Public Prosecutor v Aw Boon Kiat

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeAdam Nakhoda
Judgment Date02 December 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGMC 42
Citation[2001] SGMC 42
Publication Date19 September 2003

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION

THE CHARGE

1) The accused, Aw Boon Kiat claimed trial to the following charges, marked P1A, P2A and P3A;

    P1A
    You,

    NRIC NO: S-7537960-I

    are charged that you, on the 18th day of April 1998 at about 5.45 pm, at a makeshift stall located at the vicinity of Blk 806 Hougang Central, Singapore, together with an unknown male Chinese, in the furtherance of the common intention of you both, did carry on the business of distributing films without a valid licence issued under the Films Act, Chapter 107 and you have thereby contravened Section 6(1)(a) punishable under Section 6(2) of the said Act, read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

    P2A
    You,

    NRIC NO: S-7537960-I

    are charged that you, on the 18th day of April 1998 at about 5.45 pm, at a makeshift stall located at the vicinity of Blk 806 Hougang Central, Singapore, together with an unknown male Chinese, in the furtherance of the common intention of you both, did attempt to distribute 92 video CDs containing 51 films which did not have any valid certificates approving the exhibition of films and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 21(1)(b) of the Films Act and punishable under Section 21(1)(ii) of the said Act, read with Section 511 and 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

    P3A
    You,

    NRIC NO: S-7537960-I

    are charged that you, on the 18th day of April 1998 at about 5.45 pm, at a makeshift stall located at the vicinity of Blk 806 Hougang Central, Singapore, together with an unknown male Chinese, in the furtherance of the common intention of you both, did have in your possession for the purpose of distribution 15 video CDs containing 15 films which are obscene, having reasonable cause to believe they are obscene, and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 29(3) of the Films Act, Chapter 107 and punishable under Section 29(3)(a) of the said Act, read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2) After a one-day trial I found the accused not guilty of the above charges and I accordingly acquitted him.

THE PROSECUTION CASE

3) The prosecution called three witnesses, they were the VSC Cpl. Yee Eng Chai (hereinafter "Cpl. Yee"), VSC Insp. Reggie Sivam (hereinafter "Insp. Sivam") and Insp. Ong Hock Bee (hereinafter "Insp. Ong").


A. PW1 Cpl. Yee Eng Chai.

4) On the 18th of April 1998 Cpl. Yee was on anti-crime rounds, in particular on anti-VCD rounds, with four other colleagues, namely Insp. Sivam, Cpl. Saminathan, Cpl. Chua Chin Chye and Cpl. Murugesan. Cpl. Yee said that at Block 806 Hougang Central they spotted a makeshift stall with VCDs displayed. Two male Chinese were manning it. Cpl. Yee says that both subjects were standing behind the table opposite the customers. He also says that both of them were standing close to one another and that they were talking to each other but throughout his observation and arrest of the accused Cpl. Yee did not hear what the two men spoke about.

5) Cpl. Yee said that he then began to keep observation of the two subjects. He stood at a mini-roundabout that was about 8 to 10 meters away from the stall. In cross-examination Cpl. Yee said that he was also observing from the shelter shown in D2 and D3. Cpl. Yee was not static he moved around and would sometimes stand around the shops shown in D5. Cpl. Yee said that when the two men manning the stall there were five to six persons standing around the table.

6) Cpl. Yee says that during his 8 to 10 minutes' observation he saw the two men promoting the VCDs. He said that they would hold VCDs in their hands and show them to customers. Cpl. Yee saw one money transaction occur between the customers and the two men. He says that he saw one customer hand over money to one of the men whilst the accused continued to promote the VCDs to the other customers. In cross-examination Cpl. Yee said that there were in fact two money transactions between the unknown man and customers. The money transaction occurred when the unknown man placed a VCD in a plastic bag handed it over to the customer who would then hand him cash. The unknown man then put the cash in his pocket.

7) Cpl. Yee demonstrated that the accused would promote the VCDs by holding then up in one hand and showing the title side of the VCDs to the customers. During this promotion of the discs the accused would hold up the VCD and move left to right and vice versa showing the VCD to the customers. Cpl. Yee said that the accused would also speak to the customers. In answer to questions by the Court Cpl. Yee said that the accused was not stationary behind the stall but was moving from side to side at the rear of the stall. The accused was at all times only promoting the VCDs and Cpl. Yee described his actions in this manner;

    Q. How did he promote?
    A. He was seen holding a disc on his hand and there was a conversation between the male subject and the customer.

    Q. How long did he talk to the customers?
    A. For about 1 minute.

    Q. Did he get a response from the customers?
    A. During my observation no money transaction occurred between the male subject and the customer.

8) During his observation Cpl. Yee received a telephone call from Insp. Reggie instructing the team to move in. All five officers then moved in on the two men. Cpl. Yee says that he moved in directly from the shelter that he was standing at and when he was about 30-cm away he showed his warrant card and said "Police officers" in English. Cpl. Yee says that he and his partner Cpl. Chua Chin Chye managed to detain the accused immediately. In evidence-in-chief Cpl. Yee said that as he was concentrating on the accused he did not know what happened to the unknown man. However, it was his understanding that this man ran and the other three officers who did not manage to detain him chased him.

9) Cpl. Yee describes the accuseds reaction to being detained as follows;

    Q. When you detained Aw Boon Kiat can you tell us his reaction?
    A. We both catch hold of his hand, he was seemed shocked and was seemed panicked.

    Q. When you say he was shocked and panicked what do you mean?
    A. He was shocked he (witness demonstrates being startled) and he panicked his body was a bit shifting left and right.

    Q. Any struggle?
    A. There is a bit but not much.

(In answer to questions by the Court)

    Q. The accused struggled a bit, how did he struggle a bit?
    A. When we both held his hand we tried to handcuff him he tried to refuse. (Witness demonstrates as if the Accused is shifting his body about)

10) When the other three officers returned Cpl. Yee says that he collected up the exhibits on display at the makeshift stall. These exhibits included the VCDs (p5), a blue bag (P6), a calculator (P7), a handphone(P8), a pair of sunglasses (P9), some plastic bags (P10), a chair and a makeshift table. Upon returning to the police station Cpl. Yee lodged a police report (marked P4). Cpl. Yee said that later at the police station he found a further jacket with two discs in the blue bag.


B. PW2 Insp. Reggie Sivam.

11) On the 18th of April 1998 Insp. Sivam held the rank of Senior Staff Sergeant and was in charge of four other VSC constables on anti-crime rounds in the vicinity of Block 806 Hougang Central. When he arrived at the area there was a makeshift table set up along the linkway between Block 804 and Block 809. Insp. Sivam says that when he first arrived he was standing at the roundabout, seen in the extreme background of D1, directly opposite the makeshift stall. He then briefed his officers on their duties and proceeded to patrol the area with Cpl. Saminathan and Cpl. Murugesan. He kept observation on the makeshift table as he walked around the area. He says that his observation was from a distance of about six to seven meters. In cross-examination he said that his team were walking from left to right and vice versa along the linkway where the makeshift stall was located. Insp. Sivam said that Cpl. Yee and Cpl. Chua Chin Chye were observing the makeshift stall from a stationary point near the bin showed D1.

12) Insp. Sivam noticed two men standing side by side behind the makeshift table and they were showing the VCDs to passers-by. He says that there were also four or five customers gathered around the makeshift stall. Insp. Sivam described in his evidence-in-chief how the two men were showing the VCDs as follows;

    Q. You said they were showing the discs to the passers-by, how did they do this?
    A. They were taking the discs with their hands and showing the title to the customers. (Witness demonstrates pinching the disc and sort off shaking it slightly about).

13) Insp. Sivam observed that the two men were talking amongst themselves and to the customers. Insp. Sivam saw the accused talking to a customer but he did not manage to hear what was said. He then saw two cash transactions. During the first transaction he saw the accused packing a disc into a plastic bag and handing it to the unknown man who then handed over the disc to a customer and collected some money in exchange. Insp. Sivam says that the unknown man then kept the money aside. Insp. Sivams evidence on whether money or the VCD's were exchanged on the second occasion is inconsistent however, he says that the accused was not involved in the second transaction.

14) When the officers moved in, Insp. Sivam says that they managed to detain the accused but that the unknown man fled across the road and although he, Cpl. Murugesan and Cpl. Saminathan gave chase they were unable to detain him. After the chase Insp. Sivam returned to the makeshift table and there he saw that Cpl. Yee was questioning the accused and he said that the accused appeared nervous and scared. Insp. Sivam said that Cpl. Yee and Cpl. Chua Chin Chye then collected all the VCDs on the table and placed them into a blue bag.


C. PW3 Insp. Ong Hock Bee.

15) Insp. Ong was the Investigating Officer assigned to this case upon the arrest of the accused. However, his evidence is not material to the charge.


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