1. The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill (the "Bill") was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill will extend the operation of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (the "Act") for a further period of five years, provide greater clarity in the scope of the Act, clarify the powers of the Minister under the Act, and strengthen the administration of the Police Supervision Order (PSO) regime.
2. The Act provides for the maintenance of public safety, peace and good order through the detention and supervision of persons associated with activities of a criminal nature, via the issuance of Detention Orders (DOs) or PSOs. The powers under the Act have been used judiciously, and only in cases where prosecution in Court was not possible, for example, when witnesses were unwilling to give evidence in Court due to fear of reprisals. It has been used to deal swiftly and effectively with people associated with secret societies, as well as organised criminal groups such as drug trafficking and loansharking syndicates, among others. The Act has contributed thus to keeping such serious crimes under control, ensuring the safety and security of Singapore.
3. The key provisions of the Bill are as follows:
a. Extend the Act for another five years with effect from 21 October 2019
The Act was promulgated in 1955 and has been extended 13 times. The Act remains an essential and effective legal instrument in our fight against secret societies, drug traffickers and syndicated crimes, and continues to be relevant for the maintenance of public safety, peace and good order in Singapore.
This Bill seeks to extend the operation of the Act for a further period of five years from 21 October 2019.
b. Restrict the powers of the Minister by clarifying the scope of criminal activities under the Act
Having considered the observations of the Court of Appeal in the case of Tan Seet Eng v Attorney-General, the Bill proposes a new Fourth Schedule into the Act, listing the types of criminal activity in relation to which the Minister for Home Affairs (the "Minister") can make orders for detention or Police supervision under section 30 of the Act.
The list of criminal activities in the new Fourth Schedule will be:
- Unlicensed moneylending;
- Drug trafficking;
- Involvement in a secret society, or as a gangster;
- Human trafficking;
- Robbery with firearms;
- Gang rape;
- General offences relating to the participation in or facilitation of activities for an Organised Criminal Group; and
- Attempting to carry out, abetting, or being a party to a criminal conspiracy to carry out, any activity listed in this schedule.
c. Clarify that the Minister's decisions on the matters in section 30(1) of the Act are final
The Bill clarifies that the Minister's decisions on matters such as whether a person has been associated with activities of a criminal nature and whether it is necessary to detain such a person in the interests of public safety, peace and good order, are final.
d. Strengthen the administration of the PSO regime
The Bill will strengthen the administration of the PSO regime with the following key changes:
- Move the obligations and restrictions which a criminal law Police supervisee (CLPS) must abide with into subsidiary legislation. This is to accord the Minister more flexibility to impose the necessary obligations and restrictions on a CLPS; and
- Empower Central Narcotics Bureau officers, other than Police officers, to investigate breaches of PSOs.
4. The Act contains substantial safeguards for the issuance of DOs and PSOs. The Public Prosecutor's consent has to be obtained before any DO or PSO is issued by the Minister. Each DO and PSO is subsequently reviewed by an independent Advisory Committee, comprising prominent private citizens including Justices of the Peace, former judges and senior lawyers. The Advisory Committee will then present its recommendations to the President who may confirm, vary or cancel the Order on the advice of the Cabinet.
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
9 JANUARY 2018