Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recently there was the highly publicised theft of large sums of money from the charity National Kidney Foundation by TT Durai, its President. He has been tried, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Just a few days ago, a person in charge of the monies in another charity, the St. John Home ran away with Singapore dollars 3.88 million. Last year a lawyer David Rasif made off with millions of dollars belonging to his client. The legal profession of Singapore has one of the highest rates of theft and embezzlement of client's funds in the world so much so that clients are now afraid to allow their moneys to remain with their lawyers until their transactions are complete for fear that the lawyer might make off with it.
I have heard from some sources that the legal profession in Singapore may in fact hold a world record for the largest number of dishonest lawyers. This is not surprising if you see the figures. The legal profession in Singapore comprises no more than 3,500 or so lawyers. Of these, on average, each year, as many as a hundred are caught with stealing their clients' money.
In Singapore, the phrase, an "honest lawyer", has turned out to be an oxymoron!
I do not know how far this is true, but there appears to be even a friendly bet that goes among the lawyers as to who among them will run away with his clients money next!
The dishonesty is not only in the legal profession. Accountants cheat their clients. Doctors cheat their patients. Everyone is cheating everyone else. Singapore appears to have lost it's soul. The only thing that matters appears to be money. In Lee Kuan Yew's style of mentioning that Singapore is a transport "hub", a biotechnology "hub", a medical technology "hub"; has it now turned into a "criminal breach of trust hub"?
I think part of the reason is this. It is Lee Kuan Yew himself. He is the problem. As you are aware, when he decided to illegally enrich himself and his PAP ministers and civil servants by raising their salaries to world record levels of several million US dollars a year, the reason he gave for such criminality was that he had to do it, because, if they were not paid such unconscionable amounts, they would become corrupt. Therefore, listen to this, he says that in order to stop them from being corrupted like other Asian and African third world corrupt politicians, he has to pay them, or rather, bribe them with millions.
So his admission is that he is inherently corrupt, and so are his PAP Ministers and Civil Servants. Therefore in order to stop them in their naturally corrupt inclination, he has to bribe them (or pay them salaries) with several millions of dollars each year of public funds!
Now if the leaders of Singapore themselves admit that they are corrupt or likely to be, if not paid millions, then what incentive is there for the rest of the citizens to live decent honest lives? Anybody can naturally ask why should they be honest in their dealings when the Minister Mentor and his son and the entire cabinet have admitted that if they are not paid sufficiently, they will turn to corruption and theft. If you have thieves as Minister Mentors and Prime Ministers, why should others be required to be honest?
So that is why in Singapore, lawyers run away with their client's money, why real estate dealers cheat their clients, why all kinds of businessmen cheat their customers.
And that is why the legal profession in Singapore has the highest number of thieves and embezzlers compared to any other country their size.
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