Tan Kiam Peng v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
Date28 September 2007
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 8 of 2006

[2007] SGCA 38

Court of Appeal

Andrew Phang Boon Leong JA

,

Kan Ting Chiu J

and

Woo Bih Li J

Criminal Appeal No 8 of 2006

Tan Kiam Peng
Plaintiff
and
Public Prosecutor
Defendant

B Rengarajoo (B Rengarajoo & Associates) and Patrick Tan Tse Chia (Patrick Tan & Associates) for the appellant

David Khoo (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the respondent.

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PP v Yeoh Aik Wei [2002] SGHC 225 (refd)

Public Prosecutor v Tan Kok An [1996] 1 MLJ 89 (refd)

R v Boyesen [1982] AC 768 (refd)

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R v James McNamara (1988) 87 Cr App R 246 (refd)

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R v William Sleep (1861) CLC 472 (refd)

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Copyright Act (Cap 63,1988 Rev Ed)

Copyright Act (Cap 63,2006 Rev Ed)ss 136 (1) (b),136 (2) (a)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed)ss 121 (1),122 (6)

Interpretation Act (Cap 1, 2002 Rev Ed)ss 2 (1),9A

Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2001 Rev Ed)s 18 (2) (consd);ss 2,7, 18,18 (1), 33,Second Schedule

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act1975 (Act 49 of1975)

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act1998 (Act 20 of1998)

Straits Settlements Deleterious Drugs Ordinance 1907 (SS Ord No 14 of1907)s 5 (3)

Straits Settlements Deleterious Drugs Ordinance 1910 (SS Ord No 27 of1910)s 16

Straits Settlements Deleterious Drugs Ordinance 1927 (SS Ord No 7 of1927)s 17

Criminal Appeal Act1907 (c 23) (UK)s 4 (1)

Criminal Appeal Act1966 (c 31) (UK) s 4

Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1964 (c 64) (UK) ss 1,1 (1)

Misuse of Drugs Act1971 (c 38) (UK)ss 5 (3),28

Road Traffic Act1930 (c 34) (UK)

Criminal Law–Statutory offences–Misuse of Drugs Act–Illegally importing controlled drug–Possession of diamorphine–Accused arguing that he knew he was carrying controlled drugs but did not know drugs consisting of heroin–Nature of knowledge required under s 18 (2) Misuse of Drugs Act–Whether necessary that accused knew precise nature of controlled drugs he was found in possession of–Whether knowledge encompassing constructive knowledge and wilful blindness–Section 18 (2) Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2001 Rev Ed)

The appellant was convicted in the High Court under s 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2001 Rev Ed) (“the Act”) for importing heroin. He was sentenced to suffer the mandatory death penalty.

The appellant, who was in financial difficulties, had sought job opportunities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Through a friend, he came to know a man known to him as “Uncle” whom he hoped could give him a job transporting drugs such as ecstasy within Malaysia.

The appellant asked Uncle if there were any jobs available and was told that there might be. He travelled to Malaysia the next day and met Uncle in a hotel room. Uncle brought with him three big packets wrapped in mahjong paper. The packets contained smaller plastic packets of yellowish powder. When the appellant asked Uncle what those packets contained, Uncle held up three fingers in response. When the appellant said to Uncle that it was “a lot”, Uncle disagreed and used his fingers to indicate seven.

Uncle secured the smaller packets onto the appellant's body. The appellant was instructed to take a private taxi to Redhill, Singapore. He was arrested at Woodlands customs clearance point when the drugs were discovered.

Police Constable Phua (“Constable Phua”) asked the appellant some questions about the packets while carrying out the body search. This conversation was not documented but it emerged during cross-examination and was relied on by the trial judge (“the Judge”). Constable Phua testified that he had asked the appellant, in Hokkien, what the packets were and the appellant answered, “number 3”. When Constable Phua asked the appellant what “number 3” was, the appellant repeated, “number 3”.

Later, the appellant was interviewed by Inspector Teng (“Insp Teng”). They spoke in the Hokkien dialect. When asked what the packets of yellowish substance were, the appellant said, “I believed it is heroin number 3.”

During cross-examination, it emerged that Station Inspector Ong (“SI Ong”), one of the CNB officers who escorted the appellant back to the CNB Woodlands office and who carried out the raid at the appellant's flat, had spoken to the appellant in the course of the investigations. SI Ong testified at the trial that the appellant told him that the contents of the packets were “number 3” and that the appellant had been given $800 to bring “number 3” into Singapore.

The appellant's defence was that while he knew he was importing illegal drugs, he did not know the precise nature of the drugs he was carrying. The appellant contended that, inter alia, the Judge had erred in finding that the word “peh hoon” in Hokkien meant heroin or diamorphine and that the appellant knew that “number 3” or “peh hoon” was in fact heroin or diamorphine. The appellant also argued that it was Insp Teng who translated the Hokkien word “peh hoon” to mean heroin when he recorded the appellant's...

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  • Public Prosecutor v Lim Boon Hiong and another
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    ...as establishing that Koay had, on the basis of direct evidence, actual knowledge simpliciter (see Tan Kiam Peng v Public Prosecutor [2008] 1 SLR(R) 1 (“Tan Kiam Peng”), as well as [65]‒[75] below, for the distinction between actual knowledge simpliciter and wilful blindness) that the bundle......
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    ...landscape in many areas of law and the relevant principles are well established in Singapore. In Tan Kiam Peng v Public Prosecutor [2008] 1 SLR(R) 1, the Singapore Court of Appeal held that wilful blindness was the legal equivalent of actual knowledge (at [104]), and that in order to establ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The discretionary death penalty for drug couriers in Singapore
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The Nbr. 20-1, January 2016
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