Executive Detention should never be allowed to be replacement of criminal justice system

Detention without trial is called by many names. The British called it “Preventive Detention,” as if by imprisoning a person indefinitely and without trial will prevent him from causing harm to society.

The British are very creative in the use of words. Take for instance the Internal Security Act (ISA) or formerly known as the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance (PPSO). This law which authorises indefinite detention without trial is according to the title, meant to protect the “internal security or public security” of the country. It masks its real purpose which is to unjustly put away anti-colonialists, people with vast potentials and ability to contribute to the well being of the country.

Detention without trial is also called “Administrative Detention” or “Executive Detention”. These to me are the most appropriate description because the order to detain or imprison does not come from the judge but from the minister who is part of the Executive arm of government. The order is equivalent to an edict from the emperor. The emperor can imprison, torture and kill anyone he dislikes with immunity.

Most countries, including Singapore, have today a form of government that tries to ensure separation of powers. The executive arm of the government takes care of the management of the country. The judiciary, on the other hand, stands as the bulwark between the executive and the people. Judges ensure that everyone including the government obeys the law. Infringement of the law is punished and no one is sentenced to prison unless the prosecution proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

While the Singapore Constitution states that judicial power is vested in the judiciary, we have laws that conflict or even overrule this power. The Internal Security Act (ISA), Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) and the Misuse of Drugs Act are three such laws.

The ISA is the earliest piece of legislation that authorises Executive Detention. As a British colony, our colonial master imported the Emergency Regulations from Britain three years after they themselves had dumped it into the bin. It was supposedly a temporary measure lasting three months. But it has been renewed time and again. The reason was obvious. They simply wanted to control the population which was becoming more critical of their rule after World War 2. They wanted better working conditions and the right to govern themselves.

In 1955, the Marshall Government was probably compelled to consolidate the Emergency Regulations into the PPSO. The PPSO and the CLTPA were enacted that year. The PAP then in opposition, objected to the passing of the PPSO. It was probably just for show. When they came into power, it not only retained the laws but made them even more detrimental to the population.

In subsequent years, alleged drug addicts were also subjected to detention in an institution without the order of the judge. The Director of Central Narcotics Board could simply issue an order for his detention in an institution under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

With the application of the CLTPA to various offences now already under various ordinary criminal laws which require open court trials, I will not be surprised if the present criminal justice system will one day be turned into an Executive Detention system. Criminal courts will then be dispensed with. The minister of law can have as many subordinates as he wishes and delegate his work to directors of various crime agencies. We would have descended into a first world state of lawful lawlessness.

Executive detention deprives the person detained from a fair and open trial. It has no place in a modern society. Anyone accused of committing a crime deserves a fair and open trial. Evidence should be produced by the prosecution to prove commission of crime and the accused person must be given a chance to rebut the evidence against him. It is only after a fair and open trial that the judge can decide whether an accused person should be convicted or acquitted.

Executive Detention should never be allowed to be a replacement of our criminal justice system. In the absence of a fair and open trial, how do we know if the minister is properly advised by the police and the public prosecutor. How can we be sure that there is no abuse of power as in the Subhas Anandan’s case?

Why should we trust the judgement of the minister and his subordinates and not the judge?




Teo Soh Lung



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13 Responses to “Executive Detention should never be allowed to be replacement of criminal justice system”

  • Be fair:

    Then take away all the judges..lawyers too.. as ridiculous as it may be..
    just hold parliament sessions to determine the fate of a wrong doer.
    just like PM did to absolve himself of any wrong doings.
    Everyone deserves a fair trial…no matter prince or pauper.

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    A Bastard, coward & trait**…used this as a means to lock up Patriots & Nationalist to set up a Dynasty…now in total meltdown after his death when The Owl came a calling @ Istana…the Gun Carriage is being POLISHED of all crabs crawling with spider webs to be USE again SOON after the Owl came a CALLING AGAIN!!!…Karma!!! & Retribution towards EVIL doers!!!

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  • NotMyProblem:

    “With the application of the CLTPA to various offences now already under various ordinary criminal laws which require open court trials, I will not be surprised if the present criminal justice system will one day be turned into an Executive Detention system. Criminal courts will then be dispensed with. The minister of law can have as many subordinates as he wishes and delegate his work to directors of various crime agencies. We would have descended into a first world state of lawful lawlessness.”

    Does this remind you of the medieval era, where village heads decide on dispute. Reminder the era when adulterers were sentenced to be placed in pig basket and thrown into rivers, or stoned to dead on the street.

    Now judges and courts are of no use. PM can cleared himself of allegation of abuse of power in Parliament. Counting for the first elected president was up to the parliament. President election reserved for Malay could be extended for an Indian.

    One positive side of this CLTPA is, SG could save a lot of money when we dispensed the judges and courts and AGC. Also we save on argument on contempt of courts.

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  • Block Tan Cheng Bock:

    The power to detain anyone should also include the approval of the President, Minister is just given himself and the PAP more power. With so much power given to Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, he can even detain all non PAP candidates running for election.

    If PAP had this power in 1993, they could have detain Chee for “misappropriating research funds” and not just sacking him. Since it was a detention without trial, Chee can be detain indefinitely.

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  • Hopeless pinkie dot:

    The issue is not that people dun want that or dun know the good about having criminal justice system above detention without trial.

    The issue is peasants gave up everything to be powerless.

    It’s their fault.

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  • Calling Mdm President:

    What say Mdm president?
    Doesnt she have something to say when the human rights of her fellow citizens are being abused.
    Or will she prove to us that she’s just another puppet with LHL pulling the strings ? Money can even buy a person’s conscience.

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  • Bapak:

    In the nutshell, we have a police state, period.

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  • C'est la vie:

    This SGov are spoiling for a fight.

    They have it good, have it made and sitting pretty ………. all for doing diddly squat, and yet it’s not sufficient for this lot. No, they aren’t satisfied with all the power that they possess, the control and influence they have over the judiciary and police force, their unfettered access to CPF funds, their dominance and involvement in all commerce on the island, the news we read and watch, their monopoly and financial presence in all aspects of SGporean life, ie how we travel, where we shop, our post offices, our mobile phones, the taxis we travel in, our insurances, our banks, our HDB “homes”, our pre-school, our Hospitals, and the pissing list is pissing endless because they are into every damn bloody thing ………….. and it’s still not enough for them.

    They want bloody more !!!

    A thoroughly ungrateful and unappreciative load of ars*holes !!!

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  • Domesticated:

    If without SOCIAL JUSTICE,
    Having criminal justice system is still insufficient.

    Sgreans different species . Everything they surrender to authorities.

    It’s a absolutely unique country.

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  • HarderTruths:

    The 70% wish it to be so.

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  • Similarities ?:
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  • Only One Comment:

    Only one comment approved. Looks like all got censored due to sensitive topic for PAP.

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  • No Win No Fee:

    Masking injustice with legal jargons and political debate does not remove the fact that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a public court and the accused deserves the best legal process the state can offer before locking the person up for good. This legal process cannot remain buried in a concealed underground dungeon for days, weeks and years, away from public and legal scrutiny. It leads to abuse and we have all seen this.

    Taking away that right is not the prerogative of any gov. or its public servants no matter what the alleged crime is. It is not for politicians and its enforcement bodies to decide whether a person is guilty or not. This was what a monarchy did hundreds of years ago.

    We have made progress from those days, that’s why we have elections today, but unfortunately we also have bred governments that behave like monarchies to put people away, in dungeons, when they want to.

    Have we made progress? Or are we allowing our gov. to continue its monarchy type of rule because they tell us that it is “good” for us and that we need it because it is for our security.

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