New amendments meaningless if fundamentals are not steered in the “right direction”

By WL Sum

I refer to the ongoing discourses about the “New Bill to provide clarity on what constitutes contempt of court” that was tabled in Parliament by Senior Minister of State for Law, Indranee Rajah earlier this month.

I find subsequent and any new amendments or introductions that so-call ‘protects’ the “public interest” both absurd and meaningless if the fundamentals of the country are not steered in the “right direction” which has seen many ridiculous happenings at the law enforcement agencies. Such as the cowardice of police during the little India riots, wastage of manpower needed to nab the notorious Jover Chew and not forgetting, the recent murders of Mohamad Daniel and Shawn Rodrigues as well as robbery at Standard Chartered and the successful escape! Things are only set to get worse with the absence of Lee Kuan Yew.

If the Law Ministry is really serious about “protecting” the fast eroding “high levels of trust” in Singapore’s Legal System and the “right to a fair trial”, it should first and foremost, immediately suspend Clause 9 in the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016, which would see a change to Section 29(4) of the Government Proceedings Act (GPA) that questionably seems to absolve the PAP government from any wrongdoing using taxpayer dollars to deter proceedings by having the plaintiff to pay for more, should more than two lawyers are being engaged by the government.

If K. Shanmugam is really serious as claimed on the “right to a fair trial” then he should perhaps start looking at abolishing Clause 9 which unfairly pits citizens against a People’s Action Party (PAP) government which utilizes State Funds!

Secondly, the Law Ministry should give due consideration to a proposal made on 16 Jul 2007 by MP Sylvia Lim from Workers’ Party, on the urgent need for “Security of Tenure” of the Judicial Commissioners and State Court Judges as they are not seen to be impartial when it comes to cases involving the PAP government, opposition members as well as social activists.

One fine example is the abrupt removal of Presiding Judge Michael Khoo who acquitted The Late J. B. Jeyaretnam in January 1981 that was never clearly explained and went down in our history as “A Black Day for Singapore Justice”.

The same goes for Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh who struck out a lawsuit against MINDEF by an extremely aggrieved mother seeking justice for her late son on the glaring lapses.

Are these the ideals of “meritocracy” and “fairness” that have often been touted but not demonstrated that we should continue supporting it?

Otherwise, it is about time we initiate a ground-up campaign for the office of an elected ombudsman be created in order to truly protect public interest and uphold incorruptibility in both our political and legal systems.

The Parliament which is the highest body in the country made up of our representatives, has been unable to effectively check on both the Judiciary and Executive should they falter and their feedback goes into the black hole described by REACH Chairman Amy Khor, never to be seen or heard again. The present system is crumbling after the demise of Lee Kuan Yew and a new one is required to take Singapore forward!

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