Justice systems – A Tales Of Two Different Systems

Preamble to comparison of justice systems

Justice systems in Singapore and Malaysia, it is important to talk about this. This is because both countries are so close to each other, just like twins. The citizens of both countries traveled, stay and do business in each other country.

Both countries have many similarities with regards to customs and cultures as both were sharing the same for many years. Apart from the local’s custom and cultures, the similarities also extends to the civil service and the legal system. Both countries inherited an excellent civil service bureaucracy and justice systems from the same colonial master.

In the history of both countries, on 9 August 1965, both countries decided to go their separate way and each became a sovereign nation.

Fast forward to today, 6 September 2020, we would like to look at the justice system of both countries. This is after 55 years of government under different leaders.

As of late, two cases of particular interest regarding the justice systems has been reported in the news in Singapore. These two cases is suitable for me to make comparison to justice in Malaysia. It is of much public interest to the citizens of both countries as the justice system can impact their lives tremendously.

Justice system reflected through current cases in Singapore

Case #1 – Singapore State Court apologized for the two extra days of jail.

The court committed a mistake resulting in two extra days of jail after the offender had paid the fine. He thus erroneously subjected to harsh jail environment, suffered loss of personal freedom and liberty during the two extra days.


“The State Courts deeply regret what has happened, and we have conveyed our letter of apology to Mr Teo through the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” they added.

In response to CNA’s queries, Mr Teo’s lawyer Tan Hee Joek said the following: “that his client was grateful to the courts for their swift clarification”.

“Those extra two days were especially agonizing for him as he lived in uncertainty and fear in a small cell for four,” said Mr Tan. – 2 September

Under the UN human rights convention – Article 3 reads as follows: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. The Singapore Court recognize this universal principle and accorded the offender his rights correctly. Indeed this act deserves recognition by the international legal community.

Case # 2 – The case of a foreign maid was acquitted after nearly 4 years of legal entanglement and wrong conviction.

Her wrongful conviction came to light in the Singapore High Court and her wrongful conviction overturned. This case generated huge public interest in Singapore because it involves a powerful establishment figure. The charge was against a helpless and weak foreigner maid. It speaks well of the Singapore public sense of justice and fairness. In this particular case, it shows that Singapore justice is fairly applies to everyone regardless of nationalities or social status.

Justice system as practiced in Malaysia

After 55 years of going separate ways and different governments, how would the justice systems differ from that of Singapore?

We will do a case study and analysis of one case in Malaysia. From this case study, we should be able to understand more of the Malaysia justice system.

Details of case used in study of justice systems

Infringement of the Malaysia Federal Constitution Article 5(4)

1 Immigration charged Offender named A for allowing illegals to stay on his property in the Johor Immigration Magistrates’ Court on 26.3.2018.

2. Prior to this, offender A was remanded for 26 days without a Magistrate’s Order . With regards to this, Article 5(4) of the Malaysia Federal Constitution as amended with the addition of the proviso, provides as follows:

Where a person is arrested and not released he shall without unreasonable delay, and in any case within twenty-four hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey) be produced before a magistrate and shall not be further detained in custody without the magistrate’s authority:

Provided further that in its application to a person, other than a citizen who is arrested or detained under the law relating to immigration, this Clause shall be read as if there were substituted for the words “without unreasonable delay, and in any case within twenty-four hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey)” the words “within fourteen days

Federal Constitution Article 5(4) amended with the addition of the proviso

Based on the above, clearly his detention had infringed this Article 5(4) without a Magistrate’s order throughout his 26 days remand. It shows that Immigration Authority had infringed the Federal Constitution and ignored the Court. So does it means that the Immigration Authority had arbitrary decides on detention all this while of a foreigner beyond the fourteen days allowed under the above FC Article 5(4) amended with proviso.

Article 5(4) of the Malaysia Federal Constitution

Details pertaining to the sentencing

3. Offender A is a foreigner holding a valid Malaysia MM2H long term stay visa and is in Malaysia legally. He has stayed for around eight years under this visa program by the Malaysia government.

4. The magistrate convicted and sentenced offender A to a penalty fine of RM30,000.

5. Offender A’s family member rushed to make the payment for his fine on the same day in order to secure his immediate release.

6. His family member paid the RM30,000 fine in full to the Court. There was a receipt showing the date and time of payment by the family member. The date was 26.3.2018 and the time was 13:16:40.

7. After the payment was made, the order of discharge was given immediately by the Court on the same day.

Shocking jail term

8. Offender A and his family member were expecting his release. Instead, they were shocked that he was sent to Kluang jail and had to spend 3 days in Kluang jail. Does it means that Immigration department has jurisdiction on foreigner offenders to decides on further detention without court order?

9. On the first day in Kluang jail, they shaved all his hair to humiliate him.

10. He witnessed a foreigner badly beaten by a prison officer. He was one particular Bangladeshi national and was screaming for mercy for some time. This violent scene cannot be unseen and scarred his memory.

11. One of the corrupt prison guard scammed him of RM75. The guard took RM75 and altered the amount accordingly on the “acknowledgement of items and belongings receipt”. This receipt is proof of the lost RM75. Kluang jail is a place of corruption.

Show the strikeout of RM105 and changed to RM30.00
He was scammed of RM75 evidenced by the strikeout of RM105 and changed to RM30.00

12. Being an elderly man, he has to sleep on cold prison floor without blanket with the risk of an asthma attack.

13. Proper food and medical attention was grossly lacking during this unjust jail sentence. Read here on a foreigner’s death that happened in the same detention center as offender A

14. Being in the midst of hard core and violent prisoners inside Kluang jail, he was exposed to unnecessary dangers.

Further detention in undocumented migrant detention center

15. It is understood that Malaysia can revoked the MM2H visa and ordered him to leave the country immediately upon release as a free man.

16. However his MM2H visa was not revoked until 04.04.2018, which is a time lapse of 10 days (26.03.2018 – 04.04.2018). And he remained detained by immigration officers inside their cruel and inhumane immigrants detention center. This had infringed his liberty because he was not an illegal immigrant and there is no basis to deprive him of his liberty and freedom. This undermines the MM2H visa and makes it a worthless piece of document issued by the government.

17. His family member had alerted the Singapore Embassy on this severe mis-treatment of a Singapore citizen in Malaysia who then intervened and helped secure his release back to Singapore. It appears that foreign government intervention is required for foreigners who were detained in Malaysia.


From this case study, we can sees the major differences between the two justice systems after 55 years of different governments. Clearly the application of the law in Malaysia leaves much to be desired in that foreigners, though already discriminated against, were also victimized blatantly.

Both countries are signatories to UN Convention of universal human rights.

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