Did the law minister overreact?

April 29, 2017

Many people have asked me this question. As recently a law professor from the LKY school accused the law minister of pandering to populism and mob rule when it comes to sentencing.

The perceptive reader would have picked up on the word ‘accused.’ As that is an accurate description when words along with meaning not intended are imputed by another.

In my opinion the law professor is so bloody koyak and half past six (incompetent). He doesn’t even seem to demonstrate the presence of mind to appreciate the elementary level legal aphorism – justice needs to not only be done….it needs to be seen to done in the eyes of the public.

What does buttressing this time honoured legal maxim have to do with populism and mob rule?

How is it possible for one with the benefit of ‘superior’ legal training to even make such an incredulous perceptive leap that goes off the tangent in so many different directions to the extent of putting words in the mouth of the law minister….to me it’s bloody inexcusable at this level of the game.

I nearly fell off the chair on King Kong when I read what the professor of law had to share….I never once imagined that any nonsense could possibly make its way into the public domain with such callousness and what I can only describe as willful neglect to jurisprudential underpinnings. As it is very clear to me that not only did the academic fail to delieanate the limits of the legal maxim and confine his arguments within the legal framework of what is generally meant by – justice needs to be not only done…it needs to be seen to be done.

But he even glossed over this legal maxim by a literal interpretation of what ‘justice needs to be seen to done’ meant….and that is not acceptable.

Should one be happy natured and forgiving that mistake may perhaps be considered an oversight by a law undergraduate. But for a professor of law to take that mainstay aphorism beyond case law and the doctrine of precedent is really tantamount to gross dereliction of professional duty of care to the law itself.

It’s like another farmer arguing with me that a spade is something other than a spade!

Inexcusable mistake!

As while reasonable allowances can certainly be provisioned for contextual mistakes. In this particular instance the case law on this subject is so exhaustive and well documented that it leaves no room whatsoever for tangential interpretation on what is actually meant…it’s remit along with spirit of intendment is so well documented in case law – justice must not only be done…it must also be seen to be done.

All the law professor did was to confuse the public no end. At a time when the lay public such as myself was even considering a criminal career in Singapore because of the spate of super duper discounted ultra low sentences.

So given that such a fundamental flaw was even broadcasted by a professor of law into the public domain – I really don’t see how the law minister could have reasonably held back on a robust rebuttal without possibly causing further confusion to fester in the public domain…..let us all be reasonable.

People who want to debate should first do their home work otherwise they should be prepared to roll with the punches….I don’t really see anything wrong with issuing a correction especially in a case that is so clear cut and straightforward as this.

After all justice must not only be done…it must also be seen to be done as well.


‘Gentlemen I want you all to pay special and close attention to how the law minister dressed down that half baked derelict of an academic…he mentioned, you do no credit to yourself and the institution that you belong too….this is a double repartee…first to the deficit of his professionalism and secondly by invoking the power and politics of the institution that the rank is supposed to represent….in other words, what the law minister is saying in diplomatic lingo is – not only are you so fucked up as a law academic, but I don’t even know how a fucked up beyond all recognition case like you managed to weasel into such a high position in a reputable and prestigious outfit!

Why is this so important gentlemen? Because at times….you simply need to learn the art of dressing down a man with class.

This is the correct way. As it is not personal…that it is most definitely not…read it carefully.

First the law minister dresses him down for conduct unbecoming of a professional i.e he did not apply himself astidiously to the discipline of the law that he claims to be a subject matter expert in…you’re ineffect telling him in very clear terms – hello, you seriously need to hit the books lah!

Thereafter the law minister invokes the power of the institution that the associated professor derives his authority from to censure him….this time for his lack i.e he’s not saying I am disappointed. As disappointment is a lover’s word. It should never be used in a professional context. Otherwise people will think there is sicko relationship between you and that person. What the law minister is saying is the associate professors lack is inconsistent with the high standard of intellectual rigor and philosophy of the esteem institution that he derives his authority from i.e you fall short of the bench mark of performance.

So it’s not personal….it’s the very cold and metallic language of diplomacy designed to hit very hard.

It is so concise, economical and succinct it is as compact as a cyanide pill – my advise to all of you is to print out what the law minister wrote, laminate it and carry it around in your wallet.

From time to time should you feel the line is crossed or others are out of order please use it….no need to write ten pages of Lamentations (no one has time to read it), just copy and paste.’

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