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Difficulties With Drug Conspiracies in Singapore: Can You Conspire to Traffic Drugs to Yourself?

Abstract

If Person A delivers drugs to Person B at the latter’s request, Person A is liable for drug trafficking—a serious offense in many jurisdictions.  However, the liability of Person B for drug trafficking is unclear as much may depend on Person B’s intention with the drugs.  The Singaporean Courts recently had to grapple with this issue in Liew Zheng Yang v. Public Prosecutor and Ali bin Mohamad Bahashwan v. Public Prosecutor and other appeals.  Prior to these two cases, the position in Singapore was clear—Person B should be liable for drug trafficking as an accessory to Person A, in line with Singapore’s strong stance against drug offenses.  However, since these cases, the Singaporean Courts have taken a contrary position and held that Person B may not be liable if the drugs were for his/her own consumption.

This Article examines the law with respect to this drug conspiracy offense in Singapore, looking at its history, the primary legislation and similar cases.  It also scrutinizes the judicial reasoning in the two cases above and considers whether this can be reconciled with the Courts’ prior position on the issue.  In this analysis, the Article also investigates the position taken in other comparable common law jurisdictions—including the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States—and concludes that the Singaporean Courts’ reasoning in the aforementioned two cases may not be tenable and warrant a reexamination.

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