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Disgraced lawyer loses appeal against detention
Selina Lum
Thu, Feb 21, 2008
The Straits Times

A DISGRACED lawyer, detained indefinitely without trial under a ministerial order, on Thursday lost his final bid to be freed.

Since September 2005, Edmund Wong Sin Yee, 49, has been held under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which allows for those suspected of criminal activities to be detained without trial.

To order such detention, the Home Affairs Minister has to be satisfied that it is necessary 'in the interests of public safety, peace and good order'.

Wong was accused of being a leader in a drug syndicate that smuggled ketamine from Malaysia to Taiwan and from Malaysia to China through Hong Kong between early 2004 and April 2005.

The order to detain him has been extended twice, for 12-month periods each time.

Wong went to the High Court to challenge the detention but this was rejected by Justice Tan Lee Meng last September.

On Wednesday, he appealed to the Court of Appeal, which gave its decision on Thursday to uphold the lower court's judgment.

Wong's instructed counsel, Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim, had asked for his release on grounds that the detention order was unlawful.

Mr Yim argued that Wong's alleged activities were done outside Singapore but the Act applied only to crimes committed within the country.

He contended that Wong's Constitutional rights had been violated because he had not been told the grounds of his detention until 15 days later.

Mr Yim also argued that the detention was unreasonable because witnesses are available to testify against Wong in a proper trial.

'My client is happy to stand trial. He's happy to face charges and if convicted by a court of law... he's happy to serve his sentence,' Mr Yim said on Wednesday.

But the Court of Appeal rejected the arguments on Thursday.

Justice Andrew Phang, delivering the court's decision, agreed with Justice Tan's interpretation of the Act: that the threat to public safety, peace and good order did not necessarily have to result from criminal activities in Singapore.

The court also agreed that the detention order was valid even assuming Wong was not told of the grounds.

Finally, the court found no basis that the minister had exercised his discretion irrationally.

Wong, who is divorced with two children, is allowed to see immediate family members twice a month.

The next review of his detention order is expected to be in July next year.

 

 
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