Public Prosecutor v Lim Boon Hiong and another

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeSteven Chong J
Judgment Date21 July 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] SGHC 205
Citation[2010] SGHC 205
Plaintiff CounselNg Cheng Thiam, Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz and Davyd Chong (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Published date23 July 2010
Defendant CounselRamesh Tiwary (M/s Ramesh Tiwary),Shashidran Nathan and Tania Chin (M/s Inca Law LLC) and Satwant Singh (Sim Mong Teck & Partners)
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 3 of 2010
Subject MatterCriminal Law
Date21 July 2010
Hearing Date21 May 2010,17 May 2010,19 May 2010,10 May 2010,13 May 2010,11 May 2010,14 May 2010,26 May 2010,20 May 2010,12 May 2010,27 May 2010,18 May 2010
Steven Chong J: Background Facts The accused persons

The accused persons are two Malaysian Chinese from Penang, Malaysia. The first accused is Lim Boon Hiong (“Lim”), 29 years old, and the second accused is Koay Teen Chew (“Koay”), 30 years old.

The charge

The Prosecution proceeded against Lim and Koay on one joint charge of drug trafficking (“the Charge”), viz:

[That you both] on the 28th day of May 2008 at or about 7.40pm in a Malaysian registered motor car JKR 7393 along Dunearn Road approaching Newton Circus in Singapore, in furtherance of the common intention of you both, did traffic in a controlled drug specified in Class A of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, by having in your possession inside the said car for the purpose of trafficking two hundred and nineteen (219) packets of substance containing not less than 120.96 grams of diamorphine without any authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 5(1)(a) read with section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act and section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drug Act.

Surveillance operation leading to Lim and Koay’s arrest

The Prosecution led evidence to show that on 28 May 2008, at about 4.30pm, a party of officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (the “CNB officers”) was tasked to conduct surveillance on a Malaysian registered car JKR 7393 (“the car”) at the Woodlands Checkpoint.

At about 6.10pm on 28 May 2008, the CNB officers observed Lim and Koay entering Singapore from Johor Bahru at the Woodlands Checkpoint in the car. The car made its way into the heartlands, stopping first at Causeway Point in Woodlands where a male Chinese (subsequently ascertained to be Koay) alighted from the car and boarded a taxi. Thereafter the taxi and the car left together and proceeded to Bukit Timah Shopping Centre where Koay alighted from the taxi and reboarded the car. The car then travelled to, and stopped at, a Shell petrol kiosk along Upper Bukit Timah Road. The CNB officers took up various positions nearby in order to continue the surveillance.

At the petrol kiosk, both Lim and Koay were observed by the CNB officers to have alighted from the car to use a restroom and visit a convenience store, respectively. When they returned, Koay went to the rear passenger seat of the car while Lim returned to the driver’s seat. Subsequently, Koay moved to the front passenger seat.

At about 7pm, the CNB officers observed a male Chinese, later ascertained to be PW21, Goh Kong Seng (“Goh”), walking up to the front passenger window of the car (there is some dispute as to whether Goh walked up to the front passenger window or the driver’s window but nothing turns on this), reaching in through the window and collecting a black bundle from one of the accused persons. Koay testified in court that he was the one who handed over the black bundle to Goh who then placed the black bundle in his left trouser pocket before leaving in another car. Goh was arrested later the same day (28 May 2008) and the black bundle that Goh had collected at the petrol kiosk was seized. It was found to be labelled “B”. Analysis of the contents of the black bundle by the Health Sciences Authority (“HSA”) revealed that the bundle contained diamorphine, which is the scientific name for heroin.

Lim and Koay then left the petrol kiosk, and were travelling along Dunearn Road towards Newton Circus when they were intercepted and arrested by the CNB officers, and their identities ascertained.

Questioning of Lim and Koay at Dunearn Road

Lim and Koay were then questioned at the scene by a number of CNB officers. None of the following sets of questions and answers were reduced to writing: Senior Staff Sergeant Ng Yeong Kok (“SSSgt Ng”) (PW11) asked Koay, in Mandarin, whether he had anything illegal in the car to surrender, and Koay said “no”. He then asked Koay what he was doing in Singapore, and Koay replied that he had come to shop with his friend, but was unable to furnish details as to where he had gone shopping or intended to shop. The same set of questions was posed to Lim in Mandarin, and Lim claimed that he did not know if there was anything illegal in the car to surrender, nor did he know why he had come to Singapore. Staff Sergeant Malvern Wong (“SSgt Wong”) (PW14) also questioned Lim in Mandarin at the scene. He asked Lim whether there was anything illegal in the car, and Lim replied that there were “things” in the loudspeaker in the car. When asked by SSgt Wong what these “things” were, Lim replied that he did not know. Senior Station Inspector Sea Hoon Cheng (“SSI Sea”) (PW12) asked Koay five questions in Hokkien: SSI Sea asked Koay whether he had anything illegal to surrender, to which Koay replied “no”; SSI Sea asked Koay whether there was anything illegal in the car, to which Koay replied “not mine”; SSI Sea asked Koay what that was, and Koay replied that he did not know; SSI Sea repeated the question, to which Koay replied that it was in the car speaker but that it did not belong to him; SSI Sea asked Koay how he knew about it, and Koay indicated that Lim was the one who told him that there were illegal “things” in the car speaker. Station Inspector David Ng (“SI David Ng”) (PW13) asked Lim in Mandarin whether there was anything inside the car, to which Lim replied “yes”. When asked by SI David Ng where the things were, Lim replied that they were “behind the car boot”. SI David Ng then asked Lim “how many behind the car boot”, and Lim replied “5” or “about 5”.

Search of the car at Dunearn Road

The car was searched by the CNB officers at the scene, and a loudspeaker was found in the boot of the car. SSI Sea was informed by SI David Ng that Lim had said that there were things inside the car boot, but SSI Sea could not find any opening in the loudspeaker, and decided, in view of the poor lighting and traffic conditions, to continue the search at the headquarters of the CNB (“CNB HQ”).

Arrival at CNB HQ and initial statements recorded from Lim and Koay

Shortly after arriving at CNB HQ on the same day (28 May 2008), at about 9.15pm, SSI Sea questioned Koay in a mixture of Hokkien and Cantonese, and obtained a statement (P35) from Koay, which SSI Sea reduced to writing in his pocketbook as follows: What do you call the person who was arrested together with you? I call him Ah Lim (Recorder’s note: Ah Lim is one Lim Boon Hiong, IC: 801214075033). Were you arrested together with Ah Lim in the car JKR 7393? Yes. Who is the driver of the car JKR 7393? Ah Lim. Is there anything illegal in the car JKR 7393? Yes. In the speaker. (Recorder’s note: The accused answer me in the Cantonese) How do you know that the speaker of the car JKR 7393 has things? (Asked in Cantonese) Ah Lim told me. (In Cantonese) When did Ah Lim told you. I do not remember. What things is there inside the speaker? Ah Lim just told me got things.

Shortly thereafter, at about 9.25pm, SSSgt Ng questioned Lim in Mandarin and obtained a statement (P32) from Lim, which SSSgt Ng reduced to writing in his pocketbook as follows: Why did you come into Singapore today? My friend “Banana” asked me to send him to Singapore? For what? Take something for people. What thing? He said “medicine”. For what, do you send him in for? He pays me a few hundred dollars between RM$500 to RM$800. How many did he bring today? About 5 to 6 packets. Who is the person who ask you to drive in? (Recorder’s note: B1 [Lim] pointed to Koay Teen Chew A17767491) “Banana” or “Zhen Xing”.

Search of the car at CNB HQ

At about 9.45pm, the car was searched by SSI Sea in the presence of Lim and Koay. When the boot of the car was opened, a loudspeaker was found just behind the rear seat (as shown in photographs P3 and P4). SSI Sea was unable to find any opening in the loudspeaker.

During the search, SI David Ng asked Koay how to open the loudspeaker, and Koay replied that there was an opening behind the loudspeaker. With this information, SSI Sea located a concealed opening at the back of the loudspeaker (as shown in photograph P5) which, when opened, revealed a compartment, within which SSI Sea found 8 bundles each secured with black masking tape. The 8 bundles were already labelled “A”, “C”, “D”, “E1”, “E2”, “E3”, “E4” and “E5” when they were found, and contained small packets of granular/powdered substance. As stated in [6] above, the bundle labelled “B” was earlier delivered to Goh at the Shell petrol kiosk prior to the arrest of Lim and Koay.

Further statements recorded from Lim and Koay

At about 10.08pm on the same day (28 May 2008), SSSgt Ng questioned Lim in Mandarin, and obtained a further statement from Lim in Mandarin (P33) which SSSgt Ng reduced to writing in his pocketbook as follows: What is this? (Recorder’s note: I pointed to drug seized) I don’t know. Belongs to who? I don’t know. What do you intend to do with it? I don’t know where. The vehicle JKR 7393 belong to who? A friend name “AJ”. Who approach you to bring the “thing” to Singapore? “AJ”. How many times? Two to three times. How much did he pay you to bring in the “thing” into Singapore? RM$700-RM$800.

At about 10.13pm on 28 May 2008, SSI Sea questioned Koay in Hokkien and Cantonese, and obtained a further statement (P36) from Koay which SSI Sea reduced to writing in his pocketbook as follows: There were a total of 8 black bundles of powdery substance found in the back of the car in the speaker. Who are those? I don’t know. Have you seen Ah Lim took anything from the back of the car of JKR 7393? Yes. Today in Singapore at a petrol kiosk. Ah Lim took a...

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