Lwee Kwi Ling Mary & Another v Quek Chin Huat

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeChong Kah Wei
Judgment Date19 October 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGMC 21
Citation[2002] SGMC 21
Publication Date19 September 2003

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION

1. In this private prosecution, the two Appellants were jointly tried on a total of four charges for alleged offences committed at the Appellants’ home on the evening of 11 March 2001.

2. The first Appellant, Mdm Mary Lwee Kwi Ling ("Mary") claimed trial to the following two charges:

    PSS 574/01 (Amended First Charge) (Exh. "P1A")

    You, Mary Lwee Kwi Ling, NRIC: S2554649-J, F/46 yrs, are charged that you, on the 11th day of March 2001 at or about 2050 hours at the corridor of unit #27-04, Tower 2A, The Bayshore, 30 Bayshore Road, Singapore 469974, with intent to cause alarm, did use abusive words on one Quek Chin Huat, to wit by shouting the words "Fuck You" at the said Quek Chin Huat thereby causing him alarm and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 13A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Chapter 184).

    PSS 575/01 (Second Charge) (Exh "P2")

    You, Mary Lwee Kwi Ling, NRIC: S2554649-J, F/46 yrs, are charged that you, on the 11th day of March 2001 at or about 2050 hours at the corridor of unit #27-04, Tower 2A, The Bayshore, 30 Bayshore Road, Singapore 469974, did threaten to cause injury to one Quek Chin Huat, to wit by wielding a chopper and shouting the words "I am going to kill you", with the intention of causing the said Quek Chin Huat to be alarmed and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 506 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).

3. The second Appellant, Mr Chai Yaw Hoi ("Chai") claimed trial to the following two charges:

    PSS 576/01 (Third Charge) (Exh "P3")

    You, Chai Yaw Hoi, NRIC: S2505860-G, M/44 yrs, are charged that you, on the 11th day of March 2001 at or about 2050 hours at the corridor of unit #27-04, Tower 2A, The Bayshore, 30 Bayshore Road, Singapore 469974, did use criminal force on one Quek Chin Huat, to wit by pushing the said Quek Chin Huat, knowing it to be likely that by the use of such force it will cause annoyance to the said Quek Chin Huat and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 352 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).

    PSS 577/01 (Fourth Charge) (Exh "P4")

    You, Chai Yaw Hoi, NRIC: S2505860-G, M/44 yrs, are charged that you, on the 11th day of March 2001 at or about 2050 hours at unit #27-04, Tower 2A, The Bayshore, 30 Bayshore Road, Singapore 469974, did voluntary [sic] cause hurt to one Quek Chin Huat, to wit by kicking the said Quek Chin Huat, knowing that it is likely to cause him hurt and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).

4. At the close of the Prosecution’s case, the Court exercised its power under Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap 68, to amend the charges against both Appellants, and called for the defence on the amended charges. At the conclusion of the trial, I found that the Prosecution had proven its case against the two Appellants on all four amended charges beyond a reasonable doubt and accordingly I convicted the two Appellants on their respective charges. The first Appellant, Mary Lwee, was sentenced to a $1,000 fine for the first charge, and ten weeks’ imprisonment for the second charge. The second Appellant, Chai Yaw Hoi, was sentenced to a $500 fine for each of the third and fourth charges.

5. The two Appellants have now appealed against the orders of conviction and sentence for all four charges.

ISSUES IN THIS TRIAL

6. In this trial, the Court was faced with two different versions of the events. The complainant, Mr Quek Chin Huat ("Quek") contended that when he was at the Appellants’ apartment to collect outstanding rent, Mary used the abusive words "Fuck you" repeatedly on him, and when he made a rude retort, he was pushed by Chai first with the hands and then with the leg. In the ensuing scuffle, Chai was injured as a result of a push, and Mary then took a chopper knife and dashed at him, shouting "I am going to kill you".

7. The Appellants in their Defence disputed Quek’s account on all material aspects, and gave a different version of the events. In their Defence, Chai and Mary contended that Quek was the aggressive one and that both Chai and Mary were merely defending themselves. Mary denied that she used the abusive words "Fuck you" repeatedly at Quek. Chai claimed that he was attacked by Quek, and only used his leg to push Quek away in self-defence. Mary claimed that when Quek advanced angrily towards her, she then took a chopper knife and held it in self-defence. She denied rushing at Quek with the chopper knife and shouting the death threat.

8. The main issue which the Court had to resolve was which version of facts was to be believed.

UNDISPUTED AND ADMITTED FACTS

9. The following facts are either undisputed or admitted by the Appellants. Chai and Mary were at the material time, and still are husband and wife. Sometime in January 2000, Chai and Mary had rented out their own apartment at Tower 2A, The Bayshore, unit #27-04. They in turn rented an apartment at unit #04-07 of the same condominium from one Mdm Ng Chew Kim ("Ng"), who was the wife of the complainant, Mr Quek Chin Huat ("Quek"). Quek and Ng in turn rented another apartment at Guillemard Road. Chai and Mary admitted that they were habitually late in paying their rent to Ng.1

10. In end December 2000, Chai and Mary’s tenant at unit #27-04 terminated the tenancy pursuant to a diplomatic clause.2 The tenant had given two months’ notice earlier in September 2000.3 Chai and Mary initially wanted to rent out their apartment again.4 They did not have a diplomatic clause in their tenancy agreement with Ng, so being a housing agent herself, Mary knew that they had to continue with the two-year tenancy agreement for unit #04-07.5 Chai and Mary eventually decided to move back to their own apartment at unit #27-04.6 They wanted to sublet the rented apartment at unit #04-07. They eventually did sublet the apartment to a Filipino sub-tenant, one Mr Gerald.7

11. On the day in question, 11 March 2001, Chai and Mary owed Ng two months’ rent for the months of February and March 2001. The rent was due on the first of each month. Mary admitted that in fact, the rent for January 2001 had also been paid late, because Chai and Mary were in a tight financial situation.8 Mary also admitted that Chai and Mary did not pay Ng the rent for February and March 2001 despite having collected the rent for these months in advance from the Filipino sub-tenant.9 By 11 March 2001, Chai and Mary had moved back to their own apartment at unit #27-04.10

12. On 11 March 2001, sometime after 8.00 pm, Quek visited the apartment at unit #27-04 to try to collect the outstanding rent for February and March 2001.11 He spoke to Chai, who said that he had already issued a cheque for the month of February 2001, and that the cheque was with the maid.12 Chai eventually issued a cheque for the March 2001 rent.13 Quek then left the premises, saying that he would return for the other cheque the next morning.14

13. When Quek was at the ground floor lift lobby, he met Cirila Ebu Salem ("Cirila"), who was the maid of Chai and Mary.15 Cirila had just returned from buying groceries. Cirila confirmed that the cheque was with her, and he followed her up to the apartment to obtain the cheque from her.16

14. The details of the events that follow are disputed. What is undisputed is that when Quek arrived at the apartment the second time, Mary was on the telephone talking to Ng.17 The maid searched for the cheque while Quek waited outside the apartment, but she was unsuccessful in locating the cheque.18 There was an exchange of abusive language between Mary and Quek, but it is disputed as to how the exchange started. Chai and Mary told Quek they were not going to pay him.19 Subsequently, there was a scuffle or some physical encounter between Chai and Quek, during which Chai ended up sitting on a wooden elephant carving placed against the wall near the door.20 Chai suffered a 5 cm abrasion on the right side of the neck, and a sharp pain to the right shoulder which turned out to be a dislocation of the right shoulder.21 Chai had a history of prior dislocation of his shoulder.22 Quek was standing in front of Chai at this point.

15. Subsequently, Mary took a chopper knife from the kitchen and came out of the kitchen.23 Although the details of this incident are disputed, what is undisputed is that the maid eventually took the knife away from Mary and kept it in the kitchen cupboard.24 Quek went out of the apartment and stayed outside until the police came.25 Chai had called the police. A security guard, Kulwant Singh s/o Didar Singh ("Kulwant Singh") came upstairs pursuant to a complaint by another resident about the commotion. Eventually, the police came and interviewed Chai, Mary, Quek and the maid. The knife was seized, and Mary was placed under arrest and brought back to the police station. Quek was also told to go to the police station together to assist in investigations.

16. On 24 May 2001, Chai and Mary each made a Magistrate’s Complaint against Quek in the Subordinate Courts. On 8 June 2001, Quek also made a Magistrate’s Complaint against Chai and Mary in the Subordinate Courts. Between 2-6 November 2001, the trial of Chai and Mary’s private summons against Quek was heard before Magistrate Christopher Tan in Court 35 ("the previous trial"). On 1 December 2001, Magistrate Tan convicted Quek on two charges under section 323 Penal Code, and acquitted Quek of the charge under section 506 of the Penal Code. Quek’s private prosecution against Chai and Mary on the cross-summons is the subject matter of this trial.

THE PROSECUTION CASE

17. I now turn to the evidence in dispute. The Prosecution called eight witnesses:

    PW1 – SSS Suhaini bin Abdul Ghani – arresting officer

    PW2 – Inspector Andy Koh – arresting officer

    PW3 – SC Cpl Nur Iskandar bin Abdul Malik – arresting officer

    PW4 – Kulwant Singh s/o Didar Singh – security...

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