red light against him at a high speed. One Ng Piea Liong (Ng), who was driving directly behind Tay at the time of the accident, corroborated Tay`s version of events and reiterated that it was the appellant who drove on despite the traffic light having turned red. On the other hand, the appellant gave a different account. In his s 121 CPC statement made on 4 February 1997, he stated:

Before reaching the controlled junction of Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 by CTE I saw the traffic light was green in my favour and the distance was about 3 to 4 car length (sic) away. On reaching the stop white line I saw the traffic light change to amber and I made a right turn into Ang Mo Kio Ave 3. As I was turning right a m/car SBE 4651U to my right, travelling along Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 in the direction of Ang Mo Kio Central, suddenly cut into path and as a result my vehicle`s front side collided against the other vehicle`s left front passenger door.

At the trial, the appellant maintained his story that he was driving slowly at 40 kilometres per hour as he reached the junction.

7.After the collision, Ng helped to extricate Tay out of his car. The latter was conscious and was not seriously hurt. He was injured on the left arm and ankle. The appellant was unhurt and he came out of his car towards Tay to enquire about the latter`s condition. According to Tay, the appellant told him that he could not apply the brake in time and that he was willing to compensate Tay. The appellant denied this under cross-examination. The appellant telephoned his subordinate, one Hou Fook Wai (Hou), and asked him to come to the scene immediately. There were at least three people with Tay - Ng and Tay`s two friends, Ah Leng and Seng Lee, who were in another car. The appellant, Tay and his friends tried to negotiate a private settlement (this was probably because both had been drinking - the appellant admitted this to Tay) but before they could reach a settlement, Corporal Foo Hee Kiang (Cpl Foo) and the investigating officer, Sergeant Sekaran Erulandy (Sgt Sekaran) arrived in the first police car. This was followed by two other police cars. An ambulance also arrived at the scene and administered first aid to Tay. Later Hou also arrived. Despite much resistance from the appellant and Tay, the police conducted breathalyser tests on both drivers who failed them. They were then brought to Toa Payoh Hospital for a blood test.

8.One of the main issues in this appeal was whether Tay and Ng were acquainted at the time of the incident. This had an impact on the question as to whether Ng was an independent witness. Both Tay and Ng maintained that they were not acquainted with each other prior to the collision. According to them, Ng told Tay that should the latter require a witness, he could contact him at his pager number. At the trial, Ng gave his reasons for not volunteering to be a witness for the police:

Q: You realised at the scene that the police wanted witnesses?

A: Yes.

Q: You did not want to be troubled?

A: Yes. So I didn`t tell the police.

Q: Why did you give your contact number to PW1 (Tay)?

A: At the time, I told him that if he so required me to be a witness, then and only then would I be one.

Q: Would you not be troubled then?

A: It`s different from being present at the police station. If I were to tell them at that time, it would follow that I would definitely be required to give evidence as a witness.

Ng stayed at the scene for about 50 minutes. The appellant gave conflicting accounts as to whether Tay and Ng knew each other. In his s 121 statement, he mentioned that Tay had two friends with him:

At the same time during the conversation two friends of the other driver ie the driver of m/car SBE 4651 U joined him and accuse (sic) me of beating the traffic light to which I strongly rebutted.

However, in his examination-in-chief, the appellant claimed that Tay had three friends with him, one of whom was Ng. He said that Ng, together with the other two friends, negotiated with him on the possibility of coming to a settlement. Hou backed up the appellant`s story in this aspect. He stated in his examination-in-chief:

PW2 (Ng) was at the scene. He was one of the three friends. He was one of the other two when talking. I smelt alcohol. We, meaning PW1`s (Tay) three friends and I, tried to persuade the police to let us settle amongst themselves. The drivers were taking the breathalyser tests. PW2 mentioned PW1 as `my friend` when we were negotiating.

9.On 4 February 1997, the appellant gave his s 121 statement before Sgt Sekaran, the investigating officer of the case. On 17 February 1997, Sgt Sekaran called up Tay for an interview. During the course of the interview, Tay informed him that he had an independent witness, Ng, and gave the officer the pager number. According to Sgt Sekaran, Tay told him that his friends were at the scene of the accident and asked if they could be his witnesses. Sgt Sekaran said that, since they were known to Tay, they were not independent eye-witnesses. Tay made a police report on the same day. The report, however, did not have Ng`s particulars. Sgt Sekaran called Ng, who came down on 21 February 1997 to record a statement.

10.The appellant was subsequently charged under s 64(1) of the Act. The charge was amended on 29 September 1997.

11. The district judge`s decision

In convicting the appellant, the district judge relied on a few factors in finding that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

12.The judge found that the absence of Ng`s particulars in the police report did not weaken the prosecution`s case at all since Tay had already informed Sgt Sekaran about Ng during the interview. The judge was convinced that Tay and Ng were not acquainted with each other. Ng`s testimony was unscathed despite vigorous cross-examination. As there were other people at the scene, the judge was of the view that the fact that Ng was at the scene for some time (about 55 minutes) did not lend weight to the appellant`s claim that Ng knew Tay. He further reasoned at [para ] 54 of the grounds of decision:

The defendant, to show that Ng was Tay`s friend, claimed that Tay and his friends approached Cpl Foo to let the drivers settle amongst themselves. However, it was not put to Cpl Foo that Ng had asked Cpl Foo to let the parties settle. Neither was it put to Ng at all that he had taken part in the negotiations. In fact, it was Cpl Foo`s clear evidence that a male Chinese, who said that he was known to Tay, told him he had seen the accident and that this male Chinese was not Ng. I thus found

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    ...interest in their son’s acquittal. As such, their evidence was unreliable and of no value to this court. 20 As in Chung Tuck Kwai v PP [1998] 2 SLR 693, I further considered the additional problem of credibility should their evidence be admitted at this stage. The prosecution would not have......
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    ...Here, a high fine and relatively long disqualification were imposed on the accused. Another similar case was Chung Tuck Kwai v PP [1998] SGHC 163. Defence further sought to distinguish the facts in PP v Johnny Shang Chia Hui [2018] SGDC 64 (“Johnny”) from the present accused’s case. In John......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Case Note
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2019, December 2019
    • 1 Diciembre 2019
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