Passport of M’sian accused of gambling released

National 1 minute, 40 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A MALAYSIAN man who is facing a gambling related charge had his passport returned to him following a High Court ruling that the three-month extension for detaining travel document pending investigation could only be made once and not multiple times.

Domenic Chong Yin Lung is facing a charge of assembling and servicing seven gaming machines at an address in Lambak some time in February 2015. The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty and claimed trial over the charge which will be heard in January next year.

Prior to the charge, Domenic had surrendered his passport to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for six months, to which the chief magistrate, under the provision of the Prevention of Corruption Act, authorised two further detentions of the passport three months each, bringing the detention period at ACB to 12 months in total.

Defence counsel for Domenic, Hj Mohammad Rozaiman Dato Hj Abdul Rahman, applied for the release of Domenic’s passport as the last detention order made by the chief magistrate was wrong.

He argued that under the Prevention Corruption Act, passports of suspects who are investigated for corruption charges are only allowed to be detained for a maximum period of nine months.

During the appeal, the High Court judge Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong said that the section had clearly and unambiguously stated that the extension for three months can only be ordered once.

“The magistrate may authorise only one extension of three months for the detention of a travel document after the initial detention of six months, and not unlimited multiple detentions of three months,” said Justice Chong.

“There is nothing in the section which justifies construing the expression ‘a further three months’ to mean multiple detentions of three months,” said the High Court judge.

Justice Chong in his verdict ruled that the chief magistrate erred in law in authorising the last detention of three months and ordered for the magistrate’s order to be quashed and the defendant’s passport to be returned.

The Brunei Times