|Air steward not guilty|
|His conviction for bringing in two truncheons from Thailand is overturned|
|HIS conviction for bringing in two truncheons has been quashed by the High Court.|
|30 July 2009|
|HIS conviction for bringing in two truncheons has been quashed by the High Court.
Mr Yuen Wai Loon, 32, an air steward with Singapore Airlines, was initially convicted of bringing in two truncheons in his checked-in luggage.
The Malaysian had claimed trial to one count of possessing the truncheons without lawful authority.
He was convicted and fined $1,000. The offence under the Private Investigation and Security Agencies Act carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a jail term of one month.
At his appeal, his lawyer, Mr Wong Siew Hong, argued that the preamble to the Act had stated that it was meant to license and control only those in the private investigation and security agency business.
So it should not apply to Mr Yuen.
Mr Wong also pointed out that the Act was repealed in April and re-enacted as the Private Security Industry Act.
At the same time, that particular offence was moved to the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which applies to general members of the public.
It now carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and a jail term of one month.
Mr Wong said the move from an industry-specific legislation to one that is of general application showed that the offence did not originally apply to those who were not in the private investigation and security agency businesses.
During the trial, the District Judge had ruled that while the original Act was targeted at those in the two businesses, it was not restricted to them.
She found that the words ‘any person’ had appeared regularly throughout the Act, and there was no indication that they referred only to those in the two businesses.
She added that since its enactment, the original Act has been used to prosecute those who possess prohibited items without lawful authority, though they were neither private investigators nor security guards.
But Justice Choo Han Teck, who heard the appeal, felt that members of the public should not be subjected to that Act.
He found that the purpose of the Act was to regulate private investigators and security guards.
Justice Choo also said that in interpreting the law, any doubt or ambiguity should be resolved in favour of the accused.
Mr Yuen had bought the two extendable truncheons from a supermarket in Phuket, Thailand, while he was there on a holiday with his girlfriend and her family.
The truncheons, which cost 200 baht ($8.50) each, were about 43cm-long when extended.
They were detected by an X-ray machine when he arrived at the Budget Terminal at 1.50am on 28 Feb 2007.
Mr Yuen said he was not aware that they were prohibited items.
He had bought them for his parents, who live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Their home there had been broken into three times and Mr Yuen thought they could use the truncheons for decorative purposes and also to protect themselves.