Speech by Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Post-appeal Applications in Capital Cases Bill (Bill No. 34/2022)
This Bill will introduce a new process for post-appeal applications in capital case (PACC) to safeguard our Court processes.
The new provisions will clarify the procedures for PACCs and the factors that the Court has to consider in granting permission.
Given the serious nature of capital cases, it is critical that due process is in place to ensure that meritorious applications by prisoners awaiting capital punishment are heard. Such processes and the grounds for any decisions must be clear and transparent.
I have three points of clarifications.
Taking of additional evidence
My first point is on the powers of the Court of Appeal to take additional evidence.
A number of provisions in the Bill allow the Court of Appeal to take additional evidence.
These situations include where the Court of Appeal is considering an application for permission to make a PACC application, is hearing a PACC application, is considering whether an application is a PACC application, and is determining if there is an abuse of process.
Can SPS clarify whether the Court’s power to take additional evidence is exercisable only of the Court’s own motion or whether a party can apply for the Court to exercise its power to take additional evidence?
Can SPS also share on what grounds or in what circumstances will the Court exercise its power to take additional evidence?
If it is open to a party to apply to Court to take additional evidence, can SPS clarify on what grounds can the application be made by a party?
Standard for reasonable prospect of success
My second point is what the standard of reasonable prospect of success entails.
The Court is required to consider whether the PACC application has a reasonable prospect of success in deciding whether or not to grant an application for PACC permission.
To provide more clarity on what constitutes a “reasonable prospect of success”, can SPS share how this standard compares to the other standards articulated by the Court?
Abuse of process
My third and final point is on the meaning of abuse of process.
Under section 60G(15)(c), the Court of Appeal must not grant an application for PACC permission if the applicant is found to have abused the process of court.
The Court of Appeal also has the power to make a finding of abuse of process.
In the case of Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin vs Attorney-General, the Court found that while the Defence counsel brought the review application to acquit Syed of the death penalty, this was by itself insufficient to find a collateral purpose amounting to an abuse of process. The Court observed that more would be needed to suggest that the intended outcome is in itself an abuse of process.
Can SPS clarify what factors the Court should consider if determining an application is an abuse of process?
Mdm, notwithstanding these clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill.
Watch the speech here.