Sunday, August 31, 2014

Singapore legal system's weird sense of moral character. Former thug gangster and violent criminal lauded and admitted to the Bar.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us say Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore is a weird place. Chewing gum is banned. And now this. According to the state controlled newspaper Straits Times of August 25, 2014, titled "New lawyer Darren Tan once spent 10 years in jail" the report talks of a former gangster, thug, drug addict and serial robber, Tan, aged 35, who was sent to jail of 10 years being admitted to the Singapore Bar as a lawyer, with great fanfare, placed on a pedestal, treated like a hero with flowing accolades and welcomed as the new breed of Singapore lawyers. See article here

I am not sure what the logic is in admitting a known criminal, with a clear defect of character, a thug and serial robber and drug addict  as a lawyer.

In every other jurisdiction, including all the sates in the US as well as England, Australia, Canada and anywhere else in the world, a requirement to be admitted to the Bar is good moral character.

And someone with any criminal record would find it very hard, if ever, to be licensed as a lawyer anytime, let alone someone with a criminal record as long as this, a drug addict and someone who has very recently spent 10 years in jail!

In fact reading this article, it is as if they are encouraging Singapore's would be lawyers, to first start out their careers as drug addicts and serial criminals before embarking on a law degree as this would strangely in Singapore, advantage them, treated as a heroes, given choice jobs before others who did not have the opportunity to be criminals first! 

In fact his criminal past is reported as if he had accomplished heroic deeds! The report says of this new legal hero "It was a far cry from his shaky start in life when drugs and gang activities led to over 10 years behind bars and 19 strokes of the cane"

It seems our hero lawyer's criminal life started early. "His life of crime began at the age of 14, and he was in and out of prison for offences that included robbery and drug trafficking"

It seems sometime along his life, which is just 10 years ago, it appears he found God. "It was only when he was 25 and behind bars for the third time that his transformation took place. He found God, and decided to make something of himself."

A lot more is said about him, his life, and his accomplishments as if we were reading the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Not only that, I suppose, because of the fact that he was an accomplished criminal, by some weird reasoning, one of the best law firms has hired him with a very generous salary and a promise of permanent employment!

You know this sort of thing only happens in Singapore or Alice in Wonderland. You have criminals who are not only admitted to the Bar but also with great fanfare, flowing accolades and publicity and treated as heroes.

At the same time you have judges who double as PAP (Lee Kuan Yeew government party) politicians and send opposition critics to jail and bankrupt them through libel and slander lawsuits in the Kangaroo Courts.

And just having done that, the state controlled press reports that they have the best legal system in the world! And while claiming that, they disbar the best known and best respected lawyer in Singapore, the later JB Jeyaretnam,  calling him a thug and criminal and unworthy of practicing law all because he was a political opponent and critic of Lee and his son.

In my case, they disbarred me for correctly describing Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for having prostituted herself for abusing her judicial authority by ordering opposition politician Chee Soon Juan to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to Lee Kuan Yew and his son, my statement being entirely true on the facts in her court.

I suppose had JB Jeyaretnam or I were serial criminals, drug addicts and gangsters and had gone to jail for 10 years, we would not only still be lawyers in Lee's Singapore, we would be treated as heroes like Tan. It seems it is far more damaging to your career if you oppose the Lee Kuan Yew regime; while you are very welcome to going around smoking anything you want and committing as many robberies as you want!

Thanks to the Singapore government repeatedly and regularly abusing the legal system and making a mockery of it, the courts today stand totally discredited and only a pathetic loser would want to join the legal profession of Lee's Singapore or even have any part in it.

Let me tell you that Daren Tan would have no hope at all in ever practicing law in a jurisdiction such as California or the United Kingdom, Australia or in any other respectable jurisdiction. A requirement for admission is good moral character. Darren Tan is clearly not a person of good moral character especially since his series of crimes and jail sentence was over just as recent as 10 years ago and very very serious.

The question for admission to the legal profession in respectable jurisdictions is whether the applicant is a person of good moral character. A person who commits crimes as serious and as numerous as these, is per se not such a person.

He clearly had total disregard of the law when he embarked not on one crime but a life of crime. What was he thinking when he joined gangs, became a heroin addict and committing a series of daylight robberies? The question is, can we trust such a person to the public at large. Can we assume that he will respect the law and will not be a danger to the public.

In a jurisdiction such as England or California, Darren Tan will never be admitted to the Bar, not now or ever. His crimes are too numerous and too long. In cases where the offenses were minor and a great deal of time has elapsed, and there is clear evidence of rehabilitation, there may be a slim possibility of redemption; except in Lee Kuan Yew's unique Singapore where he not only becomes a lawyer, he also becomes a hero.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Anonymous said...

Three top Chinese universities have vowed to tighten "ideological" control over students and teachers, as a wider clampdown on free expression in the country intensifies.

The statement from Peking University condemned those with "ulterior motives" who target the ruling party.

With the huge influx of PRC FTs into Singapore who are then granted citizenship and the right to vote Singapore will become an even more repressive place.

Anonymous said...

The Darren Tan (whats with the Anglo name?) story is a travesty. But then again Singapore has dubious standards to be admitted as a lawyer. I wonder if his name had been Ahmed or Muthu or Eurasian-John the Singapore Bar would have been as generous.

This is what happens in California when someone with a white-collar criminal past tries to be admitted to the Bar. Drug trafficking, gang membership - don't even bother to apply.

Disgraced ex-journalist Stephen Glass loses bid to be California lawyer

The Supreme Court sided with the State Bar, which opposed his fitness to be a lawyer in California by arguing that he does not meet the "moral character" standards required of lawyers.

Anonymous said...

It's because he's Chinese. Imagine if he was Malay or Indian? It's all about race in Singapore.

Linda Kosmanto said...

Clearly, this guy has been awarded a favour, and favours usually have to be repaid. It's in Singapore's interest to have lawyers who might not be averse to divulging what is otherwise privileged client information to the authorities.

Anonymous said...

Another lawyer Subas Adanan who was a chief of gangster, also became a PAP lawyer.