Tan Thiam Lye v Public Prosecutor

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeVictor Yeo Khee Eng
Judgment Date06 April 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGMC 18
Citation[2001] SGMC 18
Publication Date19 April 2005

Tan Thiam Lye ...appellant

v

Public Prosecutor ...respondent

Citation: MAC No 3517 of 2000
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Date: 2001:04:06
2000:07:10, 2000:07:07, 2000:06:24, 2000:06:23, 2000:06:19
Court: Subordinate Courts
Coram: Victor Yeo Khee Eng, Magistrate
Counsel: Inspector Poh Soon Hiap for the prosecution
K Mathialahan for the accused

JUDGMENT:

Grounds of Decision

The accused claimed trial to a charge of loitering for the purpose of betting punishable under section 5(1) of the Betting Act, Chapter 21 in that he:

"on the 9th day of February 2000 at or about 9.50 pm, at Blk 49, Sims Drive Market, which is a public place, did loiter at the vicinity for the purpose of betting on the results of horse races and have thereby committed an offence punishment under section 5(1) of the Betting Act, Chapter 21." (Exhibit ‘A’.)

2. The punishment prescribed for the offence is fine up to $5,000/- or imprisonment up to 6 months, or to both. At the end of the trial, I convicted the accused and imposed a fine of $1,500/-, in default 2 weeks’ imprisonment. The accused being dissatisfied with the decision has appealed against his conviction. I now give the reasons for my decision.

The Prosecution Case

3. The prosecution led evidence from one VSC Tan Kwang Loon (PW2), attached to the Crime Control Unit at Central Police Division HQ. On 9th February 2000, VSC Tan was on duty performing anti-mini turf club rounds together with Sgt Tho Ah Song (PW4) and Cpl Muralidaran. VCS Tan testified that they had performed duty at three places on that day, the last place was at Sims Drive Market.

4. VSC Tan testified that on reaching Sims Drive, he was the first to walk into the market, followed by Sgt Tho and Cpl Muralidaran. On reaching the market, about 5 – 6 metres away, VSC Tan spotted a group of people gathering around two tables. They were seated around the tables, four persons (including the accused) were seated at table no. 40, and one at table no. 41. Some of them were seen reading newspapers, they were either sharing the newspapers or had their own. The newspapers were subsequently seized and found to be four pieces of Chinese newspapers consisting of only horse racing columns. Three pieces were seized from table no. 40 (exhibit ‘P3’) and one piece was seized from table no. 41 (exhibit ‘P2’).

5. VSC Tan saw a person, subsequently ascertained to be one Lee Yoong Sian, walking passed him. VSC Tan followed Lee as he was walking in the same direction. VSC Tan then saw Lee turned to the persons seated at the tables no. 40 and 41 and shouted in Hokkien ‘Ji Ho Ai Mai’, which VSC Tan understood to mean ‘Do you want horse no. 2?’ As Lee was asking this, he also pointed to the persons seated at the two tables. After Lee had said this, VSC Tan saw the accused and one Ong Chuan Yian (DW2) nodded their heads. Lee then pointed at both of them by confirming their bets and said ‘Ji Ho Chap Chap’, which VSC Tan understood to mean ‘No. 2 horse, 10 win and 10 places’.

6. Thereafter, VSC Tan walked to the tables and identified himself as a police officer to the group of people. VSC Tan also seized their identity cards and called Sgt Tho on his handphone for assistance. In the course of cross-examination, VSC Tan informed the court that prior to 9th February 2000, he had performed anti-mini turf club rounds on three occasions, the first operation was on the first week of the January 2000. On those previous occasions, no arrest was made due to insufficient evidence and a verbal warning was given to those persons whom were believed to be involved in illegal horse betting activities.

7. The prosecution also led evidence from Sgt Tho Ah Song (PW4), who testified that when his team arrived at Sims Drive Market at about 9.50 pm, he asked VSC Tan to move into the market as the latter had just been despatched to their team and was a "fresh" face. Both Cpl Muralidaran and Sgt Tho had conducted patrol duty there before and they thought that they could be recognised by the punters.

8. Sgt Tho noticed that VSC Tan was walking slowly and following Lee Yoong Sian, while he and Cpl Muralidaran kept observation at other subjects. About five minutes later, Sgt Tho received a call from VSC Tan on his handphone requesting for assistance. Sgt Tho and Cpl Muralidaran then moved in to the two tables. Sgt Tho also noticed that VSC Tan had seized three pieces of Chinese newspapers from table no. 40 and another piece from table no. 41. Sgt Tho also testified that he saw the subjects at the tables reading the newspapers when VSC Tan approached them. Sgt Tho also confirmed that the team had gone to two other places before arriving at Sims Drive Market to perform their duty.

9. The prosecution also adduced evidence from Ms Foo Meng Tit (PW1), an operation assistant at the Singapore Turf Club, who confirmed that on 9th February 2000, there was a race which took place at the Singapore Kranji Race Course. The first race started at 7.00 pm and the last race ended at around 9.58 pm. Ms Foo also confirmed that Blk 49, Sims Drive Market was not an authorised betting centre.

10. The prosecution also relied on the testimony of S/Sgt Tang Kim Wah, a gaming expert attached to the Gambling Suppression Branch, CID. At the commencement of the trial, the prosecution applied for S/Sgt Tang to sit-in to hear the evidence of the prosecution witnesses. Counsel for the accused objected to this on the ground that S/Sgt Tang may tailor his evidence and prejudiced the accused. However, I found the objection to be groundless and that S/Sgt Tang’s evidence was relevant for the court to form its opinion. Accordingly, I granted the prosecution’s application.

11. S/Sgt Tang testified after evidence was led from VSC Tan and Ms Foo, and after the exhibits ‘P2’ and ‘P3’ were tendered in court. S/Sgt Tang testified that...

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