Marites Dela Cruz Martinez v Ong May Lee

JudgeLee-Khoo Poh Choo
Judgment Date30 December 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] SGDC 550
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberMSC 1713-4/2010; Magistrate’s Appeal No. 367/2010/01
Published date09 February 2011
Hearing Date07 October 2010
Plaintiff CounselDPP David Khoo & DPP Eugene Lee
Defendant CounselGlenn Knight,Chen Chee Yen & Rubin Mukkam of Tan Rajah & Cheah
Citation[2010] SGDC 550
District Judge Lee Poh Choo:

The Complainant has filed Notice of Appeal against - my finding that the Public Prosecutor has the sole control over criminal prosecution and he can intervene in the private prosecution initiated by the Complainant; and my ordering a discharge amounting to acquittal after the Public Prosecutor exercised his discretion not to prosecute further. I doubt whether this is the proper recourse as, in effect, the appeal is against an acquittal. Pursuant to section 245 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”), only the Public Prosecutor may file such an appeal. Nevertheless, this Judgment explains my decision.


Ong May Lee had sought treatment on a few occasions in 2007 at the clinic of Dr Ashok Segar (“Dr Segar”) and the doctor was assisted by the Complainant. At that time, the Complainant, a Filipino national, held a work permit to work as a domestic worker for Dr Segar. Subsequently, Ong May Lee wrote to the Singapore Medical Council and the Ministry of Manpower alleging that the Complainant worked as a “Clinic Assistant” and dispensed medicines to patients in the clinic owned by Dr Segar. While agreeing that she may have assisted in treating Ong May Lee, the Complainant said it was untrue that she dispensed medicines, therefore Ong May Lee had spoken ill of her and had defamed her. It was stated in the Complainant’s submission that she did not take civil actions because she could not afford the civil route as it was more expensive and it would take longer.

On 25 January 2010, the Complainant swore a Magistrate’s Complaint and summonses were issued subsequently. Complainant’s counsel gave a detailed account of the progress of the case until the Pre-trial Conference stage when the Public Prosecutor stepped in. I do not intend to go into the details as these are not relevant to the issues being argued before me, i.e. whether the Public Prosecutor has the right to intervene and discontinue a private prosecution.

Complainant’s submission

The Complainant put forth a number of unusual arguments. She submitted that the Public Prosecutor only has supervisory powers over the conduct of prosecutions and he may only discontinue proceedings which he started. She then said that if the Public Prosecutor intervenes, he must take over the prosecution. Even then, the Public Prosecutor must explain why he wanted to intervene. And, if he did not want to continue with the prosecution, he must explain his decision. The Complainant further submitted that section 336(8) of the CPC preserved the right of the private individual to prosecute in the Subordinate Courts and that the Public Prosecutor can only intervene at the appeal stage in the High Courts.

The Law

It must be recognised that the interests of the state in criminal matters are entrusted to the Public Prosecutor. The dominance of the Attorney General (Public Prosecutor) in criminal prosecutions is entrenched, as...

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