Friday, 4 December 2015

Minister clarifies arrest of Dan Tan

International pressure not behind re-arrest of alleged match-fixer Dan Tan: Shanmugam
By Selina Lum, The Straits Times, 3 Dec 2015

If a decision is made to detain alleged match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan Seet Eng without trial once again, the grounds for his detention will be set out in full to comply with the Court of Appeal's ruling.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam made this clear at a press conference yesterday, a day after the 51-year-old Tan was re-arrested by police.

Met the press this morning to clarify some aspects relating to Dan Tan’s arrest last night. Some media reports had...
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Last week, Singapore's apex court ordered the release of Tan, who had been detained without trial for two years. Described by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate", he has been linked to match- fixing across Europe, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and Trinidad and Tobago.

But the court's three-judge panel ruled that for a person to be detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, or CLTPA, it must be shown that his activities affect public safety, peace and good order within Singapore.

And the detention order did not adequately show how leading and funding a syndicate which allegedly fixed matches overseas posed such risks here.

Mr Shanmugam stressed yesterday that he and his ministry have already said they accept and respect the judgment. If this was not the case, the right thing to do was to take up the matter in Parliament and change the law.

"Singapore's fundamentals depend on strong institutions and upholding their strength and status," he said.

In a post on Facebook, he also said: "Some media reports had inaccurately given the impression that the re-arrest goes against the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal. That is not so.

"In this case, the court accepted that illegal match-fixing could come within the CLTPA. The Court of Appeal however said that the Detention Order issued against Dan Tan did not comply with the requirements of the Act, and did not adequately set out the grounds which justified the detention.

"The police have arrested Dan Tan for investigations. If he is detained under the CLTPA, the Detention Order will set out the grounds in full, as advised by the Attorney- General's Chambers, and will comply with the terms of the judgment."

Tan's release last week was criticised by former Interpol chief Ronald Noble and world football body Fifa.

Responding to a question during the press conference on whether international pressure played a part in Tan's re-arrest, Mr Shanmugam said: "We don't arrest or release people based on international pressure. We do what's right for Singapore."

Tan's lawyer Hamidul Haq told The Straits Times: "We have anticipated all the developments so far and we will seek legal recourse at the appropriate time."

Minister issues new Detention Order against alleged match-fixer
The Sunday Times, 6 Dec 2015

Alleged match-fixing kingpin Dan Tan Seet Eng is being detained without trial under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) for the second time.

A statement issued by the Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) yesterday revealed that Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, with the consent of the Public Prosecutor, issued a Detention Order against the 51-year-old for his involvement in global match-fixing.

Tan was detained without trial for two years before he was released on Nov 25 after the Court of Appeal found that his alleged match-fixing activities did not threaten public safety here. He was re-arrested by the police last Tuesday.

The MHA, in its statement, highlighted that in its judgment, the Court of Appeal accepted that Detention Orders can be issued under the CLTPA for match-fixing activities. It ruled that the grounds for detention "must, on the face of it, show that the activities have a bearing on public safety, peace and good order in Singapore, and were considered serious by the Minister".

The Detention Order which had been issued against Tan on Oct 2, 2013, under the CLTPA, had to be set aside because the grounds stated in the Order were defective, the court ruled, according to the MHA statement. In the Court of Appeal's view, the grounds did not expressly show that Tan's activities had a bearing on the public safety, peace and good order within Singapore.

The MHA said that it respects and accepts the Court of Appeal's judgment.

The new Detention Order which had been issued against Tan yesterday expressly sets out the grounds which show the extent of his match-fixing activities from and within Singapore, and why this necessitates the issuance of a Detention Order under the CLTPA, the ministry said.

"The grounds set out the seriousness of Dan Tan's criminal activities over many years, their impact on public safety, peace and good order within Singapore, and the fact that he has intimidated witnesses to the extent that they continue to be unwilling to testify against him for fear of reprisal," it added.

When asked about Tan's next step, his lawyer Hamidul Haq said: "We have not seen the grounds for the Detention Order just yet, and in any case, we will need to seek our client's instructions."

Alleged match-fixing kingpin re-arrested
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 2 Dec 2015

Dan Tan Seet Eng was arrested last night, less than a week after Singapore's highest court declared that the alleged match-fixing kingpin's detention without trial was unlawful and set him free.

Police declined to reveal more about his arrest other than releasing a statement at 9.45pm which read: "The police confirmed that they have arrested Dan Tan on Dec 1 for investigations into suspected involvement in criminal activities.

"Investigations are ongoing."

When contacted, Tan's lawyers, Mr Thong Chee Kun and Mr Hamidul Haq, said they were aware of his arrest. Mr Haq added: "We are trying to find the legal basis for the police's action to re-arrest him."

The Straits Times understands that the 51-year-old was nabbed at about 8pm at a place where he had been staying since he was let go.

Last week, his release was criticised by former Interpol chief Ronald Noble and world football body Fifa, which said it was "very disappointed" with the Court of Appeal's decision to free him.

Former Fifa head of security Chris Eaton, who had also lambasted the decision to free Tan, tweeted yesterday after finding out about his arrest: "I am pleased that the Singapore criminal justice system continues to work assertively on match-fixing investigations and prosecution."

Tan, named by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate", has been linked to match-fixing across Europe, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and Trinidad and Tobago.

He was arrested, with 13 others, in a series of police raids in September 2013. A month later, the Home Minister detained him without trial under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA).

But on Nov 25, a three-judge panel that included Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ruled in a landmark judgment that while Tan may have run an international match-fixing syndicate from Singapore, his activities did not pose a threat to the public safety, peace and good order here.

On Monday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam defended the use of the CLTPA in Tan's case, saying his detention had been "on good grounds".

Criminal Law Act is useful — but handle with care
By Eugene K B Tan, Published TODAY, 3 Dec 2015

In a significant decision last week, Singapore’s highest court ruled that alleged global football match-fixer Dan Tan Seet Eng’s preventive detention was unlawful. His detention went beyond the scope of discretionary power vested in the Minister for Home Affairs under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA). The court’s ruling drew criticisms from a former Interpol chief and, ironically, FIFA, football’s graft-ridden governing body.

Based on the grounds for the detention put up by the Minister, the Court of Appeal determined that Tan’s activities were not of a sufficiently serious criminal nature to threaten or undermine “public safety, peace or good order in Singapore”, the raison d’etre of the CLTPA.

The court noted that Tan’s alleged match-fixing syndicate activities took place outside Singapore. Furthermore, Tan’s criminal acts had ceased almost two-and-a-half years before he was served with a detention order. Neither was there any suggestion that witnesses were intimidated and unwilling to testify against Tan.

It is important not to misinterpret the court’s decision. In reviewing the grounds of detention, the court took issue with the way Tan’s detention order was drafted and how it did not meet the strict requirements justifying the use of the CLTPA. Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam noted that the court’s objection was “not a question of policy or principle”. On Tuesday, Tan was arrested again and Mr Shanmugam yesterday said that, should a new detention order be issued under CLTPA, the grounds for detention will be “set out in full” to comply with its requirement.

With these turn of events in the past week, it is timely to look at how the CLTPA has been used, and its place in Singapore’s criminal justice system. This year marks 60 years since the colonial authorities first introduced the CLTPA in 1955 to impose law and order during a tumultuous period in Singapore’s history.

Designed as a temporary law, the executive has to go before Parliament every five years to renew the CLTPA.

In recent years, given the ruling People’s Action Party’s dominance in Parliament, the CLTPA has encountered a relatively easy passage through the legislative process. With the relatively safe environment here, some Singaporeans — especially those born post-independence — may find it hard to comprehend why such a tough law is needed.

To be sure, there is merit in having a law that ultimately seeks to keep Singapore safe from hardcore criminal elements. The CLTPA has been renewed 13 times, the last being in November 2013. The brevity of the 2013 amendment Bill, comprising only two clauses totalling no more than 50 words, belies the fundamental importance of the CLTPA.

Long and much feared by criminals, the CLTPA provides for the power to detain individuals without trial for renewable one-year periods. This has been an important legal tool in the fight against violent criminal activity such as secret societies, drug trafficking and loan-sharking.

Its regular renewal speaks of the Government’s determination to have the full range of legal powers to keep hardcore criminal activity at bay. At the same time, the CLTPA’s powers raise legitimate concerns about whether the law is necessary today and whether there can be even stronger safeguards against its misuse. Tan was detained for more than two years before his detention was ruled unlawful.

Over the years, the use of CLTPA has expanded. For example, the CLTPA was used against SMRT bus drivers who staged a strike in November 2012. In recent years, it was used against Tan and several persons alleged to be involved in a major international football match-fixing syndicate operating from Singapore.


It is unlikely that the dangers that the CLTPA seeks to address will be eliminated in the next five to 10 years. And with evolving threats, and the Government’s longstanding preference for a plethora of calibrated law and order measures, the CLTPA will be anything but temporary.

Humans are not angels. No society can realistically hope to eliminate all crime. Societies can seek only to regulate the crime situation to ensure that it stays within acceptable limits. It is for each society to decide what those limits are.

However, the CLTPA cannot be allowed to become a legal crutch. For a long time, the Government had argued that the mandatory death penalty for murder and drug trafficking helped to keep Singapore safe. But Parliament passed the necessary legislative amendments in 2012 to make the incremental but important shift towards a discretionary death penalty regime in specified circumstances. This shift was made notwithstanding the Government’s assessment of a worsening regional drug situation and the large number of repeat drug abusers likely to be released in the next few years.

So each time the CLTPA comes up for renewal, it should prick at our collective conscience. After all, the law does not bring alleged perpetrators of serious crime to justice.

It is a cardinal rule of legal principle that no person should be imprisoned without an open trial. Robust explanation and justification are needed each time the government seeks to use or extend the lifespan of the CLTPA.

While a low crime rate is of utmost importance, how we go about attaining that imperative matters immensely. Our approach to crime control cannot be a manifestly utilitarian one of the ends justifying the means.

The Court of Appeal’s decision is to be welcomed for the court’s exposition of the limits of the executive’s powers under the CLTPA and its careful examination of whether the power to detain Tan was properly exercised.

While unlawful, the court did not find that the decision to detain Tan was made capriciously or arbitrarily. Public confidence appears not to have been undermined. Mr Shanmugam said on Sunday that “a majority of Singaporeans support (the CLTPA)”.

The CLTPA must be handled with utmost care — both in its use by the executive and in the judiciary’s review of its use. Going forward, the executive has to continue making a water-tight case in justifying its existence.

Eugene K B Tan is associate professor of law at the School of Law, Singapore Management University. He participated in the 2013 parliamentary debate to extend the CLTPA for another five years as a Nominated Member of Parliament then.

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