Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Singapore Lee Kuan Yew's flawed legal profession struggles with diminishing numbers

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.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: nair.gopalan@yahoo.com
Blog: http://singaporedissident.blogspot.com/

Your letters are welcome. We reserve the right to publish your letters. Please Email your letters to nair.gopalan@yahoo.com And if you like what I write, please tell your friends. You will be helping democracy by distributing this widely. This blog not only gives information, it dispels government propaganda put out by this dictatorial regime.


Anonymous said...

Between a rock and a hard place.

As a global financial centre, Singapore needs many more lawyers.

But, Lee Kuan Yew knows that local lawyers could challenge him and how he and his family have usurped the Peoples rights.

So, he needs to keep the numbers of lawyers down.

In the 1990s, there was a policy to reduce the intake of Indian students into the law faculty at NUS, as lawyers from this ethnic group were considered to be potential troublemakers most likely to challenge LKY's dictatorial rule.

LKY knows that Ghandhi was a lawyer, and he had not intention of falling victim to a lawyer like JBJ.

And, Singapore's Ghandhi wannabees like Gopalan Nair have constantly been a thorn in LKY's arse.

Anonymous said...

In the State of Victoria, Australia with a population of about 5 million, there are 16,469 registered legal practitioners.

See statistics which is no secret unlike Singapore where every bit of data is within the ambit of the Official Secrets Act.


Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous July 13, 0422,
Beside the fact that you misspelt "Gandhi", I take umbrage to your suggesting that I am a Gandhi wannabe. Had I been Lee Kuan Yew, I would have sued you for every penny you got, but since I am not, I will let you go this time. And what is more I will publish your very defamatory comment. Don't ever forget, you are in Disneyland.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous July 13, 0456,
Thank you for the information on state of Victoria but this fact magnifies how bad the lawyer shortage in Singapore is. Victoria in fact is a large state with large rural areas and some small cities much smaller than Singapore. Although such a place would not need as many lawyers, it still has, as you mention 16,469 lawyers.

Singapore should be in fact be compared to a similar place like London, New York or Los Angeles, since they are crowded cities concentrating on business and industry. I have not checked but London perhaphs has a 200,000 lawyers and the other cities similar numbers.

Singpaore has on the other hand a mere 3,846, for a city state of 5 million, a so called global city!

Very very very bad indeed. They simply cannot function.

Gopalan Nair said...

To the vile miscreant who had the audacity to call me a Gandhi wannbe, other than reminding him once again that he is in Disneyland, let me say that this battle with the octogenerain, Lee Kuan Yew, is what is called a battle of attrition. The idea is to provoke him to act, and when he does act because he wants to follow the Chinese practice of "killing the chicken to frighten the monkeys", use it to my advantage.

So he puts out headlines in his state controlled press each time he suspends me from practice, jails me or does something else similarly silly.

These punishments, beside achieving the desired effect of frightening all the monkeys (in this case Singapore lawyers), it also has the effect of chasing away anyone who has the means to leave the profession and leave the repression, and the country entirely.

So this is what I, JBJ and many others who have been punished by Lee Kuan Yew have been achieving here. Lee's misuse of the law, simply discredits the profession and forces mass resignations from it's ranks.

I am one reason why Singapore legal profession has no more than 3,846 lawyers, whose numbers continue to decline.

I am looking forward to disbarment from practicing law in Singapore on July 29, 2011 in the Singapore High Court. When that happens, I will once again go to town with this fact and how unjust it is. This I hope would further reduce the lawyer numbers in Singapore.

That my friends is the plan. It has been working so far.

Gopalan Nair said...

Sorry, the date above should read July 25, 2011.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nr Nair,

Wow. That is how you draw out the real Lee Kuan Yew the dictator. Get him to show off what he can do outside acceptable laws.

Whereas legal monkeys are scared by this same power, you are creating evidence of abuses of this absolute power. Salute!

This reminds me of China's feeble attempts at silencing critics. The more they censor the news, the more we believe the news. (Eg the past president's Jiang Zemin's death) And someone is able to produce a photo of an ambulance & nurse on standby while he is/was trying to show that he is well, earlier this year.