Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a recent article by Law.com
it is reported that Singapore, an international city state replete with banks and businesses in glass skyscrapers, only has 3,846 practicing lawyers, a number totally inadequate.
Remember Singapore population is 5 million! What is even more alarming is the fact that out of this minute number, only 458 lawyers have seven to 12 years of experience.
In fact lawyers in this class were more in 2005 when there were 801. These figures were provided by Singapore Law Society to Law.com.
Another alarming fact is this, the numbers leaving exceed those joining the profession. In the last year 283 lawyers retired from the profession while only 220 young graduates took their places!
The article goes on to state that law firms in Singapore continue to suffer the perennial problem of practitioners leaving the profession, and their employers thinking it is because of the stresses of the job, are providing all sorts of perks to help them stay.
If the Singapore law firms thought that this was the reason, either they have their brains not in their heads but in their backsides or they are in denial from facing the truth.
All over the world lawyers work long hours under a great deal of stress but they are happy to do it.
It is an interesting job, an honorable profession and long hours and hard work is willingly accepted. I personally work more than 10 hours a day under very difficult circumstances, but you know what, I would rather do this than anything else in the world.
In no other country in the free world do you find a situation such as this. In the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, there are far too many lawyers, and year by year more and more young aspirants join the profession.
Competition is stiff and standards continue to rise. In California for instance, only about 30% of students pass the California Bar, causing some to take it several times before they ever make it. Some never pass the Bar at all.
The law is such an attractive profession so much so that the California Bar in order to restrict the number of new entrants, the Bar exams are made so difficult that it has reached a point that it cannot be made any harder than what it is. This tells you how much students here love the law.
In Singapore on the other hand, students are trying their best to stay away far as they can from it as possible. Standards in Singapore have become so low that they are scraping the barrel for almost incompetents to become lawyers.
Singapore’s lawyer shortage is not because of long work hours as any lawyer will tell you that. It is because the profession has been disgraced and discredited.
What did Lee Kuan Yew think in the 1980s when he systematically and continuously abused the law through corrupt judges like the late Lai Kew Chai to repeatedly sue and bankrupt the late JB Jeyaretnam?
Did he not realize that people will lose respect in the law when he does this? What did he think when he repeatedly misused the law to launch defamation actions against Chee Soon Juan to destroy him because he was his political enemy?
Did he not realize that the rule of law would be compromised and it would be seen as Lee's personal weapon to silence his critics?
What did he think in 1988 when he ordered his Singapore Law Society to commence disciplinary proceedings against me, Gopalan Nair, merely because I wrote a letter to his Attorney General asking questions?
Over decades, Singapore law has lost all respect and has been roundly condemned by the recent International Bar Association’s report that it is nothing more than a weapon that Lee Kuan Yew brandishes against his opponents to remain in power.
I can tell you that in the 1960s and 1970s there were more lawyers than there are now, with its present 5 million population. When Lee began misusing the law against JB Jeyaretnam, about a quarter of the profession resigned in disgust and left mainly for Australia.
When he hounded me and suspended me from practicing law there for 2 years just for writing a letter demanding an explanation from his Attorney General, another quarter of the profession resigned.
When he began a series of trumped up law suits against Chee Soon Juan his political critic another quarter of the profession left. When he used the law against Tang Liang Hong just before the 1997 general elections for fair and honest criticism, and sent him into exile and bankrupt, another quarter of the profession left in disgust.
Very soon, they would be proceeding against me once more on July 25, 2011 in the High Court in Singapore because I criticized his judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean. When they do this another quarter would leave the profession.
And the bare remnants of the remaining are what we have today, bare 3,000 or so lawyers which are going to decline even further.
And the lawyers who remain appear as a bunch of people who don't care too much for conviction or principle, since who with any self respect would want to be even remotely associated with a disgraced Singapore profession such as this. It is as if getting a position in the Burmese Bar overseen by the military dictators.
Yes, I am going to continue to provoke them to retaliate against me with the law as much as I can. And when they do it, their profession will be disgraced even further.
Is there any hope of rehabilitating the Singapore legal profession? I think not. Once you have lost your respect, I think it is impossible to recover.
Attorney at Law
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
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