Singapore — Lawyer Alexander Woon, the son of former Attorney-General Walter Woon, has weighed in on the recent statement the Attorney-General’s Chambers issued on lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and the case he represented of a doctor acquitted of molest charges.
On Tuesday (Aug 31), the AGC stated in a media release that it would not take action against the complainant in Dr Yeo Sow Nam’s case.
However, it said that the public statements issued by Eugene Thuraisingam LLP were “are misleading and regrettable” and that it had written to Mr Thuraisingam asking for an explanation of his conduct.
The AGC had said that it would not take action against the complainant in Dr Yeo’s case. It explained that the charges against the doctor had been withdrawn based on “inconsistencies” and not “on the basis that the complainant had been untruthful about the alleged outrage of modesty.”
Mr Thuraisingam claimed that the woman who filed the complaint against Dr Yeo “admitted to lying in court about ‘material elements’ of her allegations of outrage of modesty,” which the AGC took issue with.
The statement also mentioned another matter, wherein Mr Thuraisingam was said to have “used the court process to advance similar allegations against the complainant,” but “changed his position before the Court could rule on the allegations.”
And on Wednesday, the AGC issued another statement in response to the lawyer’s rebuttals, reiterating, among other things, that it has asked Mr Thuraisingam to explain his conduct.
And in a Sept 1 post on LinkedIn, Mr Alexander Joseph Woon commented on the matter, writing that “We should not jump to conclusions” and that prosecutors “are trying their best to achieve a just result.”
“The AGC will have done its investigations and had access to information not available to the public. We can only trust that the assessment is correct,” he added, before raising several questions that the Aug 31 statement from the AGC has brought about.
The younger Mr Woon, who was called to the Singapore bar last year, asked:
1. Did the judge have the opportunity to make a finding on the complainant’s truthfulness? The case was withdrawn, so there was no judgement.
2. Was the complainant’s credibility formally impeached? This is a specific procedure in Evidence Law that, when done, allows the court to declare that it doesn’t trust the witness’s evidence.
3. Why was the charge withdrawn? Even if there were inconsistencies, if the prosecution believed that the complainant was telling the truth, why did they not let the judge be the one to make the decision? There have been cases before where, despite some inconsistencies, a conviction has been secured. If the inconsistencies were not material, then the prosecution could have carried on as there might still have been a reasonable prospect of conviction. Vindication of the complainant’s rights is important too and prosecutions should not simply collapse at the first sign of trouble.
Mr Walter Woon served as Singapore’s Attorney-General from 2008 to 2010. A prominent lawyer in Singapore, he represented Ms Lee Suet Fern, the sister-in-law of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in the matter brought against her over the preparation of the will of the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
He is the dean of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education and a professor at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. /TISG
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