2 U. Malaya L. Rev. 323 (1960)
Habeas Corpus in Singapore

handle is hein.journals/sjls2 and id is 329 raw text is: December 1960

Due to rapid political changes and the appalling waves of crime
over the recent years, Singapore was compelled to pass the Preservation
of Public Security Ordinance, 1955, 1 and the Criminal Law (Temporary
Provisions) Ordinance, 1955, empowering public officers with sweeping
powers, including the much debated wide power of arrest. Consequently
there has been a series of applications to the High Court for the writ
of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum   et recipiendum  by people who were
arrested under either of the above two Ordinances. Practically all of
them failed in their application. My humble view is that they will
continue to fail. It is with this apprehension that this article is written,
laying out the assessed position of an intended applicant for the writ of
habeas corpus.
Never before has the High Court of Singapore been more called
upon to perform its ancient function of standing between the executive
and the members of the public. There were medieval precedents for
resistance by the judges against arbitrary acts which were contrary
to the principles of the common law. 2 To prevent its functions being
usurped, the court strongly resented any move by the administration to
place its officers above the law. This sort of spirit finds it difficult to
flourish today in view of our law. There was a marked retreat in each
habeas corpus case. All the grounds arising from the two Ordinances
on which the success of an applicant depended were utterly defeated
in battles which did not receive the best from both sides. Here I shall
endeavour to discuss these grounds and show how each met its death
in the recent cases on habeas corpus.
Ultra Vires
In Re Choo Jee Jeng, I counsel for the applicant struck at the root
of section 3(1) of the P.P.S.O. as he contended that the Singapore
Legislative Assembly, being a subordinate legislature, had no extra-terri-
torial jurisdiction 4 and therefore had no power to legislate that - if the
1. For the rest of this article it will be called the P.P.S.O.
2. W. S. Holdsworth, History of the English Law, vol. 2, pp. 561-564. In 1550,
there was an instance when the common law judges refused to obey the orders
of the Council because they considered that such obedience would be a breach
of their oaths to obey the law.
3. (1959) 25 M.L.J. 217.
4. See Macleod v. A.-G. for New South Wales [1891] A.C. 455-458.

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