Muhammad Faizal

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date04 October 2011
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 104 of 2011
Date04 October 2011

High Court

Tay Yong Kwang J

Magistrate's Appeal No 104 of 2011

Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim
Plaintiff
and
Public Prosecutor
Defendant

Alfred Dodwell (Dodwell & Co) for the appellant

Eugene Lee and Mark Jayaratnam (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the respondent

Woo Shu Yan (Drew & Napier LLC) as amicus curiae.

ADF v PP [2010] 1 SLR 874 (folld)

Chua Chye Tiong v PP [2004] 1 SLR (R) 22; [2004] 1 SLR 22 (folld)

Lim Kay Han Irene v PP [2010] 3 SLR 240 (folld)

Lim Teck Chye v PP [2004] 2 SLR (R) 525; [2004] 2 SLR 525 (refd)

MVBalakrishnan v PP [1998] 2 SLR (R) 846; [1998] 3 SLR 586 (folld)

Murray v Macmillan [1942] JC 10 (distd)

PP v Hiew Chin Fong [1988] 1 MLJ 467 (folld)

PP v Mohd Isa [1963] MLJ 135 (refd)

PP v Tang Wee Sung [2008] SGDC 262 (refd)

Re Kanapathipillai [1960] MLJ 243 (refd)

Robertson v M'Ginn [1956] SLT 246 (refd)

Siti Hajar bte Abdullah v PP [2006] 2 SLR (R) 248; [2006] 2 SLR 248 (folld)

Sivakumar s/o Rajoo v PP [2002] 1 SLR (R) 265; [2002] 2 SLR 73 (folld)

Sriekaran s/o Thanka Samy v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 1; [1998] 3 SLR 402 (folld)

Stewart Ashley James v PP [1996] 3 SLR (R) 106; [1996] 3 SLR 426 (folld)

Toh Yong Soon v PP [2011] 3 SLR 147 (refd)

Whittall v Kirby [1947] KB 194 (folld)

Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 2000 Rev Ed) ss 3 (2) , 3 (3) (consd) ;ss 3, 3 (1) , 3 (4)

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing—Sentencing—Disqualification order—Accused using motorcycle without valid third-party insurance—Whether existing interpretation of ‘special reasons’ was unsatisfactory or plainly wrong—Whether any ‘special reasons’ warranted reversal or reduction of mandatory disqualification—Section 3 (3) Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 2000 Rev Ed)

Words and Phrases—‘Special reasons’—Ambit of s 3 (3) Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 2000 Rev Ed)

The appellant was convicted under s 3 (1) of the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 2000 Rev Ed) (‘MVA’) for using his colleague's motorcycle without valid insurance coverage. The appellant was fined and disqualified from driving for 12 months by the District Judge. The appellant appealed against the disqualification order, claiming the existence of ‘special reasons’ under s 3 (3) of the MVA which warranted a reversal or reduction of the order.

The appellant argued that the ‘special reasons’ exception under s 3 (3) should be given a wider and more flexible interpretation, allowing the courts to consider not just circumstances peculiar to the offence, but also circumstances peculiar to the offender. The appellant claimed that such ‘special reasons’ existed because he had not deliberately contravened s 3 (1) of the MVA; and that his father had tragically passed away earlier from a motorcycle accident.

Held, dismissing the appeal:

(1) The existing interpretation of ‘special reasons’ under s 3 (3) of the MVA by the Singapore courts was that only reasons connected with the offence and not the offender would be considered. The existing interpretation was therefore a narrow one: at [28] and [31].

(2) Since the policy behind s 3 (1) of the MVA was deterrence, and given the seriousness of the offence, construing ‘special reasons’ narrowly as being those connected with the offence and not the offender would be the clearest means of giving effect to Parliament's intention: at [41].

(3) The existing interpretation of ‘special reasons’ was justifiable in principle as well. Circumstances peculiar to the offence were given exceptional treatment as ‘special reasons’ because they went towards reducing the moral culpability of the offender, in contrast with circumstances peculiar to the offender which did not: at [42] and [43].

(4) Section 3 (2) of the MVA already provided the courts with a calibrated approach in sentencing. Where mitigating factors relevant to the offender were shown, the court could exercise its discretion to impose a fine instead of a custodial sentence. Thus, there was no need for the ‘special reasons’ exception in s 3 (3) to be widened. In the present case, the fact that the appellant had not deliberately contravened s 3 (1) was taken into account by the District Judge who imposed only a fine instead of a custodial sentence: at [45], [46] and [53].

(5) The Scottish approach which construed ‘special reasons’ as pertaining also to circumstances peculiar to the offender should not be adopted. The Scottish approach was decided in the context of a national emergency and thus clearly distinguishable from the present case. Therefore, the existing interpretation which considered only circumstances peculiar to the offence and not the offender should be maintained: at [48], [49] and [51].

(6) Even if a wider interpretation of ‘special reasons’ were to be adopted, the appellant had failed to show any ‘special reason’ peculiar to the offence or the offender which would warrant a reduction of the disqualification order. The death of the appellant's father in a motorcycle accident could not constitute a ‘special reason’ as an over liberal interpretation of ‘special reasons’ would nullify the whole purpose of s 3 (1) of the MVA: at [52], [54] and [55].

[Observation: It was insufficient for an offender of s 3 (1) of the MVA to merely assert that he or she was caught in exceptional circumstances peculiar to the offence. The facts to back up such circumstances had to be proved to the satisfaction of the court: at [38].]

Tay Yong Kwang J

Introduction

1 This appeal revisits the established position on the ambit of the ‘special reasons’ exception in s 3 (3) of the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189, 2000 Rev Ed) (‘MVA’). The appellant pleaded guilty to a charge of riding a motor cycle without insurance coverage. A related charge was taken into consideration with his consent. The district judge (‘the District Judge’) imposed a fine of $500 (in default three days' imprisonment) and a disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for all classes for a period of 12 months from the date of conviction (see the District Judge's grounds of decision (Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim [2011] SGDC 145) (‘GD’) at [2]). The appellant appealed on the grounds that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive and that there were ‘special reasons’ for the court to reverse or to reduce the disqualification imposed.

2 Idismissed the appeal and now set out my reasons.

Facts

Statement of facts

3 The statement of facts which the appellant agreed to without any qualification reads as follows:

  1. 1 The complainant is Corporal Muhd Rohani, attached to the Traffic Police Department.

  2. 2 The defendant is Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim, male 30 yrs, Singapore citizen.

  3. 3 On 10/11/2010 at about 3.10 am, along Loyang Avenue, complainant stopped motor cycle FP 4534 U. Upon checking, the rider's particulars were furnished to be that of defendant. It was revealed that defendant was not the named rider of motor cycle FP 4534 U, thus he had ridden the said vehicle without insurance coverage, as the insurance policy covers only the named rider.

  4. 4 Defendant had thus committed the following offences:

    1. a. Riding motor vehicle FP 4534 U without insurance coverage under Section 3 (1) of the Motor Vehicle (Third-Party Risks & Compensations) Act, Chapter 189.

The statutory provision

4 The relevant subsections of s 3 of the MVA are set out as follows:

Users of motor vehicles to be insured against third-party risks

3.- (1)Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to use or to cause or permit any other person to use-

  1. (a) a motor vehicle in Singapore; or

  2. (b) amotor vehicle which is registered in Singapore in any territory specified in the Schedule,

unless there is in force in relation to the use of the motor vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third-party risks as complies with the requirements of this Act.

  1. (2) If a person acts in contravention of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both.

  2. (3) A person convicted of an offence under this section shall (unless the court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise and without prejudice to the power of the court to order a longer period of disqualification) be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence under the Road Traffic Act (Cap.276) for a period of 12 months from the date of the conviction.

Background

5 On 10 November 2010, at about 3.00 am, the appellant was at work and was due for a meal break from his night shift. Just as he was about to ride off, his colleague suggested a ‘bike swap’ to test the appellant's motorcycle. The appellant was reluctant initially but...

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4 cases
  • Prathib s/o M Balan v PP
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 22 November 2017
    ...v Rennison [1947] 1 KB 488 (refd) M V Balakrishnan v PP [1998] 2 SLR(R) 846; [1998] 3 SLR 586 (refd) Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim v PP [2012] 1 SLR 116 (folld) PP v Aw Yick Hong [2014] SGDC 275 (refd) PP v Chen Horng Yeh David [2007] SGDC 326 (refd) PP v Chia Hong Quan [2015] SGDC 33 (refd) PP......
  • Public Prosecutor v Mohamed Fuad Bin Abdul Samad
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 19 May 2014
    ...he should be punished would be unfair. On the prosecution’s calls for a disqualification, he referred to Muhammad Faizal Bin Rahim v PP [2012] 1 SLR 116. His Counsel submitted that there were special reasons to depart from imposing a disqualification on the Accused. It was further submitted......
  • Public Prosecutor v Choo Jin Hui
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 29 July 2015
    ...held that the special reasons must be connected with the offence and not the offender. In Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim v Public Prosecutor [2012] 1 SLR 116, Tay Yong Kwang J held that this was a narrow interpretation which can only be satisfied in exceptional circumstances peculiar to the offe......
  • Public Prosecutor v Liew Yee Long
    • Singapore
    • Magistrates' Court (Singapore)
    • 29 July 2016
    ...held that the special reasons must be connected with the offence and not the offender. In Muhammad Faizal bin Rahim v Public Prosecutor [2012] 1 SLR 116, Tay Yong Kwang J held that this was a narrow interpretation which can only be satisfied in exceptional circumstances peculiar to the offe......

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