“Scandalising the Judiciary”

by Judy Tan

I read with regret, the convictions of civil rights activist Jolovan Wham and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s John Tan over their comments on the State of the Judiciary here. This would not have occurred in other comparable Developed Nations and it is either you’re a First World Country or not, there are no two ways about it or “special” circumstances that require curtailing and frequent amendment of the Constitution to curb civil rights and freedom of speech to point out what is morally wrong in the system!

Are our Judges so incompetent or weak that we need to enact laws to “protect” them as if their judgements are unable to withstand the test or hold weight to scrutiny? Least we forget that the Judiciary as an UNELECTED institution, is potent enough to take away people’s liberties, impose moratorium fines on them or even both remove and interfere with elected politicians and their affairs. The WP MPs are about to have a taste of this soon.

The fact we are an “international arbitration” centre as so often touted by our Law Minister is not because we are really fantastic or have a sound legal system but that no one could ever criticise the judgement, no matter how unfair or unjust it is without risking contempt laws! European nations who arbitrate here are nothing more than hypocrites who criticise dictatorships while wanting favourable legal outcomes through these same authoritarian regimes which protect their interests. I remembered not too long ago that an AG across the Causeway mentioned that Singapore does not have a Constitution.

Lastly, I find it weird and oxymoronic for the same Institution to both try and judge cases involving themselves. It is like, “I wish to complain about you, to you”! How objective can even the most “honest” judge be when deciding cases involving himself or his colleagues? What are the recourse people have if they are wrongly charged by trigger-happy prosecutors or when a wrong decision is made on a particular case?

Moving forward, we have to decide wisely what is at stake during the next polls as our Founding Fathers are no longer around to guide and steer us through tough times ahead and we are already witnessing the multitude of problems and breaches that happened in the short span since the last elections. As it is near impossible to “reform” the other State Organs, we will do well to vote some governing PAP MPs out to ensure proper Checks and Balances and only the most deserving candidates are appointed to lead the various Public Offices in a non-partisan manner before it becomes a situation like Malaysia where all sources of power traces back to one.