Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam (Shanmugam) recently said at the Minister’s Awards Presentation Ceremony, that there have been increasing attempts to delegitimise enforcement agencies, adding that the police and other agencies would not be intimidated by such moves.
This statement struck a chord and highlights the degree of entitlement that those in power may hold. The Attorney’s General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) came under intense public pressure of late. Most notably, the controversial Parti Liyani (Parti) case shone a spotlight on a catalogue of errors that the SPF had made. It also raised questions on why the AGC decided to charge Parti in the first place.
While Shanmugam has now said in Parliament that the SPF did not err in charging Parti, it is important to remember that his conclusion is based on internal closed door investigations which were not subject to robust third party scrutiny.
As the public are unaware of how the the investigations were conducted or what formed the basis of the investigation, we have no basis (apart from Shanmugam’s judgement) that the results of the investigation are correct. While I am not suggesting that Shanmugam is necessarily wrong, it is also true that what he has said is not independently verifiable by the public.
Given that this is a matter that has involved multiple state funded functions, is the unverifiable word of Shanmugam sufficient? I leave this for the public to decide.
The Minister appears concerned about the delegitimising of state agencies. However, by not opening up the Parti case to an independent Committee of Inquiry (COI), he may well be the one contributing to the delegitimisation. After all, isn’t it only with a public COI coming to the conclusion that neither the AGC not SPF have erred that these agencies regain credibility?
Besides, it would appear that the Parti case is not a isolated one. What about Gobi Avedian (Gobi) and the case of Portela Vilma Jimenez (Jimenez)? It is imperative to remember that in both these cases, the higher courts came to the conclusion that the Prosecution did not discharge the requisite burden of proof and In Gobi’s case, he would have lost his life if human rights lawyer, M Ravi did not mount a successful appeal.
For any public institution to be deemed legitimate and credible, it has to be able to withstand public scrutiny. They are after all funded by the people to serve the people. If they do not serve the people, then, they should be delegitimised!
Calling out mistakes made by public institutions is not intimidation. Who is intimidating who here?