Published: 11 December 2018
1. The amendments to the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (the “Act”), which were passed in Parliament on 6 Feb 2018, will take effect on 1 Jan 2019.
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 Police Supervision Orders (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, for example, to deal swiftly and effectively with people associated with secret societies, as well as organised criminal groups such as drug trafficking and loansharking syndicates.
3. The Act has been in force since 1955. The temporary nature of the Act refers to the sunset clause which requires the Government to seek Parliament’s endorsement every five years, each time it wishes to have the CLTPA renewed. The next extension will come into force on 21 Oct 2019, i.e. on the expiry of the current Act.
Increasing Accountability and Codifying Existing Law
4. The amendments to the Act introduce a Fourth Schedule, setting out the list of criminal activities for which the powers of detention and supervision under the Act will apply. This will, in effect, restrict the Minister’s exercise of powers. It also increases accountability on which types of activities could be the subject of a detention order.
5. There will be a new subsection in the Act that 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. This amendment codifies the existing law, as articulated by the Court of Appeal in the case of Tan Seet Eng vs Attorney-General, that it is for the Minister to decide on the facts of detention.
Enabling Holistic Rehabilitation by Taking into Account Individual Risks and Needs
6. Under the Act, the Minister can make a Police Supervision Order (“PSO”) against a person whom:
a) The Minister is satisfied that he has been associated with activities of a criminal nature; and
b) The Minister is satisfied that he should be subject to the supervision of the Police.
7. With the amendments, the list of obligations that a person under PSO must comply with will be set out in subsidiary legislation. The Minister can then tailor conditions for each supervisee, based on the different risks and needs of different supervisees, to facilitate the rehabilitation of supervisees.
8. The amendments to the Act will strengthen the administration of the criminal law regime.