CLTPA: A Permanent “Temporary” Law

Can the Criminal Law Temporary Provisions Act (CLTPA) be considered “temporary” after 60 years? This law that was debated in parliament and enacted in 1955 is a misnomer by its very name itself and Singaporeans are being fooled once again.

As we know, this law allows the Minister to order that suspected criminals be detained without trial. It was introduced during the colonial era and was intended to be a temporary measure at the time to deal with the problems of those days.

The Act has however been renewed continuously post-colonial era till date. Singapore seems to be the only country in the world that asserts that a particular measure is “temporary” but yet has stayed for more than 60 years.

The recent Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill seeks to insert in the Act this clause regarding the Minister’s detention order:

“Every decision of the Minister on a matter in subsection (1) [the detention order and police supervision] is final”.

I have spoken about the dangers in allowing the Minister to interfere in what should rightly be the role of the Police Commissioner in law enforcement. The insertion of this clause will also exclude the judiciary from reviewing the merits of any detention and make challenges procedurally extremely difficult. In short, basic rights will be suppressed and the judiciary will have little or no role to play in determining if a detention order or police supervision order is just.

During my own practice, several of my clients some of them as young as 19 claimed they were framed by others and were innocent. True enough the evidence against them was weak but they could not claim trial because of the law. We already have strict criminal laws on loansharking and gang activities and this “temporary” measure should not be expanded and renewed to a wider range of alleged offences.

This latest amendment is a blatant attack on the presumption of innocence and is a serious erosion of judicial powers in checking executive decisions in a court of law. Criminal law practitioners should speak up against this.


M Ravi



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3 Responses to “CLTPA: A Permanent “Temporary” Law”

  • NotMyProblem:

    For any law to change, you must change the government!

    Some of the laws are meant to protect the government. Ask the government to remove such laws is like telling the government to remove its protective armour. What type of government needs such protection? Well, only the insecure ones!

    You think the “Fake News” law is to protect the citizens, it is meant for the government to protect itself. All news are fake, except those from the government!

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  • Win lose or draw:

    “temporary” for 60 years!
    Shows how mean and unfair they have become.
    This PAP gov uses a completely different dictionary from the rest of us.
    Their mil$ highflying legal eagles will twist & turn its meaning to suit their client’s (PAP)agendas.
    Proven many a time re diff sets of laws used in this red dot. We peasants cant hope to win.

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  • Devil:

    This kind of law when abused, can only lead to bloodshed and unnecessary lost of human lives as there are no avenues to seek judicial redress especially when fear becomes fear no more.

    Bigger than judicial means “King” / “Emperor”?
    Democratic producing undemocratic kingship? and no one has the “BALLS” to even speak out.?

    People, Be Awaken!
    We may be worshiping the devil all this while.

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