Below is the letter which was delivered to the Law Society of Singapore earlier today by several local lawyers. (Watch the video at the end of the letter.)
The Law Society of Singapore
39 South Bridge Road
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – OUR CALLING
We congratulate you on your appointment as our new President.
Today we mark the Human Rights Day along with Lawyers and Bar Associations around the world that affectionately include the Malaysian Bar Council.
We record with dismay that Human Rights Day is a non-event to our Law Society. We earnestly hope that along with the Law Society’s major events like the Dinner and Dance, and Bench Bar Games, Human Rights Day will find its way into our calendar in the coming years.
On this day, we call upon the Law Society of Singapore to stand firmly on our mission to uphold the Rule of Law in maintaining a strong and independent Bar as contained in our mission statement published on our website.
It has been twenty years since the Legal Profession Act was amended by the state to muzzle the Law Society from commenting on existing and proposed legislation, unless its views were expressly solicited. This oppressive legislation not only stifles the Law Society from making an active contribution to the law making process but also takes away our vital role as a vanguard of rights of the people. It is time that we broke this 20 year silence in speaking up for our rights to speak up.
Given our close affiliation to the Malaysian Bar Council, we would like to urge the Law Society to stand in solidarity in their courageous fight for the rule of law in Malaysia and in this spirit denounce the recent arrest of the lawyers.
We therefore mark this Human Rights Day in calling upon the Law Society of Singapore to :
1. Campaign for the repeal of the section in the Legal Profession Act which prevents the Law Society from speaking on existing or proposed legislation;
2. Look into ways to strengthen the Independence of the Judiciary especially at the Subordinate Courts;
3. Set up a sub-committee on human rights under the Law Society and conduct human rights training for lawyers;
4. Submit an annual report on human rights violations in Singapore to the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBA) and follow up on issues pertaining to the Rule of Law raised at the recent IBA 2007 Conference;
5. Establishment of a Judicial complaints mechanism in addressing complaints by lawyers and the public on any misbehaviour by Judges and Legal Officers from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
6. Urge the government to set up a National Human Rights Commission..
Chia Ti Lik
L.F. Violet Netto
*Picture from TODAY.