Singapore is well known for its harsh stance against drug traffickers, with drug trafficking carrying some of the most severe penalties available in law. This includes the mandatory death penalty where the weight of the drug exceeds a statutory threshold. The act of trafficking is also broadly defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1973 and can encompass a wide range of activities. In a series of authoritative decisions since 1994, this has also included the act of safekeeping drugs for another.

However, the Singapore Court of Appeal revisited this definition in the recent decision of Ramesh a/l Perumal v Public Prosecutor [2019] 1 SLR 1003, finding that the act of safekeeping drugs does not fall under the definition of “trafficking.” As this paper argues, this new definition is an attempt by the Court of Appeal to better delineate the varying roles and culpability of those involved in the drug trade, but will have future implications for drug prosecutions and enforcement.

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