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Ownself check ownself


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Chandler Institute of Governance

Lee Kok Fatt

Kok Fatt is the Chairman of the Chandler Institute of Governance.
Kok Fatt has held senior appointments in the Singapore Civil Service. He was Principal Private Secretary to former President Dr Tony Tan and served as Secretary of the Council of Presidential Advisors. At the Ministry of Finance, Kok Fatt served as Director of Fiscal Policy as well as managed organizational planning and funding for social programmes. He also led the management of information technology, international relations, research and performance management at Singapore Customs, a trade facilitation and revenue enforcement agency under the Ministry of Finance. He was a member of Institute of South East Asia Studies Board of Trustees.
After leaving the Civil Service, Kok Fatt was the Executive Director of the Future-Moves Group and Executive Director at United Overseas Bank. He is currently Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gardens By The Bay.
He authored the book Singapore’s Fiscal Strategies for Growth: A Journey of Self-Reliance (2017).
Kok Fatt graduated with a Bachelor in Accounting (First Class) from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, and an MSc in Management as a Sloan Fellow at the London Business School.


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Executive Director
Wu Wei Neng

Wei Neng is the Executive Director of the Chandler Institute of Governance, an international non-profit organisation based in Singapore. The Chandler Institute supports government leaders and public officers through training, research, advisory services and resourcing. In this capacity, he develops the Institute’s strategic priorities and direction, and oversees research, programmes and partnerships with governments and partners worldwide.
Wei Neng has worked extensively in the areas of public policy, research and analysis for the past 15 years. He currently holds adjunct appointments with the Centre for Liveable Cities, Ministry of National Development, and the Singapore Civil Service College under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Prior to this, he worked in public policy design and implementation in the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Defence, and in training and development work at the Civil Service College. He dealt with major strategic and policy initiatives such as the US-Singapore Strategic Framework Agreement; bilateral defence agreements with various countries; energy policy negotiations at the bilateral and ASEAN levels; and bilateral climate change negotiations. He was lead national negotiator for climate finance and investment issues at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
He has taught and facilitated courses for over 3,000 government leaders and policymakers within and outside Singapore, including programmes for mid-career and senior officials from over 60 countries. He has spoken and taught at the United Nations, the World Bank, the Singapore Management University, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the Singapore Civil Service College, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wei Neng has authored and published books, research papers and case studies on a range of topics, including economic policy; urban development; land policy; public housing; climate change; institution building and state-market relations. He wrote Land Acquisition and Resettlement: Securing Resources for Development (2014), a book analysing Singapore’s land expropriation framework, and its key role in supporting urban planning and development. He also edited Adaptive Governance for a Changing World (2016), featuring emergent ideas in governance, public sector reform, leadership development, public economics and social policy. Most recently he co-authored Working with Markets: Harnessing Market Forces and the Private Sector for Development (2017).
As a Humanities Scholar and a Public Service Commission Overseas Merit Scholar of the Singapore Government, he graduated with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


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Manager, Research and Operations
Christopher Wong

Christopher is Manager of Research and Operations at the Chandler Institute of Governance. He manages research in areas of governance and public policy and the design and implementation of operational policies and procedures. Prior to joining the Institute, Christopher conducted research on leadership and governance at an international non-profit organisation. He has also worked previously at the Manpower Research and Statistics Department at the Ministry of Manpower as a Data Miner. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences (Honours) with a specialisation in Statistics from Nanyang Technological University.


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Fellow, Leadership Development
Goh Han Teck

Han Teck has over 25 years’ experience in a variety of consulting and leadership roles in private, public and non-profit sector organisations. As a Leadership Development and OD Practitioner, he is keenly interested in the potential of people, teams and organisations. Han Teck believes in the creation of safe spaces for dialogue and inquiry to enable the expansion of perspectives and collective sensemaking so as to bring about directional clarity, transformative understanding and practical change in individuals and organisations.
Han Teck began his career as an organisational psychologist with the Ministry of Defence, conducting research and applied psychological work in the organisational field. After Mindef, he joined SHL, an international consultancy where he helped clients formulate talent selection and development strategies and solutions. A large part of his work was focused on managerial assessment, as well as, developmental feedback and coaching for leaders at all levels. During his time with SHL, he worked with clients such as DBS, Singapore Refinery Company, Hilton International, DHL, and UBS. Han Teck then served close to 10 years as a full-time volunteer with a global not-for-profit organisation OM Ships International, where he took on several leadership roles, including being part of the core multi-cultural leadership team involved in facilitating organisation-wide change. As the Director of Personnel Services Division for MV Logos Hope, he set-up and oversaw several departments including Personnel, Training, OD, Education and Health Services.
After returning to Singapore and the Public Service, he worked with the Institute for Leadership and OD, Civil Service College. As Senior Principal Consultant and CSC Faculty, he partnered with public sector agencies to conceptualise and implement system-wide leadership and organisational development strategies and interventions. As part of his role, he designed and facilitated whole-of-government milestone leadership development programmes for up to top-level leadership and also provided leadership coaching.
Han Teck has an honours degree in Psychology from the National University of Singapore and an MSc in Occupational Psychology from Leicester University (UK). He is a certified coach with the Henley Business School (UK) and holds a Graduate Diploma in Organisation Development (NTL/CSC). He has also attained professional qualifications and certification in the use and interpretation of various psychometric profiling tools (e.g., Hogan’s Assessment Inventory, Occupational Personality Questionnaire, Team Management Profile, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, FIRO-B, etc.).


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Adjunct Researcher
Zoe Koh

Zoe Koh is an Adjunct Researcher with the Chandler Institute of Governance focusing on public service institutions and the social service sector. She has extensive experience working for Singapore’s Ministry of Social and Family Development. Her portfolio is diverse, having worked in policymaking, research, public communications and capability building.
Zoe’s research interests include poverty, social mobility and inequality; family, gender and caregiving; child abuse and fostering; domestic violence; youth crime and rehabilitation; sociolinguistics and national identity. Zoe holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Tokyo.


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Adjunct Researcher
Jean Chia

Jean Chia is an Adjunct Researcher with the Chandler Institute of Governance focusing on economic development, public financing, competition and regulation. She has several years of professional experience in Singapore’s public sector, and conducts research and training for public sector organisations in Singapore and overseas. Jean has a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) in Economics and a Master of Science in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore.


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Advisory Council
Vu Minh Khuong

Dr. Vu Minh Khuong is an Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore). His research and teaching concentrate on economic development and policy analysis.
Before transitioning into academia, Professor Vu had held various government positions in Vietnam, including Deputy Chief of the Haiphong City Government Office, Vice-Chairman of Dinh Vu Economic Zone, and Research Associate at the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission. Professor Vu has provided extensive consulting and advisory services to international organisations and government agencies, including UNIDO, UNDP, IMF, World Bank, IFC, ILO, and APO.
Professor Vu has published two books and more than 20 papers in prestigious academic journals. He also frequently writes press articles for newspapers and other media, focusing on development policy issues. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Telecommunications Policy and the Journal of East Asian Policy.
Professor Vu (together with co-author Boyd Fuller) won the 2011 Best Article Award from the Public and Non-Profit Division of the Academy of Management (USA). He has also won the highest awards for research and teaching at the Lee Kuan Yew School: the LKY School Research Excellence Award (in 2012) and the LKY School Annual Teaching Excellence Award (in 2009 and 2011).
Elected CEO of the Song Cam Chemical Company by workers and staff in 1988, Professor Vu presided over a major turnaround of the company. As a result of this experience, he received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1993.
Professor Vu received a BA in Mathematics from Hanoi University (with highest honours) and an MBA and PhD from Harvard University. Prior to his arrival at the Lee Kuan Yew School, he taught at Suffolk University (Boston) and Keio University (Tokyo).


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Advisory Council
Donald Low

Donald is currently Senior Lecturer and Professor of Practice at the Institute of Public Policy of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology as well as the Director of Leadership and Public Policy Executive Education. He is an accomplished consultant and lecturer in economics and behavioural economics, decision-making and risk analysis, inequality and social policy, complexity in public policy, organisational behaviour, and the politics and governance of Singapore.
Donald has served in, or consulted with, public, private, higher education and non-profit organisations. Prior to his current appointment, Donald was the Associate Dean for Executive Education and Research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Donald also served nearly 15 years in the Singapore government as a member of the Administrative Service. During that time, he established the Centre for Public Economics at the Civil Service College to advance economics literacy in the Singapore public service. He also held senior positions at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Division.
Donald is the editor of Behavioural Economics and Policy Design: Examples from Singapore (2011), a pioneering book which details how the Singapore government has applied ideas from behavioural economics in a number of policy domains. His best-selling 2014 book, Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, raises searching questions about the long-term viability of many aspects of governance in Singapore. He argues that a far-reaching rethinking of the country’s policies and institutions is needed in light of new socioeconomic, demographic and political realities. Such rethinking is necessary even if it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to succeed in its first 50 years.
Donald holds a double first in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, and a Master in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.


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Chandler Foundation


Russell Low

Russell serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Clermont Group and Director of the Chandler Foundation. Russell started his career as a judicial officer in the Supreme Court of Singapore. He held a dual portfolio of Assistant Registrar and Justices’ Law Clerk. Russell presided over numerous interlocutory court applications and worked closely with the Judges of the Court of Appeal and the High Court in the analysis, research and publication of judgments.

He then joined the Attorney General’s Chambers where he advised and represented government ministries and agencies on a wide range of constitutional and civil law matters.
Russell graduated from the Singapore Management University as the University Valedictorian. He obtained top honors for two bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Business Management and a Bachelor of Laws. Russell is the recipient of numerous academic awards, including the Lee Hsien Loong All Round Achievement Award sponsored by the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Singapore Press Holdings Valedictorian Award, and the Rajah & Tann Prize for the Top Graduating Law Student.

He graduated from a Dual Masters’ Program in 2019 with a Master in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.


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Ownself praise ownself

The Straits Times remains best read title, with clear shift to digital, across all age groups: Survey​

Each week, over a third of the population visit The Straits Times, making it Singapore Press Holdings’ most visited digital news platform.

Each week, over a third of the population visit The Straits Times, making it Singapore Press Holdings’ most visited digital news platform.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Grace Ho

Sep 20, 2021

SINGAPORE - Seven in 10 Singaporeans consume one or more types of content across Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) platforms - print, digital, radio or magazines - a new survey has found.
The Straits Times (ST) - in print, e-paper and online formats - remains the most widely accessed title, read by 44 per cent of people aged 15 and above in Singapore.
More than three in four of these readers - 76 per cent - read ST online, making it SPH's most visited digital news platform, while 33 per cent read a physical newspaper copy, and 10 per cent read the e-paper. There is some degree of overlap.
Readers who access ST's digital offerings on its website or app predominantly do so through their smartphones (72 per cent), much more than on a computer (26 per cent) or tablet (13 per cent).
These are the key findings of global research company GfK in an inaugural biannual study commissioned by SPH.
The study shows that ST's readers are shifting online and readership continues to cut across all age groups, in similar proportions to their share of the population. ST's combined offerings are also accessed by a higher proportion of millennials and Gen X readers compared with their share of the population.

ST is also a news source that is referred to by readers in general. Most visitors to all the other online news properties here - Channel NewsAsia, Today, Mothership.SG, AsiaOne, Yahoo News and The Business Times (BT) - also read ST.
The findings come as ST's website and apps recently bagged a gold award at this year's Digital Media Awards Asia in the Best News Website or Mobile Service category.
The website, mobile and tablet apps took on a new look last October, with a slew of new offerings that focus on multimedia content and trending topics.
This revamp was part of ST's continuing efforts to refresh its digital and print products, and was launched to mark its 175th anniversary last year.

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/ Tamil Media Group and editor of The Straits Times, said: "The survey provides useful insights into our audience, their needs and wants, especially the shift to digital.
"More people are reading The Straits Times than ever before across platforms, and this cuts across all segments of our society, both young and old. We have to work hard to stay connected with and strive to keep engaging and serving our audience well."
The latest findings by GfK also noted that other SPH titles held steady, with the Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao read by 17 per cent of people across platforms, and BT read by 11 per cent of people here.

The inaugural study, conducted from last December to April among 1,500 individuals, seeks to understand audience profile changes, given the proliferation of multiple media platforms, products and formats.
Two waves of surveys will be conducted annually with up to 3,000 individuals, selected to ensure accurate representation of the population.
The study does not just collect information through claimed behaviour based on recall or surveys, but includes an additional element of actual behaviour, such as digital usage.
While ST remains the most read local daily across its formats among the population here, the study further shows specific segments that continue to form an affinity with SPH's different content offerings, SPH and GfK said.
For example, BT has a higher proportion of professionals, managers, executives and businessmen as well as the affluent among its readers.
SPH chief commercial officer Ignatius Low said: "In a market where synergistic effort is valued to create impact for advertisers, SPH's plethora of media offerings enables the various types of media to form synergy.
"As SPH experiments with more synergised media products to value-add and amplify our advertisers' campaign efforts, the insights derived from this study will guide us in identifying new opportunities and areas to develop."
The study also shows that a sizeable proportion of audiences are willing to pay to access SPH content. More than a third (35 per cent) of all SPH newspaper readers are currently subscribers.
ST and BT enjoy the highest subscription rate (hard copy or e-paper) - both at 45 per cent - among their readership base.
The new chairman of the SPH Media Trust, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, recently outlined plans to accelerate the digital transformation of the newsrooms and provide audiences with a richer experience. He urged the SPH newsrooms to press ahead with digitalisation more decisively and grow digital subscriptions aggressively.
The survey findings revealed that digital readership has overtaken the consumption of hard-copy newspapers for ST and BT. Both have more weekly readers for their digital versions than for print.
Buying the physical print copy continues to be the preferred mode of access for vernacular titles. Two-thirds or more of the readers of Tamil Murasu (72 per cent), Lianhe Wanbao (70 per cent), Shin Min Daily News (71 per cent), and Berita Harian/Berita Minggu (66 per cent) buy their copies from a news-stand.
Lianhe Zaobao, the top Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore, now has an almost equal number of weekly readers of its digital and hard-copy versions.
Across all the 479 news digital sites passively tracked by GfK digital metering for the study, SPH's digital news sites were accessed by 47 per cent of the population at least once a week.
More than one-third (34 per cent) visited ST. Other top SPH digital news properties visited include Lianhe Zaobao, BT, The New Paper and Stomp.
The study also showed that there are more readers going directly to the publications' official websites or apps to access the news, compared with readers referred through social media links.
There is also an overall positive perception of SPH's news content and offerings.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of the population agreed that SPH news publications produce reliable news and content, and 71 per cent also perceived SPH to be a convenient one-stop source for breaking news, business, sports, lifestyle, tech and multimedia as well as other local and international news.
Additionally, two-thirds (66 per cent) of the population found the content of SPH news publications relevant to their community.
GfK's commercial director Lee Risk said: "GfK findings confirm that locally produced news content tends to draw consumers to SPH's platforms and notably, it remains the preferred choice of news outlet for many readers in spite of the multitude of digital news sources and channels out there."
SPH's Mr Low said: "The significant level of trust, confidence and reliability that we have successfully built among our readers over the years has continued to attract them to our publications and they continually engage with us across our myriad platforms, despite many other free options, especially for news."


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However, Ms Ow noted that the investigation was not conducted by an independent body, and despite Justin telling the investigating officers that he was diagnosed with depression, they continued to interview him without support from an Appropriate Adult (AA).

Watching him in handcuffs was difficult: Mother of teenager who died after drug trafficking charge​


Jean Iau

Oct 22, 2021

SINGAPORE - Watching her 17-year-old son in handcuffs being interviewed by Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers was hard, Ms Cecilia Ow said.
The 51-year-old was at the CNB headquarters on Friday (Oct 22), four hours before the findings of the internal investigation was released.
Ms Ow said she was told of the outcome of the investigations and showed closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of her son, Justin Lee, being interviewed by CNB officers.
"It was him and two officers and all the while his left hand was handcuffed to the table, but other than that he looked well. Just watching him was difficult," said the senior lecturer at a polytechnic.
Justin, who was facing drug trafficking charges, died after a fall from height on Sept 16.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Ms Ow said she does not dispute the findings, which said Justin was treated professionally and fairly, and was examined by doctors while incarcerated.

CNB's internal investigation also said an autopsy found traces of LSD in the boy's urine and blood.
However, Ms Ow noted that the investigation was not conducted by an independent body, and despite Justin telling the investigating officers that he was diagnosed with depression, they continued to interview him without support from an Appropriate Adult (AA).
Under the AA scheme, mentally vulnerable people may be accompanied by a trained volunteer who will watch for signs of distress, support their emotional well-being, and assist in communications during law enforcement interviews.
CNB said in its findings on Friday that it had proceeded with both the first and second video-recorded interviews on Feb 4, having taken into consideration that Justin was composed and coherent during the interviews, and observed not to show signs of distress.
Ms Ow said: "But the thing is, you don't know my son. At home, he was a different creature.
"If you even know generally about teenage boys, they will put up a front and a facade. He wanted to appear strong."
She took issue with the fact that a mental health practitioner was not called in to assess if Justin needed more support.
"I'm not saying CNB is totally responsible... I know that it was multiple factors. But if efforts had been made to minimise the trauma from the arrest, that would have been a really good start; for them to show a little bit more human side," said Ms Ow, who is divorced and has another child.
Among other changes, Ms Ow hopes that the AA scheme for young suspects could be expanded to cover those under the age of 21. It is now for those under 16 years old.
"I'll only find closure when I see positive change... It doesn't benefit me personally to do all this, but I just want to prevent another case like Justin's."


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2 JTC officers referred to AGC for untruths linked to wrongful clearing of Kranji woodland​


One of two plots of forested land cleared at Kranji Road, as seen on Feb 22, 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ang Qing

Mar 11, 2022

SINGAPORE - Police investigations into the unauthorised clearing of Kranji woodland have found that two JTC officers had misrepresented facts and given inaccurate information to their superiors, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing told Parliament on Thursday (March 10).
The case has been referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC), which will decide whether to bring charges against the officers, he said.
Separately, JTC said its board of directors will convene a disciplinary panel to consider appropriate disciplinary actions against the two officers, as well as their senior supervisors if they had breached their duties.
The two JTC officers - the project manager and his immediate supervisor, a deputy director - had told their superiors that the unauthorised clearance work on 4.5 hectares of the site was discovered by the project manager on Jan 13, 2021 during his site visit.
Mr Chan said this information was conveyed to MTI and incorporated into his answers in Parliament on Feb 26, 2021 when he was then Minister for Trade and Industry.
At that time, MPs had raised questions about the unauthorised clearance, which had come to light after aerial photos of the site appeared on social media.
Mr Chan said then that the unauthorised clearance occurred between late December 2020 and Jan 13, 2021.

Investigations have since found that clearance of those areas had commenced without NParks' approval before December 2020, said Mr Chan on Thursday.
Police also found that the project manager who was in charge knew of the unauthorised clearance prior to Jan 13, 2021, he added.
"His immediate superior, the deputy director, also knew. It appears that they misrepresented the facts and gave inaccurate information to their superiors," said Mr Chan.

Investigations have established that another two plots of land, which amount to more than 2.8 hectares, had also been cleared without NParks approval, he said.
Mr Chan's February 2021 answers had stated that clearance works were suspended from Jan 13, 2021. JTC has clarified that it stopped all tree felling but had continued with other minor work like vegetation clearing, he said.
The inaccurate information conveyed to MTI by the two JTC officers meant "some of the information I presented to Parliament, based on what they had said, was therefore inaccurate", he added.

Mr Chan, who spoke near the end of Thursday's Parliament sitting, said police have just concluded their investigations and presented their conclusions to him and other ministers earlier this week.
He said that after discussions with the AGC, he was satisfied that he could update Parliament on what the police have found but emphasised that the facts presented are based on the police's view.
"First, what I have said above is based on the police view, which could well be contested in court if the matter proceeds to court. And a court could take a different view of the facts," he said.
"Second, we need to be fair to the persons who may be charged; setting out the facts here should not prejudice their fair trial."

Given the unclear situation and factual disputes, the Government first wanted to rule out any possible corruption, he said. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was asked to investigate, and concluded that there had been no corruption.
MTI is reviewing the investigation findings with JTC, and apart from possible court proceedings, MTI and JTC will take appropriate disciplinary measures against the individuals responsible, said Mr Chan.
In a statement on Thursday evening, MTI said it takes "a very stern and serious view of this incident" and does not condone such misconduct.
Separately, JTC chairman Tan Chong Meng said: "This is a serious incident and JTC acknowledges the lapses. JTC will remedy our shortcomings and improve our processes.
"We will tighten the execution of projects and compliance with rules, and ensure that JTC officers uphold the highest standards of integrity and governance in carrying out their duties."
The Kranji site is earmarked for industrial development. It comprised mainly unused scrubland left vacant after land occupied by the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line was returned to Singapore in 2011.
Mr Chan also corrected his statement that the contractor who cleared the sites had not been paid for the unauthorised clearing in December 2020 and January last year.
He said investigations found that some payments had been made for the unauthorised clearance of the 4.5 hectares plot of land.
He said: “Erroneous information was provided by JTC Contract and Procurement (Construction) Division, who processed the payments without realising that the payments included felling of trees in areas that had not been approved for clearance.
“There was no intent by JTC staff to mislead.”
Investigations also found that payments had been made for clearance of another plot of land, which was also cleared without approval.
Mr Chan added that if due process had been followed, approval would have been given subject to the necessary conditions being met.
“However, regardless of whether approvals would have been forthcoming, the JTC officers had a duty to give the correct information to their supervisors and MTI,” he said.
“Failure to do so is wrong, and cannot be excused.”

3 clarifications on Kranji woodland clearance​

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (March 10) made three key clarifications to his reply on Feb 26, 2021 to MPs’ questions about the unauthorised clearing of some forested areas in Kranji woodland.
1. On Feb 26, 2021: Then Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan told Parliament that 4.5 hectares of the forested land there had been cleared between end December 2020 and Jan 13, 2021 without NParks’ approval.
The clarification: Investigations have since found that clearance of the 4.5 hectares commenced without NParks’ approval before December 2020.
Investigations suggest that two JTC officers had given inaccurate information to their JTC superiors about the time period that this erroneous clearing had taken place.
This information was then incorporated into Mr Chan’s February reply.
Investigations also found that another two plots of land, amounting to more than 2.8 hectares, had also been cleared without NParks’ approval.
2. On Feb 26, 2021: Mr Chan said unauthorised land clearing was discovered by JTC’s project manager on Jan 13, 2021 during his site visit.
All clearance works onsite were suspended immediately and remained suspended, he added.
The clarification: Investigations have since found that JTC’s project manager who was in charge, knew of the clearance before Jan 13, 2021.
His immediate superior, a deputy director, also knew.
It appears that they misrepresented the facts and gave inaccurate information to their superiors.
As for clearance works being suspended immediately from Jan 13, 2021, JTC has clarified that it stopped all tree felling but had continued with other minor work like vegetation clearing.
3. On Feb 26, 2021: Mr Chan said contractors had not been paid for the over-clearance in December 2020 and January 2021.
The clarification: Some payments had been made for the clearance, which included tree-felling.
This erroneous information that the contractors had not been paid was provided by a JTC division, which processed the payments without realising that they were for the unauthorised clearance of trees in December 2020 and January 2021.
Investigations have also found that payments were made for unauthorised clearance that took place before December 2020 involving some parts of the 4.5 hectares of forested land and another plot.


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Disciplinary tribunal dismisses Parti Liyani's complaint against 2 DPPs over DVD player​


Former domestic worker Parti Liyan had filed a suit against two deputy public prosecutors in 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

Selina Lum
Senior Law Correspondent

Mar 16, 2022

SINGAPORE - A disciplinary tribunal has dismissed a complaint brought by former domestic worker Parti Liyani, who alleged that the two prosecutors conducting her trial had created a false impression that a DVD player was "fully functional".
In grounds of decision dated March 10, the two-member tribunal said it found no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action against Ms Tan Yanying and Mr Tan Wee Hao exists under the Legal Profession Act.
The tribunal also found that the prosecutors' demonstration of the DVD player during her trial was conducted openly and fairly.
In hindsight, said the tribunal, more could have been done during the trial to ascertain the condition of the device, which could record and play videos but could not play DVDs.
The tribunal, comprising Senior Judge Chao Hick Tin and senior lawyer Patrick Ang, made no order as to legal costs.
Ms Parti, 48, was acquitted of stealing from the family of her former employer, prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong, on appeal to the High Court in September 2020.
The High Court found that reasonable doubt had been raised and overturned her conviction on four theft charges relating to $34,000 worth of items.

The case stirred public discussion and led to a nine-hour parliamentary debate over Singapore's criminal justice system.
In June that year, before her acquittal, Ms Parti filed a complaint against the two deputy public prosecutors (DPP) who conducted her district court trial.
The complaint centred on a DVD player, which was among the things she was accused of stealing.

The functionality of the device became a side issue because Ms Parti said that she was allowed to take the DVD player as it was "spoilt" and "broken".
But Mr Liew's wife, Madam Ng Lai Peng, testified that it was working and that she never consented to the maid taking it away.
During the trial in 2018, the prosecutors tested the device in court and showed that it could play a video digitally stored in the hard disk.
When Ms Parti's lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani, tried to play a disc, error messages "could not initialise disc" and "incompatible and unreadable disc" were displayed.
Disciplinary inquiry into Parti Liyani's complaint against DPPs heard over four days
Attorney-General's Chambers addressing gaps, raising accountability in prosecution procedures
In October 2020, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon gave the green light for a disciplinary tribunal to be appointed to investigate Ms Parti's complaint.
The hearing was held in September last year, with Ms Parti testifying via video link from Indonesia.
The crux of her complaint was that the prosecutors knew, or had reason to believe, that the device was not fully functional but failed to disclose this to the court.
In her defence, Ms Tan said that her understanding of the case was on the basis that the DVD player was either working or not working.
The thought of the device being partially working was not in her mind at all, contended Ms Tan.
She said that when she tested the device, she could not play the disc that was inside. She then pressed some buttons and the player started playing recorded video footage.
Ms Tan said that once she realised the device could play images from the hard disk, she was satisfied that it was working and hence, she could rebut Ms Parti's claim that the player was "spoilt".
Likewise, Mr Tan said he understood that the term "spoilt" meant "not working".
Both prosecutors said they thought the disc could not be played because it was faulty.

The disciplinary tribunal said the question that arises is whether the prosecutors had knowingly misled the court as to the functionality of the DVD player.
"Having deliberated long and hard over it, we find it difficult to fault the respondents for thinking that the device was working as demonstrated even though they could not play the... disc," said the tribunal.
The tribunal said that just because the device could not play the two discs used in the demonstrations did not necessarily mean that the problem lay with the player.
The error messages could reasonably mean that the discs were problematic, it noted.
The tribunal added that Ms Parti was not misled as to the state of the device because in her mind, "spoilt" and "broken" meant that the player could not work at all.
The tribunal noted that Mr Balchandani also initially believed that the device was not working at all, only to realise later that it had dual functions.
In hindsight, said the tribunal, it could be argued that the two prosecutors should have done more in ascertaining the condition of the device.

Even the defence, which was contending that the device was spoilt, "did not have the conviction or foresight to request the court to direct that the device be examined by an expert", said the tribunal.
An expert report from the manufacturer in October 2020 stated that the "DVD loader mechanism was likely to be defective".
The report stated that video and audio could be recorded on the hard disk and played back.
The expert also explained that the error messages meant that "generally the disc loaded could be faulty or wrong type or recorder is defective".
A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Chambers said the DPPs “were appreciative of the opportunity to present a full and transparent account of what transpired during the trial”.
Mr Balchandani thanked law firm Peter Low & Choo for its “selfless work” in acting for Ms Parti in the proceedings.


Alfrescian (Inf)
In the US, the independent Securities and Exchange Commission decides on the rules for SPACs, not the stock exchanges.
In Singapore, the SGX decides the rules. What a massive conflict of interests.

SEC Deals a Big Blow to SPACs​

The commission’s proposed changes include heightened disclosure, no safe harbor for misleading projections — and less time to find a deal.
March 30, 2022

Gary Gensler (Bill Clark/Bloomberg)
Gary Gensler (Bill Clark/Bloomberg)
The hype around special purpose acquisition companies — and the investor losses that have resulted since the SPAC boom began to fizzle a year ago — has led the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue harsh new SPAC rules and amendments that go beyond what many originally envisioned.
The changes are so onerous that Hester Peirce, the lone commissioner who opposed them, said in a hearing Wednesday that they “seem designed to stop SPACs in their tracks.” (Peirce is the only Republican commissioner at the SEC.)
But according to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, the commission is simply trying to protect investors and erase the arbitrage that exists between initial public offerings and SPACs, which is often to the detriment of investors.
Unlike hedge funds and institutional investors, who can benefit from a SPAC’s lucrative warrants by getting in on the IPO or PIPE deal, retail investors typically lose money investing in SPACs. Critics have argued this is due to a SPAC’s complex and opaque structure, which rewards insiders, as well as the often poor quality of companies that choose to go public via a SPAC rather than a traditional IPO, which has tougher requirements.
“Functionally, the SPAC target IPO is being used as an alternative means to conduct an IPO,” Gensler said in a statement. “Thus, investors deserve the protections they receive from traditional IPOs, with respect to information asymmetries, fraud, and conflicts, and when it comes to disclosure, marketing practices, gatekeepers, and issuers.”
The proposed changes include “specialized disclosure requirements with respect to, among other things, compensation paid to sponsors, conflicts of interest, dilution, and the fairness of these business combination transactions,” the SEC said.
The new rules would also allow investors to sue SPACs over misleading projections. The strict liability would not only affect the sponsors, but also their underwriters, accountants, and others involved in a SPAC’s merger deal, known as a deSPAC.
This change addresses the criticism of SPACs being able to make overly optimistic forward-looking statements in a deSPAC because they are entitled to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Act — something IPOs do not have. Last year, the SEC’s acting director of the division of corporation finance, John Coates, indicated that the SEC was prepared to challenge those protections.
The issue became more serious during the recent SPAC boom, with many more speculative companies — those with no revenues — choosing to go public via a SPAC. Many of those stocks crashed after the companies did not meet their lofty projections.
How DEI Can (Finally and Fully) Be Incorporated Into the ESG Investment Process

Now the SEC is proposing to change the definition of “blank-check company” for the purposes of the PSLRA safe harbor for forward-looking statements to exclude SPACs and target companies in de-SPAC transactions.
“Many commentators have raised concerns about the use of forward-looking statements that they believe to be unreasonable in de-SPAC transactions,” the SEC’s proposal states. “By providing greater clarity regarding the availability of the PSLRA safe harbor, the proposed amendment should strengthen the incentives for a blank-check company, including a SPAC, to avoid potentially unreasonable and potentially misleading forward-looking statements.”
Strict liability means that no intent to defraud is required to prove damages. SPAC participants have pushed back against this proposed change, in particular the provision that puts underwriters on the hook along with the SPAC’s sponsors, according to people familiar with their lobbying efforts.
The SEC acknowledged that the change is going to add costs to SPACs, limiting their appeal.
“This increase in potential liability from the current baseline for targets and their signing officers and directors could impact the decision of a private company to go public via a de-SPAC transaction,” the SEC said in its proposal, acknowledging “the increased litigation risk and the potential need for new insurance coverage or higher premiums for existing coverage.”
Finally, SPAC sponsors will have less time to find a deal in order to keep their IPO proceeds invested in cash-like securities without coming under the 1940 Investment Company Act rules. Three SPACs, including Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, have been sued by law professors claiming that they should fall under that act's provisions because the SPACs are holding government securities in trust (like all SPACs do).
The proposed rule would allow SPACs to avoid the risk of such litigation if they meet certain conditions. Currently SPACs give sponsors 24 months to find a merger target — and additional time to complete the deal — before they must liquidate and return cash to investors.The proposed rule would shorten that time period to 18 months to announce a deal, and 24 months to complete it, in order to be avoid being considered an investment company.
That provision could have unintended consequences. One of the biggest criticisms of SPACs is that sponsors who get a 20 percent stake in a SPAC virtually for free have an incentive to complete any deal within the time frame, and many poor deals have been struck right before the 24-month deadline. If that deadline is pushed up, even more bad deals could be struck.
More than 500 SPACs that went public in 2020 and 2021 are still searching for deals.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Quote: "On this aspect, we also need to address the critical issue of independence of the regulator. Presently, the Singapore Exchange Regulation is part of the Singapore Exchange which is a profit-seeking listed entity. We're not suggesting that the regulator is not independent but according to good audit principles "one must not only be independent but must be seen to be independent"."


Protecting investor interests critical to rebuilding investor confidence in Singapore stock market​


THE Society of Remisiers (Singapore) is in total concurrence withRaphael Lim's March 17 BT article "Enabling class action lawsuits could create alternative recourse for Singapore investors".
The article is spot on in stating that "legal recourse that enables local retail investors to recover some funds could keep listed companies on their toes and boost confidence and vibrancy in the market".
We have about 680 companies listed on the Singapore Exchange and as per the daily postings in BT we have a sizeable 84 companies that have either been suspended or inactive, which is more than a mind-boggling 12 per cent of listed companies in the Singapore market! Many of these companies have been suspended for an inordinate amount of time and investors are waiting with bated breath as to when investigations would be concluded and the companies relisted. Meanwhile, their money is stuck and investors are suffering in silence with ever-diminishing hope of any recovery of their hard-earned money. This is most definitely sapping investors' confidence in the market and demolishing trust in the system.

The Singapore Exchange Regulator may not share the same urgency and pain but we remisiers who are at the frontline and in direct contact with our clients can sympathise with their predicament and understand their agony.
However, we are at our wits' end to provide any solution as we're solely dependent on the regulator to seek the necessary justice for them.
On this aspect, we also need to address the critical issue of independence of the regulator. Presently, the Singapore Exchange Regulation is part of the Singapore Exchange which is a profit-seeking listed entity. We're not suggesting that the regulator is not independent but according to good audit principles "one must not only be independent but must be seen to be independent".

The Society of Remisiers would recommend that the regulator be under the ambit of the Monetary Authority of Singapore or be a standalone regulatory body.
This independent body would be a champion in the protection of investor interests and will have adequate resources at its disposal to hear investor grievances and undertake class action suits for cases worth pursuing. This would go a long way in re-establishing trust in the system.
Yes, at present we do have the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) to educate investors and hear investor complaints on the board or management of Singapore-listed companies. However, due to the lack of legislative powers and limited resources, Sias can only encourage the board and management to do the right thing for investors. Beyond that, it is also helpless.
In the US, there are contingency fee arrangements to seek legal recourse for aggrieved investors. The costs are solely or mainly borne by the law firms, which take a share when they have a successful claim. As it could be quite a lucrative business, the law firms are usually the ones that initiate the class action suits and invite aggrieved investors to file their claims with them.
It's heartening to note that the Singapore Parliament passed a Conditional Fee Arrangement Bill on Jan 12, 2022. As it's a relatively new Bill further fine-tuning would be required. Perhaps our regulators could use their expertise and resources to explore this bill further and see how it could be used to protect aggrieved investor interests.
It's time we take the bull by its horns and address this critical issue of investor protection. If we can address this issue with earnestness and urgency, it would go a long way in rebuilding much-needed investor confidence and trust in the Singapore stock market.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Protecting investor interests in the Singapore stock market​

TUE, MAR 29, 2022


I REFER to the letter by the president of The Society of Remisiers (Singapore), "Protecting investor interests critical to rebuilding investor confidence in Singapore stock market" (BT, Mar 24).
Besides the suggestion of class action suits, I think there is the greater need for Singapore to seriously consider setting up a separate regulatory body independent of the Singapore Exchange (SGX), to eliminate the conflict of interests of being a dual profit-seeking entity and as a regulatory body.
Let me cite this sad episode of several years ago involving the then-listed stock China Paper, a company involved in making paper from wood pulp in China.

For the first 3 years, the company was doing fairly well and rewarded shareholders with decent dividends, so many investors including myself thought it was a good basic industry business and bought into it.
However, in the fourth year, the company started its ploy and announced its first rights issue, saying that the business needed to grow bigger to achieve better economies of scale to survive; of course the share price fell.
Just a little over a year later, it called for a second rights issue with the excuse that the company needed more money to buy a small power station to ensure a more regular supply of electricity to run its log mills.

As I smelled a rat, I wrote to SGX to urge it not to approve the rights issue without a thorough investigation on the proposal.
SGX's assurance was that the second rights subscription money would have to be kept under a separate account by China Paper and with that, this second rights issue was also approved almost immediately.
In the following year, news broke that the company's factory caught fire and all its financial records were destroyed.
The management firstly requested for a 1-year postponement of the AGM and financial reporting, and thereafter no more news about the company was forthcoming.
Eventually the name of the share also disappeared from the local newspapers' stock listings.
Sadly, so many shareholders lost everything including the 2 tranches of rights money.


Alfrescian (Inf)

PA appoints new advisers to Sengkang Central and East grassroots organisations​


Mr Goh Yeow Tin (left) and Mr Koh Juay Meng (right) join Dr Lam Pin Min as advisers to Sengkang grassroots organisations. PHOTO: LAM PIN MIN/FACEBOOK

Lim Min Zhang
Assistant News Editor

APR 6, 2022

SINGAPORE - The People’s Association (PA) has appointed two new advisers to Sengkang grassroots organisations (GROs), with effect from Wednesday (April 6).
PA said Mr Koh Juay Meng will serve as adviser to Sengkang Central GROs, while Mr Goh Yeow Tin will advise Sengkang East GROs.
They join Dr Lam Pin Min, who will continue as adviser to Sengkang West GROs.
Mr Koh, 63, was the chairman of the Sengkang Central Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC).
Mr Goh, 71, moves to Sengkang after serving in Teck Ghee GROs for 32 years.
PA said in a statement that the three advisers will guide GROs in explaining government policies and organising community programmes for the residents of Sengkang.
In response to The Straits Times' queries, PA said Mr Koh and Mr Goh took over from Mr Teo Ser Luck and Mr Charles Chong, who had stepped down as advisers.

Mr Teo is a former MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Mr Chong was MP for Punggol East, which was absorbed into Sengkang GRC ahead of the 2020 General Election. Neither contested GE 2020.
Mr Goh served the residents of Teck Ghee through various GROs, including the CCC and Welfare and Building Fund Committee, said PA.
He said in the PA statement: “I have served in the grassroots movement for more than 30 years, and I am looking forward to bringing my experience to Sengkang East, to serve the residents here.”

Mr Koh is chairman at non-profit group RSVP Singapore and has been a grassroots leader for eight years.
He started as a member of the Punggol 21 Community Club management committee in 2013 and has held leadership positions in Punggol North and Sengkang Central CCCs.
Mr Koh said he is looking forward to continuing his voluntary work in Sengkang Central in a different capacity.
“I feel honoured to be appointed adviser to the Sengkang Central GROs. I am familiar with the grassroots leaders and volunteers here and the good work they do. I am looking forward to continuing our work in the community”.

The position of adviser to GROs is usually held by People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs, or its election candidates in opposition-held wards.
Appointments of advisers who are not elected in general elections and are linked to the PAP have been criticised by opposition parties for providing an unfair advantage to the ruling party, particularly in opposition-held wards.
Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh had in October 2019 raised the issue of having to go through a grassroots adviser from the PAP to raise community improvement projects for consideration in Aljunied GRC.
Sengkang GRC is held by the opposition Workers’ Party (WP), after an upset win in the 2020 General Election saw a fresh-faced WP team best a PAP team that consisted of labour chief Ng Chee Meng; Dr Lam, who was then Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health; then Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home affairs and Health Amrin Amin; and lawyer Raymond Lye.
The appointment of the new advisers comes a week after the ruling party announced new PAP branch chairmen in Sengkang.
The party said on March 27 that Associate Professor Elmie Nekmat, Ms Theodora Lai and Mr Ling Weihong will replace Mr Ng, Mr Amrin and Mr Lye.
Prof Elmie will be the branch chairman of Sengkang Central, while Ms Lai will chair Sengkang North and Mr Ling Sengkang East.
Associate Professor Eugene Tan of Singapore Management University said a plausible reason why the newly unveiled branch chairmen were not appointed advisers was that they are still being tested.
“The thinking could be to have experienced people to be the advisers to GROs for now. In this way, Mr Goh and Mr Koh can provide guidance and experience to the areas under their charge, as well as to the new branch chairs as they seek to establish themselves as politicians and possible election candidates.”


Alfrescian (Inf)
If it is so straightforward, why did it take so long to clear Ivan Lim?

Former potential PAP candidate Ivan Lim was not involved in controversial Keppel O&M projects: PAP​


Mr Ivan Lim had withdrawn from contesting the 2020 general election following allegations of possible misconduct. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ACTION PARTY

Choo Yun Ting
Business Correspondent

Apr 12, 2022

SINGAPORE - Investigations by the People's Action Party (PAP) have confirmed that its former potential candidate Ivan Lim was not involved in any of Keppel Offshore & Marine's controversial Brazilian projects, a party spokesman told The Straits Times.
"His public statements on this matter were truthful and factual," the spokesman added.
Mr Lim had withdrawn from contesting the 2020 general election following allegations of possible misconduct several days before Nomination Day, saying at the time that the allegations surrounding him had eclipsed the core issues of the election.
PAP leaders said then that they would look into the allegations made against him after the elections.
On Tuesday (April 12), the party spokesman said the PAP takes a serious view of the concerns raised by Singaporeans, and had conducted a thorough fact-finding exercise, which covered two aspects.
First, whether Mr Lim's public statements that he was not involved in any of the controversial commercial deals of Keppel O&M in Brazil that were subject to the investigation of the United States Department of Justice were true.
Second, allegations relating to his behaviour in interacting with others.

The spokesman said Mr Lim's public statements on his non-involvement with the controversial Brazilian projects were truthful and factual. Accusations that he was involved in those deals had been prompted by reports that he had worked on the Espirito Santo Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel project.
The PAP's investigations found that the project Mr Lim oversaw was delivered to SBM Offshore, a company headquartered in the Netherlands. It was therefore not one of the projects which became controversial.
In addition, his responsibility had been to oversee the execution of projects in Keppel Shipyard, and he was not involved in negotiating any commercial deals.

Addressing the issue related to Mr Lim's behaviour in interacting with others, the party spokesman noted that the PAP had received a range of feedback, both positive and negative, about his behaviour.
"Perceptions on such matters are varied and subjective. But what is clear is that there is no question about Mr Lim's integrity and honesty, and his sincerity in wanting to serve the community," the spokesman added.
The statement also pointed out that while Mr Lim did not stand in GE 2020, he has continued to serve as a volunteer in educational and other support programmes for lower-income families in Jurong.
Mr Lim had been walking the ground in Jurong GRC and was expected to be fielded in the constituency.
The spokesman said the party acknowledges that how its candidates interact with others in their day-to-day lives is relevant for their suitability to be considered as election candidates, and that the recruitment of good political candidates is vital to the PAP and its leadership renewal.
"That is why we have developed a systematic and rigorous process for selecting candidates. This process will continue to evolve and be improved especially given the intense public scrutiny that candidates are put under."
The spokesman said that the party will ensure that its candidates are considered and evaluated fairly, so that it can put forward good and committed candidates from a range of backgrounds, representing the different aspirations and concerns of Singaporeans.
"The PAP will continue to do our best to find, select and field candidates with good character, competence, and passion to serve Singapore and Singaporeans," he added.
Shortly after Mr Lim had been announced as one of the PAP's new faces for the 2020 general election, allegations about his conduct had emerged online. This included posts accusing him of elitist behaviour and of being arrogant as a national service commander. However, there were also posts by others who knew Mr Lim, defending him and speaking about his character and positive qualities.
Prior to withdrawing his candidacy, he had issued a clarification in response to some of the initial allegations about his character and the claims about his involvement in the Brazil projects.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Ownself check ownself.
Who is the government / legal system trying to protect?

Six trainee lawyers who cheated in 2020 Bar exam have their admissions to the profession delayed​


The six had mostly trained in big and renowned firms. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS

Selina Lum
Senior Law Correspondent

APR 18, 2022

SINGAPORE - Six trainee lawyers here had their applications to be called to the Bar adjourned after they cheated in the professional Bar examination in 2020 - including on a paper on ethics and professional responsibility.
In the spirit of "second chances", a High Court judge directed that the six not be named in the hope that they will not be prejudiced in the long run.
"In a profession in which every member must be like Caesar's wife - beyond reproach - dishonesty is a big problem. But it would also be harsh to have one's professional career ended before it has even begun," said Justice Choo Han Teck.
The six had mostly trained in big and renowned firms. Five of them are currently working as legal executives.
Five, who had shared answers in six papers through WhatsApp, had to retake the papers after they were found out.
The remaining one, who colluded with another person taking the exam and cheated in three of the papers, had to retake the entire preparatory course for what is known as Part B of the Bar exam.
They have all since passed the required exams, but their applications to be called to the Bar have been postponed - six months for the five and a year for the other.

Law graduates have to go through a six-month course and pass the Bar exam, known as Part B, as well as complete a six-month training contract with a law firm. They then qualify to be called to the Bar, which means they can practise as lawyers.
Graduates from approved foreign universities also have to take another exam known as Part A.
Applications have to be accepted by the Attorney-General (AG), the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) and the Law Society.

Twenty-six applicants to the Bar, including the six, had their Bar admissions hearings before Justice Choo last Wednesday (April 13).
The AG objected to the six applications because they had cheated in the Bar exam.
On Monday, the judge issued the grounds of decision to explain why he had agreed to a proposal by the AG for the applications to be adjourned.
Justice Choo said: "The AG was of the view that the applicants lacked honesty and integrity, and should not be admitted to the Bar, at least not for a while, since it is questionable whether they can presently swear the oath on admission which requires them to declare that they will 'truly and honestly conduct (themselves) in the practice of an advocate and solicitor according to the best of knowledge and ability and according to law'."
The one who was required to retake the entire course had denied any wrongdoing, unlike the five who admitted what they had done as soon as the institute began its inquiry.
She filed an affidavit apologising for her conduct only on April 11, two days before the admission hearing.
She explained that her answers were the same as the other person because they studied together and shared study notes.

The Sile, which conducts the exam and the preparatory course leading to the exam, rejected her explanation because her answers in the three papers were not just similar, but contained the same pattern and errors.
"They were not just similar but the same - warts and all. The Sile, however, gave her the benefit of the doubt in three other papers," said Justice Choo.
She was required to retake the entire Part B course, which comprises seven compulsory subjects, such as civil litigation practice, criminal litigation practice, family law practice and ethics and professional responsibility.
There are also electives such as mediation advocacy, the law and practice of arbitration, and wills, probate and administration practice. According to the Sile website, the Part B course and exam fees for 2021 were $6,420 for Singaporeans, $7,490 for permanent residents and $9,095 for foreign candidates.
Justice Choo said this incident has raised many questions about whether there is a culture of cheating.
"When so many applicants cheated in a professional qualifying examination in so many papers, including one for 'ethics and professional responsibility', then something is wrong somewhere," he said.
"Does the mode of present-day examinations make it more conducive for cheating? Have the examinees cheated because the modes of examinations in the law schools are similarly conducive for cheating?
"Furthermore, when a person cheats in a course meant to instil ethics and professional conduct, it raises the question, how is it that they had learnt so poorly from the course?"
Justice Choo noted that a lawyer who has acted dishonestly will be disciplined according to the process under the Legal Profession Act.
There is, however, no disciplinary process for a qualifying applicant to the Bar, except that the court hearing the application may refuse to admit the applicant.

Mr Jeyendran Jeyapal, representing the AG, had proposed the adjournment of the six's applications - not as a punishment, but for the six to "reflect on the error of their ways".
Justice Choo said: "He would be right because this is not a disciplinary proceeding before me."
Mr Christopher Daniel, counsel for the Law Society, and Ms Dew Wong, counsel for the institute, agreed with Mr Jeyendran, as did the six applicants, added the judge.
Justice Choo said: "(Judges) loath to shut the door on a wrongdoer with no prospects of redemption. But they also have a duty to prevent a repeat of the wrong, and to do so without breaking young backs in the process."
Justice Choo said Mr Jeyendran's proposal was fair and appeared to be the most viable option in the circumstances.
The judge said he was redacting the names of the applicants in the hope that they will not be prejudiced in the long run.
He directed that the court file be sealed, which means third parties cannot get documents filed in respect of the admissions.
"Second chances are for those who seize them. If ever they were to plead for a third, I wish them good luck."
Justice Choo warned that future cases may not be redacted, and the applications may be adjourned indefinitely.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Balancing scales of justice for trainee lawyers who cheated in Bar exam​


Toh Yong Chuan
Assistant Political Editor

The number of trainee lawyers who cheated in their 2020 Bar examination has grown from six to 11. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Apr 20, 2022

SINGAPORE - There is unhappiness among some Singaporeans about how six trainee lawyers seemingly got off lightly with cheating in the professional Bar examination in 2020.
In a further twist, the Attorney-General said on Tuesday (April 19) that another five were found to have cheated in the same exam, and that their applications to be called to the Bar are under review.
The case involving the first six was made public on Monday after the High Court released its decision to postpone their applications to practise law in Singapore - by six months for five of them, and by a year for one.
The move was described in the decision as "not intended as a punishment" but rather "a little more stretching of time for (them) to reflect on the error of their ways".
To avoid having their actions leave a permanent stain on their records in their nascent legal career, the High Court made an unusual decision to protect their identities.
"I am redacting the names of the applicants in the hope that they will not be prejudiced in the long run. I am also directing that this file be sealed. But second chances are for those who seize them," said Justice Choo Han Teck.
These six are thus known as CTA, CTB, CTC, CTD, CTE and CTF in court records, naming conventions that are usually used for family court cases or criminal offences, where the identities of minors and victims have to be protected.

A check of court records and newspaper reports found no precedent to this case.
To understand how these six could have resorted to cheating, the context is important.
Aspiring lawyers have to clear four qualification hurdles.

The first step is obtaining a law degree from one of the three local law schools or a recognised overseas one.
Next, they have to work six months in a local law firm as a practice trainee. From next year, the training period will be extended to one year.
They also have to complete a six-month course and pass exams conducted by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (Sile) - a statutory body - typically called the Bar exam.
The exam, held once a year, comprises seven compulsory and two elective subjects that cover topics such as criminal, civil and family law practices.

Lawyers have said that the Bar exam is the toughest part of the qualification process.
After passing the Bar exam, the final step is to apply to be admitted to the Singapore Bar, which gives them the licence to practise law here. These applications are heard by the Supreme Court.
The Attorney-General, Law Society or Sile can object to the applications.
In the case of the six trainees, the Attorney-General objected to their being admitted to the Bar on grounds that they were unfit as they had cheated in the Bar exam.
The entire journey takes more than five years. But while the path may be gruelling, countless lawyers have taken it, with some failing along the way and succeeding eventually.
This is why the shortcut that the six sought by cheating in the exams leaves a sour taste.
"Disgrace," said a friend who is a qualified lawyer.
That said, there are arguments why these six should be given a second chance.
One, they have not committed any crime or offence. There is no law against cheating in a law exam. Accordingly, there was nothing that the courts could have done to punish them directly for their actions.
Two, the six have all since passed the required exam, so there is no question of their lack of academic ability.

The public unhappiness comes down to what the trainee lawyers are seen to be lacking: integrity.
Some argue that their dishonest acts - they cheated in many papers, including, ironically, one on ethics - should have disqualified them from a profession where they are stewards to uphold justice.
Just last week, the Court of Three Judges - the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession - suspended an experienced lawyer for three years after finding that he acted dishonestly in managing a client.
He was found to have intentionally concealed information from his client and acted contrary to the client's instructions.
The practising lawyer of 21 years is a partner in a well-known local law firm and co-heads its family and divorce practice group.
He was not struck off the rolls because the disciplinary body found that his misconduct did not indicate a character defect that renders him unfit to remain in the profession, and it did not undermine the administration of justice.
That has been the consistent standard that the Court of Three Judges adopts to decide if a dishonest lawyer should remain in the profession.
But there also lies the rub: The six who cheated are not yet lawyers. Hence, the standards expected of lawyers, and disciplinary measures when they fall short, do not apply to them, yet.
"There are no provisions for disciplinary action where a qualified person misconducts himself before he has been admitted to the Bar," Justice Choo said.
One wonders if trainee teachers or police officers caught cheating in the National Institute of Education or Home Team Academy exams will be allowed to continue in their professions.

There is one more explanation for the public unhappiness.
"It would also be harsh to have one's professional career ended before it has even begun," said Justice Choo.
But not all will find the second-chance rationale fully persuasive because there are others who have had their future stained for arguably lesser infractions.
A case that pricks my conscience is the teenager who played a prank by lying on Instagram in May last year that he was infected with Covid-19.
For his two posts that were online for 15 minutes, the 19-year-old was convicted in court last year and sentenced to nine months' probation and 40 hours of community service.
He was named and photographed for posterity online.
In that case, the teen's mother reportedly pleaded with the judge to consider that her son has a bright future and was very remorseful.
It is unclear from the court decision if the six trainee lawyers were even remorseful, which is a key element of anyone pleading for a second chance. One of them apologised some 16 months after cheating in the exam, just two days before she was to have appeared in court.
There is no doubt that the six fell short of the standards expected of lawyers. Whether they are fit to become lawyers is a matter for the legal profession to eventually decide.
And now that they have caught a rare break from open scrutiny and remain publicly untainted by their dishonest acts, one can only hope that they learn from their mistakes and, should they go on to practise law, remember and serve those to whom the law was less kind.