Public Prosecutor v Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Rahman and Another

JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date27 May 1997
Neutral Citation[1997] SGHC 136
Date27 May 1997
Subject Matters 13 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Review of sentencing,Whether disqualification order could be made together with reformative training,Theft,s 11 Probation of Offenders Act (Cap 252),Whether disqualification orders could be imposed alongside probation or reformative training,s 379A Penal Code (Cap 224),Whether disqualification could be ordered alongside probation,Revision of proceedings,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Sentencing
Docket NumberCriminal Revision No 5 of 1997
Published date19 September 2003
Defendant CounselRespondents in person
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Plaintiff CounselWong Keen Onn (Deputy Public Prosecutor)

The present matter arose out of an application by a district judge for criminal revision of disqualifications imposed upon the two respondents. At the hearing considering revision, the DPP in fact opposed revision of the first respondent`s disqualification but not revision of the second respondent`s disqualification. At the end of the hearing, I took time for consideration.

Brief facts

On 14 March 1997, the respondents who were 17 and 16 years old respectively were each convicted upon their pleas of guilt to three charges of theft of motor cycles under s 379A of the Penal Code (Cap 224). Several other charges under the same section as well as s 35(1) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Cap 184) were taken into consideration. The district judge called for reformative training and probation reports on the respondents. Having examined the reports, the district judge sentenced the first respondent to reformative training under s 13, Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) (CPC) and placed the second respondent on two years` probation under the Probation of Offenders Act (Cap 252). In addition, both respondents were disqualified under s 379A(2) from holding or obtaining any driving licence for a period of five years.

Subsequently, the district judge was concerned with the legality of the disqualification orders imposed.
He then raised the matter to this court and sought the court`s exercise of its powers of revision under s 268, CPC. He had formed the view that no disqualification can be made under s 379A where a probation order is made or a sentence of reformative training is passed. In respect of the probation order, disqualification cannot occur because of the operation of ss 5 and 11 of the Probation of Offenders Act. As for reformative training, s 13(1) CPC states that such training is to be in lieu of any other sentence, so it is not permissible to impose disqualification as well. Additionally, since the disqualification is to run from the date of the offender`s release from imprisonment, disqualification cannot accompany reformative training.

DPP`s submissions for petitioner

At the hearing determining the exercise of the court`s powers to revise, the prosecution accepted that the effect of s 11 of the Probation of Offenders Act is that the probation order is not a conviction for the purposes of s 379A. The disqualification order against the second respondent was therefore wrong in law.

However, it was submitted that the disqualification order against the first respondent was correctly made.
First, such a disqualification is not a sentence within the meaning of s 13, CPC: R v Surrey Quarter Sessions, ex p Commissioner of Metropolitan Police [1963] 1 QB 990[cited] . Cases in Singapore which have referred to disqualification as a sentence did not use the term `sentence` in its technical sense, but merely for the purposes of appeal: Joseph Roland v PP [1996] 1 SLR 179 ; Heng Jee Tai v PP [1997] 1 SLR 426 [distd] .

Secondly, though s 379A(2) requires disqualification to run from the release of the offender from imprisonment, the term `imprisonment` does not require the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment; it includes any form of incarceration imposed by law, including reformative training, corrective training or preventive detention: P St J Langan, Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes (12th Ed, 1976) referred to.
Such an interpretation should be preferred because it gives effect to the purpose of the provision: s 9A Interpretation Act (Cap 1), Constitutional Reference No 1 of 1995 [1995] 2 SLR 201; Garmaz s/o Pakhar v PP [1996] 1 SLR 401 ; River Wear Commissioners v Adamson [1874-1880] All ER Rep 1 ; Tan Weng Chiang v PP [1992] 2 MLJ 625 [refd] . In any event, the term `imprisonment` is ambiguous, and reference can be made to extrinsic materials and the purpose of the provision: Comptroller of Income Tax v GE Pacific Pte Ltd [1994] 2 SLR 690 .

That purpose was to provide for heavier penalties against theft of motor vehicles: 44 Parliamentary Debates col 1862, 1869, 1878 (1984).
Those who commit such offences invariably drive on the roads without adequate insurance coverage, endangering others. The disqualification would have to run after the period of incarceration to ensure that it is not rendered ineffective because it ceases before the offender is released from imprisonment.

Any other interpretation would result in an absurdity for a person subject to reformative or corrective training or preventive detention would not be liable to disqualification, even though the period of such training may be longer than the minimum mandatory term of imprisonment.
In particular it must be noted that corrective training is a form of imprisonment: R v McCarthy [1995] 1 WLR 856 . In cases where some other form of incarceration is imposed, the disqualification order should commence from the date of release from such incarceration. This interpretation is supported by s 2, Prisons Act (Cap 247), which defines a prison as including a reformative training centre, and defines prisoner as including persons under detention in any prison or reformative training centre.

Respondents` submission

The respondents were not represented and did not make any submission.

The law

Section 379A of the Penal Code reads:

(1) Whoever commits theft of a motor vehicle or any component part of a motor vehicle shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.

(2) 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 a period of not less than 3 years from the date of his release from imprisonment from holding or obtaining a driving licence under the Road Traffic Act.


In a normal situation, where a person has been convicted, a term of imprisonment is mandatory.
In addition to such imprisonment, and any fine, the offender is also to be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for at least three years, unless there are special reasons.

The respondents were however not sentenced to imprisonment.
The first respondent had reformative training imposed, while the second respondent was ordered to be on probation. The issue then is whether disqualification could be ordered in respect of either of these two types of sanction.


Probation is governed by the Probation of Offenders Act. Section 5 of that Act allows the court to impose a probation order instead of a sentence. Then s 11 reads:

(1) Subject as hereinafter provided, a conviction for an offence for which an order is made under this Act placing the offender on probation ... shall be deemed not to be a conviction for any purpose other than the purposes of the proceedings in which the order is made and of any subsequent proceedings which may be taken against the offender under the foregoing provisions of this Act. ...

(2) Without prejudice to subsection (1), the conviction of an offender who is placed on probation or discharged absolutely or conditionally as aforesaid shall in any event be disregarded for the purposes of any written law which imposes any disqualification or disability upon convicted persons, or...

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10 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Mohammad Rohaizad bin Rosni
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • August 18, 1998
    ...given within the same Act or other related legislation. I made it very clear in my previous case of PP v Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Rahman [1997] 3 SLR 186 that, for purposes of s 13 and s 379A of the Criminal Procedure Code applied together, a disqualification order was not a sentence within t......
  • Public Prosecutor v Rozilawaty binte Eddy Rosmanah
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • April 3, 2020
    ...the offender’s release from imprisonment: s 379A(2) of the Penal Code and Public Prosecutor v Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Rahman and Another [1997] SGHC 136 at [25]-[28], which was affirmed in Public Prosecutor v Mohammad Rohaizad bin Rosni [1998] SGHC 278 at [12]-[15]. This is in line with the ......
  • PP v Saiful Rizam bin Assim
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • January 15, 2014
    .... Liow Siow Long v PP [1970] 1 MLJ 40 (folld) Nur Azilah bte Ithnin v PP [2010] 4 SLR 731 (folld) PP v Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Rahman [1997] 2 SLR (R) 71; [1997] 3 SLR 186 (folld) PP v Foo Shik Jin [1996] SGHC 186 (distd) PP v Mohammad Al-Ansari bin Basri [2008] 1 SLR (R) 449; [2008] 1 SLR 4......
  • Public Prosecutor v Koay Xin De
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • February 21, 2012
    ...the submission of the defence counsel that as a probation order is not a conviction (see PP v Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Rahman & Anor [1997] 3 SLR 186) , a police supervision order cannot legally be made by the Court under section 11(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) to run either con......
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1 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2009, December 2009
    • December 1, 2009
    ...Corporation Strata Title Plan No 1601[1997] 3 SLR 905 include: Diaz Priscillia v Diaz Angela[1998] 1 SLR 361; and PP v Abdul Rahman[1997] 3 SLR 186. 103 [1999] 2 SLR 1 at [22]. The Court of Appeal in fact found that Re How William Glen had already been overruled by the earlier decisions in ......

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