Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yet another Singapore lawyer steals $68,000.00 from his client.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yet another Singapore lawyer steals his client's money. This time it is $68,000. The thief this time is lawyer David Khong, aged 42. Singapore really lives it to it's reputation of having the most dishonest bunch of lawyers in the world. For a legal profession in the tiny country of Singapore which only has 4.5 million people and a lawyer population of only 2,500 or so, you read with great regularity of lawyers running away with their client's money. This is tragic since the legal profession is supposed to be noble, and it is most extraordinary to see so many dishonest lawyers in a profession with so few members.

David Khong, the lawyer thief in this case, had absconded with the money after he got possession of it from a purchaser of a property in Singapore worth millions. This story appears in the Singapore state controlled newspaper the Straits Times online edition of May 27, 2009.

Only 4 days ago on May 24, 2008 in the post "Singapore can only hope to be a tourist destination. Nothing more" in this blog, I had written about another lawyer thief in Singapore Udayasurian Sidambaram who had stolen $100,000.00 of his client's money. For that he was suspended from practicing for a year.

The almost clockwork regularity and frequency with which Singapore lawyers are arrested for stealing their client's money is shocking. Almost every other day you read of lawyers running away with their clients money. It has almost become Singapore's signature conduct. Each time you deal with a Singapore lawyer, you get the jitters not knowing whether he too is a crook who will take off with your money.

This unusually large number of cheats in the Singapore legal profession which happens to have only 2500 lawyers in all has made it known throughout the world as a hub for dishonest lawyers. This can only adversely effect Singapore's business competitiveness and reputation. I have heard that foreign companies and individuals operating in Singapore are taking pains to try to avoid dealing with local lawyers for their peace of mind and increasingly they are moving to other more respected jurisdictions such as Sydney Australia or London to settle their disputes. Especially now with the deep recession affecting Singapore, the bad reputation of Singapore lawyers is further compounding the difficulties of this one party state.

You may want to ask yourself why? Why are there so many dishonest lawyers in that small island. I look at it this way. The administration itself has lost all respect. And when the country's rulers themselves are thoroughly unethical, not to mention downright corrupt, how do you expect the citizens to behave? Lee Kuan Yew, whom many refer to as the founder of modern Singapore is in fact the most corrupt human being in that small island. You would already know by now that he pays himself (or steals, which ever way you want to call it), $3.7 million a year. He has the audacity to call this a "salary". Not only that he pays this amount to each of his children, all his family members and everyone else whom he cares to be generous to. And not only that, it is generally believed that he steals even more, but as to how much we do not know. And if any citizen would dare to question him about it, he will use his judges to abuse the law and finish you off.

It is not only him. Every one in his government is, just like him thoroughly dishonest and corrupt.

And mind you, these are the "role models" in Singapore, corrupt crooks like him. So this would explain the great prevalence of dishonesty not only among lawyers but throughout the population. It is easy to know why. Surely, if the very men at the top can be so dishonest and not feel any guilt or responsibility at all, why should not the average man or the average lawyer have some part of the loot? Singaporeans no longer look up to the universal virtues of integrity, honesty and responsibility. These are no longer virtues in that island. What matters is money, no matter how dishonestly you find it. If it is good enough for Lee Kuan Yew the dictator of that one party state, surely it is good enough for others.

The other worrying trend is the increasing numbers of Indian lawyers who have become thieves. In the past they were not that many. Many had some sense of decency. But in the recent past, Indians have joined the other races in having as many dishonest lawyers in them. I guess Lee Kuan Yew's dishonesty rubs off on them crossing racial boundaries.

Singapore now is undoubtedly, to use Singapore's favorite term, a "hub" for dishonest lawyers.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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Anonymous said...

indeed, i feel sad that the first reaction that my friend received when he said he's gng to law faculty was "oh are you going to run away with money too". it really really is a very serious thing. although there have been statements from the govt that they will increase the number of law school students, this is not enough. too many facets of a society needs lawyers, especially for pro bono work that involves helping out the lower levels of society where they are often deprived of legal aid and advice.

legal knowledge by the public is not encouraged here. i love the example of citing "look at NUS. where are the majority of the faculties. where are the law and public policy faculties. these are faculties that are so "sensitive" to our government." i know it's a slightly far fetched idea, but im uncomfortable with the idea that it is these two facs that are in the bukit timah campus, almost "cut off" from the mainstream faculties. it seems to discourage communication and exchange with the mainstream and inculcate a sense of "elitism" within students who study law or public policy.

Anonymous said...

According to both the Straits Times Online article and the one in The Business Times (, this incident happened back in August of 2007. This is not breaking news; Singapore has been a "hub" of ocrrupt lawyers for quite a while now.

Anonymous said...

I read about Singapore's dishonest lawyers from the book, Escape From Paradise. (

The legal profession in Singapore is indeed colorful.

Francis T. Seow, former Solicitor General of Singapore, commented “This book out-Dallas, Dallas. No one has written so well of the other side of paradise, ”

Well, there is no smoke without fire. The few that dare to publish about the Singapore Justice system, deserved to be heard.