A-G Chambers: Errors in Glenn Knight's book

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers has pointed out a few errors in the book, 'The Prosecutor', written by former crime-buster Glenn Knight.

Local television Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that Knight had said in his book that former MCA president Tan Koon Swan was wrongly convicted and that in Knight's words, 'he was technically an innocent man'.

In 1986, Tan had pleaded guilty to one charge of abetment of criminal breach of trust in the High Court here before Justice Lai Kew Chai, who sentenced him to two years' imprisonment and a fine of S$500,000.

Tan admitted to abetting a director of Pan-Electric Industries Ltd to commit criminal breach of trust by engaging in a conspiracy with that director to dishonestly dispose off property belonging to the company in violation of section 157(1) of the Companies Act.

Fourteen other charges were not proceeded with.

Tan's appeal against the sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

CNA reported that the AG said Tan did not, and could not have appealed against the conviction, since he had pleaded guilty and that throughout the proceedings, Tan was represented by counsel.

In 1996, in the case of Cheam Tat Pang vs Public Prosecutor, Chief Justice of Singapore Yong Pung How, sitting as a High Court judge, concluded that a violation of section 157(1) of the Companies Act could not be the basis of dishonest disposal of property in a charge of criminal breach of trust.

CNA reported that Chief Justice Yong had referred to Tan Koon Swan's case, noting that there were no arguments about the correctness of the charge.

Although Chief Justice Yong disagreed with the view of the law taken in Tan's case, his decision did not and could not overrule the decision in Tan's case, as both decisions were made by the High Court.

The AG said the decision to charge Tan was made by the Public Prosecutor on the basis of the evidence against Tan and the applicable law and furthermore, Tan had legal advice throughout the whole process.

Neither he nor his counsel took issue with the correctness of the charge, CNA reported the AGC as saying and that Tan was convicted on the basis of his own plea of guilt, based on the law and facts as was accepted by his own counsel.

Knight's point was that if the law had been understood in 1986 to be as pronounced by Chief Justice Yong in 1996, then Tan could not have been convicted.

But the AG said that was not so, according to the CNA report. There were fourteen other charges that were not proceeded with in the 1986 case against Tan because he had pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal breach of trust through violation of section 157(1).

CNA reported that the AGC said Knight also made a number of errors in his book.

Firstly, he described the sentence imposed as including a fine of S$1 million. The correct fine was $500,000.

Secondly, the book stated that Chief Justice Yong concluded that Knight was wrong to charge Tan as he did, and that Chief Justice Yong was of the opinion that the section Mr Tan was charged with was wrong in law.

Chief Justice Yong referred only to the fact that there were no arguments about the correctness of the charge.

The AG said Chief Justice Yong did not go into any detailed discussion of Tan's case or Knight's conduct of the case.

Specifically, Chief Justice Yong did not express any opinion that Tan was wrongly charged.

Thirdly, it was said that the judgment in Cheam Tat Pang meant that Tan had been wrongly convicted and that he was technically an innocent man.

CNA further quoted the AG as saying that Tan's conviction stands, and he remains guilty of the crime that he had admitted to. - Bernama

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