State v. Lance Corporal (res) Poon Chee Seng

SMC (1995)

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State v. Lance Corporal (res) Poon Chee Seng

Singapore Court of Military Appeals
SMC (1995)

Facts

Lance Corporal Poon Chee Seng (defendant) was a reservist in the Singapore Army (plaintiff). As a reservist, Poon Chee Seng had a legal obligation to appear for duty if given proper notice. Poon Chee Seng’s reserve unit gave him two separate notices that Poon Chee Seng needed to appear to perform a physical-fitness test. Poon Chee Seng acknowledged receiving these notices but did not show up for the test. Military authorities left four additional notices at Poon Chee Seng’s address. During this time, Poon Chee Seng interacted with local police and passport authorities, and none of those authorities told him that the army was searching for him. However, Poon Chee Seng never reached out to his reserve unit to check in or ask about his current obligations. The army charged Poon Chee Seng with desertion and held a court-martial. Poon Chee Seng claimed that (1) he had forgotten about the first two notices due to being busy at work, (2) he had never received the four notices at his address because he had moved, (3) he had not known when or where to report for his reserve duties, and (4) he had not known that anyone was looking for him or expected him to report anywhere. The court-martial judge found that there was reasonable doubt about whether Poon Chee Seng had intended to be absent from his military duties permanently and acquitted Poon Chee Seng. The army appealed to the Singapore Court of Military Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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