Justice of Appeal V K Rajah will take over as Attorney-General from 25 June as Steven Chong completes his two-year stint as the government’s chief legal eagle. Chong will return to the Supreme Court, and there can be little doubt that he will be appointed a Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal.
The office of the AG has had an interesting number of occupants in recent history. Our first AG, Ahmad Ibrahim, occupied the office for a mere two years from 1965 – 1967, and thereafter, Tan Boon Teik occupied the office for 25 years from 1967 – 1992.
The first transfer of a sitting judge from the Supreme Court to AG was the ex-Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, AG from 1992 to 2006. Since then, we have had every other occupant sitting for two-year terms.
The office of the AG has grown in importance over the years, with the AG being the chief advisor to the government and in an ever complex world, this role has new significance as every decision of the government is under scrutiny nowadays by the general public. There can be little doubt that the job comes with the weight of the whole government on its shoulders and perhaps a two-year stint enables the AG to remain active and potent, to give his very best for the time allocated to him and then be ready to move on.
There can be few doubters that the choice of Justice Rajah is most apt, as he has had an illustrious career. The son of T T Rajah, who himself had an illustrious legal career, V K Rajah was undoubtedly slated for greater things even from law school. He was an NUS law school Jessup moot champion from the winning 1982 team, which coincidentally also comprised Steven Chong.
He was appointed Senior Counsel from the very first batch in 1997. He proceeded to helm the law firm of Rajah & Tann, which he built from a medium-sized firm into the powerhouse it is today. The firm has produced many other Senior Counsels and at least four judges in the High Court with the return of Steven Chong. This includes Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
Justice Rajah is known for his incisive mind and this is evident in his many well-reasoned judgments over his decade on the bench. The loss to the bench is truly AGC’s gain, and there can be little doubt that under his able leadership, the AGC will grow from strength to strength.