Wong Sin Yee v Public Prosecutor

Judgment Date23 May 2001
Date23 May 2001
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 30 of 2001
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Wong Sin Yee
Public Prosecutor

[2001] SGHC 102

Yong Pung How CJ

Magistrate's Appeal No 30 of 2001 (Criminal Motion No 15 of 2001)

High Court

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Compounding of offences–Composition before date of arrest or application for warrant of arrest or summons–Whether consent of court necessary–Section 199 (1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Criminal references–Determination of criminal matter by High Court in exercise of appellate jurisdiction–Application by accused to refer question of law to Court of Appeal–Whether court ought to exercise discretion to allow reference to Court of Appeal–Section 60 (1) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Sentencing–Penalties–Hurt–Road bully causing hurt to victim–String of antecedents and no signs of remorse–Whether sentence of three months' imprisonment manifestly inadequate–Section 323 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed)

In a road-bullying incident, the accused Wong shouted insulting words at Chou and hit Chou's husband Mok on his mouth with a handphone. Later, Wong gave Mok $1,000 as compensation in an attempt to settle the matter.

Subsequently, two charges were brought against Wong: (a) under s 13A (1) (a)of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) Act (Cap 184, 1996 Rev Ed) for intentionally causing alarm to Chou; and (b) under s 323 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) for voluntarily causing hurt to Mok. The judge withheld his consent to the composition and convicted Wong on both charges. Wong was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $1,000 in compensation to the complainant in respect of the first charge. He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in respect of the second charge.

Wong appealed against his conviction. Wong submitted that, on the proper construction of s 199 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) (“CPC”), consent of the court was needed for compounding an offence only “if an arrest has already been effected or if an application has already been made for the issue of a warrant of arrest or summons”. He argued that if composition was reached before the court took cognisance of the offence, the consent of the court was not required.

The Prosecution cross-appealed against the sentence for the second charge on the ground that it was manifestly inadequate.

At the end of the appeal, Wong applied under s 60 (1) of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed) (“SCJA”) by way of criminal motion for referring to the Court of Appeal, the question of whether consent of the court was required for the compounding of an offence even though the person hurt and the accused had agreed to a composition before the date of the arrest or application for summons or warrant of arrest.

Held, dismissing Wong's appeal, allowing the Prosecution's appeal and dismissing the criminal motion:

(1) The problem with Wong's reading of s 199 (1) of the CPC was that serious offences such as grievous hurt, endangering life and outrage of modesty would be compoundable without the consent of the court. If s 199 (1) was not read to mean that consent was needed “whenever an arrest has been effected or whenever an application has been made for the issue of a warrant of arrest or summons”, it would lead to very wrong results. Accused persons, faced with the prospect of humiliation and punishment, invariably felt the desire to pressure the victim into settlement. If such settlements were allowed as compositions without the consent of the court, it would undermine the entire basis of criminal jurisprudence. Not only that, it would lead to an inequitable legal system where the rich could avoid criminal sanction by paying off the poor. For these reasons, Wong's appeal was dismissed: at [15] to [17].

(2) There could be no place in our roads for road bullies and imprisonment should follow in such cases where the charge was under s 323 of the Penal Code. In this case, Wong brought with him a string of colourful antecedents, and no signs of remorse. His antecedents showed a blatant disregard for human decency and civility. Through these and the present offence, he had shown himself to be extremely abusive and highly prone to violence. He behaved like an absolute gangster throughout the incident. Three months' imprisonment was manifestly inadequate in the light of all these factors. The sentence was therefore increased to one year's imprisonment and a fine of $1,000, with six months' imprisonment in default: at [19], [21] and [23].

(3) It was imperative that s 60 of the SCJA was utilised only in exceptional cases so as to ensure that the section was not abused to serve as a form of “backdoor appeal”. As the question raised had been settled conclusively by the High Court in Kee Leong Bee v PP [1999] 2 SLR (R) 768, the court saw no basis to exercise its discretion to allow the question to be referred to the Court of Appeal: at [26] and [27].

Abdul Salam bin Mohamed Salleh v PP [1990] 1 SLR (R) 198; [1990] SLR 301 (folld)

Dharichhan Singh v Emperor AIR 1939 Pat 141 (refd)

Kee Leong Bee v PP [1999] 2 SLR (R) 768; [1999] 3 SLR 190 (folld)

Neo Ner v PP Magistrate's Appeal No 113 of 2001 (distd)

Ng Ai Tiong v PP [2000] 1 SLR (R) 490; [2000] 2 SLR 358 (folld)

Ong Hwee Leong v PP [1992] 1 SLR (R) 458; [1992] 1 SLR 794 (folld)

PP v Lee Seck Hing [1992] 2 SLR (R) 374; [1992] 2 SLR 745 (folld)

PP v AAX [1999] 2 SLR (R) 1104; [1999] 4 SLR 83 (refd)

PP v Norzian bin Bintat [1995] 3 SLR (R) 105; [1995] 3 SLR 462 (refd)

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1985 Rev Ed,1992 Reprint)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) s 199 (1) (consd);ss 199, 199 (4), 248, 253

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 132, 1955 Ed) s 242

Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Amended Act (Cap 184, 1996 Rev Ed) s 13A (1) (a)

Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) s 323 (consd);ss 188, 509

Road Traffic Act (Cap 276, 1997 Rev Ed) s 65

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed) s 60 (1) (consd);s 60

Code of Criminal Procedure (Act 5 of 1898) (India)

Jimmy Yim SC and Suresh Divyanathan (Drew & Napier LLC) for the appellant

Jennifer Marie, Lee Lit Cheng and Eugene Lee (Deputy Public Prosecutors) for the respondent.

Yong Pung How CJ

1 Wong Sin Yee (“Mr Wong”), who is an advocate and solicitor, was convicted by District Judge Foo Chee Hock on 31 January 2001 on the following two charges:

First charge:


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27 cases
  • Chua Tian Bok Timothy v Public Prosecutor
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    ...a statutory right to compound an offence. In response, the Prosecution relied on the cases of Kee Leong Bee v PP and Wong Sin Yee v PP [2001] 3 SLR 197 to submit that, in cases where the public interest demands that composition be disallowed, this can override even the consent of the victim......
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    ...repeat them here (see, for example, Abdul Salam bin Mohamed Salleh v Public Prosecutor [1990] SLR 301, Wong Sin Yee v Public Prosecutor [2001] 3 SLR 197, Ong Beng Leong v Public Prosecutor (No 2) [2005] 2 SLR 247 and Cigar Affair v Public Prosecutor [2005] 3 SLR 648). If the general princip......
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    ...of the 1985 CPC; Kee Leong Bee and another v Public Prosecutor [1999] 2 SLR(R) 768 at [15]–[20]; Wong Sin Yee v Public Prosecutor [2001] 2 SLR(R) 63 at [8]–[17]. In 2004, the composition of offences provision was amended by the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2004 which made several......
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3 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2001, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...was wrong and should be regarded solely as obiter dictum. 11.20 This issue was revisited and finally laid to rest in Wong Sin Yee v PP[2001] 3 SLR 197. The appellant was charged with voluntarily causing hurt. Before formal proceedings were commenced, he paid the victim $1000 as compensation......
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2002, December 2002
    • 1 December 2002
    ...the accused had told the complainant that he would not let him off should anything happen to the former. In Wong Sin Yee v PP[2001] 3 SLR 197, the accused caused alarm to the complainant by shouting “why called (sic) your father, call Lee Kuan Yew or the F…ing Police”. 69 Section 13C makes ......
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2015, December 2015
    • 1 December 2015
    ...Norzian bin Bintat[1995] 3 SLR(R) 105 at [51]. 46[1999] 2 SLR(R) 768. 47Kee Leong Bee v Public Prosecutor[1999] 2 SLR(R) 768 at [20]. 48[2001] 2 SLR(R) 63. 49Wong Sin Yee v Public Prosecutor[2001] 2 SLR(R) 63 at [17]. 50 Cap 276, 2004 Rev Ed. 51 Although note that under s 243 of the Crimina......

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