Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore's lawyers dress in their traditional black suits pulling formal leather briefcases looking all serious and hurrying in and out of Singapore courtrooms. You cannot be faulted if you believed that they were real lawyers. Sadly, except for their outward appearance, they are far from lawyers in the real sense. Truly, they are not in a position to further the interests of their client one bit, except with the agreement of Lee Kuan Yew and his complaint judges. They are helpless in furthering the law. They can go through the motions, but truly, the law is Lee unto himself, through the medium of his willing judge.
Any red blooded lawyer in this situation would have protested to high Heaven and demanded that the law should rule, not Lee Kuan Yew. But not in Singapore. In Singapore, the lawyers themselves are terrified of him and therefore their main purpose is to stay out of prison and earn a living, because to demand that the law be upheld would mean ruination in every sense of the word.
I had to remain in Singapore for 6 months, 2 of which I spent in prison for writing an article critical of one of his judges. During the rest of the time, I spent a great deal of time in court defending myself, where I met many lawyers going about their work.
One of the lawyers I met, whom I knew from the days I practiced in Singapore was G. Raman. The meeting with him was short. I asked him whether he was aware of the abuse of the legal system by Lee Kuan Yew and what was he doing about it. He answered me with a question. He asked me whether I wished that he should lose his house, meaning of course that if he challenged Lee Kuan Yew, he would be sued and would have to sell his house to pay him. And then he promptly left, wearing his black suit and tie and pulling a large bag with many files in it, looking very intelligent and wise.
Another lawyer I spoke to in court was Mangalam Amaladass. To the same question, he had nothing to say, and after that meeting he never spoke to me again when I met him.
If there is one profession that should be ashamed of themselves, it is the lawyers. It is they who have intimate knowledge of the law, the importance of the Constitution, and the need to uphold it. It is upon their shoulders that lie this burden by the very fact they are lawyers. And it is very sad to see their complete abdication of their duty to their calling.
Dr. Chee Soon Juan has to fight his cases himself because no Singapore lawyer is prepared to represent him. Chia Ti Lick, solicitor, is one lawyer who is prepared to do it, and we give him credit for it. But understandably he too is constrained from going the full extent of calling a rat a rat. He has to moderate his arguments, making sure that it will not invite the wrath of Lee Kuan Yew which would be the end of his career. So in effect, sadly, someone who is being persecuted by Lee Kuan Yew in his courts might feel it best to argue his own case, since there is no one; not a single lawyer who is prepared to say it as it should, come what may, because that is what the duty of a lawyer really is.
I understand the legal profession in Singapore is shrinking, which shows that many lawyers are unwilling to continue with this charade. Many are emigrating. New entrants to the profession are declining. We must applaud those who take this route. But it is those who stay behind and continue practicing without protest who must think of what they are doing. They must examine their conscience. Pretending to be lawyers, going around dressed in black suits and pulling bulky files in and out of courtrooms is not enough.
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