Public Prosecutor v Tan Chee Peng

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeWong Pui Kay
Judgment Date15 February 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 50
Citation[2001] SGDC 50
Published date19 April 2005

Public Prosecutor ...appellant


Tan Chee Peng ...respondent

Citation: DAC No 27573 of 2000
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Date: 2001:02:15
2001:01:30, 2000:12:15, 2000:12:13
Court: Subordinate Courts
Coram: Wong Pui Kay, District Judge
Counsel: Inspector Ramasamy for the Public Prosecutor
Mr Anthony Lim (Anthony & Wee Jin) for the Accused


Grounds of Decision



1 On 15/2/00, the first day of trial, the Accused and 3 other pleaded guilty to charges of rioting under section 147 of the Penal Code ("the Code"). The charge (P2A) preferred against the Accused was as follows :

" You,

Tan Chee Peng, M/23 years

Nric : S7642290-G

DOB: 27.12.1976

are charged that you on or about the 21th day of June 2000 at or about 6.30 pm, at a Night Bazaar located along Toh Guan Road, Singapore, together with Cheong Mun Lock Charlie M/17 yrs, Heng Wui Liang William, M/17 yrs, Su Wencai M/17 yrs, Tan Wei Qiang M/16 yrs, Chen Shihua M/16 yrs, Mok Ping Wuen Maurice M/20 yrs, Goh Tze Wei M/19 yrs and Yap Yong Yao M/15 yrs, were members of an unlawful assembly whose common object was to cause hurt to one Ng Jing Sheng M17 yrs, and in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, you used force by assaulting the aforesaid person and you have thereby committed an offence of rioting punishable under Section 147 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224."

2 Section 147 of the Code provides :

"Whoever guilty of rioting shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years and shall be liable to caning."

3 The Accused also admitted to the commission of the offence under section 292(a) of the Code (P5) and 2 charges under section 21(1)(a) and 30(2) of the Films Act (P3 and P4). These 3 charges related to the possession of 81 uncensored and 48 obscene films in video compact discs (P14). They were taken into consideration in the sentencing process.




On 30/1/2001, I sentenced the Accused to 3 years of imprisonment and 6 strokes of the cane. The Accused, being dissatisfied with my decision has appealed to the High Court on the ground that the sentence meted out on him was excessive



5 The pertinent facts of the charge are succinctly encapsulated in the agreed Statement of Facts ("SOF" – P11) and I shall not reiterate the same. In summary, a total of 9 persons were involved in an assault on a single victim.



[The 4 Sentencing Principles]

6 In determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed on the Accused, I considered the 4 sentencing principles : protection, deterrence, rehabilitation and punishment. In this case, I accorded the principle of protection of the general public paramount consideration. The offence was committed in the early hours of the evening at about 6 pm, at a Night Bazaar - a public place. In my view, the general public must be protected from such sudden assaults.

7 The Night Bazaar was organized specifically to attract the general public to browse and hopefully, to patronize the stalls there : It is thus reasonable to assume that a crowd must have been drawn to this center of activity. It is in such circumstances that the assault occurred in which 9 persons, without being provoked in any way, suddenly set upon a stall-holder – the victim. The assailants were undeterred despite the fact that their attack was carried out in full view of the browsers and shoppers there. In my view, such brazen acts of violence must be curtained for the safety of the public at large. One must also not disregard the reaction of those who witnessed the assault possibly evoking shock, fear, alarm and horror, to name a few.

8 As for the principle of deterrence, it is clear that the sentence imposed should be sufficient to deter the Accused and like-minded persons from committing a similar offence. Its negative affect must out-weigh any perceived positive result. In this case, where the intention of attackers was to average an alleged assault by the victim on Su Wencai, one of the 9 accused persons (as disclosed by Su’s Counsel during his mitigation plea), I was of the opinion an appropriate sentence would be one that deters persons from taking the law into their own hands under the banner of revenge.

9 As regards the principle of rehabilitation, it is clear that the Court has to strike a balance between the individual needs of the Accused and the interest of the community at large. As the Honourable the Chief Justice opined in the case of Fay v PP [1994] 2 SLR 154 :

"This Court agrees that the administration of justice should be tempered with a keen regard for the needs of the individual as far as the ambit of our law allows. At the same time, our judiciary must remain conscious of its responsibility to safeguard the interests of the laws abiding general public and to uniformly apply the law to all those who violate it."

10 In this case, having regard to the nature of the offence namely, that rioting is a breach of public tranquillity and, that it was committed in a public place, I felt that the...

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