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AG admits to “imperfections in the past year,” adds that public’s trust was at stake

The Attorney-General's Chambers has been subject to intense scrutiny and criticism, after reflecting on past cases such as Parti Liyani's

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The Attorney-General (AG) acknowledged that there were “imperfections in the past year” that exposed the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to intense scrutiny and criticism, after reflecting on past cases such as Parti Liyani’s.

AG Lucien Wong said the year 2020 was “uniquely challenging” for the AGC as there was “a sense that the public’s trust in us was at stake”, a CNA article reported.

“There were several decisions that did not go our way, including Parti Liyani and Gobi Avedian”.

In his speech, he added that acquittals “are a sign of health for the legal system”, explaining that: “acquittals also show that AGC does not only pursue cases that are easy wins, but also cases where we truly believe that an offence has been committed and must be addressed”.

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In his own speech, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon saying it would be naive and “even foolhardy to think that judges are infallible”.

“That is precisely why virtually all judicial structures in the world incorporate a system of corrective procedures such as appeals, so that where something might have gone amiss at first instance, there is the opportunity to set it right”, he added.

Both men were speaking to an audience of attendees in the State Courts and viewers on Zoom.

The Chief Justice explained that judgements are delivered based on facts and the law as seen by the court. As a result, he said it is imperative not to rush to judgment and “condemn errors in the judicial process as suggestive of bad faith or impropriety”.

Similarly, AG Wong explained that the decision to charge is  made only after AGC is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to prosecute. But he added that if new facts and circumstances come to light showing that prosecution is no longer tenable or desirable after a person is charged in court, AGC will review the matter and withdraw charges, the CNA article reported.

Referring to the Parti Liyani case, the domestic convicted of theft, but acquitted of all charges by the High Court after an appeal, AG Wong said that the prosecution is working with the police on internal guidelines for recording investigative statements properly and obtaining proper valuations of items which are the subject of property offences.

He added that the AGC also attempts “to clarify the process by which the charging decision was made, so as to dispel any misconception that the complainant was given special treatment or that I was somehow involved in the charging decision in view of my prior acquaintance with (Liew Mun Leong)”. /TISG

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