Disturbing court cases that seem to destroy personal lives more than upholding justice

By Calvin Ho

I have been observing our country’s recent upsurge of alleged corruption cases reported in our media. There is no escaping the eyes that there is simply an unusual and awful lot of media attention given to the many corruption trials recently and even those trials that are to come. It is highly recognizable that all the recent cases such as the Ng Boon Gay-CPIB case, the Peter Lim-SCDF case, and the upcoming Professor Tey-NUS case, are generating so much media attention not least because of the juiciness of the nature of these cases, which include civil servants and their sexual encounters that are so sensational.

What I am particularly disturbed and outraged by, is this – that our state’s law enforcement authorities has seemed to go way overboard in their eagerness to indict the accused even when they may not be immediately (or worse – ultimately) proven to be fundamentally guilty, and that our State Prosecutors have in recent cases shown to be trying to take the moral high ground.

In the CPIB case involving Mr Ng Boon Gay and Ms Cecilia Sue, it was already clear to the general public even before the closure of the trial, that this was just an unfortunate case of a man who has made some regrettable mistakes in his personal marriage life by being extra-maritally involved with an equally distressed woman named Cecilia. While their stories may not be glamorous, theirs was a genuine case of a human relationship issue and not a state issue of corruption which was over-zealously propagated by the State’s prosecution high on this agenda. The whole drama unfolded in this particular case was so disturbing that it actually turned me off. The entire merciless prosecutorial procedure in examining and exposing the sexual relationship and intimacies between this unfortunate and mismatched couple not only brought them immense personal shame and embarrassment (and that of their families), it just shows how socially unjust it is be asserting the intent of corruption way too close for comfort, and against the very true intent of the mismatched couple who were simply then entangled in an outside-marriage relationship in which they had regretted. This is a case of what I deem to be too presumptuous to be called a corruption case.

Today, we have the SCDF case now running in the courts involving SCDF’s ex-chief Peter Lim and another woman named Angie Pang Chor Mui – a case which looks starkly similar to the Ng Boon Gay-Cecilia Sue’s case. This is like a déjà vu. It is almost like a repeat of what we have seen just a few weeks ago. I am sure the State Prosecution will be too eager to want to prove the guilt of Peter Lim, but the general public is tired of seeing the State Prosecution trying too hard to indict somebody again when it is apparently a romantic-cum-sexual relationship issue and not a state corruption issue. This entire episode is going to destroy ordinary citizens’ lives more than upholding any form of criminal or social justice.

I cannot imagine seeing the same of Professor Tey’s sex-for-grade case (in which case I would not wish or have the time to comment for now)

Back to the Ng Boon Gay-Cecilia Sue case – I strongly feel the State owes them restitution for the tarnishing of their reputation, and the damage afflicted on their personal lives and their families.

I am personally disappointed and disheartened by the way our country administers justice here in these two recent cases. Shouldn’t we do more homework before we put innocent people to such painful trials? And if our law enforcers did make a mistake, shouldn’t they have the guts to make an apology and the necessary restitution? Shouldn’t we boldly uphold the tenet that the accused is truly ‘first innocent until proven guilty’, and not treat them the other way round as if they are like criminals already on the trial stand with the kind of harsh treatment meted out during pre-trial investigations and during the actual judiciary trial?

I really hope to see that our State’s Prosecution and Judges exercise more discretion and fair mercy in their approach to handling our criminal cases. We should uphold justice, yes, but should never be over-zealous to indict just because there is a slightest hint of wrongdoing which could be just an inconvenient truth of the imperfection of human behavior that does not amount to an intentional criminal act. The Ng Boon Gay’s case was a typical one showing personal wrongdoing in terms of breaking marriage boundaries (which is a personal area of responsibility and could still be forgiven on a humane level), but it certainly did not amount to an intention to criminally cheat an organization through corruption.