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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who is next Chief Justice of Singapore ?

I am interested to know who will be the next Chieft too. I would prefer Prof. Tommy Koh.

I remember him well when he made a remarks about watching RA film in the year 1990. He said that he was puzzled that in Singapore a 18 years old man can shoulder the responsible of a patoon of soliders with rifles and live rounds but cannot watch RA film.

I certainly impressed by him.
Choosing S'pore's next Chief Justice

Only a handful of law professionals fit the strict criteria
Wednesday • March 22, 2006
Dharmendra Yadav

Reverberating through the corridors of our legal fraternity, once again, is talk of Chief Justice Yong Pung How's retirement.

Fuelling the talk is the imminent expiry of the CJ's current two-year term. When asked in 2004 by Inter Se, a magazine published by the Singapore Academy of Law, what he would do were he to retire in two years' time, the CJ responded: "I have not thought much about it. I suppose when I retire, spending more time with my family will definitely be a priority.

"I came across an interesting article in The Straits Times recently — two professors in NUS claimed that playing mahjong regularly is a good way to keep dementia at bay. Perhaps I might even try that."

To be sure, the CJ himself has started a rigorous renewal process within the judiciary. He has left no stone unturned in wooing the best, the brightest and the youthful from the legal profession, including academics, to serve as judges. Take the appointments of Justices V K Rajah and Andrew Phang.

These judges have been put through a baptism of fire, with complex, high-profile and sensitive cases assigned to them. Their judgments lead to one logical conclusion: They can deal with a new generation of legal challenges and they are ready to lead our judiciary.

In their essay on the Singapore legal system, Assistant Professor Eugene Tan and Assistant Professor Gary Chan noted: "The great efficiency and strength of the Singapore judiciary has won her several accolades and a strong international reputation.

"Under the helm of the present Chief Justice Yong Pung How, strict case management and alternative dispute resolution methods have reduced drastically the backlog of cases which had plagued both the Supreme Court and Subordinate Courts in the recent past."

A new phase of growth has also been identified with the birth of the Singapore Law Committee, to encourage the use of Singapore law for international commercial transactions.

As to whether the CJ will retire next month or have his contract renewed, the answer is up in the air. Ultimately, the Prime Minister will offer his advice to the President on the appointment of a chief justice. If the President concurs, he makes the appointment.

The political leadership may well want the current CJ, 79, to stay on just a while longer, like Mr S R Nathan, 81, who is serving a second term as President. If it is decided that Chief Justice Yong should retire, his successor must be found first.

The procedure to search for a new Chief Justice is an extensive and politically sensitive one. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew provided some insight into this process in his book, From Third World to First — The Singapore Story: 1965-2000. It involves searching for talent both within and outside the country, and intense consultations with the members of the judiciary.

Mr Lee said in his book that the Chief Justice gives "leadership to the judges and set(s) a high tone for the bar" and that "a wrong choice could mean years of public embarrassment and endless problems". He also feels strongly that it is important for the Chief Justice to appreciate Singapore's "multiracial society" and "the objectives of a good government", so as "to administer law to ensure order in society".

Considering Singapore's aspiration of promoting the use of Singapore law internationally, it may be further argued that Chief Justice Yong's successor must share the same international outlook and be a respected member of the international community.

There are very few law professionals who can fit the strict criteria. Singaporeans who currently qualify include Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong, Court of Appeal judge Chao Hick Tin, Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh and Deputy Prime Minister Professor S Jayakumar.

Most readers are familiar with the credentials of Prof Koh and Prof Jayakumar. Justice Chao, 63, was appointed a judicial commissioner in 1987 and became a Judge of Appeal in 1999. He began his law career at the Attorney-General's Chambers and, like Prof Koh, has represented Singapore at seminal international law events. He is also the current president of the Asean Law Association.

The Attorney-General was, in 1961, among the first batch of 22 to graduate from the Law Faculty of the University of Malaya in Singapore.

Beginning his law career in private practice, in 1986 he became the first person appointed Judicial Commissioner. If he goes on to become Chief Justice, he will be the first Attorney-General of Singapore to do so.

So will Chief Justice Yong retire? If so, who will he recommend for appointment as the new Chief Justice? We should have answers to these questions in due course.

The writer, a corporate counsel, contributes in a personal capacity.

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Article from The New Paper

Punishment strips students of diginity

Parents upset by school's order for errant students to go bra-less

The New Paper
5 March 2006

By Santokh Singh And Liew Hanqing

TAKE off your coloured bra.

Now spend the rest of the school day without it.

And go home without it as well.

That is what some students in a secondary girls' school had to go through.

The problem is which is worse: Wearing a coloured brassiere in school or going around without wearing one at all?

The school does not allow coloured bras. The bras were confiscated and kept by the school.

Other schools where coloured bras are banned sell white ones in their bookshops so students can replace them immediately. (See report on facing page.)

But in this school, there was no such alternative, until The New Paper queried the practice.

Girls from the school told The New Paper that some protected their modesty by using their files or school bags. Others borrowed brassieres from their friends 'as there are male teachers in the school'.

Some parents are unhappy with all this. We are not identifying the school or the parents as we do not want to embarrass the girls any further.

One angry parent said: 'This is almost tantamount to an outrage of the child's modesty.

'The school is lucky that the parents of these girls did not take the matter to the authorities and seek legal redress. I'd certainly not want my daughter to come all the way home feeling so naked.'


Another, whose niece studies in the school, felt students should be handled in a dignified manner.

She said: 'I think the teacher went overboard with this. Yes, the girls may have broken some rules and I am told that some may have been recalcitrant.

'But surely there are other ways of handling the situation. Why not get the parents involved? Why embarrass the girls?

'It is only coloured bras after all, not taking drugs or prostituting themselves. Let's have some perspective here.'

Students were no less upset.

A Sec 4 girl said: 'It's quite a silly rule. I don't quite understand the reason behind it.

'When you're made to remove your underwear, especially in a place where there are male teachers, it's embarrassing.'

Some students said it was purely for the look that they wore coloured bras. Others said they wore sports bras for comfort and claimed it was not easy to find white ones.

A student from another girls' school agreed that it was humiliating to go without a bra.

The Sec 4 pupil added: 'I guess we're lucky that the school bookshop sells white bras. Our uniform is translucent, so going without a bra would be humiliating.

'I think if the school wants to implement a rule like that, it should explain the reason behind it so that we can appreciate its value.'

The school involved did provide its rationale to The New Paper.

'As a school we are concerned with the development of good values in our youth,' said the principal in an e-mail reply.

'The school would like our students to develop a sense of decorum and modesty.'

The rule, she added, is that all brassieres worn must be white, beige or light grey, and not visible through the uniform or PE attire.

She said: 'This rule is in place because the sharp contrast between dark, bright-coloured bras and the white school blouses and PE T-shirts would draw attention to what students are wearing under their blouses.'


Students are regularly reminded of the rule and the rationale behind it.

The school does not object to the use of sports brassieres in school.

The principal admitted that the punishment may have been harsh.

She said: 'We recognise that the action taken on a couple of students who did not comply... was strong.

'We have since addressed this issue and have standardised the school's approach to teaching our students the importance of appreciating the rationale of this school rule.

'One of the ways in which the school has addressed this issue is to provide white bras for students who are not dressed appropriately.'

Student: My 4 coloured bras confiscated

ONE girl told The New Paper about her brush with the school authorities.

She was caught flouting the coloured bra rule during PE lessons.

Said the Sec 4 student, who declined to be named: 'We're allowed to wear only white or grey bras.

'But I didn't really bother with the rule until my bra got confiscated.'

She added that the school's discipline mistress spotted the coloured bra through her PE T-shirt, and made her remove it.

'I went through the rest of the lesson without a bra on,' she said.

She added that while it was uncomfortable going bra-less during sports class, what was worse was having to dodge male teachers around school.

And she recalled how she would try to run from the discipline mistress every time she wore an illegally-coloured bra to school. 'But it never worked - we always get caught,' she said.

She knows of a few other girls who have been punished the same way.

And she herself has been punished for the coloured bra offence four times.

Each time, she was made to remove her bra.

All four of her coloured bras were confiscated.

But she said that recently, some girls have found a way of circumventing the bra rule.

On days when there are PE lessons, some girls borrow white bras from their friends in other classes which don't have PE lessons on the same day.

She said: 'We go around asking who's wearing a white bra, and then we switch bras until PE is over.'

And how does she feel about being punished this way for wearing the wrong underwear?

'I'll be so happy if this rule is removed. It's so silly,' she said

--- end of Article ----

Friday, February 24, 2006


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