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The Future of Singapore's Criminal Process

Michael Hor

(2013) 25 SAcLJ 847

This discussion traces the evolution of Singapore’s criminal process from one which was decidedly pro-prosecution to one where we are beginning to see glimpses of a reformist imperative. It uses what is perhaps the single most important decision on pre-trial procedure, Muhammad bin Kadar v Public Prosecutor [2011] 3 SLR 1205, as a lens to observe how the Judiciary seems to be leading the way in reshaping criminal procedure to be more compliant with modern conceptions of process fairness, in particular in the context of two “hot button” areas – police confessions and disclosure of prosecutorial material. It also takes note of what appears to be institutional resistance from the prosecution and perhaps law enforcement agencies, and concludes with the hope that all the institutional stakeholders of the criminal law in Singapore – the judges, the prosecutors, the law enforcers and the criminal bar – will in time begin to realise that the sustainable strengthening of process rights is a mutual and co-operative endeavour which will result in a criminal justice system which we can all be proud of.