Beyond all reasonable Doubt

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In a recent lawsuit which sees a woman trying to claim maintenance fees for a man she was trying to have an affair with, the court has proven remarkably lax with their adherence to the legal requirement - proving beyond all reasonable doubt. (An article regarding this can be found here)

There are two ways to prove that the man who had sex with the woman was truly the father. The first is to ascertain that he was the ONLY man to have sex with her during that period of time. This remains disputed as no one knows for sure whether this woman did not have any other partners at that time. What it has been left to is a classic case of your word versus mine, something quite inconclusive and not too judicial to rely on.

The other way to find out the facts would be to conduct a DNA test on the accused. The only problem here is that he has refused, for unknown reasons. Under current laws, a judge cannot compel anyone to take a DNA test; nor is the judge supposed to make an unfavourable inference against someone for choosing not to.

Despite the lack of evidence however, Justice Lee still ruled against the man, ordering him to pay a yet-to-be-determined sum in maintanance fee. While his reasons for this judgement were not explicit, his remark that the man would have been caught out lying if he had taken the stand seems to imply that his judgement was made on this man's refusal to take the stand, and his subsequent deduction that he dared not take the stand out of guilt, thus concluding that he was guilty.

While I certainly am not in favour of irresponsible adulterers, I wonder how fair this really is. Should a person's refusal to take the stand, maybe because of some other plausible reason, be deemed guilty immediately? And even if this person did take the stand and give his testimony, (which he actually did do indirectly in his affidavit) should he still be deemed guilty because of his refusal to take the DNA test. In the interests of punishing and deterring such offenders, I would say yes, since it would be better to catch 10 good guys then to let 1 criminal go. However, is this crime control model the way to go, or should Singapore uphold the principles of due process, rather allowing 10 criminals to go then punish 1 good guy.

In general, Singapore has followed the former model of crime control. Maybe it should consider shifting towards the other model given that our society is becoming more modern.