Lee Keng Guan and Others v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date26 May 1977
Neutral Citation[1977] SGCA 2
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 7 of 1976
Date26 May 1977
Year1977
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselDatuk David Marshall (David Marshall)
Citation[1977] SGCA 2
Defendant CounselJS Khosa (JS Khosa & Co),Tan Teow Yeow (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject Matterss 321, 324 & 511 Penal Code (Cap 103, 1970 Ed),Whether charge ultra vires Federal Constitution,art 8(1) Federal Constitution [Mal],Equal protection of the law,Statutory offences,Allegation that charges could have been brought under Penal Code,Charges under s 4,Use of firearms,Republic of Singapore Independence Act 1965,Criminal Law,Arms Offences Act 1973,Whether ultra vires as being in violation equality provision,Constitutional Law

Cur Adv Vult

The appellants at a joint trial in the High Court were convicted of offences under the Arms Offences Act 1973 and sentenced to death. The first appellant Lee Keng Guan, was convicted on the following three charges:

First Charge

That you Lee Keng Guan on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.25am at the car park, Rose Garden, Amber Road, Singapore, did use an arm, with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Sauw Yoong and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 4 of the Arms Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



Second Charge

That you Lee Keng Guan on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.26am at the car park, Rose Garden, Amber Road, Singapore, did use an arm, with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Gjok Hua, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 4 of the Arms Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



Third Charge

That you Lee Keng Guan on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.30am at Mountbatten Road. near the junction with Amber Road, Singapore, did use an arm, with intent to cause injury to one Low Meng Hoe and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 4 of the Arm Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



The second appellant, Ho Joo Huat, was convicted on the following two charges:

First Charge

That you Ho Joo Huat on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.25am at the car park, Rose Garden, Singapore, were an accomplice in a robbery committed by you, one Lee Keng Guan and one Wong Loke Fatt in which an arm was used by the said Lee Keng Guan with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Sauw Yoong and that you were present at the scene of the said robbery and may reasonably be presumed to have known that the said Lee Keng Guan was carrying the said arm, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 5 of the Arm Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



Second Charge

That you Ho Joo Huat on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.26am at a car park, Rose Garden, Amber Road, Singapore, were an accomplice in a robbery committed by you, one Lee Keng Guan and one Wong Loke Fatt in which an arm was used by the said Lee Keng Guan with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Giok Hua and that you were present at the scene of the said robbery and may reasonably be presumed to have known that the said Lee Keng Guan was carrying the said arm, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 5 of the Arms Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



The third appellant, Wong Loke Fatt, was convicted on the following two charges:

First Charge

That you Wong Loke Fatt on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.25am at the car park, Rose Garden, Singapore, were an accomplice in a robbery committed by you, one Lee Keng Guan and one Ho Joo Huat in which an arm was used by the said Lee Keng Guan with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Sauw Yoong, and that you were present at the scene of the said robbery and may reasonably be presumed to have known that the said Lee Keng Guan was carrying the said arm, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 5 of the Arm Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



Second Charge

That you Wong Loke Fatt on or about 19 October 1974 at about 10.26am at a car park. Rose Garden, Amber Road, Singapore, were an accomplice in a robbery committed by you, one Lee Keng Guan and one Ho Joo Huat in which an arm was used by the said Lee Keng Guan with intent to cause injury to one Tjong Giok Hua, and that you were present at the scene of the said robbery and may reasonably be presumed to have known that the said Lee Keng Guan was carrying the said arm, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 5 of the Arm Offences Act, 1973 (No 61 of 1973).



The relevant provisions of the Arms Offences Act 1973 read as follows:

2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires -

`arm` means any firearm ... from which any ... bullet can be discharged ... ;

`use`, with its grammatical variations, means -

(a) in relation to a firearm ... from which any ... bullet ... can be discharged ... - to cause such bullet ... to be discharged with intent to cause physical injury to any person;

4. Subject to any exception referred to in Ch IV of the Penal Code which may be applicable, any person who uses or attempts to use any arm shall on conviction be punished with death.

(5) . Where any arm is used by any person in committing or in attempting to commit any offence, each of his accomplices in respect of the last mentioned offence present at the scene of such offence who may reasonably be presumed to have known that such person was car in or had in his possession or under his control such arm, shall, unless he proves that he had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the use of such arm, be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall on conviction be punished with death.



The prosecution evidence can be stated shortly.
A male Chinese, Low Meng Hoe, left his flat, which is on the second floor of a block of flats facing Mountbatten Road and Katong Shopping Centre, at around 10.25am on 19 October 1974. He proceeded to his car which was parked at a car park situated behind this block of flats. As he was about to open the front offside door of his car he saw two strangers approaching him, one from his left and the other from his right. The one approaching him from his left was the first appellant and the one approaching him from his right was the third appellant. The first appellant held him up with a gun telling him not to move. At the same time Low felt someone relieving him of his wallet which contained money and two cheques. At this moment Low saw a third person whom he identified as the second appellant walking towards his car. He was told to open the door of his car and he was pushed into the rear seat. The appellants also entered the car, the second appellant occupying the driver`s seat and the first and third appellants occupied the rear seat with Low sandwiched between them.

While this robbery was taking place, Low`s wife witnessed it from the rear verandah of their flat.
She saw two persons searching Low`s shirt pocket and suspecting a robbery she telephoned the police and then returned to the rear verandah from where she saw Low seated in his car between two persons and another person driving Low`s car. At that time she saw Low`s nephew, Tiong Sauw Yoong, who was staying with them, about to park his own car No SV 9467. She signalled to Tjong to stop and then she came down to where Tjong had stopped his car and jumped into the rear seat immediately behind the driver`s seat and told Tjong to follow Low`s car. As Tjong was about to reverse his car, she saw her husband`s car approaching them and on seeing this told Tjong to block her husband`s car which he did thereby forcing her husband`s car to stop. As it stopped, the appellants came out of the car and Low was pushed out.

The first appellant then walked towards Tjong`s car, stood in front of it at a distance of two or three metres, and pointed a gun at Tjong.
At that moment the second appellant was to the right of the first appellant, Low was to the left of the first appellant, two metres away from him, and the third appellant was beside Low holding the left rear waist band of Low`s trousers. The first appellant then opened fire and after firing he ran to the nearside of Tjong`s car, pointed his gun at Low`s wife, who was still seated immediately behind the driver`s seat, and fired. At this point of time the third appellant was standing directly in front of Tjong`s car and the second appellant was also in front of Tjong`s car but more to the nearside of the car. Low was then standing next to the third appellant.

After the first appellant had fired the second shot, all the three appellants ran away towards the direction of Amber Road.
The second appellant was running ahead of the other two with Low chasing them. Neither Tjong nor Low`s wife were injured by the two shots fired by the first appellant. The three appellants on reaching the junction of Amber Road and Mountbatten Road, with Low still chasing them, shouting in Chinese `robbery, robbery`, turned left into Mountbatten Road and continued running on the left hand side of Mountbatten Road in the direction of Tanjong Katong Road.

Then Low saw the first appellant stop, turn around and aim the gun at him whereupon he hid behind a parked car and in that position he heard a sound like a gunshot sound.
Another prosecution witness, one Hari Singh, a policeman who on seeing Low chasing two men had stopped his car and gone up to Low, said that one of the two men Low was chasing turned round towards them and opened fire from a gun. Hari Singh`s wife was with her husband in the car. She said that Low and her husband were taking shelter behind her car when the shot was fired. Eventually all the appellants were apprehended not far from the scene of the robbery.

After their arrests the second and third appellants made cautioned statements to a police inspector.
The second appellant`s statement was as follows:

I did it. Ah Ong, he was the one who had the gun, asked me to do it. Khek Kia also followed. Ah Ong told us he got a gun. He showed me the gun. We sat in a taxi. Please be lenient. This is the first time. They asked me to drive the car. That is all I have to say.



The third appellant`s statement was as follows:

I am guilty. Ong, he is the one who was holding the gun, suggested we commit the robbery. Today we met at Geylang, Lorong 41. Ong asked me and Ah Huat to commit the robbery. We went in a taxi. I was told by Ong that he had a gun. He showed me his gun. Can you be lenient with me. I have a daughter. That is all I have to say.



At the close of the case for the prosecution the trial judges amended the third charge against the first appellant by deleting Hari Singh as one of the persons against whom
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4 cases
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    ...is arbitrary and unsupportable. For an elaboration on the principles of the presumption of constitutionality, see Lee Keng Guan v PP [1975-1977] SLR 231 at pp 237 which we shall refer to shortly. 61.We moved on next to the standard of validity. It was apparent that s 37(1) differentiated Si......
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