Proposed Law Allowing Detention Without Trial

A law that allows for the detention of criminal suspects without trial will be changed to set out a list of offences under its ambit. These offences include unlicensed moneylending, drug trafficking, kidnapping and organised crime.

Since its incorporation in 1955, it is the first time in more than 60 years that the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act will be changed. The Act lapses every five years unless it is renewed, and has been renewed 13 times. 

Besides giving greater clarity to the scope of the Act, the Bill will “clarify the powers of the minister under the Act and strengthen the administration of the police supervision order regime”, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement yesterday. 

The Bill accords the Minister for Home Affairs certain powers, for which his decision is final in two aspects. First, whether a person is linked to criminal activities, and second, whether detention is necessary for reasons of public safety, peace and good order. Once established, the minister has to get the Public Prosecutor’s consent before issuing the detention order. 

This move by the Government is in response to a Court of Appeal’s decision in 2015, to free alleged match fixing kingpin Dan Tan, a Singaporean. The court ruled his detention unlawful as his offence did not pose a threat to the public safety, peace, and good order in Singapore

This Act has been used against alleged match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan, as well as on bus drivers who participated in the 2012 bus strike. 

The committee looking into changes to the Bill will give its recommendations to the President, who may confirm, vary or cancel the order on the advice of the Cabinet.

Source: “Detention without trial: Offences to be listed” (The Straits Times, 10 Jan 2018)

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