Case Summaries

Yong Vui Kong v Public Prosecutor

4 April 2012

Media Summary

Yong Vui Kong v Public Prosecutor

Criminal Motion No 2 of 2012

Decision of the Court of Appeal (delivered by Chan Sek Keong CJ)

1        Yong Vui Kong (“Yong”) was convicted of the offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) (“the MDA”) of trafficking in diamorphine and was sentenced to death. In his statements to the police, he identified Chia Choon Leng (“Chia”) as the person who had instigated him in Johor Baru to transport drugs to Singapore. However, he refused to identify and testify against Chia in court because he alleged that he was afraid of retaliation against himself and his family. The Prosecution brought 26 charges against Chia, including 3 capital charges, but subsequently applied for and obtained a discontinuance not amounting to an acquittal (“DNAQ”) of all the charges due to insufficient evidence. Chia was instead detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary

Provisions) Act (Cap 67) (“the CLTPA”).

2        On 10 January 2012, the Court of Appeal (“the Court”) delivered its judgment in Ramalingam Ravinthran v Attorney-General [2012] SGCA 2 (“Ramalingam”) setting out the principles of law governing the relationship between Art 35(8) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (“the Constitution”), which vests the prosecutorial discretion in the Attorney-General (“the AG”), and Art 12(1) of the Constitution (“Art 12(1)”), which provides that “[a]ll persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”. About 2 weeks after Ramalingam was decided, Yong filed the present criminal motion (“this Motion”) alleging that the AG’s decision to prosecute him for a capital offence breached Art 12(1) because the AG had not prosecuted Chia, who was more culpable.

3        The Court rejected the Prosecution’s procedural argument that because Yong had failed to raise his allegation of breach of Art 12(1) at the 3 earlier stages of the proceedings involving him, the Court should not hear this Motion. The Court explained that, first, this Motion was distinguishable from the Court’s previous decisions on this area of the law in that Chia, who was alleged to be Yong’s boss and supplier as well as the kingpin of the drug trafficking operation, was apparently a more culpable offender than Yong, who was merely a mule. Second, the Prosecution had discontinued the charges (including the 3 capital charges) against Chia even though he appeared to have been the more culpable offender in the same criminal enterprise. The Court further pointed out that this Motion was based substantially on the principles recently clarified and enunciated in Ramalingam, and that Yong had filed this Motion without any delay after Ramalingam was decided.

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This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court.

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