Is Clause 258 really a reproduction of a section of the Evidence Act?

Clause 258 appears to be a reproduction of s.29 of the Evidence Act (SG). However, s.2(2) Evidence Act (SG) clearly provides that it is a “subordinate Act”. Legally, it means that when part of the provisions of the Evidence Act is inconsistent with other Acts of Parliament, the affected part would be deemed repealed for that purpose (or as far as the subject matter of the trial goes). The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which is a full Act, will therefore prevail against s.29 of the Evidence Act.

My lawyer friend wrote an interesting comment on my last blog post, in which I had questioned the introduction of Clause 258 in the new Criminal Procedure Code. The Clause allows for statements from an accused person to be admitted as evidence in court even if he was drunk or the recording officer did not fully comply with the rules governing the way statements are collected.

I have tried my best to translate the “legalise” into plain English:

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I refer to the CNA online report dated 18 May 2010 and I quote, “the minister emphasised there was no change in the law but a reproduction of a section in the Evidence Act.”

First, there are balancing provisions in the Evidence Act i.e. s.24, s.25 and s.26.  The court can assess the facts in a way it deems appropriate for the situation. Enacting the same provision in the CPC will force the court to approach the evidence in only the manner which the CPC demands.

Secondly, clause 258 will tilt the Prosecution’s claims in their favour, suggesting more than before that if the statement was presented by the Prosecution, then it must be true. This puts into question whether it adheres to the foundational legal requirement to prove the guilt of the accused “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Thirdly, the proposed clause dehumanises the accused/suspect by allowing such statements to be admissible, regardless of the person’s mental capability at that time (e.g., being drunk).

Therefore, the proposed clause in the CPC is in conflict with the tradition and spirit of the common law system, and certainly defies the logic and soul of liberty and democracy.

[Note: Edited on 25 May at the request of the author.]

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Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam was a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from 2011-2015. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

6 thoughts on “Is Clause 258 really a reproduction of a section of the Evidence Act?”

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