Motive is the reason why a person does a particular act. It is not the same thing as intention. As stated by Lord Goddard CJ in R v. Steane; the motive of a man act and his intention in doing the act are, in law, different things. Edgar Joseph Jr SCJ in Lower Perak case stated that ''intention means seeking to do something and Is connected to purpose or object whereas motive is concerned with the reason for doing something''. 

Illustration (a) Section 8 made clear in decide the relevancy of motive. Evidence to show motive is admissible to suggest that the accused is of bad character or that he has committed some crime other than the one with which he is charged. Such evidence is admissible under this section notwithstanding the provisions of Section 54 of the act. Section 54 Evidence Act 1950 provided the previous bad character not relevant except in reply. In criminal proceedings the facts that the accused person has a bad character is irrelevant, unless evidence has been given that he has a good character, in which case its becomes relevant. 

In Wong Foh Hin v. PP, Wylie CJ stated that Evidence was admitted of an incident in May, 3 month before the daughter’s death. This was to the effect that the wife had previously complained to the Orang Tua that the appellant had interfered with the daughter and that the matter had been disposed of by the Orang Tua stating that, if this occurred again, the matter would be reported to the police. The appellant, the wife and the Orang Tua signed a document which was produced in evidence, recording, inter alia, the allegation and the warning about reporting to the police if this occurred again. The grounds of appeal concern solely the question whether the evidence of the incident in May, and the evidence suggesting a similar incident just before the daughter’s disappearance, were properly admitted. For the appellant , it was submitted that these pieces of evidence, suggesting, as they did, an incestuous relationship between the appellant and his daughter, amounted to evidence of bad character which, in the circumstances of the case, was inadmissible.

The part, however, does not in any way limit the generality of the first part, that evidence otherwise admissible is not rendered inadmissible merely because it tends to show bad character or the commission of another offense. The evidence objected to is clearly the strongest possible evidence of motive. This applies to the evidence of both incidents. For the evidence concerning the interview with the Orang Tua on the first occasion shows how strong the motive must have been when the wife went off in the night time on the second occasion. It showed that the applicant was likely to be very concerned that this time there would be a police investigation and the daughter would be the most important person the police would interview and the most dangerous from his point of view.

Although counsel for the appellant referred the court to English authorities, the position is the same under the Evidence Ordinance (Cap 43) and the evidence objected to is clearly admissible under Section 8 of that Ordinance which reads as follows. Section 54 deals with evidence of the character in these terms “ in criminal proceedings the fact that the accused person has a bad character is irrelevant, unless evidence has been given that he has a good character, in which case it becomes relevant”.

Prepared By: THAN CHONG SENG (JOHNSON)   A122879

12/13/2012 04:57:59 pm

In my opinion, motive should be very helpful in assessing the probability of accused being involved in the commission of crime. Same goes to the civil matter as motive could be inferred from any conduct or correspondence happened between the disputing parties. Motive doubtless might be to some extent linked with the idea of bad character. However, we could not deny the implied significance derived from the existence of motive. Inference on who is the actual offender could be made as any act done would definitely not run away from the element of motive. Offender would not commit crime without motive unless they are not reasonable man that incapable to evaluate their own conduct. Even though intention is different from intention, somehow I opined that they should belong to same kind of genus. I agreed that motive means for reasoning and intention is a state of mind connected with certain act done. However, those are just intimately related and they are indeed an effective tool applicable for identifying the actual actual offender or even might be relied as either mitigating or aggravating factor at the end of trial.


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law of evidence