Subramaniam v. Public Prosecutor
100 Solicitor’s Journal 566 (1956)

  • In Malaysia, Subramaniam was arrested for possession of ammunition.
    • At the time he was found, he had been wounded in a firefight with police and was wearing a bandolier full of bullets.
    • Subramaniam claimed he had been kidnapped by communists guerillas and was acting under duress.
  • At trial, the judge refused to admit the testimony of Subramaniam conversations with the terrorists on the grounds they were hearsay.
    • Subramaniam was unable to find any of the communists to testify in court.
  • The Malaysian Trial Court convicted Subramaniam.  He appealed.
  • The Malaysian Appellate Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that it was not hearsay when the object of the evidence was proposed to establish not the truth of the statement, but simply to show the statements effect on the hearer.
      • It is hearsay when the object of the evidence was to establish the truth of what was contained in the statement.
    • Basically, Subramaniam was not trying to show that the statements made by the communists were true or untrue, only that they made statements, that he believed them, and therefore he was acting under duress.
      • The evidence is only admissible to show Subramaniam’s state of mind.