Five and a half years after the City Harvest case started, it has finally ended.
The ending? Prosecution failed in its attempt to up the sentences of the six accused in the case by arguing that they should be convicted of the more serious charge of Criminal Breach of Trust as agents which would give them a heaver punishment.
Prosecutors don’t cry ok. Five years of work down the drain.
So the six accuseds will continue to serve reduced jail terms of seven months to three and a half years, slashed from between 21 months and eight years.
The gist of the Court of Appeal’s decision is that directors, societies and charities do not fall under the scope of the more serious CBT legislation.
The Court said this is the consequence of “dated legislation” and since the Court has to follow the meaning of the legislation, it cannot charge the accuseds otherwise. So the Court said if there is any gap in the law, it has to be addressed by the Parliament.
“The Court of Appeal acknowledged that in the modern context, where directors of companies and officers of charities and societies play key roles in the lives of companies and the economy as a whole, there did not appear to be a good policy reason to ignore their heightened culpability and the enhanced potential for harm were they to commit CBT. But the Court of Appeal was of the view that the task of law reform should be left to Parliament. The courts were ill-suited, and lacked the institutional legitimacy, to undertake the kind of wide-ranging policy review of the various classes of persons who, having regard to modern conditions, deserve more or less punishment for committing CBT. It observed that such a review was not only essential but also long overdue owing to the dated nature of the provision.”
Actually hor, it is really time to relook various parts of our laws to keep them up to date. This is not the first time in recent months that the Court said Parliament can help look at laws to strengthen legislation.
Like driving offences, really out of touch liao lah. Imagine knock someone down can just be kanna fined only. Where is the deterrent effect for drivers to be more careful when they are on the road?
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon raised this last October when he reduced a motorist’s one-week jail term to a $5000 fine for driving under the influence of alchohol. Hello? Drink driving is something that you can control one right— just don’t drive or don’t drink. If you drink and drive wilfully and knocked someone, don’t you deserve a stiff punishment?
Then one month later in November 2017, Chief Justice Menon said Parliament should allow judges to be able to enhance punishments for certain crimes against vulnerable victims such as children and young persons.
He said that many cases of violence against children and young persons that lead to serious injury or death are charged for causing grievous hurt or ill-treatment instead of culpable homicide. But culpable homicide may carry a higher maximum punishment.
Remember the whole discussion that erupted on punishment provisions from the Annie Ee’s case? Similar issues raised here too.
So it seems like there is a lot of work to do to review our legislation and keep them updated with our modern context. Will MHA and Parliament get cracking soon?