Public Prosecutor v Ng Kwok Chun and Another

JudgeS Rajendran J
Judgment Date31 January 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGHC 17
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 60 of 1990
Date31 January 1992
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselLim Choon Mong (Lim & Lim)
Citation[1992] SGHC 17
Defendant CounselLee Ah Fong (Ng Lee & Partners),Ong Hian Sun (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterWhether authorized to import,Defence of no knowledge of law prohibiting import of controlled drugs,Whether constitutes 'importing into Singapore',Words and Phrases,s 7 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185),Importing controlled drugs,Criminal Law,(follow title of statute: eg misuse of drugs act),Statutory offences,Accused arrested while in airport transit lounge,Whether valid defence,s 2 Interpretation Act (Cap 1),'Import',Burden of proof on accused

Ng Kwok Chun (`Ng`), 27 years of age, and S Hsui Wing Cheung (`Hsui`), 25 years of age, two Hong Kong nationals were charged that on 26 April 1989, each of them had imported into Singapore a controlled drug specified in Class A of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) (`the Act`).

The charges averred that Ng imported 2,328.4g of diamorphine and Hsui imported 2,510.1g of diamorphine into Singapore.
Such import is an offence under s 7 of the Act and the punishment for importing more than 30g of diamorphine was death under s 33 of the Act.

The facts are not complicated and were presented and accepted by the defence without contention.
The prosecution`s evidence was that both accused persons flew into Singapore on board a Thai International Airways flight No TG405 from Phuket which landed at Changi Airport, Singapore at about 2.20pm on 26 April 1989.

Michael Koh Keng Siang, a senior customs officer, testified that he saw the two accused coming out of gate B23 of the arrival section of the Singapore Changi Airport and they appeared to be dragging their legs as they walked.
He trailed both the accused persons as they made inquiries at the information counter of the airport. Other customs officers were alerted to keep the accused persons under surveillance and to intercept them later.

The accused persons proceeded to transfer counter C at the airport where they made inquiries from Miss Lim Chew Foong who was at the counter at the material time.
They inquired from Miss Lim regarding their connecting Sabena Belgian Airlines flight which was scheduled to depart for Brussels at 6.15pm that day. After completing their inquiries, both Ng and Hsui were walking along the departure/transit area near the customs bond office when they were arrested by customs officers. They were then brought into the customs bond office where they were searched. The search conducted showed that the two accused persons had drugs concealed in white cloth bags which were tied to their thighs and calves. Drugs were also found concealed in their shoes. Michael Koh testified that at the time when they were in the customs bond office, both of them voluntarily disclosed that what was concealed under their clothes and in their shoes was heroin.

The Central Narcotics Bureau was duly informed of the arrest of Ng and Hsui.
Senior Narcotics Officer Seow Lai Watt, the investigation officer in this case, testified that he seized the drugs from the accused and the drugs were sent to the Department of Scientific Services for analysis. The analysis revealed that the total amount of diamorphine carried by Ng was 2,328.4g and the amount of diamorphine carried by Hsui was 2,510.1g. The quantity and the nature of the substance found on the bodies of the two accused were not disputed by the defence.

The searches made of Ng and Hsui further revealed that they had valid air tickets for their flight to Brussels by Sabena flight SM284 at about 6.15pm on that day, and it was not in dispute that Ng and Hsui were booked to leave Singapore on that flight.
They had confirmed reservations on that flight for Brussels.

From the initial questions put to Ng by Michael Koh, Ng was reported to have told Michael Koh that Ng was in debt and a Thai Chinese known as Ah Yew whom Ng had met on a few occasions in Hong Kong had asked him to do a simple job, that was to carry some goods from Phuket to Brussels for HK$50,000.
Ng said that he had no intention of entering Singapore but was merely in transit in Singapore. Questions put by Michael Koh to Hsui produced an answer from Hsui that Hsui`s family was in financial difficulties and he carried out the assignment of carrying drugs as he needed the money to settle his family`s debts. According to Hsui, he thought the job was a simple one and that he would be paid HK$50,000.

Seow Lai Watt, a senior narcotics officer who was also the investigation officer in this case, testified that he read and explained the charge under s 7 of the Act to Ng in English and the charge was interpreted and explained to Ng by Wu Nan Yong, a certificated interpreter, in the Cantonese dialect and after the necessary formalities, Ng, after being duly served a notice of warning under s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) and the same having been read, explained and interpreted to Ng in Cantonese, gave a statement voluntarily.
The said statement which was admitted without any objection reads as follows:

I admit that I carry heroin. Today (26 April 1989) at about 11.50am, I took a flight from Phuket and arrived in Singapore at about 2pm. I then took my passport and my air ticket to Brussel[s] and went to an air ticket counter to make inquiry of the check-in time for me. I was told that the check-in time would be 4.15pm. I then asked the counter girl where the restaurant was. She then indicated to me the direction of the restaurant. At this time Ah Cheung was with me. We then walked towards the restaurant and were stopped by two custom[s] officers who told us to follow them to their office. In the office we were searched and they found the packet tied onto our legs. We were then arrested. I did not intend to come into Singapore. I was merely on transit to Brussel[s].

(signed) (signed) (signed)


The following question was put forward to the accused to clear ambiguity.

Q: Who is Ah Cheung?

A: He was arrested together with me.

(signed) (signed) (signed)


Seow Lai Watt also repeated the same formalities concerning the charge and notice of warning to Hsui who was referred to as `Ah Cheung` by Ng.
Hsui, too, gave a statement which was admitted by us without objection by Hsui`s counsel and the said statement reads as...

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