Justice systems – A Tales Of Two Different Systems

Justice systems in Singapore and Malaysia, it is important to talk about the Singapore justice system in comparison to the Malaysia justice system. 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.

Preamble to comparison of justice systems

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 Singapore justice system and the Malaysia justice system. This is after 55 years of government under different leaders.

As of late, two cases of particular interest regarding justice has been reported in the news in Singapore. These two cases is suitable for me to make comparison between justice in Singapore and 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 systems – Singapore justice system reflected through current cases

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. Thus the Singapore justice system is more aligned than the Malaysia justice system.

Case # 2 – The case of a foreign maid 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.

Singapore justice system
Highly respected upright and honorable Singapore Supreme Court justice

Justice systems – Malaysia justice system case study

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

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 Malaysia justice system

Infringement of the Malaysia Federal Constitution Article 5(4)

1 Immigration charged Offender named A when 6 illegals were found 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 Department of Malaysia had infringed the Federal Constitution and ignored their Court’s jurisdiction. So does it mean that the Immigration Department had arbitrary decides on detention of foreigners beyond the fourteen days allowed under the above FC Article 5(4) amended with proviso. It is obvious from this case that there were no checks and controls to ensure Immigration officers comply with this law. Is this the Malaysia justice system?

Article 5(4) of the Malaysia Federal Constitution

Details pertaining to the sentencing between justice systems

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. You can read the story of the trial before the Magistrate at the Immigration court here.

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 making the payment, the Court gave the order of discharge immediately on the same day. Herein is one major differences between both justice systems as shown below:

Shocking jail term after paying fine in Malaysia justice system

Singapore justice system
Order of discharge

8. Offender A and his family member were expecting his release after paying the fine. Instead, they sent him to Kluang jail. He had to spend 3 days inside Kluang jail. Does it mean that Immigration Department has jurisdiction on foreigner offenders to decides on further detention without Malaysia court order in Malaysia justice system? This seems to be the case here.

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. While witnessing this brutal beating, every prisoner had to bow their head to avoid looking or else he could be the next victim. Such violent scene and cruelty cannot be unseen.

10a. The above-stated Bangladeshi national was beaten using the same method, i.e. using rubber hose equivalent as described in this news headline, “From detention to amputated legs, death: MP renews call for IPCMC“.

From detention to amputated legs, death: MP renews call for IPCMC. This is a shame for human rights in Malaysia

11. One of the corrupt prison guards scammed him and other new prisoners 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 full of corruption. There were many more tales of worse corruption from other prisoners here as well as from detainees in Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Depot.

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

More details about Kluang Penjara

12. Being an elderly man, he has to sleep on cold prison floor without blanket with the risk of an asthma attack from the chilling wind from the forested surroundings (see google map).

Malaysia justice system
Google map of the Kluang Penjara (Malay word for jail)

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. Another death by unnatural death of an innocent Nigerian on study visa occurred while in immigration custody and not accountable to the deceased family. All these violates the human rights of foreigners and grossly abused by corrupt immigration officers using their power and authority.

14. By placing him in the midst of hard core and violent prisoners inside Kluang jail, they exposed him to unnecessary dangers. It was totally unwarranted because he had paid the fine on the same day. In addition to paying the fine on the same day, he was also not given a jail term sentence. This is an illegal detention by immigration officers against foreigners.

Further detention in undocumented migrant detention center

15. He understood that the Malaysia government has prerogative to revokes His MM2H visa. Once they revokes his MM2H visa, they can ordered him to leave the country immediately once they release him as a free man.

16. However his MM2H visa was not revoked until 4.4.2018, which is a time lapse of 9 days (26.03.2018 – 4.4.2018). And he remained detained by immigration officers inside their cruel and inhumane immigrant 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 meaningless visa issued by the Malaysia government.

17. His family member had alerted the Singapore Consulate in Johor Baru on this severe mistreatment of a Singapore citizen in Malaysia who then intervened and helped secure his release back to Singapore. This event tells us that you need foreign government intervention under the Malaysia justice system, not the court justice system.

18. However, it was all decided by Immigration Department of Malaysia officers on his fate and his freedom after paying the fine ordered by the court. This puts the immigration officers one authority higher than the magistrate or any judge from the court in the Malaysia justice system. This case reported here proves beyond doubt that this is true. The news reported this headline, “Defying court order, Malaysia deports over 1,000 Myanmar nationals“.

Conclusion of two justice systems

From this case study, we can sees the major differences after 55 years of different governments.

One can concludes that the application of law in the Malaysia justice system based on above case study leaves much to be desired after 55 years of governing by two different governments. This is especially true involving foreigners. We see from above-mentioned case study that foreigners were discriminated based on their nationalities. They were denied justice in most circumstances and victimized. The Immigration Act with the 14 days detention without remand order is anti-foreigners and anti-human rights unfair law.

Both countries are signatories to UN Convention of universal human rights but application of law under their respective justice systems differs like day and night.

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