Teng Lang Khin v Public Prosecutor

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date14 December 1994
Neutral Citation[1994] SGHC 285
Citation[1994] SGHC 285
Defendant CounselLim Yew Jin (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselKok Mun Loon (SC Lee Kau & Pnrs)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 92 of 1994
Date14 December 1994
Subject MatterStatutory Interpretation,Literal,Road Traffic Act (Cap276) ss 2, 100(1)(e), (2) & (6),Rules r 2(1) Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles),Operating 'public service vehicle',Road Traffic Act (Cap 276) ss 2, 100(1)(e), (2) & (6),Whether cars rented out for 'self-drive' included in category of public service vehicles,Penal statutes,Words and Phrases,Rental of private cars to members of public,'Public service vehicle',Lenient construction preferred in the event of ambiguity,Road Traffic,Whether cars used as public service vehicles,Construction of statute,Offences,Road Traffic Act (Cap 276) ss 2 & 100(1)(e),Road Traffic Act (Cap 276) ss 2, 00(1)(e), (2) & (6)

The appellant in this case was tried in the subordinate courts on three charges under s 101(2) of the Road Traffic Act (Cap 276). Each charge alleged that she had caused a vehicle registered for private use to be used as a public service vehicle without there being in force a public service licence in respect of the vehicle. Three other charges under s 3(1) of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap 189) were also preferred against her, each alleging that she had caused a motor vehicle to be used when there was not in force in relation to the user of the vehicle a policy of insurance in respect of third party risks. At the conclusion of the trial, the magistrate found the appellant guilty of all six charges. She was fined $1,500 in respect of each of the three charges under the Road Traffic Act; whilst, in respect of the motor insurance charges, she was fined $300 on each charge and disqualified from driving for a year. In addition, the three vehicles which had been the subject of the Road Traffic Act charges were ordered to be forfeited upon the written application of the prosecution, pursuant to s 101(6) of the Act.

The present appeal was brought by the appellant against her three convictions under s 101(2) of the Road Traffic Act.
Having heard the submissions of both her counsel and the deputy public prosecutor, I allowed the appeal. My reasons therefor are set out below.

The facts

The material facts of the case were not disputed by the appellant on appeal. In brief they were as follows. The appellant was arrested as a result of an undercover operation conducted by officers from the Registry of Vehicles (ROV). This was an operation mounted on the basis of information received about the illegal rental of vehicles registered for private use only at the premises of Hiap Hoe Motor Trading at 43 Cuff Road. On 25 June 1993, PW6, an ROV officer, visited the appellant at these premises and asked to rent a motor car. The appellant replied that none of her `SZ` cars was available but that she could rent her private car to him. This offer was accepted by PW6 who proceeded to rent motor car SBD4977K for $370 (inclusive of a $100 deposit), for a rental period of three days. Before leaving, he was warned by the appellant to tell the police that he had borrowed the car from a friend, should the police happen to stop him. PW6 then drove the car away and the appellant was arrested shortly afterwards by the other ROV officers.

Further investigations revealed that the appellant had rented out two other cars registered for private use only.
These were SBK9494S and SBE3365C, rented out to PW8 on 10 December 1992 and PW10 on 24 May 1993 respectively. At trial, evidence was led by the prosecution to show that no public service vehicle licence had been issued in respect of any of the three vehicles; and that consequently, having regard to the limitations contained in the insurance policies then in force for the three cars, no insurance policy in respect of third party risks had at the relevant time been present for any of the cars.

At the close of the trial below, defence counsel argued that the prosecution had failed to prove an essential element of the offence under s 101(2) of the Road Traffic Act, namely, that the cars rented out by the appellant had been used as `public service vehicles`.
In counsel`s submission, on a literal construction of s 2 of the Road Traffic Act, the following ingredients had to be present before a vehicle could be said to be a `public service vehicle`: firstly, the vehicle must be used or intended to be used for the carriage of passengers; and secondly, such carriage must be for hire or reward. Following from this definition, the three cars hired out by the appellant could not constitute `public service vehicles` since there was no evidence that any of them had been used to carry passengers for hire or reward.

The prosecution, for its part, claimed that the interpretation given to the term `public service vehicle` in s 2 was ` not definitive ` and that the cars rented out by the appellant were in fact caught by the definition in s 100(1)e) of `private hire cars`, these being ` public service vehicles which do not ply for hire on an y road but are hired under a contract, express or implied, for the use of each such vehicle as a whole.
` The three cars rented out by the appellant, so the prosecution asserted, had been rented out ` under a contract, express or implied, for the use of each such vehicle as a whole .`

This argument was resisted by defence counsel, who contended that the definition of `private hire cars` in s 100(1)(e) remained subject to the strictures of s 2: in other words, any attempt to show that a vehicle had been rented out as a private hire car would not be complete without proof that the vehicle had been rented out for the use or intended use of carriage of passengers for hire or reward.
According to counsel`s submission, the only sort of vehicles which fell within the category of private hire cars would be chauffeur-driven rental vehicles. Where the vehicle hired was driven by the hirer himself and where the hirer/driver did not carry passengers for monetary gain, (the `self-drive car` situation), s 100(1)(e) had no scope of operation because the definition provided of `public service vehicle` in s 2 was not satisfied.

The magistrate below, however, preferred the prosecution`s stance.
Although she agreed with defence counsel that, ` the plain and literal interpretation of [s 2] is that a vehicle must first be used...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Low Kok Heng
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 31 July 2007
    ...remains doubt, in the final analysis, as to the meaning of the provision: at 413. 37 Locally, Yong Pung How CJ in Teng Lang Khin v PP [1995] 1 SLR 372 endorsed the strict construction rule when he observed (at 378, [16]) that if there was ambiguity in the definition of a term in s 101(2) of......
  • Forward Food Management Pte Ltd and Another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 March 2002
    ...also applied the rule on a number of occasions; see for example Re Sim Khoon Seng’s Application [1963] 1 MLJ 9 and Teng Lang Khin v PP [1995] 1 SLR 372. More recently, I referred to the rule in two cases, Choy Tuck Sum v PP [2000] 4 SLR 665 and PP v Tsao Kok Wah [2001] 1 SLR 666, although I......
  • PP v Phuthita Somchit
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 25 March 2011
    ...[1979-1980] SLR (R) 311; [1978-1979] SLR 211 (refd) Tan Kiam Peng v PP [2008] 1 SLR (R) 1; [2008] 1 SLR 1 (refd) Teng Lang Khin v PP [1994] 3 SLR (R) 1040; [1995] 1 SLR 372 (refd) Tuck & Sons v Priester (1887) 19 QBD 629 (refd) Warner v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] 2 AC 256 (refd......
  • Public Prosecutor v Tsao Kok Wah
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 8 February 2001
    ......In a more recent case, Teng Lang Khin v PP [1995] 1 SLR 372 , it was likewise held that `the penal nature of s 101(2) [of the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2009, December 2009
    • 1 December 2009
    ...to “purposive interpretation” to discover the purpose of this section (at [122]). 107 [2007] 4 SLR 183 at [41]. See also [56]—[57]. 108 [1995] 1 SLR 372. 109 See also the later High Court decision of PP v Tsao Kok Wah[2001] 1 SLR 666 in which Yong CJ first considered whether the penal provi......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1999, December 1999
    • 1 December 1999
    ...Act (Cap 1,1985 Rev Ed), and which is in favour of the defendant, Tuck & Sons v Priester(1887) 19 QBD 629; Teng Lang Khin v PP[1995] 1 SLR 372. 10 The concept of negligence best fulfils the policy of imposing liability in circumstances only when the defendant can do something to promote the......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT