Connect with us


Shanmugam: Govt to look into PACC Act after death row inmates’ constitutional challenge

After inmates’ Constitution Challenge on Post-Appeal Applications in Capital Cases Act, Minister Shanmugam said the govt may relook the law, incl. considering Constitution amendment to ensure “any future constitutional challenges of such nature will not succeed.”



SINGAPORE: Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said the government is considering additional measures necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the new law concerning post-appeal applications in capital cases (PACC applications).

On Wednesday (8 May), Minister Shanmugam delivered a nearly 1-hour long Ministerial Statement,  reiterating Singapore’s tough stance on drugs in the House.

In his statement, Minister Shanmugam emphasized the severe consequences of drug abuse and the challenges associated with drug policy decisions, with comparing the drug situation in other countries, reaffirmed the city-state strict penalties including the death penalty, for those who profit from the drug trade.

He again defended the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent against drug trafficking, citing statistics and survey results indicating strong public support for capital punishment as a deterrent measure.

Minister defends PACC Act to address unmeritorious post-appeal applications in capital cases

He highlighted the necessity of the Post-Appeal Applications in Capital Cases Act (PACC Act), passed in Parliament in 2022, in addressing the issue of unmeritorious post-appeal applications being filed at the last minute before capital punishment is carried out.

However, he observed that before the law came into force, large groups of Prisoners Awaiting Capital Punishment (PACPs) jointly filed applications to challenge the constitutionality of the law.

The application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in March, citing the PACPs had no standing to bring such a challenge, and “the appellants’ challenge amounted to an abuse of the court’s process, as it sought to address potential future effects without a current basis.”

The 36 inmates, who were not represented by a lawyer, argued that two of the provisions were “onerous,” “oppressive,” and inconsistent with the rights to a fair trial and access to justice as outlined in Article 9 of the Constitution.

Although the case was dismissed solely on the issue of standing, the court acknowledged that the expectations of due process for a prisoner who has exhausted all avenues of appeal are likely to differ significantly from those of an accused person undergoing trial for the first time.

Minister Shanmugam indicated that the government is currently exploring further measures to ensure robust support for the new legislation.

“We will come back to the House if necessary. ”

“And I wish to make it clear to members and Singaporeans – be assured that we will take all necessary steps to ensure that this sort of abuse of process is dealt with.”

The PACC Act is set to take effect in a few weeks. Under this legislation, convicted prisoners can only pursue post-appeal and clemency actions with the Court of Appeal’s permission.

Additionally, applications can only be filed if the prisoner possesses “new relevant evidence” that was not previously available or could not have been presented earlier.

In December 2023, a High Court judge also dismissed the inmates’ challenge, ruling that they lacked legal standing to bring the challenge since the provisions were not yet in operation and thus did not affect the rights and interests of the 36 inmates.

Minister Shanmugam suggests potential constitutional amendments to prevent future successful challenges to PACC Act

Following Minister Shanmugam’s address in Parliament, Pritam Singh, Leader of the Opposition, sought clarification regarding the implications of the PACC Act.

He inquired whether the minister implied the possibility of revisiting the legislation to address potential gaps.

“Is the minister suggesting that there are some gaps in the Bill which hasn’t even come into force yet which may require an amendment to the Bill to the act as it stands?”

In response, Minister Shanmugam refuted Singh’s suggestion of gaps in the PACC Act.

He clarified that he wasn’t implying any deficiencies in the legislation but rather indicated ongoing scrutiny of PACP applications, with potential amendments based on observations.

Instead, he highlighted the importance of monitoring how applications are filed and considering potential amendments, especially in response to constitutional challenges.

“We may have to consider whether we need to amend the Constitution to make sure that any future constitutional challenges of such a nature will not succeed.”

“So the answer is, looked at what we needed to do and we passed the Bill, we have seen how the (PACPs) applications have evolved, And I have directed my ministry to look to see.”

“I have not said there are any gaps, but look to see whether we need to do anything more given in particular that there was a constitutional Challenge.”

Pritam Singh expresses concern over 18% rise in new drug abusers in Singapore

Separately, Pritam Singh, who is also the Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party, asked about the latest CNB Drug Situation Report 2023, noting an 18% increase in new drug abusers in Singapore compared to 2022.

He asked about new initiatives the Ministry and CNB are considering to prevent further increases, particularly in terms of preventive education.

The MP for Aljunied GRC raised concerns about the significant increase in new psychoactive substances seized by CNB and asked for clarification on why there has been a shift from other drugs to these substances.

In response, the Minister highlighted the importance of transparency and the need for improved preventive drug education, including efforts focused on parents.

“We need to do even better at the preventive drug education. We need to focus on the parents as well to understand the messages and the other new initiatives I’ve spoken about in my ministerial statement earlier.”

Explaining the rise in new psychoactive substances, the Minister attributed it to the ease of altering chemical properties to create new drugs and their increasing availability.

He noted the continuous challenge of staying ahead of these substances due to their rapid adaptation and attractiveness to some youths.

Regarding any ethnic components to the consumption of new psychoactive substances, the Minister stated that while there isn’t a clear correlation, there has been a slightly higher level of Chinese participation compared to traditional drugs.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

LW should axe this Minister. He hides behind legislating Laws but fails in his performance to reduce drug taking, money laundering etc. There is no need for this Law as the Court can always dismiss it. No need for Shanmugam ‘s actions.

It has been, the looks of Constitution, it’s constitution, it’s amendments, has the clear looks of PAP Administration insidious fingerprints, amidst their toying, their fastidious changes as and when it suits their idiosyncrasies.

SG NEEDS BADLY to Stop this PAP Administration gangsterism acts of doing changes to the Constitution to SUIT THEIR tastes AND NOT of Singapore and Singaoreans.

Get MORE OPPOSITION MPs into Parliament. I m already old, enough – SG is YOUR FUTURE idiots if U believe this PAP has to Be Removed.

Introduce the noose for corruption. See how fast they peng this law.