CHC Case had a “first-mover” advantage in review of Penal Code
The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said last week that it will work with relevant ministries on “the appropriate revisions to the Penal Code”. This came after the Court of Appeal on Thursday (1 February) upheld the convictions and sentences of the six leaders of City Harvest Church (CHC).
The Judge of Appeal at Thursday’s hearing acknowledged the “lacuna”, or gap in the law which was surfaced through this case. But he also added that “a hard case should not be allowed to make bad law… the shaping of a remedy should be left to Parliament”.
The court said that the review of the law was “not only essential” but also “long overdue”.
In a way, this means that the CHC case had a “first-mover advantage” of sorts.
The review said the AGC is to ensure that “company directors and other persons in similar positions of trust and responsibility are subject to appropriate punishments if they commit criminal breach of trust”.
Some newspaper headlines say that the old law had “saved” the six leaders of CHC.
Whatever the case, the final verdict was also a showcase of how the judiciary system in Singapore is independent; it does not pander to the requests or recommendations of the executive (government) nor the legislative (parliament).
Last August, the Prosecutor invoked a procedure known as a criminal reference and argued that the six leaders from CHC ought to have been convicted of the more aggravated charge of CBT as agents, which provides for heavier punishment, rather than plain CBT.
To that, Minister of Law K. Shanmugam said on Thursday in a Facebook post that he will make a ministerial statement in Parliament on the government’s position in relation to the case.
He added in the post:
“This is a serious matter.”
It remains to be seen what the minister will say about the case and how parliament will revise the Penal Code.