The Court of Appeal of Singapore in Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali v Attorney-General  SGCA 53 considered the submissions against the decision by the Public Prosecutor not to grant the appellant, Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali (“the Appellant”), a certificate of substantive assistance pursuant to s 33B(2)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) . The certificate, if granted, will give the court the discretion to sentence a person convicted of an offence under s 5(1), being an offence punishable with death under s 33 of the MDA, to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane instead of death if he: (a) proves on a balance of probabilities that his involvement in the trafficking offence was limited to those acts prescribed in s 33B(2)(a); and (b) the PP certifies that he has “substantively assisted” CNB in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.
Among other things, the Court stated that:
- It is abundantly clear from the Parliamentary debates at the Second Reading of the Bill that an offender’s good faith cooperation with CNB is not a sufficient basis for the PP to grant him a certificate of substantive assistance. The Minister stated that assistance which does not enhance the enforcement effectiveness of CNB will not be enough.
- The object of the substantive assistance provision in the s 33B regime is to enhance the operational capacity of CNB. The information provided should lead to the actual disruption of drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.
- It is clear from a plain reading of s 33B(4) of the MDA that Parliament intended to limit judicial review of the PP’s decision on whether to issue a certificate of substantive assistance to only the grounds of bad faith and malice; Parliament did not see a need for a more extensive scope of judicial review.