Sentencing in Singapore- Why it doesn’t always seem to make sense

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There is a pecking order, it seems, in everyone’s head. A list of crimes in order of seriousness, ranging from the downright trivial to the most heinous, nefarious and downright horrible acts imaginable.

While the list is slightly different for everyone, there is usually some broad common ground. Crimes such as insider trading or corruption are usually seen as technical or ‘victimless’ crimes. At the other end of the scale, kidnapping, murder and rape usually evoke widespread calls for blood.

 

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Bail me out Scotty- Your quick guide to bail in Singapore and how to get it

 

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Being arrested can be a terrifying thing. There is nothing quite like contemplating your future while you’re waiting for your fate to be decided. At the same time, you’re wondering if you will have to spend months in a prison cell waiting for your trial. It’s equally tough for your family, since they are usually the ones whose job it is to try to bail you out.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a simple reference with essential information, you know, just in case.

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The One Who Got Away

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He must be guilty. The police wouldn’t charge him unless they had sufficient evidence“.

I hear that being said a lot. About someone who’s arrest has made the papers, about an ongoing trial, or even about a client. I usually smile politely, not because explaining how that isn’t always true is usually pointless (it is), but because I will always remember the One Who Got Away.

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A Beginner’s Guide to The POHA- Protecting yourself from harassment

 

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It seems like everyone who’s anyone has, at some point, to claim to have been harassed. Beyonce’s done it, socialites have done it, even the Singapore Government has done it- albeit with varying degrees of success.

While it is easy to dismiss harassment as a problem of the rich and famous, the unfortunate reality is that anyone can be the victim of harassment. Have you ever had a business dispute or ended a romantic relationship? In some cases, when relationships break down and parties react emotionally, some people resort to causing alarm, annoyance or even acts of violence.

What then, can you do if you are a victim? Enter the Protection From Harassment Act, or POHA (how this acronym was derived from the name of the statute is beyond my powers of comprehension, although no doubt numerous government white papers exist to explain this).

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Judging the victim of a rape: Should we and why?

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A number of years ago, I defended a young man who was charged with gang rape. That case ultimately ended in a plea bargain and each lawyer delivered a plea in mitigation on behalf of his client. One of the lawyers for another accused person submitted that the victim had not been entirely blameless in that her conduct had led her assailants to believe that she might be amenable to the acts that followed.

These remarks were published in the media and soon attracted a rather heated response from AWARE (Association of Women for Action for Women and Research). AWARE is a Singapore- based gender equality advocacy group with emphasis on a feminist agenda.

In particular, Ms R Rheaume’s article, written shortly after the verdict in the above case, suggests that such comments are made in almost every case of rape and that such “victim-blaming” suggests that the victim is partly at fault. Needless to say, Ms Rheaume takes issue with any such suggestion.

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Everything is Just Impeachy

The courts were buzzing this week with news coming thick and fast from the Tey Tsun Hang sex- for- grades trial. Amidst the raunchy details of who did-what-to-who-and-where, some people might not have picked up on the fact that the Prosecution applied to impeach witness numero uno, Ms Darinne Ko.

Sound familiar? That might be because the Prosecution also applied to impeach Ms Cecelia Sue in the Ng Boon Gay trial last year. In case you have short- term memory loss or just returned from the moon, Mr Ng stood trial for allegedly receiving sexual favours from Ms Sue in exchange for furthering certain “business interests”.

What then, is this impeachment? Continue reading

A Little Bit of Give and Take. Gender Bias In Corruption Prosecutions?

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“Let me be quite clear – we will never tolerate corruption; we will not accept any slackening or lowering of standards,” he said in a speech at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau’s (CPIB) 60th anniversary celebration. “Anyone who breaks the rules will be caught and punished….” [Emphasis added]

-TODAY, 19 Sep 2012, reporting on a speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 18 Sep 2012

“Q: Are both the giver and receiver of the bribe money guilty of corruption?

A: Yes, it is an offence to give or receive a bribe.”

-FAQ, CPIB Website http://app.cpib.gov.sg/cpib_new/user/default.aspx?pgID=26#13, accessed 28 Sep 2012.

Unless you have spent the last 3 months living in a hole, you will know by now that there have been a series of corruption probes and prosecutions involving the supposed giving of sexual favours in exchange for certain benefits. In the case of former CNB head-honcho Ng Boon Gay, Ng currently stands trial for corruptly receiving sexual favours from Cecelia Sue in exchange for advancing the interests of Ms Sue’s then- employer. Associate Professor Tey Tsun Hung was charged in July for receiving, among other things, sexual favours from one Ms Darinne Ko in exchange for better grades.

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Why the Sex Offenders Registry is a Bad Idea

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There is a strange creature loose on the streets of Singapore. Some say it travels faster than rancid laksa down your digestive tract. Others say it has a strange affinity for the Forum Page. All we know is, it’s called the Knee Jerk Reaction.

For those who actually have a life and can’t be bothered to keep up with the news, some scholar got caught with his hands down a 15 year old’s panties and now the public is clamouring for a registry of sex offenders. The airwaves were particularly heavy today, laden as they were with drivel from callers eager to prove they weren’t perverts themselves. Continue reading

5 Popular Myths About Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

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The media hasn’t done criminal lawyers any favours. Almost everyone can remember seeing the sleazy defence lawyer on tv weaseling his way toward reasonable doubt while his child- rapist client sits grinning in the dock. Small wonder that criminal lawyers have a reputation slightly inferior to, say, granny molesters.

So, in defence of my brethren, these are 5 popular myths about hiring a defence lawyer debunked: Continue reading