Drug trafficker fails in 2nd bid to raise legal questions

Appeal Court says requirements for it to allow application not met

The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected a bid by a British drug trafficker to raise legal questions related to his sentence of 20 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for two sets of drug offences committed in 2016 and 2018.

This is the second time that London-born disc jockey Yuen Ye Ming, 31, has failed in his attempt to ask Singapore's highest court to determine questions of law which he claims are of public interest.

This time, represented by lawyer M. Ravi, he sought to raise three issues, including whether two separate caning sentences can be ordered to be imposed concurrently.

In dismissing Yuen's case, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the legal requirements for the court to allow his application had not been met. During the hearing, CJ Menon told Mr Ravi that the apex court has no jurisdiction to determine the legal questions as they had not been decided by the High Court.

"Our powers are constrained by statute," said the Chief Justice.

The court, which also comprised Judges of Appeal Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang, will issue detailed written grounds in due course.

Yuen was first arrested on Aug 5, 2016 at a River Valley condominium and found to be carrying drugs.

Investigations revealed that he had turned to selling drugs to support his lavish lifestyle and pay his gambling debts.

On Jan 17, 2018, he pleaded guilty to trafficking, possession and consumption charges and the case was adjourned for sentencing.

While on bail, Yuen was arrested on Feb 20, 2018, and charged with a second set of trafficking, possession and consumption offences.

He pleaded guilty to four of the 12 charges on July 18, 2018.

 
 

On Aug 1, 2018, he was sentenced to a total of 20 years' imprisonment and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane by a district judge.

He was unrepresented when he appealed to the High Court against the sentence. The appeal was dismissed in November 2018.

Yuen made headlines in January last year after his case was reported in British newspaper Daily Mail.

That month, then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt brought up his case with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan while he was in Singapore for an official visit.

Yuen then engaged lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam to raise legal questions to the Court of Appeal relating to the enhanced punishment regime for drug offences.

The application was heard and dismissed in August last year.

In March, he filed his second application to refer different questions to the apex court.

The questions, framed by Mr Ravi, relate to issues of double punishment, whether a sentence of caning may be imposed concurrently and whether mandatory minimum sentences infringe an offender's right to a proportionate sentence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2020, with the headline 'Drug trafficker fails in 2nd bid to raise legal questions'. Print Edition | Subscribe