Newspaper cutting of Singapore Attorney General’s past making its round within legal fraternity

Newspaper cutting of Singapore Attorney General’s past making its round within legal fraternity

A viral message with a newspaper cutting from 1986 that has the Singapore Attorney General (AG) as its key figure, is making its round within the legal fraternity.

The article which on the front page of Straits Times’ newspaper on 25 Oct 1986 — entitled, “Report made against lawyer for alleged removal of legal files” — writes that a woman was caught by her colleagues in a nearby parking lot on around 10pm on Wednesday (22 Oct 1986).

The law firm was identified as being located in Battery Road.

The report went on to say that the Superintendent at the time, Lim Soo Gee had confirmed that the incident happened. The woman had apparently been found with the files in the car park in the company of another lawyer. The male lawyer had apparently resigned from his previous firm after a heated exchange with a partner.

ST sources said that the files contained legal precedents, a valuable tool for lawyers in arguing their cases.

The report went on to say that both lawyers, who were in their 30s and specialists of corporate law, had been planning to join another firm just a few months down the line.

The male lawyer was described as being a top law student during his time at the National University of Singapore.

Checks with seasoned lawyers, revealed that the law firm mentioned in this news report, is Shook Lin & Bok.

As for the female lawyer, TOC understands that she is Ms Christina Ong who was then employed with the law firm and for the male lawyer, Mr Lucien Wong who was with Drew & Naiper and currently the Attorney General and former personal lawyer for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Wong was the top graduate of his cohort in 1978 which fits the description of the male lawyer in the ST report.

The news report also mentioned sources saying that the woman ‘broke down’ after she was discovered and that more files were found in the trunk of the man’s car.

TOC understands that the colleagues who caught the female partner red handed in the car park was Phillip Pillai—who was a High Court judge—Wong Meng Meng and Tan Jin Hwee, who happened to be on their way back to the office after having dinner.

While the ST report noted that the police superintendent said investigations were ongoing, however as TOC understands, the case was stood down after AGC decided not to pursue the matter. A complaint was also made to the Law Society but it was never resolved publicly.

Ms Ong and Mr Wong both went on to join Alen & Glenhill in 1987 as partners of the law firm.

Controversy arose after Mr Wong was sworn in as AG on 16 January 2017. While Mr Wong’s predecessor V K Rajah SC — who was appointed Attorney-General on 25 Jun 2014 — ended his service as the Attorney-General on 14 Jan 2017 upon reaching the retirement age of 60 years, Mr Wong was 63 years old at the time of his appointment for the first term of his tenure. Mr Wong was renewed as AG at the age of 67 years old in 2020, and he will be 70 at the end of his second term as the Attorney-General.

Other than his age, another controversy that arose for Mr Wong’s appointment as AG was when it was revealed that he was the Prime Minister’s personal lawyer handling the issue of the 38 Oxley Road property.

It must be noted that the act of wrongfully removing legal documents from a firm is a criminal offence and it would also be grounds for disbarment as a lawyer for Mr Wong, making it impossible for him to be where he is today as AG, beyond the age of the retirement.

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